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Nickie
03-15-2015, 07:29 PM
What do you use to amplify your uke with?
Or do you not amplify?

Piezos and Pre-amps or

Soundboard transducers or

Microphone, standing or clip on?

or none.

ricdoug
03-15-2015, 07:39 PM
All the above, Nickie. It depends on the venue. I prefer to use a microphone, but larger applications work better with a pickup. In song circles, acoustic usually works fine. Ric

kohanmike
03-15-2015, 07:52 PM
I have under saddle piezo pickups and active preamps on all my ukes and both my acoustic basses, either I installed them or they came ready that way. It's not often that I actually use the ukes amplified, but New Years Eve I brought one to an annual party at a friends place and used my little Fender mini amp, the group loved the idea of a "mini guitar" with a mini amp (I took no offense to it).

I have a fifteen year old USA made Crate Limo 50 watt battery amp ready if needed for the ukes, and always use it with my basses. Great with both instruments. I also have an iRig HD if I ever want to record direct to an iPhone, iPad or my MacBook Pro. And as well, I'm waiting for a Kickstarter item to arrive for which I made a $100 investment, a ToneWood amp with effects that sits on the back of the acoustic instrument with magnets and amplifies the sound directly through the body.

http://www.fairfax67.com/images/Crate Limo Fender mini.jpg

http://www.kohanmike.com/images/ToneWood Kickstarter.png

Booli
03-15-2015, 08:31 PM
I've used them all, they each have their place, based upon your intended purpose at the moment, as well as being limited by your budget.

After going down the rabbit hole and buying, installing and testing a half-dozen of the most popular under-saddle, and another half-dozen of the most popular surface transducers...as well as building my own from a wide variety of materials, including PVDF piezo film, piezo discs, piezo cable, and SBT piezo rods, and I've come to a few conclusions:

1. Surface transducers produce a more 'woody' sound (maybe more 'natural' sound), at the expense of also picking up ALL scratchy/surface noise of the instrument and being easily prone to feedback at higher volume levels - as such, amp/speaker placement relative to uke placement is critical to minimize feedback when playing live.

2. Under-saddle transducers (UST) are not prone to feedback, even at higher volume levels, and produce a slightly compressed, but very articulate sound, very crisp, but can tend to sound 'plasticky' depending upon what strings you use, and what material your saddle is made from. Plastic saddles have the worst of the 'plasticky' sound, bone saddles have less, and the least 'plasticky' sound I've found is from using either a rosewood or ebony saddle, which also tends to be WARMER, and more 'WOODY' than the others. USTs usually require a preamp, either installed in the uke or external because their output voltage tends to be lower than surface transducers. Most cheap asian rod piezo pickups have enough output to not need a preamp to get the level up, but can benefit from one any way to tame the 'piezo quack' that remains even with this type of pickup. The flex-cable (Like the LR Baggs Five-O, Mi-Si Acoustic Trio) and PVDF piezo film (B-Band calls theirs emFit) definitely needs a preamp as the output voltage is about 1/4 of that of the rod piezo.

3. A mic is a good way to perform live if you have a PA system already set up, and it's not something you have to worry about if there is a sound engineer already running the FOH mixer, however, you pretty much have no control over your sound, and cannot move around at all, since you need to have the mic right in front of your uke in order to be heard through the speakers.

4. For recording, having tried all of the above, as well as some very fancy/expensive studio condenser microphones, and I've found that for recording purposes, there is nothing that is going to give a sound as close to your own ears as a good micrphone, or pair of microphones, since they are designed more to emulate the human hearing. I am about to sell off most of my studio gear since I purchased an Apogee MiC, which works with Mac, iOS and Linux out of the box with no drivers (there are 3rd-party drivers for Windows, but I have not tried them) and sounds AMAZING.

Better than my AKG studio mics. All it needs is a single cable into your device. There is a HUGE benefit to this simplicity as opposed to the octopus spaghetti nightmare of cables, a matched pair of stereo condenser mics, an overhead mic, and a 'room mic' into various preamps, setting and checking levels for untiy gain, running it all into your recording interface and then doing a few test recordings... and then finally you can record -- if you can even remember the music that inspired you to capture something 30 minutes ago now...not.

I no longer have a dedicated space for a 'studio' setup, so the Apogee MiC is ONE cable, and ONE mic stand/mount, and I've been ready to record in 5 mins or less, and it's much easier to get reproducible results since you dont have to tweak dozens of knobs to set everything up each time.

Simply put, for recording, there is NOTHING that I've tested for pickups that give me back the acoustic sound THAT I HEAR, when playing the uke, other than a good microphone(s) that are positioned properly.

The Apogee MiC's recorded sound varies based upon placement and distance relative to your uke, and I have several software plugins that give me a virtual stereo sound (or even surround-sound), using principles of psychoacoustics.

This means to get a wider, and bigger, cleaner and more natural sound without using lots of compression and artificial reverb, I can use just one mic, and these software plugins as needed.

