The Board Ukulele Company in Blewett, British Columbia, is making electric instruments from old skateboard decks. Now that’s a sick trick. By Vince Hempsall
“Punk songs sound great on the ukulele. NOFX especially,” says Ryan Zsadany, 44, speaking from his home in Blewett near Nelson, British Columbia, about the songs he likes to play on his hand-built ukuleles. Before you question what punk has to do with the typically mellow-sounding four-stringed instrument, consider that Zsadany specializes in electric ukuleles and he builds them from old skateboard decks.
Zsadany has been skateboarding and playing the ukulele since he was a kid and has now combined the two passions into a business called Board Ukulele Company. He takes old or broken skateboard decks he’s collected from shops and other skaters, removes the wheels and trucks, fills in the holes, and then fashions the neck and body of the ukulele from the wood. “The nose and the tail of a skateboard have that perfect curve for the headstock,” he says. “Normally people who make ukuleles have to go through an elaborate process in order to get that curve, but a skateboard works perfect.”
He keeps the colouring of the deck intact through the creation process and adds the hardware and pickguard after lamination. To date, he’s built 11 ukuleles during his off-hours from running a local catering company, and he says a base model runs about $400.