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For the adventurous amongst you, there are luthier kits which give you the basic building blocks of a ukulele and let you build your own.
Kits come in various levels of completeness. There are those with the body already completed such as this cheap mahogany kit and this more intricate kit. There are also ones with the body yet to be put together like those below.
If you're confident in your abilities as a luthier, you could always buy some koa wood and get cracking.
Stewart Macdonald Mahogany Ukulele Kit Review
After getting a Mahalo U30 as a *FUN* xmas present and then a Bugsgear Eleuke as a nicer sounding instrument I figured I would like a better quality solid (not laminated) ukulele, I had originally wanted a Pono but after blowing all my cash on the Eleuke I had to realise that my funds were limited, I had been reading a lot of reviews of ukes, how they are constructed and how to make one yourself. Years spent building model aircraft from balsa wood had left me with a fair understanding of small fiddly bits of wood, funny smelling glues and various forms of clamps and strapping (quiet at the back there) so I decided I would get a uke kit and make one myself. I trawled ebay and the rest of the interweb for instructions and kits and eventually bought one from Hana Lima Ia in Hawaii for £55 delivered (importation tax etc added another £20!). The kit duly arrived however I was a little disappointed to find that it was the Stewart MacDonald uke kit and not a Hana Lima Ia kit, still I had been reading lots about them and duly set about preparing to build the kit.
The kit has everything you need except tools and glue and they tell you exactly what you will need to get in addition. The components of the kit are: mahogany; top, bottom, sides, neck, tail block and neck block, spruce; braces and linings, plastic nut, saddle and purfling, ebony bridge, rosewood finger board with pearloid markers, silver nickel fretwire, friction tuners and black plastic strings.
One uke jig, a selection of G-clamps, some clothes pegs and a pile of spool clamps later I started the kit, the instructions are very good and easy to follow, measure twice cut once and all that. Over a period of a couple of weeks the kit slowly came together, I spent about an hour a night on it and took my time; clamping, glueing, clamping, sanding, oiling sanding, oiling, etc. The end result was a solid mahogany soprano ukulele.
The finished article has a few cosmetic flaws due mainly to my inexperience as a luthier however I am very pleased with it. She sounds very bright and punchy and the intonation in the neck is spot on, soundwise, compared to my mahalo U30 it's night and day however it should be. After building this kit I have a lot more confidence and understanding of how the instrument works and how to adjust it. I replaced the friction tuners with geared tuners as they are so much easier to tune with I also replace the standard strings with the remains of the Worth strings which came with my Eleuke.
The sound is lovely and bright and cheerful and notably louder and lighter than my Mahalo U30, she's finished with Danish Oil which brings out the grain beatifully but doesn't dull the tone. The Worth strings really compliment the instrument and are very nice to play with.
Overall I am very pleased with the kit and the end results are a very nice, playable lovely sounding instrument which I enjoy picking up and playing although the increased volume has raised a couple of complaints from the family. If you are interested in ukuleles, like the idea of building your own instrument and have some time spare then get a kit and get building you can't get a better uke for the money and as it is home made it also has a story.
Review by Martin Smith