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Lockdown Project - Guitalele

If music be the food of love, etc....

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Tim Hooper08/04/2020 21:47:10
2892 forum posts
2406 photos

Those who know me on social media, will know that my other, secret, hobby lies in the building of stringed instruments - using the cigar box ethos by utilising bits of old scrap.

I've several guitars and ukuleles in my arsenal, but here's something different; a cross between a guitar and a uke - hence guitalele!

Here's some of the current collection.....


For the last couple of years I've been more than happy to swop between guitar and ukulele, as they're different enough from each other to prevent confusion. Now, lurking in the nebulous middle ground between the two lies the Kingdom of the Guitalele - essentially a 6-string uke, but tuned higher than a guitar. The chord shapes are pure guitar, but with ukelele names. What could be simpler?
Anyway, some months ago a colleague gave me this terrible IKEA guitar, which seemed ripe for guitalele butchery....

A colleague donated this awful IKEA guitar. It really is beyond redemption, and ripe for recycling



That's better! A few swipes with the pull saw gets the neck off.



Now we get a bit clever. Having drawn around the body, I cut out templates from paper so I could jiggle the bits together to represent a smaller guitalele body shape...



The cut out bits were assembled over the 1/16 ply soundboard blank to give an idea of the overall layout.



The guitar body was relieved of the front back, as it's only the curved sides that I'll be using.





Edited By Tim Hooper on 08/04/2020 22:07:00

Tim Hooper08/04/2020 21:54:46
2892 forum posts
2406 photos

That nasty old guitar body finally gets chopped into manageable sized bits.


Surely everybody has a belt sander on the decking? Very handy for squaring up the body's parts....


The body's sides get glued together.


The back is made of two pieces of 1/8 ply, with a central oak strip. The crossbracings get their outer ends tapered, prior to fixing in place.


The back is finally attached to the body sides. The excess will be trimmed off later.


Rob Fairweather 108/04/2020 21:58:11
120 forum posts
11 photos

Excellent work Tim,

my lockdown/retirement project ( apart from a few kit builds) is to learn to put down my bass guitars and learn the double bass. Rockabilly with the band will sound so much better .

McG 696908/04/2020 22:00:13
3177 forum posts
1199 photos

... it clearly will be 6 channels, Tim.

...but still on 2.4 gHz ??? ...



Tim Hooper08/04/2020 22:03:41
2892 forum posts
2406 photos

The front (soundboard) is made from 1/16 ply. Now this needs bracing inside to stop it collapsing when the strings are attached and tuned up. I used tapered pieces of hard spruce.


The body shell gets treated to a side port and cut outs for the pre-amp and jack socket.


The timber for the neck has been sawn down, and planed smooth. Marking out the fret positions before the neck is tapered mean that they're cut square to the neck's centre line. There are several fret calculators available free online. The scale length on this tenor is 430mm.


To actually cut the slots for the fret wire, I use this fine-toothed pullsaw. A spare hacksaw blade is clamped to the saw to act as a depth limiter. Accuracy is paramount here; if the frets aren't exactly correct, then the instrument will not play in tune.


The finished fret slots. The thicker portion is the nut location.


I've marked out the neck blank with the side profile. Now, I've cut these out by hand before, but it seems silly not to pass it on to a mate who possesses a bandsaw, doesn't it?


john stones 108/04/2020 22:30:26
11456 forum posts
1516 photos

Excellent, will there be a solo on said Guitalele on completion ? note

Tim Hooper08/04/2020 22:44:10
2892 forum posts
2406 photos
Posted by john stones 1 on 08/04/2020 22:30:26:

Excellent, will there be a solo on said Guitalele on completion ? note

Hopefully, yes. I'm not a virtuoso player - more of a club level strummer, if truth be known! It's only in the last couple of weeks that I've been brave enough to start posting a few videos on YouTube with my existing instruments. I even get to sing a bit too!



john stones 108/04/2020 23:22:01
11456 forum posts
1516 photos

Voice of an angel, cheers Tim. angel

Stephen Jones08/04/2020 23:25:44
2806 forum posts
1614 photos

Nice one Tim,

Well i never springs to mind.note


Lindsay Todd09/04/2020 11:00:32
1714 forum posts
1723 photos

Excellent Tim, I have a couple of Guitalele myself but not ventured into a complete build as yet. Look forward to strumming strings with you again sometime. Linds

