The ukulute , making of a string instrument #3
first thing I did, was make the soundboard ready. Cut the hole and glue the supports on the backside. normally on a ukulele soundboard the supports are parallel and perpendicular to the fibre direction of the soundboard, but since my soundboard was made from plywood it did not have a clear fibre direction and it was fairly soft and weak as well, so I chose to make a cross, with the center right under where the bridge would be.
The supports are there to make sure the sound can travel to the entire body, as well as for supporting the fairly thin soundboard, but since I didn't have any experience I was unsure as to how much effect it would have. It turned out quite well though.
After having shaped the neck I cut out a thin board of oak (3mm by 40 mm by 250 mm) to act as the fretboard. Fretboards are usually made of ebony or similar hard dark woods, but oak is very hard as well, so i decided it would be suitable. Also, I had som oak in the right thickness.
When making a string instrument the most important part for being able to tune it is the dimensions from the bridge to the neck and from the neck to the tuning head. I took these measurements from the ukulele I had available but if some of you think about making your own string instrument and do not have an example ready to measure from, these measurements can be found easily online. I think there is even fretboard calculators out there to make custom sized necks and still get something that can be tuned. the frets themselves was made from some bornze wire I had.
Commercially available fret wier is often made from nickel or stainless steel but bronze is very hard (it is used for fittings and bushings on boats for one) and I had some in my stash. It also looks really good.
I glued the fretboard to the neck and shaped it to fit. Then I mounted the neck to the body. At this point it is the straightness that is important, so I used a piece of string to make sure everything was aligned
After that I glued the frets in. I had cut some shallow grooves in the fretboard that fitted where I wanted them to go.
Then I started work on the bridge. I have chosen a design where small half circles are the thing that ties the different shapes together. so the backside of the bridge was also made to follow a circle. again the material chosen was oak. i am going to let all the oak stay naturally colored while the body and soundboard will be painted.
then on to the head. I ordered some tuning pegs for a guitar for the equivalent of 10-12 usd. also i got some strings for app 5 usd. those where the only things that i didn't make myself. I considered making my own pegs but decided against it. Too much work for an experiment like this is.
I glued birch plywood to the side of the head to make it the right size and then I glued a thin sheet of precut oak to the top. I glued on a piece of oak to the bottom as well to make the head thick enough that I could mount the tuning pegs. I then carefully cut out the shape using a jewellers saw and finished it using sandpaper and a dremel tool.
next time I will write about the painting and finishing and maybe a small sound file to listen to, if I can figure out how to upload it to somewhere.
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