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Making the Leap Into Instrument Making

I always tell people woodworking is in my blood. Many of my family members were woodworkers of some form or another. Not only that, quite a few were musicians as well. To top it all off my last name is Gibson. Looking back it all makes sense that I would want to build instruments. Even though I didn't get the chance to spend a lot of time with my woodworking family members growing up, I have always been drawn to the woodshop and had the desire to make things with my hands.

A few years ago I decided to try my hand at making a ukulele. I thought to myself, I'm a woodworker and a ukulele should be fairly easy to make and play. It should be easy to carry around for trips to the beach as well. Instead of buying a ukulele I would much rather have one I built myself. So I jumped online and started searching for information. Before long I found plans, YouTube videos, and blogs about instrument making and proceeded to read as much on the subject as I could digest. After a few weeks of research I ordered some plans, grabbed some scrap wood, and went to work. I was never one for making jigs and fixtures in the shop, so I tried to use methods to limit the jigs I needed to make... I wanted to build a Ukulele not Jigs. Let me tell you, there is a reason for every one of those jigs and they make an instrument go together faster and easier with then without. So I learned my lesson and before I started a second build I made myself a few of those jigs I had decided I could do without.

First and second ukulele side by side

I learned a lot building that first Ukulele. How to bend wood for instruments. How to make that instrument play in tune. But the most important thing I learned was that I could do it! It may not be pretty, it may not be refined, it certainly was not perfect, but gosh darn it had string and it sounded like a ukulele. Building that first ukulele gave me the confidence to push myself further. It taught me to be fearless in experimenting and trying new techniques and projects. It also taught me that if I look hard enough the answers to just about any questions is out there. The most amazing thing I learned was that there are more people in local clubs and on internet forums and blogs ready to help then you can shake a 2x4 at. So if there is a project you have always wanted to build and never made the leap, just go for it. Go find your local Woodworking club or guild, jump on line and find a few forums and blogs, and start searching for videos. If you don't find what your looking for, start a blog and teach us as you learn and or fail. Thomas Edison is quoted as saying "I didn't fail, I just found 2000 ways not to make a light bulb..." I'm sure someone else would love to learn from you. This is Andrew Gibson saying, Get Woodworking!

Here are a couple of my latest Ukuleles. Here are a couple of my latest Ukuleles.