Mustang-ish Electric Baritone Ukulele

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by crisscrosscrash, Apr 28, 2019.

  1. crisscrosscrash

    crisscrosscrash Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    152
    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Location:
    Montreal
    Figured I would document this build in case there is ever another electric uke builder out there who is interested!

    This will be a 19.5" scale electric baritone ukulele - Mustang styling (2 pickups) and probably a trem. We'll see where it goes.

    First up: got some nicely streaked Black Limba, enough to make a 3 piece body:
    IMG_0988.JPG

    Here is the blank glued up and wet down:
    IMG_1014.JPG

    Ill fine tune and cut out the shape today -- I am freehanding it pretty much: aiming for a body that looks the same as a Mustang/Duosonic, scaled down to roughly 85% -- but it needs some adjustment to get the Mustang control plate to fit in the right way (no one makes an 85% scale plate unfortunately!)
     
    Ekko, Itchyfeet1000, Dan R and 2 others like this.
  2. crisscrosscrash

    crisscrosscrash Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    152
    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Location:
    Montreal
    The geometry is a bit of a pain, given the full size Mustang control plate, and still leaving enough room for the bridge! I enlarged the lower bout a bit from where an actual scaled down Mustang body would be, and moved the entire right side perimeter about half an inch further from center... Anyhow, looks close enough to a Mustang still I think?

    IMG_1043.JPG

    haven't decided for sure what pickups I will use -- I have this G&L ASAT neck pickup with no home, and a Dimarzio Cruiser single coil sized dual blade... Probably the direction this is headed:
    IMG_1042.JPG

    Today's goal: sand to the line and roundover the edge.
     
    Ekko, Itchyfeet1000, mo62987 and 2 others like this.
  3. Mr_Q

    Mr_Q Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    255
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2018
    Location:
    Iowa
    I saw the thread title and thought...them there words don't go together...

    Will be watching this one...

    Cheers,
    Q
     
    mo62987 likes this.
  4. Dan R

    Dan R Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    62
    Posts:
    5,345
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    You are a genius. That is brilliant.

    I look forward to your future postings.
     
  5. crisscrosscrash

    crisscrosscrash Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    152
    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Location:
    Montreal
    Shaping the body, gave it a roundover with the router and now giving it some mild body contours — can’t go too far with the forearm relief because I think this might get a Bigsby (!) and the smaller body doesn’t leave much room to spare, at least until someone starts making uke-sized 4 string electric hardware. I guess the market just isn’t that deep...
    ADA5AA39-4CC8-42BE-9A23-38E6D9A9C45B.jpeg E0AD694D-AF81-430C-90F2-6ABA7E3B60FC.jpeg

    This is the first time I have built anything with Limba, and I like it! Little to no router burn, sands and planes easily... 10/10 will use again.
     
    Ekko likes this.
  6. crisscrosscrash

    crisscrosscrash Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    152
    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Location:
    Montreal
    Started working on the neck, and needing to improvise around some issues...

    I have a piece of decently figured maple that I roasted at home in the oven a while back -- the colouring came out amazing, but it was far from flat after roasting, so after squaring it up, what was originally a .75" thick blank is now this:
    IMG_1081.JPG

    It's a uke neck, so I'd be aiming for the finished carved thickness to be around .85, and the fretboard (wenge) is .25 - so I need to pad out the blank a little bit...

    Scrounged a strip of poplar from the scrap bin, and this is the plan - it almost looks intentional:
    IMG_1083.JPG

    I will do a thin wenge backstrap on the headstock, and a wenge heel cap to pad out the blank to a regular full inch top to bottom. I'll glue it up today and update the thread with pics.
     
    Ekko likes this.
  7. Itchyfeet1000

    Itchyfeet1000 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    50
    Posts:
    320
    Joined:
    May 9, 2018
    Location:
    Plymouth, England
    Following this.

    Reminds me of my second build. It was a Thinline based baritone ukulele for a friend. My pickup choices were a lipstick for the neck position and a hotrail for the bridge.