I do not have a full song recorded yet, just some short tests, and so far this is the closest thing to what I hear with my own ears...(nothing to share at this time-sorry)

I'll be using this method to record the songs I've written on the ukulele over the past 2 yrs - STAY TUNED!

Newportlocal
03-15-2015, 08:55 PM
Most of the time I play acoustically, but sometimes I use my mic, and sometimes I use my pickup and sing in my mic. I like all three ways.

fongie
03-16-2015, 12:10 AM
I'm thinking of installing a K&K into my new Kiwaya. I've done lots of install in my Martin guitars, but never a uke. I wonder if it is harder with such a small soundhole?

Anyway, that's my next project, I've heard so much about these K&K's on ukes. I will amplify through a Fishman SA220.

Olarte
03-16-2015, 12:34 AM
I don't amplify any of my sopranos or smaller Ukes but most of my tenors have MISI or k&k pickups which gives me the option of acoustic or amplified

I also use Apogee's MIC and JAM products which are amazing with any ios device.

One way I use amplification at home is to make nice clean backing tracks on my looper then record the main part live with the mic

It's always nice to have the option on tenors because I'm more apt to play single line melodies and arrangents on those. Sopranos lend themselves more to strumming and I have not found a reason to amplify any of them.

I even have a Kamoa pickup on one of my classical guitars to record nice clean direct digital right from the instrument. So as you can see amplification is not just for making Ukes louder but also to capture a nice clean sound of mixed properly.

Of course there is also the option to put it through an effects pedal and wail away for fun :music::nana:

spookelele
03-16-2015, 04:29 AM
Great question, and one I've recently changed my mind on.

http://www.theukulelesite.com/accessories/pickup-installation.html

So they have that video with 5 pickup comparison.
It's not exactly a fair comparison, because some are passive and some are active and the results would sound different with a pre-amp on the passives.

But something that did hit me, is that the best sound came from the lr baggs because it is active, but it still didn't sound as good as the mic'd samples they regularly use.

http://www.theukulelesite.com/shop-by/brand/pono/pono-rtshc-spruce-tenor.html

So, i've kinda changed my mind about getting a lr baggs, and I'm looking at mic's now.
I don't gig though... and I understand why that's 1000% different, but really, I just want to loop at home for fun.

Icelander53
03-16-2015, 05:19 AM
What do you use to amplify your uke with?
Or do you not amplify?

Piezos and Pre-amps or

Soundboard transducers or

Microphone, standing or clip on?

or none.


Nickie I try to play hard and yell out the song. Who needs an amp when you're obnoxious?:D

Oh and my Risa has something called a humbucker or hamburger or something like that. I don't use a preamp because at this stage no one would notice the difference. :(:

Five Ways
03-16-2015, 05:26 AM
Love my misi pickups, have them in four tenors.

Tootler
03-16-2015, 07:23 AM
Depends on circumstances.

I go to UK folk clubs which are all acoustic.

I have undersaddle pickups on my two Risa ukes - which are both solid bodies

For amplifying acoustic ukes I use pickups by MicroVox - They are miniature condenser mics and you plug them in through their own power supply. The actual pickup head attaches via a little velcro pad.

They give you the convenience of plugging in with sound much closer to using a mic.

Doc_J
03-16-2015, 10:07 AM
I have Pono passive, MiSi, and L.R.Baggs 5.0 pickups. (Not including the dual blade humbuckers on my steel string uke.)

All work great, but the L.R.Baggs 5.0. is the most true sounding to me on nylon strings.

Olarte
03-16-2015, 10:33 AM
One thin I learned early on is that is a lot cheaper to get a pickup as an option when buying the Uke than having a luthier install one properly after the fact.

sam13
03-16-2015, 05:23 PM
I've have Pono passive, MiSi, and L.R.Baggs 5.0 pickups. (Not including the dual blade humbuckers on my steel string uke.)

All work great, but the L.R.Baggs 5.0. is the most true sounding to me on nylon strings.

Glad I read this Hodge ... I have added a LR Baggs 5.0 to the new Tenor and Baritone I am getting.

Do you use a pre amp? I have on order a LR Baggs VenueDI ...

ksiegel
03-16-2015, 10:50 PM
My Fluke has a B-Band undersaddle, my Epi Les Paul has an undersaddle, and my Donaldson has a K&K twinspot.

I recently invested in a K&K Pure external pre-amp (which Bradford has recomended).

What I like to do for gigging is both use a mic and plug in, then balance the sound with a mixer.

Sound circles are strictly acoustic.


So the poll should have an option for "a combination of techniques".



-Kurt

Booli
03-16-2015, 11:06 PM
For recording, I use the Apogee MiC as per my post above, but wanted to add...(inspired by Kurt's post above)

My Yamaha GL-1 Guitalele, Kala KA-T tenor, and Sojing Solid-body 'silent' tenor all have the Mi-Si pickup system that I installed myself into each. I really like the no-battery function, and the Mi-Si sounds great too.

When I've played with others in small groups it's all acoustic and not amplified.

