POCKET UKULELE [poket-uku]

Written by: admin@makezilla

Picture of POCKET UKULELE [poket-uku]

How to make a stringed musical Uku that  fits in a pocket and can be played anywhere in the world..It can be made in only three days.
It generates full volume using a miniature amplifier.




Most string instruments of the guitar or Ukulele variety are rather large due to their construction covering several octaves and ease of fingering. Electric actuated types also need wiring and large amplifiers.Thus we have arrived at a small personal type for sole use or in
a small group  use. This was accomplished as follows:
 Eliminate the resonant box.Eliminate the long neck. Eliminate the nylon or steel strings. Eliminate the big boom speakers.
Use a small wood solid board under 10 in. long. Use elastomeric  polymer high tech plastic strings that are easy to tune and are fairly stable over years. Use  off-the-shelf low cost pre-amps and final amplifiers that are used for the present digital music generating devices.
Elastomeric  strings have been used in earlier Instructables. Ref;Portable Mini-lyre by Mistic dated Inst. Mar. 6, 2011. Also  'Mini-piano" by Mistic  . Inst. dated Nov.5.2009. The strings  in these instruments are now 11 years old and still work well.
Lastly, We have found that ordinary ear-buds that are under$5.00 are excellent microphones.We use these as vibration  pick-ups for the vibrating strings.This novel approach is non-magnetic as wire strings  need to be for magnetic pick-ups.

Step 2: Materials

Picture of MaterialsPok-Uku 9-21-11 008.JPGPok-Uku 9-21-11 003.JPG

Refer to drawing of layout..[Frettless  type]
The drawing is  half-scale and the wood base ,etc. can be made  from the dimensions shown.The wood base can be smaller in length as 6 inches long but more difficult to finger .
-Item 5- Ear-buds, are stereo and are used to pick up sound vibrations from 2 strings at a time.These were  purchased  at a dollar store.
Item 6- string. Purchase at Micheals or Jo-Ann stores .15 feet for $2.50 .  use clear 1mm. diam.
Item 7- crimps- eyelets 1/8 long. brass. 100 ea. for $2.00  use to anchor the string at both ends.Jo-Ann's.store.
Item 8- cover- can be aluminum  or brass but should be easy to form in a small vise.. Can be eliminated if no metalis available.
Item9- Tuner screws. Can be of eather type shown- Dry-wall nail or 5/8 hook and eye screws found in any Hardware store.Note ; the dry-wall nails are ribbed.They are forced into predrilled holes or pounded in then a wing-nut#i6-32 is used as a handle .Instant gel glue works  very well.Hook-and eye screws work faster but are limited to rotation in a clock-wise direction only. Excess nails protruding are clipped off.
Item 12 amplifier. For personal use order Radio Shak #277-1008c[.2watt] Easy fit into a pocket.It has its own speaker.
Item 10- Velcro pieces under side to grasp the tummy when holding  the device.Use the hook partsof the tape.

Step 3: TOOLS

Picture of TOOLS

Tools: Small Hemostat or fish hook extractor.Item 8.prefer locking type.
Saw and dremel saw
Vise Hobby type.
Hand drill.
Drill bits; .093 and .076 Dia.
E6000 Glue or Goop glue.
RTV Silicone  adhesive glue.


Picture of ASSEMBLYPok-Uku 9-21-11 009.JPGPok-Uku 9-21-11 004.JPGPok-Uku 9-21-11 014.JPG

Steps are as follows:
1- Prepare  base. Finish with polyurethane  Lacquer.  Ref. dwg on dimensions. Accuracy not too important
2- Drill  screw holes at Tuner end. Insert the nails by hammering. Cut off protrusions at bottom. Glue  on Wing nuts.Gel glue.
3- Cut and form nut and bridge and glue in place.Use a 1/2 squ. piece and split it to get two pieces.
Cut four slots for strings. Use a saw about 1/8 deep cuts.
4-Cut about 15 in. of 1mm. string.Attach to wing nut  with crimp eyelets.Wind about 3 turns around nail and pull to other iend and insert thru holes and crimp after pulling the string to the desired note. String no. one is note E.  {DGBE]  E is highest note:  two notes above  piano Middle C.
5-Cut and form  end protector.
6-Insert two of the ear-buds under the 2strings as shown.Place a spot of Silicone  adhesive  at end of cord  protrusion .Then glue on end protector Dwg. Item 8. if desired. .[Some  may not want this item}
This completes assembly.


 Final tuning is done with the tuner screws.
Use a casio or piano or a guitar tuner.
Note; The notes will drift for a 1/2 to one note lower for a few hours. Re-tune after 2 Hours  then next day. Each re-tune  is used as desired and will be less drift  after about 3 re-tune over 25 hours.

Re-tuning is used similar to any string instrument.


To play-  use finger or a pick. Hold  bottom side to belly.
Plug into a amplifier as the .2w. Radio shack unit. The  size is just right for easy carry and  speaker volume is  fine for a small room.
For silent  practice use an ear-phone or ear-buds  at the output of amplifier.
A added small stereo amplifier as found for Music  instruments players is small and  cost about $7.00. for more volume.

Strings can be re-tuned to any key you want.

Vote -