Build This Beer Cooler Ukulele & Amaze Your Friends

Difficulty: moderately easy.  

Overview:  Simply put, the Styrofoam Cooler Ukulele is nothing but a neck without a body and a huge cooler screwed to the butt end.  

We know that the body of an acoustic stringed instrument has a hollow body made of thin wood to amplify the vibrating strings that run across it.  But have you ever considered the resonance of styrofoam?  

The lightweight polystyrene foam is amazingly resonant and doesn’t even need to touch the strings of an instrument.  It can just be connected to it via a long neck, as seen in these plans.  Sure, the design produces the most alien-looking uke you'll ever see...  BUT IT SOUNDS INCREDIBLE and it’s sure to be an attention getter at the next barbeque!  

Watch the video to hear it for yourself:


Here's the parts I used:

  • 1x2 plank of maple, 33 inches long
  • A separate thin plank of oak for the fretboard
  • Small piece of maple for the floating bridge
  • Medium/Medium fretwire
  • A four pack of Shane Speal signature tuners
  • A pack of standard ukulele strings
  • a used styrofoam cooler
  • One drywall screw and a large washer to anchor the cooler to the neck.

This is a very easy project! 

  1. Scoop out the headstock and drill for the tuners.
  2. Make the fretboard separately (I chose a 13.5" soprano scale) and attach it to the neck.
  3. Create a floating bridge that is high enough for proper string height. 
  4. Drill two holes for each string, 2 inches behind the placement of the floating bridge.  These will be your string anchors where you feed the strings through and tie them tight.
  5. Drill a pilot hole at the end of the stick for the cooler screw
  6. String up the ukulele.
  7. Attach the cooler to the end of the stick using a drywall screw and washer.

Note: This ukulele was inspired by Bart Hopkin's seminal book, Musical Instrument Design: Practical Information for Instrument Design.   (Purchase on Amazon here.)