Tag Archives: Ukulele

Making a Ukulele Case – Case one

I wanted to make my own ukulele case. I used 6mm ply for the box and 12mm ply for the lid. Ridiculously, for most people this won’t be a cheaper option than buying commercially, but there is a sense of satisfaction – and I have enough raw materials to make several cases which brings the per case cost down. This is therefore my first case, and the plan is for there to be more.

The first step was to measure the ukulele. I placed the ukulele on the 6mm ply and drew around it, then cut out a straight edge shape which enclosed the uke, with room to spare. Using this shape as a guide, I cut side walls to fit.

Here was mistake one – I only have a ‘jigsaw’ type of saw, a circular saw would have given me straighter edges – and so when it came to putting the box together, there were gaps. This wasn’t too big a problem as I would be covering these.

I used some wood at each corner and screwed the sides into it, reinforcing with plenty of wood glue (which helped fill the gaps).

This shows the newly constructed ukulele case. Note the sides are held on with both glue and screws.

This is a close up of the first uke case I constructed. Wood glue is used to hold the sides on, as well as filling out some of the gaps due to dodgy cutting. The blocks are there to allow me to screw the sides together and provide additional mechanical fastening.

To make the lid to fit, I used the box itself to draw onto the 12mm ply before cutting (I should have done this by cutting both lid and base at the same time, clamping the 6mm and 12mm ply together).

If I had a tablesaw I would have made a solid box, and then sliced it into base and lid afterwards, making a thicker lid section.

Next, I covered the box and lid in canvas, held on by glue and spraypainted red. This hid the imperfections in the box itself. I added a black piece of webbing (again glued) to prevent any edges of canvas ‘starting to ‘lift’ (I had the ends of the case done like a birthday present), and attached the lid to the base with hinges and fasteners.

Spraypainted and covered ukulele case

The fasteners I chose are quite sensitive to positioning, it is very easy to get it too loose or too tight. The trick is to fasten the smaller section to the lid, and then use this to position the clasp ‘in situ’, just below where it wants to sit naturally whilst ‘closed’. On the clasps that I bought, the clasp hinge was actually a small slot, and so pushing in on the clasp slides the hinge away from the box and gives a ‘locking’ effect. There’s also a place to put a locking pin should the clasp be too loose.

To make a handle I used a piece of webbing and screwed it to the case using several screws, this was backed up with more glue. I glued a second piece of webbing inside the first in order to hide the screw heads and make a thicker handle.

My next step was to line the case. I used an old camping mat to pad the base and lid,leaving a gap for the bridge. I got a block of foam from a local habidashers. Simply cutting the foam with a knife to give me the shape of my uke – for the neck I cut out the chunk of foam, and then sliced this in half so I would have foam under the neck. With headstock I just cut the foam away completely as the ukulele was held securely elsewhere.

I got some foam cut at a local fabric store, and cut the inserts myself with a knife.

Finally, I wrapped the foam in faux-fur material (tasteful) held on with fabric glue. This makes for a very snug fit with my uke, but fit it does.

LIning foam with some faux-fur material

It may not be the neatest job, but all in all I’m quite pleased with it – and I’ve learned some lessons that I’m already applying to case two, a larger case for a concert ukulele.

My First Ukulele

My first Ukulele was a Stagg Concert, a UC-60S. I got this as it wasn’t too expensive, but it wasn’t the cheapest either. I didn’t want to spend too much in case I didn’t take to this ukulele thing, but I didn’t want to go very cheap and have a bad experience. It was also what my local music store had in stock.

So I bought it.

Ukulele Bridge
Close up of the Bridge on my Stagg Concert acoustic Uke

I soon found that I needed a tuner, if I’m new to an instrument, how can I hope to know if a problem is me, or if it is that I’ve an out of tune instrument? So I bought a small electrical clip-on snark tuner and I tuned up. I soon found that my strings were not holding their tuning. New strings take a while to settle down and require frequent tuning – just what you need as a novice! Fortunately, there are ways to help the strings keep their tune (see the end of the video).

I had my ukulele. Now what? Well, I signed up for some lessons with the lovely Lorraine, and in the meantime I downloaded some songbooks from the internet. By following chord diagrams I learned to play simple two chord songs, then learned a third chord (a song such as ‘Ring of Fire’), and eventually four chords. In this way, I gradually learned the more useful chords and began to pick up speed. Indeed, I went at such as pace that Lorraine’s ‘beginners’ class seemed rather slow for me when it came. This was great progress, I was able to play an instrument!

I may not have been great, but when I started I had said to myself ‘I’ll be happy just to strum along to a few songs’.

I joined a local ukulele group (there are groups all over the world) – and fortnightly went to a local pub to jam. By early the next year I had played my first gig, admittedly as part of a large group, at a local music venue. That summer I’d played at a music festival, and by the end of the year we’d played venues big and small, from the local theatre, to beer festivals, to small venues as part of the old folks tea afternoon. It’s been a real blast – I still have to pinch myself that I’m performing in public, having picked up a musical instrument for the first time relatively recently. I’m never going to be as good as someone who started playing at a young age, but the ukulele makes me happy, and it makes my audience happy…. … it’s a happy making instrument.

My first ukulele sits in its case, hardly touched these days as I’ve now bought ukes that I use a lot more – both better ukes, and ukes that are cheap (and hence can be battered with impunity!) – the Stagg isn’t cheap enough to use and abuse, and it’s not pricey enough to be ‘great’ – so it doesn’t get out much. I’ve added some ‘buttons’ so I could fit a guitar strap, and it has a big crack from when I dropped it in the pub. But that’s okay, it’ll be there for me. It was my first ukulele, and will always have a place in my affections for that reason.