"Contra" ukulele

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Project by Lane posted 11-01-2014 11:05 PM 2322 views 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Having enjoyed the tenor cigar box ukulele I built in the spring (‘14), I looked for another project. My friend had seen a uke online that a fellow had built from scratch. He called it a contra as it was voiced lower than the baritone uke. We thought it would add some nice “bottom” to the group’s sound. This one was built on a 21.5” scale, similar to a tenor guitar.

I used a neck-through design similar to the tenor. I wanted more sound, so I put a 2-3/8” sound hole in the side of the box (the top as it’s played.)

The neck is oak, cut from an old vanity drawer front. The bridge and nut are scrap pieces of bloodwood that I had left over from another project. I used a 5/16” bolt for the saddle.

I noticed that cigar box guitar builders often use the bottom of the box for the soundboard as it’s much thinner than the lid, thus vibrating better. So, I used a similar approach. The pins that originally held the lid on had pulled loose, so I installed small hinges and a tiny hasp to keep the lid closed.

For the musicians in the group that might be curious, “traditionally” ukes are tuned re-entrant GCEA. I used a “low-G tuning) and dropped that one octave. Because of the lower tension needed to get those low pitches, I used nylon classical guitar strings (the EADG strings).

2 comments so far

View NormG's profile


6508 posts in 4062 days

#1 posted 11-04-2014 03:03 AM

Nicely done instrument

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View pt66's profile


1 post in 1905 days

#2 posted 01-31-2016 12:18 PM

I’m the guy that built the “Contra Ukulele”. Just finished the second one. You can see it on my face book page, Great River Ukulele. I use a 22.25 scale.

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