Tenor Uke

I have no idea

May 2020

It’s a little known fact that in certain Polynesian dialects, the word “ukulele” has a rare recursive meaning, loosely translating to “I was so bored, I made a ukulele.”

It happens. StewMac had kits on sale. It had been a while since I built an acoustic instrument, and it seemed like a low-stress way to pass the time. My main acoustic guitar was a StewMac kit, and it came out great, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

It was quite fun to build, and I think it looks pretty good. My only issue is that I don’t really know what to do with a ukulele. I don’t find it that easy to play…it’s small (although it’s a tenor, which is on the larger side of ukuleles) and I don’t know the tuning so it requires a lot of extra thinking to roam around the fretboard. I’m also not enamored with the sound (of ukuleles in general) and just never think “oh, a ukulele part would sound good here.” This is certainly a lack of vision on my part and not a limitation of the instrument. I’m holding out hope that it will become some sort of writing tool, where not being able to mindlessly play the same four chords would be an advantage in getting out of the comfort rut, but we’ll see. I should probably drop a soundboard pickup in so that I can least run it through a ludicrous chain of effects.


The back, sides, and top are laminated walnut. The fingerboard is also walnut, but I dyed it black because I wanted more color contrast. The neck is mahogany. The StewMac kits come partially serviced (the sides are bent, the neck is shaped, the fingerboard slots are cut, etc.) and are great for people who don’t have a shop full of tools. Since I was easing into it, I built it as suggested (even though I do have a lot of odd luthiery tools) and it all went smoothly. I do wish that I’d used my spool clamps to glue the back on instead of using the enormous rubber band, but it seems to have worked.

Wish uke were here

I’m completely unfamiliar with ideal ukulele tone, but this one certainly sounds like a ukulele to me.