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Underhill Craft and Customs Ukulele

Beautiful Handmade Creations

In 2010 my wife and I went travelling to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji for one of my oldest friends' wedding. Since we were going to spend some time in a camper van, and on a boat, my wife decided to buy me a travel guitar. This was a Voyage-Air folding guitar from the states, unfortunately, it got held up in customs and we left for our travels without it. On arrival in Australia and having just taken the wheel of brand new rental camper van we were heading through downtown Adelaide on our way to the Great Ocean Road when we passed a music store. I went around the block a couple of times before finding somewhere to park the camper and headed inside to check it out. I hoped to find a travel guitar or maybe a 3/4 sized guitar or cheap acoustic. However, they had nothing but standard-sized acoustics and with the exchange rate, they certainly weren't cheap. The lady in the shop asked if I'd considered a ukulele, which I hadn't as the only ones I'd seen previously were novelty tat. She showed me a Sanchez mahogany (ply) electro-acoustic soprano and I was amazed at the sound and size. I bought it with a case and a book and my journey started. 3 months travelling with very patchy internet and one book meant that I didn't exactly advance quickly but I was hooked none the less.

On returning home to decent internet I discovered a whole world of ukulele that I had no idea existed, including a video by Pete Howlett (the UK's leading ukulele maker) on making ukulele and that's where the problems really started.

Ukuleles: Welcome

Travel Uke prototype

I was determined to build at least one instrument before the end of 2020 but with everything going on I knew I wouldn't have time to set up the jigs and workflow to build proper acoustic instruments. Instead I worked up plans for an electric/silent travel uke along the lines of the Risa travel stick.  My main aims for this were for it to be machinable from a single blank (with the exception of fretboard, nut and bridge), have a headless neck and have hidden tuning pegs with the goal of producing a uke that would be less easily damaged and would fit in all carryon luggage.
Below is the resulting prototype. It is machined from a mahogany board (reclaimed from an old wardrobe). The fretboard is birdseye maple cut from a rough block I bought in a bulk lot. The result is a concert ukulele that measures less than 17 inches and as such will easily fit in hand luggage and even in a laptop bag.

Ukuleles: Text
Ukuleles: Projects

Coming soon!  Solid bodied electric ukulele.

Ukuleles: Quote

Check out the blog below for some more details of the build process for this electric solid bodied uke

Ukuleles: Quote
Ukuleles: Portfolio

Also coming soon, acoustic super concert boat paddle uke.  Watch out for the upcoming blog on producion.

Ukuleles: Quote
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