Prototype tenor ukulele


Hi @jbv! Thanks for the link to the trailer. Although I did not attempt to commune with the dead, there are many aspects of Danny’s journey which are eerily familiar. There is a section of his bio which should be a mantra to all of us Glowforgers.

" He’s never had any training in violin-making, so his “technique” is one part pictures on the internet, one part trial and error, and one part mania."

Certainly describes me. I wish I had Jake Shimabukuro call me up and ask me to make him something!

EDIT: Oops I got it wrong. The violinist didn’t ask him, HE called the violinist and told him he could make a copy of a Guaneri! Lol! Wow, that Danny’s dauntless!


Yeah, awesome doesn’t really cut it in this case. This is something I thought about (along with soooo many other GF ideas), but seeing it now there’s no way I could do this. I’m extremely intrigued as to how it all came about conceptually and design-wise. You’re thinking and designing at another level. I really want to start doing a bunch of misfit toy instruments, guitar pedals, percussion, etc. I won’t ask you to share, but perhaps you’d consider selling the design? Does GF have their store up and running for customer contributed designs? Haven’t looked… :blush: Great, great stuff. Keep up the very excellent creativity!


Thank you for you generous words, @vitaetmusica. I would consider putting up some version of this on the Glowforge store but I’d have to work out every conceivable bug :ant: for me to be comfortable with that. There is also the question of whether or not it should be all proofgrade materials including tuners, nut, saddle, and fret (the only material that GF would not provide being the strings). For repeatability that would likely be the way to go, though I would probably make it “hackable” so one can add their own “real” tuners, bone nut/saddle, etc. I still have a lot more work to do but it is certainly a goal somewhere. But first, I have to get it to the supervised extra-curricular activity level for my daughter’s school :sweat_smile: ! Cheers!


Being a musician of 40+ years I just had to post…

Hands down, the most amazing project I think I’ve ever seen made on the GF. Would LOVE to see a vid or hear a snippet of it being played.




Inspiring post, wonderful write-up! Bookmarked for future inspiration.


Wow, thanks so much, @ej.james! Working on that video!


@timjedwards - Thank you!


I don’t even have any words for this kind of talent!


@terrilee :frowning_man: :bowing_man: :pray:


Brilliant! While we have a Glowforge, there’s no way i have the skills, nor the time to do something so complex.
Would you make a Uke for me? Or rather my son? He’s a great player but only has this crummy old instrument that is almost impossible to tune.
Or would you license the plans? Including the math for the frets …


There is no reason to be that complex. Cigar box guitars are a very deep rabbit hole that I would bet your son would enjoy to study and from the study work out the design that you could cut out on the Glowforge. You don’t mention how old he is, but if old enough to watch YouTube or work in inkscape the pride in achievement cannot be underestimated and could change the arc of his life.


Thank you. My son is 50 (!) and a very accomplished musician. He has, however, no craft skills and has never even heard of Glowforge. We have a GF at our shop ( and have some experience making things from wood and acrylic ( This is not how we generate our income – the laser is just my private indulgence, but as a guitarist i can appreciate what it takes to make an instrument. Meanwhile, I am very happy with my Martin guitar 00028 from 1976.


Very cool to have such a collectors piece.

My mother tells the story of how the family had inherited an original Stradivarius and her mother gave it away to a woman she met on a bus who said her son was wanting to learn the violin. Her parents were like that. You can ask any Medical person about the Gelpi Retractor that her father invented and took no money and only asked that it be given his name.

Your website is very interesting with not just a few posters I might wish to have as well. I wonder if your magazine would make an issue of the artisans still hand building musical instruments…


I’ll swap you whatever you want for the Ukulele plans!
And as far as the magazine goes: we haven’t had an issue for over a year, but the next one will be about Craft. I have great piece from Tony Mann (a Brit who taught in Canada and went on to make toys) where he explains the difference between Art and Craft. And at p98a we do what we call Hacking Gutenberg: we use old printing presses from the 20s and 50s with polymer plates which we make directly from digital data. Try to get craft out of that “self-made" corner


Hi @erik2 and thanks for your compliments. There are a few reasons why you would not want to use my svgs. For one, it is a prototype and a lot of errors in the design were fixed later as the project progressed. Parts needed some filing and finessing here and there. Two, if you and your son are accomplished musicians I do not think the proofgrade draft board that the plans are designed for will satisfy your ears. It’s not awful - but compared to even the cheapest ukulele my daughter has, it has no resonance at all. It does have a unique sound that I do not entirely hate, but it would be the perfect ukulele to play when you don’t want to make too much noise :sweat_smile: . I’ll get around to posting a video of me playing it so you can hear for yourself - a lot of people have been demanding that. Three, the design as a whole was meant to be implemented in an environment where traditional luthier tools are not available. Compromises to the longevity, playability, on top of sound quality were made for this purpose. If I were to sell a ukulele made from this design, I would have to charge something that would be on par with a mid level ukulele from Kala. The Kala will sound much better. And they’re having a sale on many models.

Honestly, I could not possibly match the sound quality and playability you could get from one of these. At least not for now, and certainly not one made out of draftboard. I am not just saying this out of humility. It is my intention, as stated above, to continue working on Glowforge made/assisted ukuleles to get to a point where I can have something I can be proud of - that is to say, something I can give to a professional musician so that they can use it in a performance. I’m not there yet, but stay tuned as I work my way down “the rabbit hole” as @rbtdanforth would say.

Finally the maths for the fret spacing is available for anyone from Stewart-Macdonald as they have a fret position calculator online. Just plug in the number of frets you want, your fret scale length (metric or imperial), select what type of instrument you are making, and voila - you get your fret spaces. It even gives you the bridge position with proper compensation.

Anyway I hope this was helpful and I regret that my design is not quite up to scratch for general consumption.

At your service,


Then there is this…


Wow!! I’m super impressed! I have never played the Ukulele but this concept has me wanting to tackle making one and trying it out just for the challenge. I have a lot of experience in Adobe Illustrator (I’m a creative director at my day job) but, I don’t know where to begin as far as planning out the shape, length of the walls, etc. Is there a resource for the basic plans of a generic ukulele design that I can start from?


Hi @erich. There’s a few out there but this site has the most comprehensive set of plans. Not only do they have plans for instruments, but also plans for tools and jigs. I would say for traditional building those tools, especially the side benders are instrumental - pardon the pun:

I used their plans as a base and adapted it to my purposes. As an important general caveat, never accept any plan is accurate. Always check dimensions given vs. the measurements you make in Illustrator and correct accordingly. Check fret position on the plan against something like Stewart-Macdonald’s fret position calculator (a free resource on their site). As for the build process, I would look at Mya-Moe’s YouTube channel. Check out their “birth of a Mya-Moe” playlist. For some reason it’s out of order but you will get to see the process of building a ukulele from start to finish in excruciating detail. For a “quick” overview I would check out Stephen McLean’s YouTube channel:

His “How to make a ukulele” playlist is invaluable:

As for the rest, give Google a workout. There’s a lot out there. Cheers.


Awesome, thanks so much for the info. Looking forward to trying it out. :slight_smile: