Autobots, transform and uke out!

by Jon

For a while now, I’ve wanted to make a “custom” ukulele, ie. take a cheap ukulele and mod it into something original. At first I’d wanted to take a green Fluke ukulele, slap on an Xbox logo and replace the buttons with ones colored like the buttons on Xbox controllers. Unfortunately, when I finally picked up a Fluke I wasn’t impressed at all with the instrument, and the plan quickly fizzled.

Then a few weeks ago I got an email about a local shop getting a new stock of Makala Dolphins, which, if you don’t know, are cheap, sturdy ukes that come in a variety of fun colors and with the right strings, can produce a pleasantly surprising sound. So I headed on down to the shop, to see if anything struck my fancy.

They’re all very nice, but I fell in love with the yellow sunburst model. Then I remembered that I’d  just got in some of the new Aquila Red Series strings that I hadn’t put on anything yet. Red strings on a yellow ukulele, a promising start-

Then it hit me: all I needed was a red Autobot emblem, and I’d have my very own Bumblebee Ukulele! So I bought all the parts and set aside an afternoon to put it together.

Let’s walk through the… transformation.

So, first we start with the yellow Makala Dolphin.

Bumblebee Ukulele Step I

Next we take off the strings.

Bumblebee Ukulele Step II

Now we get all the pieces together.

Bumblebee Ukulele Step III

I bought the smallest Autobot emblem I could find, but of course it was still too big. I tried removing the signature dolphin bridge, but I decided, why hide this uke’s heritage? So I traced the body of the uke on a sheet of paper, taped the emblem to the sheet, and cut out where the emblem and the bridge overlapped.

Bumblebee Ukulele Step IV

It worked perfectly! Time to string up those lovely new red strings.

Bumblebee Ukulele Step V

Voila! Snip off the excess string, and we have the Bumblebee Ukulele!

Bumblebee Ukulele Step VI

The strings still need a little stretching, but otherwise the uke looks and sounds pretty good. Once the strings have settled I’ll be sure to record a video of it in action. But for now, it’s on display in my office at work.

What do you folks think?

/jon