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Amazing Acoustic/Electric one-of-a kind Ukuleles made from scrap woods either going to landfills, being burned or left to rot.

One-of-kind Acoustic/ Electric Ukuleles Crafted From Recycled Wood Destined for Landfills or Worse

My company, Unkulele.com, builds handmade artisan ukuleles, at an affordable price.

All my Unkulele's, are patterned after vintage style electric guitars, such as Telecaster"s, Les Paul"s, Firebird"s, Stratocaster's, etc.You can see all the models I offer atwww.unkulele.com.

During the past year I've received several custom orders from people wanting a wood choice all their own. One such request, from a young woman in New York City, changed my thought process completely. She wanted a tenor Strat-style ukulele made out of scrap wood. She called it an "Eco-Uke". She wanted it to be from wood that would either be burned, dumped at a landfill, or found somewhere rotting. She happens to be both musician and an artist, so she wanted it to look and sound good. 

I thought it was an interesting challenge and also something environmentally worthwhile, so I took the order. What came out of it was an "unintended consequence", which is why I'm here on KickStarter. 

How I Started The Project

I found the wood I needed in a local dumpster and in a free firewood pile next to an industrial complex nearby. I also discovered there is a huge supply of beautiful decaying wood, just in my area alone, that make wonderful sounding and looking ukuleles. Admittedly, most of the great sound qualities are due my construction process which is very different than most instrument makers, but the wood speaks for itself.   

Below is a photo of the actual ECO-UKE I built for my customer in New York City. It was made from scrap pine (2x4's) and a recycled tropical wood serving tray along with some maple pieces from a set of old electric organ foot pedals.

Below are photos of the free firewood pile I took the 2x4's from and a recycled tropical wood serving tray.

After checking a few other places, I found magnificent maple, cedar, mahogany, walnut and poplar from old electronic organs that were destined for the landfill. They were old and starting to rot, but when milled, planed and sanded they have made incredible instruments. 

So, the bottom line is this...scrap wood is available in abundance once discovered. However, it takes special handling to get the wood in a condition so it's ready to use. Most, if not all of it, must either be milled or re-sawn, re-constructed, re-conditioned, planed, and sanded before it can be used in the construction process. Time is not necessarily the issue, but equipment is. 

Please note:  If you visit my website, you will notice that some of my regular ukulele designs (non ECO-UKES) are priced below the $200 reward. The reason for this is simple. To make my regular ukes I order wood for the construction process already milled to my specifications. For example, the top and back of the ukes are pre-milled to approximately 1/8". Other pieces are also shaped and milled specifically for my needs. 

Obviously, with recycled or scrap wood it takes expensive special woodworking tools to deal with these woods and not ruin them. It also takes a heavy toll on the equipment when you find nails, staples and such, or should I say don't find nails, staple and such before using the equipment. 

That's why getting quality and specialized equipment is the ultimate goal. With the right equipment, I believe I can make my ECO-UKES even more affordable for everyone -- at or below my regular uke prices.

Since I began my ECO-UKE project I've expanded to include woods from invasive wood species like the Tamarisk. The Tamarisk, or Salt Cedar, is the most invasive tree in the Southwest killing native trees by starving them for water. I've begun using pieces from local fallen trees for tailpieces, bridges, etc.

I love building ukuleles and other experimental instruments out of scrap or recycled wood. Since my initial order I've become passionate about it.  They sound great. They look great. They are great for the environment. I don't expect to stop global warming, or win the pulitzer prize, but I do think I can make a small difference one Unkulele at a time. I am now striving to use as much recycled wood as I can in my regular ukulele building process. 

Portions of the two Unkulele's featured above were made from Walnut organ tops and Curly Maple organ foot pedals while the Unkulele below was made entirely from scrap/recycled wood including walnut, pine, maple, a salt cedar bridge and a tropical wood top from a discarded serving dish.

So how do I continue to make my ECO-UKES?

It takes expensive machinery to prepare scrap or recycled wood for the actual building process. This machinery includes, a mill saw, thickness sanders (to stop grain pullout), surface planers, spindle sanders and more.  I have cheaper models of some of this machinery and use them in building my present ukuleles, but to utilize the recycled wood that is available, it takes better and more specialized tools.  