    IMG_20181010_025750.jpg IMG_20181026_204958.jpg
     
    hemmings, Zepfan and crisscrosscrash like this.
  8. crisscrosscrash

    crisscrosscrash Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    152
    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Location:
    Montreal
    Lipsticks are a cool choice for electric ukes -- I've done a couple with lipsticks (they're also nice because no pole pieces! You can space out the 4 strings as you wish...)

    This baritone uke had a pair of lipsticks, and this concert sized uke below it had a single one...

    wenge bari uke 2.JPG

    Screen Shot 2019-05-02 at 11.08.13 PM.png
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2019
    Zepfan, Ekko and Itchyfeet1000 like this.
  9. crisscrosscrash

    crisscrosscrash Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    152
    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Location:
    Montreal
    Ok, so some progress on the neck today... Spent a LOT of time fussing with the geometry. I have a 14" truss rod and a 12" truss rod, but what I really need is exactly 13.5" from nut to heel for it to fit with the body as planned... Decided to just go with the 12 rod, heel adjustment, 20 frets on the neck, and the truss ends under the 1st fret...


    IMG_1088.JPG

    To make scaling the neck easy, I am just using a 25.5" scale slotting template and starting the nut at the 5th fret... That gives 19 1/8" scale. Perfect for a Bari uke, since I can just use regular guitar strings (the middle four) to get D-G-B-E. No fuss.
    IMG_1086.JPG


    Routed for the truss with my shopbuilt jig...
    IMG_1090.JPG

    And done... enough for today.
    IMG_1091.JPG
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2019
    Zepfan and Ekko like this.
  10. crisscrosscrash

    crisscrosscrash Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    152
    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Location:
    Montreal
    Some progress, some mistakes... like every build.

    Some things go easy, like slotting the board using the trusty LMII mitre box
    IMG_1095.JPG

    Then went ahead with the plan to laminate a wenge headstock backstrap and heel cap to get a full inch of thickness on both ends:
    IMG_1094.JPG IMG_1116 2.JPG IMG_1115.JPG

    So far, things are working out. Then we get to the fretboard glue up, which doesn't work out so well. I used 2 locating pins, but noticed only AFTER unclamping that the board had shifted very slightly and one pin was leaning... The question: IS IT FATAL?? Here is a pic with a rule lined up perpendicular to the center line of the neck. The frets are slanted by a little under 1 degree. Argh.
    IMG_1144.JPG

    After 2 days of cursing and wondering whether or not to bail on this neck and start again, I decided to put the markers in (aluminum tube) and see whether the slant is obvious (it won't affect the intonation, it's just a visual problem...)

    Put in the dots:
    IMG_1167.JPG

    Decided it will look fine. Accept the flaw and move on! So I radiused the neck to 12" with a sanding block, and shaved down and marked the headstock for drilling...
    IMG_1170.JPG
    IMG_1166.JPG

    Today's job: rout the body for the neck -- I will try to remember to take lots of set-up pics.
     

    Attached Files:

    Zepfan and Ekko like this.
  11. crisscrosscrash

    crisscrosscrash Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    152
    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Location:
    Montreal
    Did some work on this today: drilled for the bridge posts and routed the neck pocket.

    Drilling went easy:
    IMG_1223.JPG

    Then on to the neck pocket... the heel of the neck is 1", and I'm aiming for a pocket 3/4" deep at the heel, with a few degrees of tilt -- the strings will be about 5/16" from the top leaving the neck, and I need them around 7/8" at the bridge. So, uh, let's just set a shallow angle and see what happens...

    IMG_1227.JPG
    IMG_1228.JPG

    I know this is isn't the most precise method, so I just went for it but not to full depth, to check the angle... Which was, close. You can see here the angle is a bit too shallow: with ruler sitting on the bridge and a stand-in nut, it's not quite parallel to the fingerboard.

    IMG_1218.JPG

    ... but it isn't that far off either. So I decided to leave it: i think the bridge willbe able to go a bit lower if need be. Or I could recess the posts a tiny bit. Or just do this:

    IMG_1221.JPG

    A small paper shim, which was just right to get the angle just right:

    IMG_1220.JPG

    So, call that a good enough.

