Make a 6 string baritone uke

In this recent article, I told you how to make a fairly rare 6-string ukulele starting from a regular tenor uke. Well, you can still buy those, but the 6-string baritone variety is impossible to find. The good news is that it is quite easy to make one, on a very tight budget.

Yes, it is actually easier and cheaper to make a 6-string baritone ukulele. This is what you need, with some links to he parts I used:

  1. A 1/2 scale guitar. Best if the strings tie to the bridge through holes rather than pins. I used this one from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004BXLVO6
  2. A set of baritone ukulele strings. I bought a D’Addario set because I had read (and actually experienced) that Aquila wound strings don’t last. My source: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006MB97PU
  3. You’ll need two extra strings: a plain thin one to be tuned in high G, and a wound one to be tuned E, so it should be a thickness between the D and the G strings in the set above. You may find that the G and A strings of a low-G tenor ukulele set work quite well.

For tools, you’ll need a knife blade, perhaps a fine-tooth saw, and a thin, long drill bit.

Construction is very similar to that of the tenor 6-string uke described in the other article, except that you don’t need to add two more tuners because the guitar already has six of them. The only construction necessary is to make new grooves on the nut and new holes on the bridge for the relocated strings. Remember that 1st and 3rd now become doubled, so leave at least 1 mm on the nut between the two strings of each of these sets. A 1/2 scale guitar naturally has a narrower neck than a full-size, or even a 3/4 size, so chances are you’ll be able to use the 1st and 6th string grooves (and bridge holes) without any changes, and perhaps one more of the original grooves and holes, and so need to make only three or four new ones. The spacing doesn’t have to be exactly even for the instrument to play well.
I am adding some pictures of the reworked nut and bridge, showing the new grooves and holes.

String it up, placing the new high G (the tenor A string) between the original 3rd and 4th, and the new low E (the tenor low G string) between the original 1st and 2nd, so you can play a reasonable scale by fingerpicking. Tune it up and you’re done. It will take a day or two for the strings to stretch, so tune it up a little high for starters so the strings settle faster.

I really love how this instrument sounds. It has both the “fullness” of a guitar and the sweetness of a ukulele. Great sustain. Put a capo on the 5th fret, and you’ve also got yourself a 6-string concert uke (low G). My go-to instrument at the moment.

 

 

Here is a sample sound. Same tune as for the 6-string tenor, one fourth lower:

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