This banjo-ukulele is the result of a several weeks of iterative design and collaboration with Geoff Wiley of the wonderful Jalopy Theater in Brooklyn, NY. The project began in May of 2013 when I decided to learn more about music by printing out a Makerlele and learning to play it. After showing the printed instrument to Geoff, we had a great discussion about musical instrument design and concluded that perhaps a banjo-ukulele would be well suited for adaptation to 3D-printing. Geoff lent me an old banjo-uke frame from which I took the basic measurements that informed my design. After several weeks of revising and testing and regular design discussions with Geoff, I arrived at a design that holds pitch and has a nice, full tone. It still needs some work, but it is at a point that I’m happy to share it and I’m beginning to actually learn chords on it. Please derive and post your design feedback. Musical instrument design with a technology as powerful and versatile as this is an exciting challenge.
I’ve included old versions of the body for anybody who is curious. They have different bridge support structures (rev1), webbing designs (rev2 & rev3), and membrane thicknesses (rev4) that all impact the tone significantly. I designed the instrument to allow the head portion to be swappable to allow for easy exploration of head design.
Finally, be sure to check out the spectrograms comparing open string plucks of the printed instrument and of a classic ukulele. More on that here….