    Neck fits nicely in the pocket, everything lines up, I'll take it.

    IMG_1229.JPG IMG_1230.JPG IMG_1216.JPG

    Done for today. I marked it up for the pickup and control routing, which I will do tomorrow, and probably freehand (!) Because why make templates for a build you probably won't ever recreate?
     
    Ekko likes this.
  12. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    9,621
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2013
    Location:
    Horn Lake, MS
    Lipstick Tubes are great for those type's of builds. I used a set of P Bass pickups with a 4-way switch on a 25" scale 4 string CBG. I separated the pickups and mounted one in the neck and one in the bridge positions, just used a 500k volume and those pickups were fantastic on that build. The 4 poles were just in the right spot.
     

    Attached Files:

  13. crisscrosscrash

    crisscrosscrash Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    152
    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Location:
    Montreal
    Nice! I used a Pbass set for a bari uke a while ago too -- sounded pretty great, with the benefit of being hum canceling in the middle position!

     
    Zepfan likes this.
  14. crisscrosscrash

    crisscrosscrash Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    152
    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Location:
    Montreal
    OK, some updates to the Mustang-ish build!

    Routed the top for controls and pickups -- mostly just freehanded this with the router -- again, being lazy and not making templates for a one-off build!

    IMG_1238.JPG

    Then drilled some holes for cables and ground wires. Put a guard on the top because I have made that mistake before and gouged the top!

    IMG_1235.JPG

    After that I started carving the neck. i use the method I learned on youtube from Fletcher guitars -- great instructive videos, highly recommended!

    Marked lines roughly 7mm either side of center on the back, and lines about 6mm from the top edge of fretboard to use as guides to carve facets. Also drew in a rough line for the headstock transition:

    IMG_1246.JPG IMG_1247.JPG

    Proceeded to take the bulk of the facet off with the ROSS

    IMG_1251.JPG IMG_1252.JPG

    Then did the rest with files:
    IMG_1257.JPG

    Finished (I think)!
    IMG_1263.JPG IMG_1264.JPG

    Next up: finish sanding and Tru-oiling body and neck for a week at least...
     
    RiversQC, guitarbuilder and Ekko like this.
  15. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    9,621
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2013
    Location:
    Horn Lake, MS
    That was awesome.
     
    crisscrosscrash likes this.
  16. crisscrosscrash

    crisscrosscrash Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    152
    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Location:
    Montreal
    So this build has moved into Tru-oiling mode, so not much happens aside from 2 coats a day!

    The Limba looks really nice though! I did a quick grainfill with Timbermate before I started the oil, but the finish is still sinking a bit - but I kind of like it -- it gets a silvery sort of sparkle under the light.

    According to my coat-count, these pics are 14 coats in -- sanded back with 320 after 10. I will sand again at 20, and probably aiming for 25-30 coats on the body? I'm not looking for a glass polished finish...
    IMG_1404.JPG IMG_1403.JPG IMG_1405.JPG IMG_1407.JPG

    Put the logo on the headstock after about 6 coats of oil then started burying it with 6 more -- you can see the home-baked maple is looking pretty sweet with a dozen coats of finish.

    IMG_1406.JPG

    The only other thing I've gotten around to is roughing out a pickguard...

    IMG_1402.JPG

    REALLY wishing I had cut the pickguard before routing the top -- it's going to be a bit annoying to try and figure out the exact placement of the pickup routs on the pickguard now... I'll have t make a tracing and tape it to the guard...

    I guess that's for tomorrow.
     
    Ekko and Zepfan like this.
  17. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    9,621
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2013
    Location:
    Horn Lake, MS
    Looks great. Definitely have to take your time with Tru-Oil and only you will know when it's time to start polishing it up depending on what level of shine you want.
     
  18. crisscrosscrash

    crisscrosscrash Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    152
    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Location:
    Montreal
    Worked on the pickguard today -- like I mentioned above, I wish I had made the pickguard first and then traced it on the body before routing for the pickups instead of the other way around... That's the kind of dumb order of operations error that happens when the build is improvised and without templates, I guess...

