How to Build a Banjo Uke

Written by smokey yokems
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Building your own banjo uke can be fairly simple if you choose ready made parts and have a basic ability for wood crafting. A tunable hand drum and a soprano uke neck make an excellent combination for quality sound and accurate tuning. If you want build the neck from scratch, some extra tools, skill and time will be necessary. Either way, a homemade banjo uke is an inexpensive project.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • 10 to 12 inch tunable hand drum
  • Soprano uke neck
  • Banjo tail piece
  • Banjo bridge
  • Uke strings
  • Wood glue
  • Wood filler putty
  • Sand paper
  • Dremel tool (optional)
  • Attachment rod (optional)
  • Paint (optional)

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Use a dremel tool or rough and medium grit sand paper to shape the butt end of the neck to match the curve of the hand drum. If you have the option, adhere the fret board to the neck after you have shaped the butt end so the necessary adjustment will be easier. Use fine grain sand paper to remove any remaining glue from the neck.

  2. 2

    Attach the neck to the banjo uke body using wood glue. Apply wood filler putty to fill the gap between the butt edge and the drum. If your fret board does not extend over the drum to stabilise the neck, drill a hole through the butt end of the neck and the side of the drum head and insert an attachment rod.

  3. 3

    Fine sand and paint or stain the entire instrument.

  4. 4

    Attach the tail piece to the drum head, directly across from the neck. The nut grooves on the tuning end must line up directly with the tines on the tail piece.

  5. 5

    Insert the tuning pegs, if they are not already installed on the neck.

  6. 6

    Connect the strings to the tail piece and the tuning pegs. Tighten the strings so they are flat but still loose along the fret board.

  7. 7

    Place the banjo bridge under the strings on the drum head. For proper tuning the 12th fret of your banjo uke should be halfway between the nut on the tuning peg end and the bridge on the drum end. Use this measurement to place the bridge in the correct place. Tighten the strings until the bridge stays in place on its own.

Tips and warnings

  • You can purchase a low-cost ukulele kit and use the neck, nut, fretboard and tuning head to build your instrument.
  • If the drum you choose for the sound box is 8 inches in diameter or less, you will need a tenor uke neck to achieve a playable string length.

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