If/when I do an open mic performance (for at least the first few tries) I intend to rely on whatever PA system is in place rather than mess with any of my own techno-bobs, as I'll be nervous enough and want to focus on the performance and not the technical 'toys' aspect.

'Simplicity' being the driving factor here.

The 'other' pickups I mentioned in my previous post that I had installed into other ukes, were either removed, or those ukes were sold/given to friends and family.

Booli
03-16-2015, 11:23 PM
One thin I learned early on is that is a lot cheaper to get a pickup as an option when buying the Uke than having a luthier install one properly after the fact.

While this may be true, and simply for those not confident with simple hand tools, unless you have two left hands, it's not complicated to install a pickup.

I've posted on this topic numerous times, and there are MANY youtube videos that can walk you through the installation. Some folks are just not handy, so for them getting one installed post-purchase is going to cost more, and for that instance, I understand the need for a pre-installed pickup system.

Also, for the options offered for factory ukes that already have a pickup installed, you are limited and cannot choose which pickup you want. Most of the lower-priced ukes use a re-branded Belcat pickup/preamp (lower-priced Kala, Lanika, Luna), which may suffice for a beginner who does not have a learned ear enough to tell the difference, and starting at the mid-range you can get the Fishman Kula (Lanikai), the L.R. Baggs Five-O, Mi-Si or even a B-Band as found in the Flea and Fluke ukuleles as an option. I'm not counting here others like the passive pickups such as K&K and similar, which are typically lower cost either way.

Fellow UU brother Baz has said many times that for a budget uke with a pickup pre-installed, we need to set our expectations properly for both uke and pickup. The Mi-Si is about $120 everywhere and the Kula, L.R. Baggs Five-O, and B-Band are about $150-170, so if the WHOLE uke with pickup pre-installed is only $100-$200, how good do you think the pickup really is?

Most of the Belcat pickup/preamp systems can be had on Amazon, eBay, AliEpress and DealExtreme for betw $12-20 with free shipping, so that is what you are getting in these kinds of ukes.

I've installed one of the Belcat units in one uke (Mahalo Smiley) and while functional and adequate for doing what it says on the tin, I did not like the sound. Fortunately I gave that uke away to my cousin last year for him to take to Rotterdam as a beater. He loves it. :)

Olarte
03-17-2015, 12:17 AM
I totally agree booli but I'm just saying if something like an MISI is an available option at purchase time it is either much cheaper and or convenient.

For instance my Gary Gill came with the optional MISI for an extra 100 cheaper and easier than if I did it after the fact.
All I'm saying is that at purchase sometimes options not thought to be needed are often lacking or regrettable that they were not chosen, in the future like wood vs plastic fretboards or upgrades to a pickup and peg heads.

Mivo
03-17-2015, 01:32 AM
I'm not a fan of most pickups and have no experience with clip-on mics (but I have tried a contact mic, which didn't convince me). I mostly use a Shure SM57 with a Roland amp cube. That requires the least fiddling and works decently without worrying too much about positioning or room treatment.

Booli
03-17-2015, 01:54 AM
I totally agree booli but I'm just saying if something like an MISI is an available option at purchase time it is either much cheaper and or convenient.

For instance my Gary Gill came with the optional MISI for an extra 100 cheaper and easier than if I did it after the fact.
All I'm saying is that at purchase sometimes options not thought to be needed are often lacking or regrettable that they were not chosen, in the future like wood vs plastic fretboards or upgrades to a pickup and peg heads.

YES - this you and I agree perfectly!

As per Ivan above, if you are getting a custom, and your luthier offers a nice pickup option, that is definitely the way to go, party due to the cost savings as he said, but also if I spent $$$$ on a custom uke, I personally would not want to mangle/molest it (unless the luther/builder had passed away or was no longer in business) and I'd let the original luthier/builder do the install when he creates the instrument, and that way you are buying the entire package from a single source, as a 'whole' that includes both a nice uke and nice pickup.

Sorry if I am preaching to the choir.... :)

Doc_J
03-17-2015, 02:09 AM
Glad I read this Hodge ... I have added a LR Baggs 5.0 to the new Tenor and Baritone I am getting.

Do you use a pre amp? I have on order a LR Baggs VenueDI ...

There is on board volume control with LR Baggs. So, I plug directly into an acoustic amp (Yamaha THR-5A).

phil_doleman
08-05-2015, 06:05 AM
I've been through almost every pickup system and preamp/ processor around, and when I was playing in a loud rock situation it was the only way. However, for over a year now I've been playing without pickups, into a single large diaphragm condensor mic (for both uke and vocals), and I can't see me ever going back. It sounds great, is easy to set up, I don't have cables everywhere, and there's far less to go wrong! I find the sound of pickups anything from 'a bit artificial and flat' through to 'awful, clangy, hideous and not at all like a ukulele' depending on who's playing and what they are playing through.

On top of that, I only had to buy one mic, and can play any uke on stage without having to have yet another pickup installed (at considerable expense).