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Ukulele out of LEGO bricks?

Ukulele

Ukulele in LEGO bricks


You betcha!

Realising I’ve never owned a uke, I decided I’d try to make one. But instead of using wood, like any normal person, I decided to use LEGO bricks. Of course, there were some challenges.

  1. The shape. In case you didn’t realise, LEGO bricks are kinda blocky, full of right angles. Great for buildings, not so great for ukuleles. I tried several techniques to get a rounded shape, also keeping in mind it had to be strong, and the one I finally decided on was a fairly simple SNOT version, using lots of these and these. I was pretty pleased how it turned out.
  2. Strength. This model has to be able to withstand the tension of 4 fairly tight strings without exploding. I ended up using a pre-stressed Technic rod up the middle of the neck, which allowed the head to be securely attached to the body, and it works really well. The body (briefly described above) ended up being very strong, but I had to use a saddle attached to the lower end to get enough strength – the saddle I originally designed was attached to the front, and was only able to tune the top string to about B. The final design allowed me to tune it to D (still way short of a real uke, but good enough for me).
  3. Uke Head

    The head of the ukulele

    Tuning. I had to come up with a way of tuning the strings, that was able to take the tension without slipping, and didn’t look too yucky. I tried a couple of ways, but this one worked best, probably because it’s the simplest! Those of you with eagle eyes will notice the LEGO worm gears are wound the wrong way, so the keys have to be turned the opposite way to normal. I did try putting them on the other side of the main gear, which fixed the turning anomoly, but they ended up way too close to the top of the neck, and I kept knocking them while playing, so I decided this way was best.
  4. Intonation. This was always gonna be a problem, because LEGO doesn’t do logarithmic intervals easily. I decided early on that near enough would be fine, as long as it sounds OK when played. I simply mapped out the actual logarithmic scale on paper, and picked the distances to match as closely as possible. I was quite pleased with the result.

So, after all that, I ended up with what I like to call an alto ukulele – it is tuned to C-F-A-D (normal ukes are generally tuned to G-C-E-A). I also thought it needed a stand so I can display it on the mantle piece, you can see it poking out the bottom. And I think it really sounds OK, but you can judge for yourself:

 

22 Responses to “Ukulele out of LEGO bricks?”

  1. Bearded Jon Says:

    I’d love to build one of these. Any chance you’ll post some building instructions or more detail photos of the build?

  2. Crawfie Says:

    What a clever brother I have….wel done bro!!

  3. Mike Says:

    So cool! Can you add an instruction set?!

  4. Tech Curl - Playable Lego Ukulele Says:

    [...] Crawford’s brick ukulele can be played and its four strings are tuned to C, F, A and [...]

  5. Mary Eleazar Says:

    1) I, too would love instructions, and possibly lessons on uke playing!
    2) I think I love you.

  6. Playable Lego Ukulele Says:

    [...] our fellow Lego-loving pal, John, over on MAKE: Ross Crawford's brick ukulele can be played and its four strings are tuned to C, F, A and [...]

  7. Playable Lego Ukulele | User Car Buying Guide - 100% Free Download Says:

    [...] LEGO UKULELE May.26, 2011 in Uncategorized Ross Crawford’s brick ukulele can be played as great as the 4 strings have been tuned to C, F, A as great as D. This indication [...]

  8. Um Ukelele feito de Lego Says:

    [...] Link via Make [...]

  9. World’s Strangest | Playable LEGO Ukulele Says:

    [...] Link via Make | Photo: Ross Crawford [...]

  10. Rosco Says:

    Thanks for all the comments! I see quite a few want instructions, I will try to put together an LDraw of it, but it might take a while, I’ll post it here when I can.

    Oh and Mary, feel free to contact me ;) http://www.br-eng.info/who-we-are-mainmenu-20/3-management/2-rosco-head

  11. LEGO Ukulele Perfect for Geeky Hawaiians - Technabob Says:

    [...] Crawford has taken a few boxes of LEGO bricks and used them to build his own ukulele. The instrument is playable and can even be tuned. Crawford says that there were a bunch of [...]

  12. LEGO Ukulele | Lega Nerd Says:

    [...] potete suonarlo QUI la traccia.In approfondimento altre foto:Mostra Approfondimento ▼Fonte: Qui Arte, Idee Share Tweet Buzz Effettuare il login per lasciare un commento 0Commenta X [...]

  13. Tim P Says:

    Nice job.
    Any ideas how many bricks went into building this?

  14. LEGO Ukelele « Robots and Stuff Says:

    [...] LEGO.This looks very nicely done, with working tuning pegs, and from the MP3 he uploaded onto his blog, actually looks [...]

  15. Lego Ukulele « Postcards Of The Hanging Says:

    [...] Find out how Crawford made it work over at the Brickley’s Words blog. [...]

  16. LEGO Ukulele Perfect for Geeky Hawaiians | How to Play the Ukulele Says:

    [...] LEGO bricks and used them to build his own ukulele. the instrument is playable and can [...]

  17. How To Spot A Psychopath :: Lego anti-inspiration :: June :: 2011 Says:

    [...] make a dual-rotor helicopter. It'd even be within the bounds of human belief that you could make a Lego ukelele, which is both easier to build and better-sounding (MP3) than the Lego [...]

  18. Tofukulele: un ukulele spécial vous dites??!!! « Ukulele Club de Montreal Elite Says:

    [...] pouvez en lire davantage sur ce lien . Vous pouvez même en entendre un extrait audio de l’instrument ici [...]

  19. LEGO ukulele Says:

    [...] ross crawford has built a ukulele out of LEGO bricks and the sound quality of the instrument isn’t bad either! because of the popular building block’s block-like forms, it was difficult to emulate the rounded shape of the hawaiian guitar-like instrument. [...]

  20. See 6 playable instruments made out of Legos Says:

    [...] A playable Lego Ukulele made by Ross Crawford [...]

  21. The Brick Testament | A MIX OF DIFFERENT INFOS Says:

    [...] Ukulele out of LEGO bricks? [...]

  22. Appelogen » Niks om handen? Bouw een ukelele uit Lego Says:

    [...] te doen op deze doordeweekse zaterdag? Haal uw dozen Lego van zolder, bouw uzelf een ukelele uit Lego-blokskes en speel een triest deuntje. Fijne dag [...]

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