The Ukulele Strum Buddy is designed to allow individuals who are limited to the use of one arm, to strum the ukulele by controlling the strumming with their foot or knee.
My idea was to design a device that could be temporarily attached to a ukulele so that it can be strummed by using a foot (or knee) while chords would be formed with either the left or the right hand. The requirements were that the device should be simple and easily field repairable. The manufacturing costs were not to exceed US $6 OR could be made in a third world country using locally available materials. Also the device had to be removable and able to be fitted to all sizes of standard ukuleles.
The prototype device (as shown on the left), was made from the hollow square aluminum tubing from an old porch railing. In all, it only required 20" to 25" of tubing. The aluminum is structurally very sturdy and easy to cut and drill. The top and bottom braces are held together by a length of threaded rod, and the surface of the uke is protected by four small 1/2" squares of tire inner-tube. There is no slippage despite the pull of the cord and the vibration. The cord that attaches to the Strum Arm is easily adjustable (note that in the latest prototype the Strum Arm has been shortened to 5" and the cord now is strung through an eye bolt attached to the top brace which provides a consistent strum regardless of the direction of the pull on the cord). The device can be attached to any ukulele which has sufficient space between the bridge and bottom of the uke.
Don Pillsbury (the engineer on this project), pictured on the left with me, is currently working on an engineering drawing with a parts list and description. These will be put into the public domain on the internet (along with pictures and a video).
Oh... and we believe that we can hold the cost of the device to below $5.00 (or with enough ingenuity and resourcefulness, $0 ) !!
Please do not hesitate to contact me should you or a friend or institution require more information about the Ukulele Strum Buddy. we are very excited about the device and the pleasure it will provide many people around the world.
Don's construction article is a detailed description of his building of the Ukulele Strum Buddy. As an engineer, you'll notice that Don is very specific in his descriptions. It should be noted, however, that the general concepts can be used to build a workable Ukulele Strum Buddy using a variety of materials. Take it away Don! You did a GREAT job!
And here's a recent article about the Strum Buddy making a difference...
Since originally published, Don (the engineer) worked to develop a "sweeter" sounding strum for the Strum Buddy. Here are the plans for an "articulated" strum arm that mimics the natural rotation of a ukulele player's wrist...
Here's a video showing the device in action...