You probably know, don’t you, how hard it is to travel (specifically fly) and not be able to take a ukulele with you. When I drive, I throw a uke or two or three in the car. That way, if need be, there’s one to give away and two for duets. But flying to your destination is a different story.
You can, of course, fly with a ukulele but it takes up another hand because you would want to protect your uke by having it in a case. And then that case could (depending on the airline these days) qualify as your one personal item to carry on. With a backpack and a large purse and a ukulele in a case, you may draw attention to yourself as trying to carry on too much.
For quite some time I have wanted to have a tiny ukulele that would fit in my purse or my backpack. My Ohana sopranino is small, but it consumes quite a bit of space in my purse. That’s without its case. The case and straps consume most of my purse. So a caseless sopranino can be crammed into my purse but this invites dents and scratches. The fate of a traveling caseless sopranino is not certain.
There is the Risa uke stick. But my quest was for tiny, rugged, inexpensive, unplugged, nylgut strings, and loud enough.
At one point I made a uke stick of my own. You’d assume if you had the fretboard you could practice. But some of the joy is lost in not being able to hear much at all. And really, a ukulele-fretboard-on-a-stick looks rather suspicious if it were taken on a plane. Think about it.
So… I built what I am looking for. Using scraps of wood from my other ukulele building my mini travel uke has purpleheart sides and headstock veneer, mahogany neck and fretboard, sitka spruce top, and cherry back. It’s three days old and each day opens up a little more for the loud-enough sound I seek.
It’s lightweight (a little under 5oz.and most of that is tuners) and fits in a form-fitting case I have been making for other small musical instruments. Both nut and bridge are designed to survive heat and cold and not pop off.
On the mini head and bottom are extra holes to enable the travel-uke to be securely hooked to the backpack. You know –good weather, great views, great companions and a few strums go together. Perspective.
The next few weeks I’ll be testing its rugged factor and looking to see what tweaks I’ll make.
Then if you need one, I’ll build one for you.
Sorry, I am not making any travel ukuleles right now. I am making Native American style flutes, sopranino kanteles and other instruments at the moment. – Updated Feb. 2014