Buying a ukulele today is extremely easy and affordable, but some people aren’t about doing things the easy way. Some people are born “makers“, who love the satisfaction of building something start to finish. To makers, building their own ukulele will be an extremely rewarding experience and they’ll end up with their 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 great kits that fall into this category –
Zimo DIY Ukulele
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.
Musicmakers Cigar Box Ukulele Kit
This Cigar Box Ukulele Kit by Musicmakers is a much more unique looking ukulele that will be sure to draw a lot of interest from anyone who sees it. Musicmakers estimates this kit can be built in about 90 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 does require you to do some gluing, drilling, and sanding. 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 cigar box ukes being played –
What’s also cool about this kit is the cigar boxes are unique, so your might not look anything similar to someone else’s who bought the same kit! Some people have also reported that they use the inside of the cigar box to carry their capo and tuners while they travel – very functional!
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!
Grizzly Soprano Koa Ukulele Kit
Made from beautiful Koa wood, this ukulele kit by Grizzly is a wonderfully challenging project that you will also find enjoyable. The end result is a very traditional soprano ukulele that will look professionally made. Here is a PDF of the 21-page instruction booklet, so you can see what’s all required before buying.
Musicmakers Concert Uke Kit
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 also offers a Baritone Ukulele Kit. 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.
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.
Another popular option is buying a ukulele blueprint from Elderly to guide your building process.