The Solid Body Electric Ukulele Project was a personal design project during my Junior year at Ohio State. The most challenging part of the design process was determining how to blend the scale and size of the ukulele with the performance of an electic guitar. The body was modeled after a Fender Stratocaster, and critical calculations for neck cross-section, action, fret spacing, and other dimensions were based on existing acoustic ukulele and electric guitar designs. Once these calculations were complete, a 3D model of the ukulele was constructed in Solidworks to prepare for the CNC machining process.
Unlike many electric guitar / ukulele designs, this thru-neck design was milled of a continuous block of wood. Strips of Birch were laminated together in a general body shape, with excess material around the edges for clamping and cutting. The CNC process took approximately four hours, three for rough cutting and one for finishing. After the CNC milling process; routing and sanding smoothed out the ukulele's shape and made way for electrical and tuning components.
Holes were routed out for the two pickups, and a bridge of the appropriate height and spacing was machined out of aluminum. Tuning knobs and the other bridge components were repurposed from an old electric guitar. Additional holes were added for the volume and tone knobs, as well as the quarter inch jack.
Finally, the pickups and potentiometers from the donor guitar were wired up and installed in the body of the ukulele. After a few tests and modifications, the electric ukulele was ready for its first play test! After playing traditional ukuleles for a few years, the ability to amplify, add distortion, and play around with other pedals and effects was incredible. I look forward to finishing the body with stain and a few touch ups after the semester ends at Ohio State.