Music

Astro ukulele folds down to pocket-friendly dimensions

Astro ukulele folds down to po...
The Astro folding ukulele project is currently raising production funds on Kickstarter
The Astro folding ukulele project is currently raising production funds on Kickstarter
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The Astro ukulele folds down to the size of a 0.5 liter water bottle
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The Astro ukulele folds down to the size of a 0.5 liter water bottle
It's not a weapon: The Astro ukulele has an eye-catching spear-head design
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It's not a weapon: The Astro ukulele has an eye-catching spear-head design
How the Astro uke sizes up
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How the Astro uke sizes up
The Astro E has an internal amplifier to drive plugged in headphones
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The Astro E has an internal amplifier to drive plugged in headphones
The Astro folds down to just 11.3 inches (28.9 cm) in length
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The Astro folds down to just 11.3 inches (28.9 cm) in length
Clearly 21-inch long soprano ukuleles were too big for the Astro development team
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Clearly 21-inch long soprano ukuleles were too big for the Astro development team
The Astro E has two piezo pickups and can be plugged into an external instrument amplifier
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The Astro E has two piezo pickups and can be plugged into an external instrument amplifier
Unlike some stringed folders, the Astro ukulele's neck folds back against the body thanks to a patented hinge mechanism and a floating bridge
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Unlike some stringed folders, the Astro ukulele's neck folds back against the body thanks to a patented hinge mechanism and a floating bridge
The Astro uke's ABS wings can be folded out for playing comfort
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The Astro uke's ABS wings can be folded out for playing comfort
The Astro E rocking with the band
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The Astro E rocking with the band
Designed to accompany players anywhere, the Astro folding ukulele
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Designed to accompany players anywhere, the Astro folding ukulele
The Astro ukulele will come as an acoustic model A or an electric model E
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The Astro ukulele will come as an acoustic model A or an electric model E
The Astro ukulele can serve as attractive desk candy when not in use
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The Astro ukulele can serve as attractive desk candy when not in use
When folded, the Astro uke can fit into the bottle pocket of a backpack
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When folded, the Astro uke can fit into the bottle pocket of a backpack
The Astro folding ukulele project is currently raising production funds on Kickstarter
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The Astro folding ukulele project is currently raising production funds on Kickstarter

As we discovered ourselves recently, strumming away on a ukulele can be great fun. And even though it's much more travel-friendly than a collapsible dreadnought or, well, a travel guitar, Italy's team Astro clearly thinks that even a 21-inch long soprano uke is too big. The Astro ukulele folds down to just over 11 inches long, under 4 inches wide and less than 2.3 inches thick – and can fit in the water bottle pocket of a backpack.

When folded, the Astro ukulele has the look of a large spear head. It measures up at 11.3 inches (28.9 cm) in length, 3.93 inches (10 cm) wide and 2.28 inches (5.8 cm) at its thickest point. Those dimensions fold out to 21.5 inches (54.7 cm) long, 6.1 inches (15.6 cm) wide with the wings out and 1.49 inches (3.8 cm) at its chunkiest. But it's the folding mechanism that's interesting here.

Unlike some stringed folders, the Astro ukulele's neck folds back against the body thanks to a patented hinge mechanism and a floating bridge
Unlike some stringed folders, the Astro ukulele's neck folds back against the body thanks to a patented hinge mechanism and a floating bridge

Rather than fold the neck towards the bridge, a combination of a patented hinge mechanism and a floating bridge allows Astro players to fold the neck behind the body without needing to ease the tension of the nylon strings. This keeps the folded down ukulele nice and neat, and means that otherwise loose strings don't get themselves in knots.

The Astro's body and neck are made from a wood/plastic composite and ABS, and the neck is topped by a mahogany. The main body is flanked top and bottom by ABS wings that can be left flush against the edges or folded out for more comfortable playing.

There are two playable versions of the Astro being made. First up is an acoustic model A that's reported to throw out up to 50 dB of unplugged strumming goodness, though it will come with a set of covers for the sound holes to allow for quieter play in public places.

The Astro E has two piezo pickups and can be plugged into an external instrument amplifier
The Astro E has two piezo pickups and can be plugged into an external instrument amplifier

The electric model E looks very similar to the acoustic, but sports two piezo pickups. There's an amplifier inside the Astro E too, to drive plugged in headphones while also allowing for connection to a speaker or external instrument amp. Volume, tone and gain can all be adjusted to the rear of the uke.

The team also has an iOS app in development, which will let players connect to an iPhone via Bluetooth to record strumming sessions, apply effects and share creations with friends.

The Astro project has now reached the functional prototype stage, and to make the jump into production, the development team has launched on Kickstarter. Early bird pledges start at €149 (about US$180) for the acoustic model A and €169 for the electric model E. If all goes to plan, shipping is expected to start in November. The pitch video below has more on the folding ukulele.

Sources: Astro, Kickstarter

Astro, the first smart foldable Ukulele

3 comments
sierra
This is awesome! I would love to try one of these out!! I currently have a tenor ukulele and it's about a 1 year old now!
Mik-Fielding
Strange how they didn't actually feature the sound of the device being played in the video. I certainly would have liked to hear and see someone playing it!
windykites
Mik, you need to watch the whole video. It is played. A slight tune up would have helped! The sound level from the unamplified version seems exaggerated!