Alex Ferguson 210/04/2020 08:49:48
53 forum posts

An interesting thread, ukuleles. We usually go out on Thursday nights to a group where we all play ukuleles and sing but last night went to the other bigger group. We went virtually using Zoom. The leader had his mic ON and all others OFF. If anything needed to be said, commented on, between songs, you switched your mic ON (bottom left corner of your screen), talked and switched OFF again. The only problem is the limit of 40 minutes a session with Zoom and reconnecting every 40 minutes. There is talk of the group going to a paid version during the lock-down period to give unlimited time per session.

So, computer use and no viruses encountered. We used a desktop (on the floor) connected to the TV for a big screen, USB camera, boom mounted mic. They have three books of songs and we haven't got the third new one so had a laptop handy to see the latest songs on the web.

My partner has done a few ukulele instrumental rehearsals with three others over the past weeks, mics ON for all three.

Now back to RC, flew a couple yesterday and today, reasonably calm and the park is two doors away and across the road - safe because of no cars to run me down...

Tim Hooper10/04/2020 19:49:45
2892 forum posts
2406 photos

Thanks for the feedback Gents!

Alex, we usually meet and play weekly too. The Shrewsbury Ukulele Massive has been experimenting with ZOOM too, but I've not yet had a bash myself.

Well, my plan to get the neck bandsawn came to nothing, so I did it today by hand.....

The first bit were easy, using a small handsaw. Which just left that big chunk in the middle.


A root in my late father-in-law's tool roll unearthed this rather remarkable item, I don't even know what it's called, but it carved it's way through the remaining excess in a matter of minutes.


Check the date stamp on the blade!


The sides of the neck were tapered with a plane..


.....and then the rounding off process begun on the belt sander. Handy tool, this.


Using an existing instrument as a guide, I did a quick drawing of the headstock to-be


Adding 'ears' to the sides of the neck re-inforces it where the head stock angles backwards


Hopefully, I'll get the neck fully sorted tomorrow, and get it aligned correctly to the body.

Malcolm Fisher10/04/2020 20:04:11
641 forum posts
7 photos

Hello Tim,

The sharp implement you "found" is known as a draw knife. Bodgers i.e. pole lathe operators used to use them to shave bits from pieces of wood before mounting them on the lathe prior to turning. I have one which has been used for all sorts of shaping of pieces of wood.


Peter Miller10/04/2020 21:07:02
10966 forum posts
1272 photos
10 articles

I thought that tool was called a spoke shave

john stones 110/04/2020 21:11:41
11456 forum posts
1516 photos

Similar, draw knife is correct though, used them for shaping 7lb hammer handles at pit.

Denis Watkins10/04/2020 21:25:45
4335 forum posts
104 photos

You are both right, it is a draw knife, Fulton Spokeshave

It does the job either way

Phil Green10/04/2020 22:11:28
1583 forum posts
331 photos

My Dad made four Mountain Dulcimers, this is the one he made for me:



It has a drone string and sounds strange (in the hands of a rank amateur! smiley )



Edited By Phil Green on 10/04/2020 22:12:27

john stones 110/04/2020 22:21:01
11456 forum posts
1516 photos
Posted by Phil Green on 10/04/2020 22:11:28:

My Dad made four Mountain Dulcimers, this is the one he made for me:


It has a drone string and sounds strange (in the hands of a rank amateur! smiley )


Edited By Phil Green on 10/04/2020 22:12:27

What a sound Phil, love it. note

Alex Ferguson 210/04/2020 22:24:18
53 forum posts

We've had a lad from our library join the Shed so he can fix his late father's draw knife, make / turn-up handles and fit them. A spoke shave, as I know them, are smaller and all metal with an adjustable blade much like that in a plane (non-aeronautical type plane).

ken anderson.11/04/2020 09:48:32
8637 forum posts
779 photos

hello tim,i like your collection, I made this last year a 3 string cbg...1st attempt. You've set me away thinking I may build a banjolele now....I got most of the raw materials from Astons music,Stoke.

cbg 2.jpg

cbg 1.jpg

ken string dept.

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