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View Full Version : Building a couple of tenor ukuleles



Bruce Taylor
11-22-2017, 06:36 PM
My oldest boy took up the ukulele, a few months ago, to please his accordion-playing girlfriend, but doesn't have an instrument of his own. I've made guitars and ukes for his siblings, so I guess it's his turn.

He just submitted a master's thesis on thyroid hormone in purple sea urchins, so I tried to make the inlay on the rosette look sort of spiky and echinodermish. The dark spines are from a stash of nice rosewood sent to me a few years ago by a certain legendary forumite, who has asked not to be named. ;) I think I'll put some spiky inlay around the bridge, too.

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For the back and sides, I cut into a block of wenge, a wood so fabulously splintery that it is practically a sea urchin itself. It's notoriously toxic, quite difficult to bend, and has a disagreeable smell, but it looks nice and has an impressive tap tone (rings like a glockenspiel).

As long as I've got the jigs out, I might as well make two ukes. The second one will be for my wife Maggie to use at her house in James Bay, during the long subarctic evenings. I haven't made the rosette for that one...haven't thought of a good theme.

CWSmith
11-22-2017, 06:42 PM
I look forward to following the build.

amish rob
11-22-2017, 06:56 PM
Oh, my. You have my undivided attention.

Peace,
Robert

Paul Pless
11-22-2017, 07:13 PM
I am so glad to see this. Love your winter time luthier threads Bruce going all the way back to the thickness sander.

Bruce Taylor
11-22-2017, 07:42 PM
I am so glad to see this. Love your winter time luthier threads Bruce going all the way back to the thickness sander.

And I'm really glad to be making sawdust again, after 4 years of "shop exile" in the city.

I've just been standing at that old thickness sander. It's time I overhauled the thing. I've been using tape to attach the sanding rolls to the drum, but tape doesn't work in cold weather, ostie de tabkernak. I think I'll work out a velcro system, instead, and make a better dust hood while I'm at it.

amish rob
11-22-2017, 07:57 PM
I have long threatened to finally get a nice ukulele. I mean, I have two nice ones, but I mean, a NICE one. :)

Tenor is a great size.

Peace,
Robert

Jimmy W
11-22-2017, 08:31 PM
I will be watching.

Bruce Taylor
11-22-2017, 08:35 PM
Tenor is a great size.

Peace,
Robert

I've made baritones before, but never a tenor. I don't have one to measure, so I had to look up dimensions, before drawing some plans. Here's what I came up with:

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Hugh Conway
11-22-2017, 08:56 PM
Spanish necks? Very nice.

katey
11-22-2017, 09:10 PM
Never mind the ukes. Sea urchins have thyroids?!?!

Bruce Taylor
11-22-2017, 09:16 PM
Never mind the ukes. Sea urchins have thyroids?!?!

Nope. But they do have thyroid hormones. :D My kid has found out lots of new things about their role in larval development. And, since echinoderms are our little deuterostome cousins, this sketches in some evolutionary gaps, too. He did some virtuoso lab work, there, and has totally earned a ukulele. ;)

Bruce Taylor
11-22-2017, 09:36 PM
Spanish necks? Very nice.

Force of habit. Softwood tops, Spanish necks, fan braces...I build them like tiny classicals.

LeeG
11-22-2017, 09:55 PM
i love these threads, all of a sudden I think my daughter needs a ukelele

Gib Etheridge
11-22-2017, 10:39 PM
And I'm really glad to be making sawdust again, after 4 years of "shop exile" in the city.

I've just been standing at that old thickness sander. It's time I overhauled the thing. I've been using tape to attach the sanding rolls to the drum, but tape doesn't work in cold weather, ostie de tabkernak. I think I'll work out a velcro system, instead, and make a better dust hood while I'm at it.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2zvskhQcx4

Bruce Taylor
11-22-2017, 11:05 PM
Sweet tune and video, Gib. :)

amish rob
11-22-2017, 11:17 PM
Force of habit. Softwood tops, Spanish necks, fan braces...I build them like tiny classicals.
Cordoba’s 30 series tenor ukes are built that way. Spanish heel and all, just like little flamenco guitars. They play amazingly well, and if I ever happen to be in a room with one with a couple hundred bucks in my pocket, I will buy it in a heartbeat.

Tenor is as big as I go, and I enjoy playing them. My favorite right now is a Cordoba concert. It has some lovely fluorocarbon strings and sounds a treat. :)

Can’t wait to see these lovelies.

Peace,
Robert

CWSmith
11-22-2017, 11:58 PM
The Monteleone video led me down a 2-hour video safari on guitar building. It was delightful! Thank you.

Jimmy W
11-23-2017, 12:38 AM
Never mind the ukes. Sea urchins have thyroids?!?!

Thanks, Katey. I was wondering, but didn't ask.

Bruce Taylor
11-23-2017, 01:51 PM
I installed the rosette in my usual inefficient way, using a Dremel to cut a channel about 3/32" deep in the top. Unfortunately, Dremels suck, and I don't trust the thing to a clean edge. So, before routing the channel, I incised an outline around the rosette with a little hobby knife. I'm really out of practice, so I broke the tips off a few blades before I was done.

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About 25 years ago, I cobbled together a quick circle cutter for the Dremel by adding some scraps of wood to their shoddy plastic router base. It's ugly, inaccurate and a pain to adjust, but it's an old friend:

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Sometimes, you're hanging with your old friend and you suddenly notice he's kind of a jerk. Last week, I cut that piece of crap loose and ordered a new router base and circle jig from StewMac.

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Ahh, so much better.