A New Kind Of Ukulele.

Why not an electric uke with a solid body? It leads to some questions, though…

  1. Single coil or a humbucking pickup?

B. No cutaway, single cutaway, double cutaway?

III. Vibrato tailpiece or fixed? If fixed, Tele style or a Stop tailpiece?

4th. A body with a carved top like an LP? Beveled like an SG? Or do you like a Strat shape? Maybe a Flying V?

  1. What kind of tuner arrangement? 2 x 2 or 4 on a side? If 4 on one side, which side?

<s>||||</s>|. What gauge strings? The scale would be so short I think you’d want extra or super lights if you tend to bend the strings. Hmm… that tail piece…

G. Can Bixby make one small enough to fit on the body? A 'synchronized" one like a Strat?

Let’s bat this around for a while.

Single coil. If you want flexibility, get a coil tapping humbucker.

Rectangular, like Bo Diddley’s guitar, or copy the Gumby shape of a Guild S-200

When this question comes up, I always vote for vibrato.

I’d say a flat top, because I’m not crazy about how my hands lay on a carved top. A flying V would be a neat body shape, though.

2X2, just because it gives you a shorter headstock.

Hmm, you’re probably going to want to look at a string calculator for that.

Nitpick: it’s Bigsby.

I’m sure they can do anything you like, provided you’re willing to pay for it. However, it’d probably be cheaper and easier to take a strat trem to a machine shop and have them cut it down to being 4 strings instead of 6. That’d be harder with a Bigsby style tremolo, even though they look cooler than any other tremolo.

There are some solid body electric ukuleles out there for around $100-$120. I see one that’s Les Paul shaped, and another that’s an SG shape, but I don’t see any with a vibrato. :slight_smile:

I’d think the string tension would be far too low for a whammy bridge. The strings would change pitch from a passing breeze.

I don’t care for whammy bridges myself. I generally left the arm off my Strat unless I was playing Summertime Blues. The only good thing about Bigsbys are you get to tune your guitar a LOT. With a Strat style, you’d just need to remove the bridge pieces for the 1st and 6st string.

Shorter headstock? You’re concerned it’d be too long to get through doors and stuff with a 12" scale and 4 x 1 tuner. It’s a freakin’ uke!

With one 4 wire humbucker, you can switch between series, parallel, and either single coil. Maybe we could build a FuzzFace or compressor into it.

I’d want to go subtle with this. Like playing it through a Fender Twin Reverb sitting on a Fender 4x12 cabinet.

They already exist:


They’re tenors. I want a full range of them, starting with soprano ukes. With steel ball end strings.

The middle one is soprano, and the third one comes with steel strings. And those aren’t the only ones available. They are also available in concert size. You could, at least in theory, put steel strings on almost any uke, but having tried some I think you might quickly figure out why steel stringed ukes are not the norm.

Doug, but are you referring to solid body ukes or acoustic ukes? Nylon strings won’t work with magnetic pickups. They’re non-ferrous.

Solid. I briefly had the one in the middle link I posted earlier. Solid body, soprano sized, with nylon strings. I returned it because the electronics were defective. It had a slight distortion that gave it a permanent fuzz guitar sound. I would have exchanged it for a good one, but the seller (not the one in the link) refused to issue an RMA, insisting I send it back at my own expense with no guarantee they’d replace it. (But that’s another story.)

I have the Les Paul shaped one (made by Epiphone) mentioned in post #2. It’s nice, but it’s a hollow body. It doesn’t have much volume unless you play through an amp. But played through an amp you can get all kinds of sounds out of it.

The problem with steel strings on such a small instrument is that instead of you shredding on the instrument, the instrument shreds you.

Well, you asked. That’s what I’d do. It really does look like the market already makes what you’re thinking of (or heck, makes an advanced version of what I’m thinking of, see below). Maybe you’d have to make a pickup change and some home modding if you really want a fuzz in the thing, but cram a small fuzz pedal’s circuit board and a 9V battery compartment in there (screw Fuzz Face, get a Big Muff)*, and you’re set.

Since you’ve played one, and I haven’t, I’m absolutely not going to say you’re wrong. But, it does seem like this is an issue that can be corrected by selecting lighter string gauges. After all, a stock Squier Mini-Strat cuts into my fingers far less than a regular strat when strung with my preferred gauges, and it’s not too much longer than a baritone uke. Similarly, the tension on my pedal steel is much higher than any spanish-style guitar I’ve ever picked up, and it’s far shorter than most of them.
For that matter, my vote is now to get a Mini-Strat, and tune it in your preferred way. Get several, and use different gauges to make different ranges comfortable. Tenor, baritone, soprano - who cares? You have six strings now.
*Ok to be honest, I don’t know why you would do this. Electra-Westone made weird guitars that had slots for effects in the body for some unknown reason, they did not last. I love gadgets, and even I thought that was a silly idea. Foot pedals are the best, they don’t require you to turn them on/off with your hands.

Jimi used a Fuzz Face. If I’m gonna play Watchtower or Voodoo Child on uke, I want to use the stomp boxes he used.

In case you weren’t aware, the soprano, tenor, and concert ukes are all tuned the same. The different body sizes just effect the tone quality. And the baritone just plays the same notes as standard guitar with the low e and a strings missing.

Hendrix would buy a lot of different Fuzz Faces and use one that sounded good until it sounded terrible because they weren’t consistent at all. Eventually many of his were custom fuzzes built by Roger Mayer, and they were in Fuzz Face boxes because they had a bunch of spare boxes through fixing/modifying so many of them. As Mayer says in the first article, it’s not a great fuzz, even if Jimi used one. Jimi used ones designed by other folks too (and bought a Big Muff at Manny’s Music shortly before his death), so he was obviously not that happy with the Fuzz Face himself.

If anything, this is more argument for not building it in to the uke. It’d be better to have it easy to switch out on the floor if you found that your fuzz face wasn’t sounding right because you’re not using a strat, either. There’s a lot more flexible fuzzes out there, and many can cop a good Fuzz Face tone without that circuit’s design’s problems.

Nope, I wasn’t aware. Even still, it doesn’t explain why lighter strings couldn’t solve the problem of shredded fingers even on a tenor uke when tuned to the standard pitch. Electric guitar singles come as thin as .007. Stringing a 19in scale instrument at ukulele pitches in an online calculator yields what seems to be an extremely loose tension of 5-7lbs per string. For reference, a 25.5 scale guitar strung with .010s calculates out to 25-16lbs per string.