One of the guys behind a Kickstarter project to manufacture an electric folding ukulele dropped me a note asking if I’d mention his project. Intrigued, I checked out their promo video and must say, there is some impressive design and engineering afoot here. This ukulele not only looks super cool, it folds down to the size of a shoe.
When expanded, it’s still fairly small, and lacks anything like an acoustic body. But it does have wings that pop out to provide some structure.
And yes, in case you noticed that cord coming out the bottom of it, there’s a headphone jack. In fact, those are pickups on the body, and the electric version supports both headphone and amplifier output jacks. There’s also an acoustic version for the budget conscious, though I doubt there’s much real acoustic action going on there. Here’s a video demonstrating the fairly unimpressive acoustic sound.
This is a 3D printed prototype and not what will ultimately be manufactured, but it’s probably not far from what the final product will sound like. Where this thing shines, sound-wise, is through an amp. The electric version sounds pretty good through even an inexpensive practice amp:
The other notable feature of this instrument is that folding and unfolding it is a simple one-step process. There’s no need to slack the strings first or make any other adjustments. You just fold it and unfold. The bridge slides forward when its folding to keep the strings from getting pulled tighter.
The Kickstarter has a fair amount of support already, and I look forward to seeing this product at Guitar Center some day.
Reading the Kickstarter page, I couldn’t help but notice their tag line: “the first smart foldable Ukulele”. Smart? Clearly, I thought, this word was inserted because it’s not the first folding ukulele. And Google search confirmed my hunch. If your ukulele just isn’t small enough as it is, but you yearn for an acoustic body when it’s unfolded, or want to make it yourself, there’s the first foldable ukulele. You can see this one does not have the clever moving bridge, requiring a fair bit of fiddling to fold and unfold it. But it does have an acoustic body. Even so, it sounds only slightly better than the Astro. At one point you could buy a kit to assemble one of these yourself, though it seems Brian Chan has lost interest in the project (sad face). He did, however, post the design files for those who want to recreate this ukulele from scratch.