Retrospective-ism: Ukes of the past


So, before I told myself I needed to do this uke a month thing, I had made past attempts at some ukes.

It all began with this gakken otona no kagaku mini electric guitar kit. Gakken kits are awesome, they’re a magazine with a kit that builds whatever the mag is about. I bought a lot of their stuff, including their synthesizer kit.

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It was adertised as a 4 string guitar. If it looks like an uke. Tunes like an uke. You got to make it as an uke! Was supposed to be tuned to DGBE but went with good old low g uke tuning. Gave it a paint job as well, because I have a lot of orange & white stuff.

It was probably months until I made another uke. I heard that people were making ukes out of cardboard and wanted in on the fun


Cutting out cardboard is a skill I’ve developed. I now hoard cardboard. The garage is filled with it. I love it. I use cardboard for a lot of things now.

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Because of the way cardboard works, the sides had to be made out of cross sections. Glues them all together. The neck was made in the opposite direction to support the tension from the strings.

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Glued eveything together and let it dry.


Added the geared tuners and started work on the nut and saddle. The fretboard was cardboard!

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Gave it the old white and orange paint coat.


Tested the tension. It worked. Nothing on but a g string. Decided not to go with low g this time. This is the only uke I have with the standard tuning.

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Used tooth picks for the frets. Not great but looks great?

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The last uke I made before the realisation I had uke addiction was the 3D printed uke!


I designed it years ago as I couldn’t afford the Risa Solid it’s based off. Turned out, to print it at the time, would cost more than the Risa. Recently the technology had made leap and bounds and I could print it off for a decent price.


I added a piezotransducer in, and the thing is one of my go to ukes to jam. Without an amp, it’s good for practice or just messing around.

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Here’s a video of the thing in action:

It was soon after that I made the ‘death’ uke using the travel uke plans from circuits and strings.

Check him out!


6 thoughts on “Retrospective-ism: Ukes of the past

  1. Great post, I’m looking to get started doing a simple build (very simple). Do you know if the mini electric kits are available anywhere in the UK?

      1. Great! My only tip is instead of tooth picks for frets, I’ve seen people use hair clips or similar. I look forward to seeing it!

  2. Yeah the hair clips look like a good shout, I’ll drop you a link when it’s done. I’m a bit worried about the string tension but I’m not at that stage yet – finished the body and the neck so far.

    1. I used paper mache to stretched the connection between the neck & body. In all honesty, I think most templates have no problems holding the tension.

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