View Full Version : Risa Les Paul tenor - with some very cool mods!

02-24-2015, 12:22 PM
Here is my Risa steel string ukulele - I changed the switch to a real Les Paul switchcraft 3-way, rewired the whole guitar, added Graphtech Ghost polyphonic saddles with the acoustic and midi preamps, and changed a few cosmetic details (I added different cream knobs, like those on a Klon KTR pedal and Gotoh mini cream tuner buttons since these photos were taken)

It now has humbuckers and piezo/acoustic sound from the 1/4" stereo jack, and humbuckers, piezo/acoustic, and midi signal from the 13-pin jack.

This uke can make just about any sound I want it to (electric, acoustic, synth, etc. alternate tunings, up or down 2 octaves, etc.).

It was a LOT of work in planning and patiently cutting into the instrument to get everything to fit right. I think it turned out well and I am enjoying it.





02-24-2015, 12:39 PM
Really cool! When I used to be just a guitar player in the '80s, I always wanted a midi guitar. I never even THOUGHT of a midi ukulele!

I hope it brings you many years of enjoyment!

02-24-2015, 12:47 PM
I never even THOUGHT of a midi ukulele!

I mod guitars for midi for fun - I figured why stop there, uke would be a lot of fun as well!

I modded a similar Risa with a GK pickup several years ago. Also recently modded a Godin with RMC polydrive 2 and a Godin with Graphtech Ghost, then this Risa.

Truly a lot of fun to mod them, and a LOT of enjoyment to play them! I hope to make more uke players aware of the fun sound possibilities with a midi uke!

02-24-2015, 01:57 PM
Veeeerrrrrryyyyyyy Cool. I have noted some possible options that might work for one of those Chinese jazz uke I got as part of a group purchase here on UU.

02-24-2015, 07:11 PM
Let me know if you want to chat about that Chinese jazz uke and fitting a midi system.

02-24-2015, 07:33 PM
Very cool on the midi. I have the Sunburst and love it. I'm doing something similar just with the switch and knobs. I personally like everything as is, but the knobs being smooth and all round are not the best for that quick vibrato or tone change when you have the long sustain going. The action is just fantastic on it right from RISA. Didn't have to do a thing to it.

Pink Floyd, Scorpions, KISS, bring it on! ;-)


02-25-2015, 05:13 AM
Let me know if you want to chat about that Chinese jazz uke and fitting a midi system.

Will do, but I'll probably need my luthier to do much of what you did. I am open to all possibilities at making it "all that it can be." I really bought it as a "blank canvass" because I love the style, color, etc. etc.

02-25-2015, 07:23 PM

02-25-2015, 08:06 PM
Very nice. I am in the process of building a semihollow steel string hybrid (it's taking forever...) and I am on the fence regarding which piezo pickups to use. How do you like the Graphtechs?

02-26-2015, 04:28 AM
I like the Graphtechs, but I went with them because of the midi option. Not sure if there are better saddles but I like the sound!

Inksplosive AL
02-26-2015, 10:32 AM
Maybe since this is a passion of yours you could explain to all of us exactally what the benefit of a midi mod is. I have a background as a child playing keyboard so I bought an oxygen8 when I first saw one. I was dabbling with making music using this controller along with Reason 4. Normal wave files can be put through recycle for manipulation in the reason environment. I mention this only to state I have the basic understanding of what a midi controller does.

I remember when my friend added a multieffect to his guitar rack and found a setting called animal chorus. He turned the mix down so all he had was the altered signal playing and was rocking out with some seriously strange sounding chit with a standard guitar. Whats the gain in having a midi controller added over this?


02-26-2015, 10:38 PM
Man I want that. You need to do a video of all the cool effects you can do

02-27-2015, 07:44 AM
Maybe since this is a passion of yours you could explain to all of us exactally what the benefit of a midi mod is.

They are actually not technically midi pickups, that is just what everyone seems to call them, maybe because some processors can use this signal to drive a keyboard via midi.

They are technically polyphonic signals, each string having its own independent signal which can be processed with different effects like changing the pitch, etc. Often called hexaphonic signals.

I basically use these types of pickups with Roland GR55, VG99, or Boss GP10 processors to to guitar modelling, alternate tunings, and amp/effects modelling. Anyone interested should read up on those processors to see what is possible - many cool things you can do tonally with them!

Man I want that. You need to do a video of all the cool effects you can do

I will try to find time to do that in the future!

02-27-2015, 08:30 AM
I just got to say, that is one stunning uke. I mean stunning. Boy would I like to be good enough to want one of those. :drool:

02-27-2015, 09:09 AM
Boy would I like to be good enough to want one of those.

If you can strum 4 strings, you are good enough!

02-27-2015, 11:20 AM
I can do about three or three and a half on a good day.

Inksplosive AL
02-27-2015, 01:38 PM
mmmmgrumble... all this talk about midi I now own a QuNeo midi control surface. Yeah guitar center came through with a very nice clearance price!


03-02-2015, 09:29 PM
Love your Risa. I have been wanting to convert one of my ukes to play with my Roland GR-20. Very interested in using the Ghost Pickup. I was going to use RMC pickups like Michael Powers uses but they are really expensive. What saddle are you using? The only four string saddle I see on the graphtech website is for a bass? It looks like they sell an acoustic kit with almost everything. It has individual pickups but no saddle. It also doesn't have a three way switch to choose between 1/4", midi or both but I see they sell them separately. Did graph tech provide you with the schematics to wire it all up?

03-03-2015, 06:19 AM
Graphtech provides many different parts options for whatever your needs - depends on the uke you have.

What uke do you want to modify?

I have a set of RMC pickups and preamp that I am selling for a great price as an option too - it is an easier install than the Graphtech system and the preamp is offboard keeping your uke light.

03-04-2015, 01:11 AM
I have an Aileen SG and some Gotoh tuners for my project. Been saving up for some RMC pickups, just too expensive so project has been hanging on wall. Let me know how much you want for your RMCs. The only saddle for four strings I see on the Graphtech site are for Bass Guitars. What kind of saddle did you use to hold your Ghost pickups?

03-04-2015, 03:07 AM
Since we're talking midi-instruments, here is my YouRock Midi guitar that I use for my needs:

http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y121/pactio_kiss/20150305_000054_zpscmpvegeu.jpg (http://s4.photobucket.com/user/pactio_kiss/media/20150305_000054_zpscmpvegeu.jpg.html)