Have thought about buying a ukulele, but not sure what to choose? Maybe you don’t have a lot of extra money to spend. Did you know you can build your own ukulele? No, you don’t have to be a professional, or even particularly handy with tools. All you need are the right supplies and a desire to build it! This can also be a great lockdown/rainy day activity for you to do with your children, especially if they are interested in learning to play the ukulele.
There are several different DIY ukulele building kits, and which one you choose will ultimately come down to a matter of preference. I will talk about a few options in this blog and will offer some recommendations as to which might be the best choice for your particular situation. Then, we will go through a brief “how-to” to get you started on your DIY ukulele building journey! By the end of this blog, you may have found yourself a brand new hobby!
Build-your-own ukulele kits have grown in popularity along with the instrument itself in recent years. A quick search on Amazon shows that the kits range in price from very inexpensive (as little as $20 for the whole set) or as much as a few hundred dollars. Almost all the kits allow customization by the builder via painting of the unfinished wood of the body of the ukulele, and all of them come with everything you need included in the kit.
That being said, there will obviously be a significant difference in quality amongst these kits, so let’s talk about the pros and cons of each one.
Ukulele Kits Under $35
These inexpensive kits are a great beginner instrument and a fun project for young aspiring musicians. These would be ideal for classroom projects for students either in a music class or a woodworking class, as well, due to their affordability. Some of them even come with paints to get the full art project experience. Let’s talk a bit about the downsides to a uke kit that is under $35. While the price of an item doesn’t ALWAYS indicate how good the quality is, at this price point one can expect that these were mass-produced in a factory setting and may have quality control issues out of the box.
Some kits may come with broken or missing parts, and most are likely to come with directions that are unclear in English due to poor and rushed translations from the native language of the manufacturer. If you are going to choose these, it’s worth it to check reviews from the website you are purchasing it from to see what the majority experience with the kit was. You can find several different options at this price range on Amazon.
Ukulele Kits $35-$80
These “mid-range” kits are a great option if you want something economical but still of decent quality, perhaps for yourself as an amateur musician or for a more serious older child who has already demonstrated a commitment to playing and performing with the ukulele. They tend to be pretty simple to construct with clear instructions and you can even choose which tonewood you would like in your kit. In this price range is where you will find the classic “cigar box” ukulele kits, which run around $65-$80. Reviews on Amazon for kits at this price show good tone and decent quality construction. They are a great value for your money!
Ukulele Kits $80+
These kits are the highest price and generally the highest quality. They also can be the most complicated to put together so they are great for those that would like a bit of a challenge, but are probably not a good choice for a young child or for a classroom full of students. A specific kit, the StewMac Build Your Own Uke kit, has 5 star reviews across the board! Check out these high-end kits.
Building a Uke – Final Thoughts
The specifics of building a ukulele will be included in whatever kit you choose. However, here is a basic rundown of what you can expect inside the kit. Every kit will include the body of the instrument, the neck, and the tuners. You can also expect strings, but attaching these will be the last step.
If you want to decorate the body of the ukulele, you should attach the neck first and make sure the glue has dried before decorating. Then you can continue with the other steps. You may need some tools to assist you. Check your particular kit instructions to know for sure.
So that’s it! The very basics of building your own ukulele and the different options you have. Leave a comment below and let the readers know if you’ve ever built your own ukulele or any other instrument. Is it something you would like to try?