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6 May 2013

Pimp My Skylark - Finito!

I've finished pimping my Skylark ukulele! I saved the most painful and difficult part until last.

What a journey!

I've order many parts and tools from China for my projects
over the years. Look what arrived this week. I don't remember
ordering it. Perhaps there's been a mix-up at the post office?
I hopped on Google+ to see if anyone could help me to
identify it. +shankti oviedo was quite impressed with my
"nice modern lamp". Thankfully, +Gunnar Green was on hand
to point me in the right direction. Apparently, this is quite
a common tool in the ukulele build process... It's a
wood-hardener! Ha ha! Mystery solved!

I thought this was one of those projects that I could pootle along with at a snail's pace doing a little bit here and there, but I've only gone and motored through this. It's been fun and I'm pleased with the end result. When I started out I had this vague idea of where I was heading, but I haven't stuck too rigidly to a plan.

That's blood you see on yon jay cloth... Man-Blood!
It was everywhere by the time I'd finished. I sliced my
thumb and poked my finger. I swore, but did not cry ;-)

About the only "structural" thing left to do with the Skylark was to fit
some frets. You will remember that the original Skylark frets were flat
pieces of metal. I pulled them out like bad teeth and this is what I put
in their place.

I'd only fitted four frets by the time I took this picture. I was sore and frustrated. The
Skylark was fighting me every step of the way. No sooner would I get the wire in place
then it would pop out. The more I played with it, the more angry I got, and the more
I jabbed and cut myself on the blasted fret wire! I packed it away in disgust and
decided to come back to it the next day.

This is looking a lot better! I was up with the larks and fitting frets like
a trooper. I ended up with a totally unconventional technique of fitting
the fret, then pulling it out, dressing it and putting it back in again. They're
not perfect, but they fit the rustic look ;-) Then I got out the wood glue.
I pulled out each fret one at a time, glued and put them back again. I didn't
even wait for the glue to dry before I was onto fitting the strings. I've
stuck some Aquilas on it.

What I found initially is that the strings were buzzing (especially the e string), but given that they were new strings, I wasn't going to get all het up about it. The Gotoh tuners impressed me - they're pretty solid. Everything sounded in tune. Time for an impromptu sound-check. Do you recognise the snippet of tune?

Here's a close-up of the symbol on my ukulele design. I have no idea
what it means. If you know, please drop me a comment. +shankti oviedo
thinks that it might be an "a". I'd joked that I'd had it tattooed on my hand
at which point +Ukulele Russ revealed that it means... chronic masturbator.
Or the literal translation is "Strong wrist, gentle finger." Surely not! Ha ha.
I set myself up for that one!

Ta Da!!!

The End

Update 30-Jun-2013. I may have uncovered what the symbol means. The following has been pinched from Wikitionary. See the references to "KU"... King Uke? Hey hold on a second... I like this reading... "して (shite)"


Han character

(radical 4 丿+1, 2 strokes, cangjie input 大山 (KU), XX大山 (XXKU))

  1. This character is used in Japanese as a special symbol, on envelopes, symbolizing that letter is closed.


Alternative forms


Japanese kokuji (国字). From 占める (shimeru), as cursive form of top component ト (also 〆). Then applied to other kanji of the same pronunciation, namely 締め, 閉め, 絞め, and 搾め, all pronounced しめ shime. Sense of “closed, fastened” is due to 閉める (shimeru, “to close”) and 締める (shimeru, “to fasten”).


(uncommon “Hyōgai” kanji)
  1. "letter closed" character (from 閉める, close)
  2. sum (from 〆高, 締高, sum)
  3. measurement of paper
  4. bundle (from 締める, fasten)


  • Kun: しめ (shime), して (shite)

Usage notes

〆 is primarily used as an abbreviation for 締め, most commonly in 〆切, as an abbreviation for 締切 (shimekiri, “deadline; locked (door)”), also 締める (〆る) and 締高 (〆高). It is also sometimes used for 閉め, notably in sense of “closed envelope”. Even more rarely, it is used to abbreviate other kanji, including 絞め, 占め, and 搾め, as in 〆粕, (from 搾め糟 (しめかす)). There is also occasional use of 乄, as in 乄高.


  1. At first sight I thought the first 2 photos belong together.Don't hurt yourself.

    I like the pimped uke.

  2. Thanks Eric. I lay in the garden playing it this afternoon feeling pretty proud of myself ;-) It's a one of a kind!
    PS I didn't really receive that 'lamp' in the post ;-D

  3. Re:
    "I hopped on Google+ to see if anyone could help me to
    identify it"

    It's sold in Australia as a British Lions supporter pack.
    Sorry,I'm still going on from that last post.-)

    And Re: "Do you recognise the snippet of tune?"

    It's that Columbian hit tune,"Snow".
    And I'm told that it made so much money over in Columbia that if the drug lords didn't hold back your royalties on the song's cut,you would have enough to make a real 'snow'man out of the profits.-)
    Don't ya just hate those music industry crooks ?-)

  4. Thank you Kelly. I'm really happy with how it all turned out. I love the shape of these little Skylarks.