At long last, I've completed the instructions for the Sq'Ukulele Basic II (not too imaginative). Basic Sq'Uke II Plans
Check it out for complete plans, building instructions and a sound clip.
Since we're all under lock down (or should/will be), I decided to design an instrument that can be made with common materials found around most homes. I call it a Can-U-lele because it uses a tin can as a sound box. No, its not square, but it does work and will take about an afternoon to work.
For this build, I've changed from using wood glue to hot glue to minimize the build time. I'm not sure how long it will last as I've seen hot glue joints disintegrate with age. But hopefully we won't be in lock down too long and you will be able to build a full blown Sq'Ukulele!!
The sound is rather unique. It sounds a little between a banjo and a ukulele. It is tuned exactly like a ukulele, The only item you might have difficulty obtaining is fishing line of different weights. Feel free to substitute with what you've got. I've even seen that dental floss can work in a pinch.
Check it out in the Plans section.
I hope everyone out there is doing well...And avoiding others. These are scary times where we've got a virus which can kill millions. Do your part by staying at home!
Looking at the date of the last post, I realize that its been a long time since I've posted anything. I've had a setback in terms of building. As the last post stated, I had a really good sounding Sq'Uke,...but I couldn't reproduce it!! Every time I built something, it sounded tinny. I think I've finally cracked the code and will be publishing the plans soon. If you are impatient, make a Basic Sq'Uke but cut some a slot in the sides about 1/3 the length of the Sq'Uke body. This will allow the top to vibrate more readily.
Here is a photo (to paraphrase Edison) of how not to make a Sq'Uke
I've just finished building a new Sq'Ukulele. And it sounds great! It is the one pictured below on the right. Right now, the strings are settling in, but I'll post a sound sample in a couple of days as well as plans.
My original idea when making Sq'Ukes was to leave them unfinished and let the natural patina develop. Unfortunately, I've noticed that my most played Sq'Uke is showing oil marks on the fret board where I touch the fret board most, so on my latest build, I'm trying to coat it with Superglue. Many people in the woodworking community have found that superglue makes a great finish. Many, however, use several coats (5-7), sanding between coats. I'm concerned that too many coats will cause the resonant properties of the soundboard to change. So, I'll start with one.
The process is pretty simple. MAKE SURE YOU WEAR GLOVES as Superglue can glue you skin together. I use nitrile gloves, but I'm sure other material will work. Squirt a little Superglue on the wood then spread it around with your gloved finger. You can also squirt a little Superglue onto your finger for harder to reach places. You will know if you have enough as the colour of the wood will darken.
I think that finishing a Sq'Uke with Superglue will give it a little protection. I'll post again once it is strung up and tested, but so far, its looking good.
I've been working on the How to Play section of this Blog. If you've just built a Sq'Ukulele or bought a new one and don't know what to do with it, check it out. It goes through 2 basic 1 finger chords with samples.
My plan is to include more chords and some sample songs, so keep posted.
As soon as I completed the basic Sq'Uke and started playing it, I realized that wasn't sounding as good as I would have liked. I started looking at how violins are made and why they were so much louder than a ukulele. Most historians believe that the f-holes produce up to 2 times the volume. So, I decided to take my newly built Sq'Uke and cut slits in. I didn't want to cut the soundboard, as it is rather small to begin with, so I cut them in the sides just under the soundboard. The sound improvement was huge!! I did need to add reinforcement to the sides because the soundboard was bending but that didn't affect the tone.
I've been making ukuleles for almost a year now. I've garnered inspiration from all over the internet and thought it was time to give back. From everything I've read, the hardest thing about building a stringed instrument (guitar, violin, ukulele) is thicknessing the top. Although I've done that in some of my earlier builds, I wanted to find an easier more efficient way of building. Supposedly, we are running out of good tone wood and that will mean instruments will become mroe expensive. Thicknessing a soundboard is inherently wasteful as you need to take a thick piece of wood and remove almost half of it. Not to mention the cutting and the size of the saw blade.