Finally mustered enough courage to do this. Granted I only did this on a cheapo uke, but the results are nonetheless satisfying.
BIG Disclaimer: Do not try this if you’re not confident or skilled with power tools. Injuries to your body or damage to your instrument is not fun.
I got a cheapo all-laminate uke for this experimental project. This is a concert sized uke. I believe it’s an all sapele laminate.
The plan is to put a soundport on the upper bout, just like those custom boutique stuffs you see.
First we tape up the area with masking tape to avoid chips and cracks. Then careful measurements were made. The depth here is 65mm so the midpoint is determined to be around 33mm. I also made 15mm allowance for the edges so that I won’t hit the edge bracing.
Here we get all the reference points we need. The diameter of the soundport here should be about 35mm based on the instrument on hand.
Make a pilot hole using a 3mm drill. Easy peasy.
OK, the difficult part comes in. We’re using a hole saw to make a hole. This is no joke. I selected a 32mm hole saw bit. Always give allowance or you’ll end up hitting important structural points such bracing or neck block.
Using the pilot hole, steadily drill the pilot end of the hole saw bit. Once it’s anchored, the cylindrical part will soon cut up your beloved instrument.
WHOA! What a mess!
But don’t worry, there’s always the clean-up and touch-ups. I use a conical sanding sponge to smooth out the edges. You can wet the sponge first before sanding.
Finally use sandpaper to sand the edges. I went from 100, 400 and finally 1000 grit to ensure that there are no rough edges. You can always go back to using the sanding sponge and repeat the process. Just make sure that all the sanding doesn’t mess up the finish.
Ok, it’s not too shabby. We got a custom soundport from Guitarbear. 🙂
Smooth out the edge of the opening with lemon oil. Then use wood sealant and emery paper to have a final coat of protection.
Not bad at all.
Scotty was happy to oversee the project.
The uke is now louder (for the player) because the soundport acts as a monitor. I may do this on some of my guitars soon.
Special thanks to Judson Kimble for his tutorial.
Original instruction videos from Judson Kimble: