The E-Ukulele

A small soprano ukulele was built from a cigar box...

The story

A few years ago, I started building small instruments together with a good friend. This was done in a rather rudimentary way and most materials we used came from the hardware store.

This small soprano ukulele was built in the summer of 2017. The body is made from a cigar box measuring 2030x162x44 mm at a thickness of 5 mm. A 550 mm long wooden board is set into this box, which serves as a guitar neck. Four Nyltech strings are stretched over this and are attached to a bridge that would actually be intended for a bass guitar. However, since the distances between the individual strings are greater on a bass than on a ukulele, we used agraffes to force the strings into the correct position. This not only gives the instrument a peculiar appearance, but also its own special sound characteristics. The sound of the ukulele is, of course, anything but flawless due to the way it’s built. The timbre is rather light, but becomes more cutting when played more firmly and is then accompanied by buzz sounds. The soprano ukulele is tuned to G – C – E – A and has a natural range from C4 to B5.

This ukulele was my second attempt at sampling an instrument for Kontakt. My recording setup consisted of two Shure KSM 141 SL microphones (set to cardioid), placed about 30 cm apart and about 40 cm from the body of the ukulele. The electric ukulele also has an integrated piezo microphone, which is mounted near the bridge underneath the strings. For this reason, the ukulele can also be connected to guitar amplifiers and effects devices. This is also how it got its name. I sampled each semitone of the instrument 15 times. Five times piano, five times mezzoforte and five times forte fortissimo. This results in five round robins for each recorded dynamic level. The Kontakt instrument also has a small GUI. There, the recordings of the stereo microphones can be freely combined with the mono recordings of the piezo microphone by means of two controls. The stereo spread of the Shure KSM 141 SL microphones can also be adjusted there and an additional reverb can be switched on.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank David Hilowitz, whose YouTube tutorials helped me a lot in creating this sample instrument. I would also like to thank Patrick Bächli, who built the ukulele with me.

SPECS:
Tuning: G – C – E – A
Microphones: 2x Shure KSM 141 SL (cardioid), 1x K&K Hot Spot
Unpacked audio size: 546 MB
Kontakt 6.5.1

Reviews

Leave a review to let others know what you thought of the instrument!

  • My wish got granted!

    The Guitar is still my favourite Pianobook instrument, and I really wished for something like it but on a higher range, and this is it! Pristine sound, amazing character, very dynamic, and with an excellent GUI that now supports two mic placements, along with a Stereo image knob and a nice little Verb to top it all. Fantastic instrument by Ronny, thank you!

    Alex Raptakis20 October 2021