Ukuleles are little joy machines. They're easy to play, portable, light, and really inexpensive - you can get a fairly good sounding one for around $40-$50.

This clear plastic ukulele from Kala simply begs to be upgraded with rainbow lights. Craft an over-the top tacky Tiki musical experience for your audience at your next luau.

This LED ukulele goes even further, with loads of customizable animations and a sound reactive mode. Match your animation playlist with your song repertoire, and bring the music to life as your uke pulses along with your strumming. 

We've also used the FFT capabilities of our hardware to add note-sensing to this project. Change animation modes or turn sound reactive mode on or off just by plucking a particular note on your fretboard. 

And just for giggles, we've added a Guitar-Hero-style "Rockstar tilt" mode -- tilt the neck of your ukulele up during your big finish to trigger a colorful lightning animation.

This ukulele is maika'i loa! (That's Hawaiian for awesome..)

Difficulty 

This is a fairly advanced project which took some tight soldering and some tricky maneuvering to get the LEDs in place. I built my ukulele "ship-in-a-bottle" style, placing my LEDs inside the instrument with needle nose pliers and a bent coat hanger. I didn't want to do too much damage to my ukulele by taking it apart, so I took my time and assembled it with care. 

It helped a lot to have small hands and a lot of patience. It may be easier for some makers to disassemble the ukulele, put the lights inside and then glue it back together. But my careful method worked! It took me all afternoon.. but it only took me one afternoon. 

Adafruit Parts Needed

Adafruit Feather nRF52840 Sense

PRODUCT ID: 4516
The Adafruit Feather Bluefruit Sense takes our popular Feather nRF52840 Express and adds a smorgasbord of sensors...
OUT OF STOCK

Assembled Adafruit Prop-Maker FeatherWing

PRODUCT ID: 4145
The Adafruit Feather series gives you lots of options for a small, portable, rechargeable microcontroller board. Perfect for fitting into your next prop build! This FeatherWing will...
$10.95
IN STOCK
1 x Battery
Lithium Ion Battery - 3.7v 2000mAh
1 x USB Female
USB DIY Connector - MicroB Female Plug
1 x USB Male
USB DIY Slim Connector Shell - MicroB Plug
1 x Side Light NeoPixels
Adafruit NeoPixel LED Side Light Strip - Black 90 LED
1 x Skinny NeoPixels
Adafruit Mini Skinny NeoPixel Digital RGB LED Strip - 144 LED/m
1 x NeoPixel Connector
JST PH 4-Pin to Male Header Cable - I2C STEMMA Cable - 200mm
1 x Ribbon Cable - 10 Wire
Silicone Cover Stranded-Core Ribbon Cable - 10 Wire 1 Meter Long
1 x Ribbon Cable - 4 Wire
Silicone Cover Stranded-Core Ribbon Cable - 4 Wires 1 Meter Long
1 x Thermoplastic
Hand-Moldable Plastic - Low Temperature Thermoplastic
1 x On/Off Switch
Breadboard-friendly SPDT Slide Switch

Additonal Parts & Tools

  • A transparent ukulele - Mine is from Kala, the Transparent Ice Soprano Waterman
  • Silicone Adhesive - my favorite is Devcon Silicone Adhesive
  • Krazy glue / superglue
  • A Power Drill with a long extension 3/8" spade bit and a few smaller bits
  • Rotary tool or sandpaper for drill hole cleanup
  • Soldering iron & accessories
  • White Industrial velcro
  • Needle nose pliers in various shapes and sizes
  • Wire coat hanger or bendable 16g steel wire
This guide was first published on Jul 22, 2020. It was last updated on Jul 22, 2020.
This page (Overview) was last updated on Sep 30, 2020.