I really believe my Unkulele's are pieces of art along with being quality musical instruments. They have been used on stage, in churches and with school choirs. There are several YouTube videos showing my ukes. Go to my website: www.unkulele.com to see some of them or type in Unkuleles on YouTube. I would love to make hundreds, if not thousands of my artisan ukuleles and provide them inexpensively for people across the globe. What's more, with your help, I can craft them just as beautifully using recycled eco-friendly scrap wood and market them as such. Thank-you in advance for any support you give to this project.  UNK

What our customers have to say:

  • "Good morning Unk.....My name is Keith.....I am the extremely happy owner of the tenor strat ukulele that you made for me. This was a gift from my son James, it was a birthday gift that I was going to purchase myself, until my son heard about it and he wanted to get it for me!....A proud father I am....
  • "I got it like an hour or two after I emailed you lol sorry. It's awesome by the way. Smaller than I expected but still great!"   spidey
  • "Hello! I was lucky enough to receive one of your firebird-style ukes for my birthday (Tess A bought it for me). Just a question - what should it be tuned to? I have another uke tuned to AECG but I noticed the strings on yours are a different gauge. Can you please let me know? Cheers." Tim
  • "Just wanted to follow up with a big thanks! This is one gorgeous uke. Been playing it all afternoon since it came in : Posted a little photo on my artist page on facebook tooCheers!" John
  • "Got my telecaster deluxe ukulele yesterday. Already wrote a new song! Pictures coming soon :)." N. T. Scott
  • "Loving my new tenor jazz-box! Does anybody know of a case or gig bag that it will fit in?" Tony B.
  • "I received my Tenor "Telecaster" yesterday - what a beautiful piece of work. I'll share pics (and maybe a video) soon. Thanks a million - consider me an overly-satisfied customer. You may have a flood of orders from Mississippi coming soon..." Jason A.

Our rewards program includes the following:

Above: Never lose your keys again with our Mini-guitar key chain and dock for mounting on a wall. Made from scrap/recycled wood.  Below:  Become our ECO-UKE partner by wearing a Black or White T-shirt or pin-on badge that says; Me and Unk: Saving the Word One Uke At A Time.

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  • Pledge $1 or more
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    2 backers

    Donors will have their names recorded on our new website page at: www.unkulele.com, called "Our ECO-UKE Partners".

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  • Pledge $10 or more
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    1 backer

    Donors will receive mention on our website as stated above plus a special Unkulele button/badge with our logo which says.... Me and Unk: Saving the World One Uke At A Time

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  • Pledge $25 or more
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    6 backers

    Donors will receive all of the above, plus a recycled eco-wood key chain and dock crafted in the shape of a vintage mini-guitar. It serves as a place to hang your keys by using a real guitar 1/4" male and female jack. You receive both the key chain and key chain dock.

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  • Pledge $50 or more
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    0 backers

    Donations of $50 or more will become our Eco-Uke Partner with your name recorded on our website at: www.unkulele.com and will receive a Black or white T-shirt (size and color to be determined by donor) with our logo and the phrase: Me and Unk: Saving the World One Uke at a Time

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  • Pledge $100 or more
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    13 backers

    We have received input from several sources to who believe the threshold for offering our handmade ECO-UKE's to be too high for individuals that are willing to pledge support and fund my project. The reasoning of those who have offered advice suggests that I lower the pledge amount to $100 or more to receive a Les Paul style ECO-UKE as shown in my project description. The reason being "backers want more than market value" in return for their initial support and want to see their initial investment returned in the form of a uke in addition to some sort of personal cost delivered by me as a sacrifice for their investment. I agree 100% and therefore am offering a Les Paul style ECO-UKE for a $100 or more donation. To those that have already pledged in the higher category, I will honor this offer to them by either providing them with two different style ECO-UKES or I believe they can re-pledge at this amountto receive more than the market value of the uke. I am not allowed to edit the $200 donor reward standards because there have been those who have already pledged. But, if I am funded, I will guarantee they receive the additional value added ECO-UKE. In so doing I will need to extend the delivery date of the reward out 30 days to November 2012. Being new to Kickstarter I appreciate the constructive input from those that would like to see this project succeed.

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  • Pledge $200 or more
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    4 backers

    Donations of $200 or more will become our ECO-UKE partner and receive an actual handcrafted Unkulele made in the Les Paul style. The ukulele will be made exclusively from scrap/recycled wood as shown in our project description.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $300 or more
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    0 backers

    You get it all! You become our ECO-UKE Partner on our website, you receive the Unkulele Badge/Button, the mini-guitar key chain and dock, the T-shirt, plus a quality handcrafted Les Paul Style Unkulele made exclusively from recycled/scrap wood.

    Estimated delivery:
  • Pledge $800 or more
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    0 backers

    Let's use your wood and make a meaningful and personalized ECO-UKE just for you. Maybe, you have an old wall hanging from your grandma's house, or part of a piece of furniture you grew up with, or how about an old wood sign from your father's place of business. Think of what you might have that means something to you and together let's use as much of the wood you select and create an ECO-UKE that not only helps the environment, but means something special to you. Go ahead and contact me with what wood and design you might have in mind before you pledge and we can make sure it will be a ECO-UKE with special memories for you. Of course, in addition, you'll receive everything mentioned above in all donor categories.

    Estimated delivery:
Funding period

- (30 days)