    So first, I located the undrilled pickguard on the body, and drilled for two of the screws (lower horn and left side bridge). Then I did a tracing...

    IMG_1416.JPG

    With the two screw holes I drilled on the tracing, I can tape the trace to the guard in the right spot, and marked it up for where I am actually going to drill for pickups and switch:

    IMG_1417.JPG

    Started using forster bits from the edges of the pickups, and used a 15/32 bit for the switch...
    IMG_1419.JPG

    Then did the rest with coping saw and files... Everything fits - I still have to take off the edge where it meets the control plate, and I will start bevelling and cleaning up the edges tomorrow.

    Not loving where the switch it... On the smaller uke body it looks weirdly far away from the top of the horn. It is what it is!

    IMG_1420.JPG
     
    Ekko and Zepfan like this.
  19. crisscrosscrash

    crisscrosscrash Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    152
    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Location:
    Montreal
    Some progress shots! Cleaned up the edge of the pickguard, and fitted it to the control plate... did a quick mockup:
    IMG_1447.JPG

    Still have to rout the guard to the neck pocket... Will do that today maybe.

    Then I got to work on fretting the neck -- I didn't take any photos while I was working, but here are some from after.

    This is my procedure: Stewmac deadblow hammer, with a dab of titebond on each end of each fret -- the fretboard is wenge, which in my experience holds frets super nicely, though if you screw one up, will splinter badly if you have to pull one to reseat. Anyhow, these all went in nicely, and the ends all seemd down and solid, but I clamp with a radius block til the glue sets just in case.

    IMG_1465.JPG

    After that I follow the order suggested by the dude at Crimson Guitars (which is NOT the way I used to do it!) -- I used to level before dressing the ends, but now I do the reverse, and I do think it works out better... So, first I file and bevel the edge with my little DIY bevel:
    IMG_1466.JPG

    Then I dress the ends with the Stewmac end dressing file. Then I level, with a piece of 600 grit paper on marble from HD:
    IMG_1468.JPG IMG_1467.JPG

    The frets went in fairly level -- I ran the rocker over before levelling and there were only a few high frets, and not very high at that... But leveled anyhow. Then use the Stewmac crowning file, followed by the same file with some 800, 1200, and 1500 grit paper in the groove. Ran over the ends with a rolled up piece of 320 to soften the edge of the fretboard all the way down, and I think that's it -- feels pretty smooth and nice as is!

    IMG_1463.JPG IMG_1464.JPG

    I will buff the ends more later on -- first I need to fill the bottom of the frets slots and resand and oil the edge of the fretboard.
     

    Attached Files:

  20. crisscrosscrash

    crisscrosscrash Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    152
    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Location:
    Montreal
    Nearly finished with this build...

    Today I bolted on the neck, places the bridge and lined up the (imitation) Bigsby to drill for it..

    IMG_1548.JPG
    IMG_1549.JPG

    That went smoothly enough...

    This uke is getting shipped to Texas, so I put a Canadian penny under the Bigsby spring

    IMG_1550.JPG

    This very cheap Chinese Bigsby works perfectly fine -- but you can see the chrome plating is pretty crap when you get zoomed in! But it seems a bit nuts to spend $200 on a trem for a ukulele... And no one actually zooms in this close in real life anyhow...

    Soldered up the controls and pickguard. I hate soldering and am very hamfisted at it usually, but this control plate looks halfway decent!

    IMG_1551.JPG

    The toggle switch is another story:
    IMG_1552.JPG

    Not to mention, turns out these pickups (a G&L neck pickup and a DiMarzio "Cruiser" dual blade in the bridge) are not in phase... which I didn't realize until all put together and plugged in for the first time... So I swapped the DiMarzio leads on the toggle and got things sounding right. But the soldering on the switch is even uglier now.

    Anyhow -- cut a very quick initial set of slots on the nut because I wanted to hear how it sounds... Tomorrow I will actually cut and file the nut properly and intonate the bridge. For now, I just made a quick Instagram vid (quiet, because kids are in bed already).

    https://www.instagram.com/p/Byy4qpJHnto/
     
    Ekko likes this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.