Sure, you could just order yourself a standard ukulele. That’s what most people would do. But where’s the joy in that?
When my Dad passed away, we went through all his belongings and one thing stood out to me. What meant the most were the things he made himself. The coffee table, the statue, the poems.
The times I look back on when we were the happiest – we were making things together. The model airplane, the natural rock fireplace, a seat for the boat. Something very special happens when we are involved in the making of something. Especially when we do it together…
Money No Object? The Musicmakers Ukulele Kit. Musicmakers are a genuine USA owned company whose reputation for quality and clarity of instructions are the best in the business. This kit is the real deal, using solid woods – spruce, mahogany and rosewood and takes around 40 hours to build. If quality and impact are important, this it it. Learn more here.
Under $60? “Gittylele” Ukulele Kit, by C.B. Gitty. This is our favourite. Don’t let the lack of reviews on Amazon fool you. This laser-cut kit is made in the USA by C.B. Gitty, a very well respected family owned company. Takes about 2 hours to assemble, then the fun is personalizing it! Check discount here.
Under $40? We chose the value-packed Zimo DIY Make Your Own Ukulele Kit. For the money, this kit will provide challenges, fun and satisfaction. It’s not perfect, but if you’re after something for the holidays or a weekend with the kids, they will love it. Paint it, decorate it, sand it, stain it, oil it – play it! Find it here.
Building your own ukulele is an extremely rewarding experience. You’ll end up with your most cherished musical instrument.
You could also be interested in building a ukulele with your kid as a fun project to do together. There are many much simpler and easier build-it-yourself ukulele kits that will give you some of the same feeling of accomplishment without so many hours dedicated to the pursuit.
Let’s take a look at all the different options that exist for building a ukulele from easy to very advanced, and you can pick out whichever seems most suited to you.
Pre-Built Ukulele Kits
Great for: projects with kids, cheap custom projects
These ukulele kits have much of the hard work done for you and can be finished in just 1-2 hours. Much of your work will be lining things up, screwing, sanding, and possibly drilling.
Here are two kits that fall into this category –
The Zimo DIY Ukulele is about as easy as it gets. All the hole are pre-drilled, so it’s mostly just lining up screws and stringing your uke, though some light sanding will also be required. You can expect this to take about 30-60 minutes to build and it’s simple enough that kids will be able to help out a lot along the way. Check it out here.
This Ukulele Kit is a much more unique looking ukulele that will be sure to draw a lot of interest from anyone who sees it. C.B. Gitty estimates this kit can be built in about 90 – 120 minutes, and if you’d like to check out the kit instructions first so you know what you’re getting into, you can view the PDF instructions.
This kit will take more attention to detail and patience than the kit above, but the results are a much more unique and cooler ukulele in the end. Here’s a video of one of these ukes being played –
What’s also cool about this kit is that the design is unique, so yours might not look anything similar to someone else’s who bought the same kit! Check it out here.
Advanced Ukulele Kits
Great for: people who want to build their own ukulele but don’t have the woodworking equipment or skills to build the body of their ukulele.
Taking a pretty sizable step up in complexity and time to build, these “build your own ukulele” kits are much more advanced because you’re going to be build the body of your ukulele and assembling all the parts together in a much more professional manner.
These kits require tools like drills, wood glue, clamps, a variety of sandpapers, masking tape, and more. Finishing these kits can take dozens of hours and vary widely on your skill and precision, so you’ll definitely want to make sure you have some free time over a few weeks to get everything done!
If you’re looking for a more unique ukulele that will stand out in a crowd, check out this concert ukulele kit from Musicmakers. The body has a sharp, almost classical-instrument looking appearance to it. They estimate this build will take anywhere from 15 to 40 hours depending on your skill level and how long you want to spend on aesthetic finishing touches. The end result sounds beautiful as you can hear in the video below –
Musicmakers offer more than just a kit. They offer a way to build your own professional quality instrument. Check out more here. The PDF instructions can be viewed here, take a look at the process and different tools needed along the way to decide if this build your own ukulele kit is right for you. Find one here.
Build from Scratch
For the truly hardcore makers, you may want to build your ukulele from scratch – which means buying and shaping all the wood yourself.
If this is the path you want to go down, we have some useful resources to guide you along the way. One great resource to get you started is this Wood Gears page, which shows the process from start to finish of two friends each building their own ukulele from scratch. They also shared some of their planning documents which are interesting to look over.
The Guild of American Luthiers has some great ukulele plans you can buy from them, which they will print out full-size and ship to you.
All in all, whatever your level of commitment (or bravery!) – it’s a fun journey to go on either with a loved one, or just by yourself for the satisfaction of it!