String-tie Beads for Guitars/Uke’s

IMG_20150510_182803I use a variety of both nylon as well as steel/bronze strings in my ukulele and guitar builds and at times wanted a more exotic, yet still quick, way of tying strings.

Most often I use whats called a floating bridge, not really conventional, and when using a through-neck design on my builds the holes are often drilled through the tail end of the neck.

Well, I have hangers on my wall for one of my guitars and a ukulele and happened to glance up and see the G string broke. Probably a joke in there somewhere but anyway, there was a bit of string left but not enough for me to back it up and restring it.

I headed out and a few blocks down the way to Guitar Center and they had nothing but Soprano and Concert size strings and then down to Old Town Music in downtown Pasadena but the three story garage for free parking was closed. That pissed me off so I went back home. I ended up calling them but they had none in stock either. Like what the hell?!

I decided to just order on Amazon since I had some credit. In cruising around Amazon looking for replacement Tenor strings to order I came across an item called a string-tie bead that lets you quickly tie off the string and they sometimes increased intonation. Being intrigued, I looked into them further and found that these little rectangular, and round, time-savers are made out of a variety of substances such as plastic, stone and wood.

I thought well heck, I can make those. After about a half hour of research I sat down with my Dremel, pull saw and some dark stain and made a few out of some scrap maple wood I had to try out. Needless to say I was not disappointed in their use.

I was able to salvage the existing string and used the other beads on the existing strings. After re-tuning the strings, my ukulele actually sounded a tad bit louder and cleaner, the sound resonating better through the box. I ordered strings on Amazon anyway since they are so much of a hassle to pin down anywhere.

Quick Uke Bridge

I was playing around with some configurations on paper for a bridge mock-up that I could use on some of my ukulele projects and decided to just keep it simple. This is just a test bridge made from some wood ribbing of a cigar box that I had in my parts drawer.

I like the simplicity of this bridge and how quick I could cut it out with just a pull saw and some wood files so I will remake a couple from maple or something to use for permanently mounting rather than using a floating bridge all the time.


Christmas Cookie-tin Uke

Took a couple days that I had off around the holidays and made a uke using a small round cookie tin I bought from Von’s. Its Soprano size, not traditionally fretted with a 13 inch scale and sounds nice. I will use it for yearly Christmas decorations thats also playable. Its my first cookie tin ukulele and first soprano uke so Im good with how it came out.

New ukulele project

Working on a project for my Aunt who asked me to make my cousin a ukulele. She asked me a month or so ago and I finally found a nice Oliva cigar box to use for this project.

I really don’t have any extravagant power tools to work with past a couple cordless and do quite a bit using a handsaw, rasps and some wood carving tools.

One day I’ll get a nice table scroll saw from Harbor Freight or something but right now I kind of like the manual labor that goes into making something as it is a sort of therapy really. If it’s too easy then where’s the fun in that?

Below is my gallery of making this project from beginning to finish as well as making of a nice simple stand for it out of another cigar box I had laying around. The stand is a bit nice as the it will allow for storing picks, strings and even a tuner inside of it.

Building Bridges – for my Uke

Sooooo, using the bolt as a bridge on my cigar box uke is nice and all and resonates tone out of the box great but I wanted to get back to the basics and experiment a little bit with some bridge making so I made two different bridges. The one on the left is Spruce and I’ve come to think of it as being too soft for use. The one on the right is what I ended up using. Its made from a 1/4 x 12 inch piece of maple wood I grabbed from OSH (Orchard Supply Hardware). Home Depot has the same wood in their hobby style bins. Its also what I make my fret boards out of.


New Ukulele project – Tenor

I decided try a build based off of another Ukulele builders article in BUST Magazine, Shelley Rickey, ( It started out looking exactly like her plans but as she hinted in her own plans, play around with the design, be creative, so I played around with design quite a bit. This is my second cigar box ukulele build but I’m still going to do a dead set repro of Shelley’s design when I get a chance.

Weekend Ukulele Project – April 27

In between having some electronic work done in our home I slapped together a Ukulele project from a cigar box and scrap wood I had. I also cut some old mechanical classic guitar tuners in half and used those for the tuners, since I wasnt going to use them for anything, just dont like to throw away stuff. Will fret it, string it up and see how she plays once I can get to the guitar store and pick some up. Actually the three bottom of a classical guitar are the same diameter so I may only need the lower note string. We’ll see. Its concert size, overall length is 24 inches, scale from nut to bridge is 15 inches and it will have 18 frets. I bought an oil splash screen (used when cooking in a skillet) from 99 Cent Store, cut that up and glued pieces to cover the sound holes. There is also a piezo pickup and jack installed which are not clearly seen.