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Rod
03-05-2008, 03:41 AM
Well it's time to pick up a new Ukulele and Scotty's music in Kalaheo has a Kamaka tenor available. However, it already has a passive pickup installed. I have never used a pickup before and wondering what the benefits and/or disadvantages of buying an ukulele with a pickup?

I do not have any immediate plans to play in front of larger groups where an amp would be needed. Would it still be a good idea to go ahead and get it for the future?

Is there any difference in sound with a pickup installed and not plugged in vs. the same ukulele with no pickup installed?

I understand there are a variety of different pickups available. Should I find out what kind is already installed? Are there any recommendations on one's to get and one's to stay away from?

Thanks for looking and your help,
Rod

uber_goober
03-05-2008, 07:16 AM
Hey Rod, just my theory on acoustic instruments with pickups in general. If you ever think you'll want a pickup, you might as well have it installed at the factory (i.e. it's already in there). That way you aren't risking the instrument by having it installed after market (in which case the tech needs to drill a hole in the instrument...which any good tech should be able to do...but I wouldn't let just anyone do it).

I actually don't have electronics in any of my instruments, I prefer to use a condenser mic. Though I mainly play guitar at gigs. But, I am thinking of getting my next ukulele with a pickup already installed for convenience. I find it rather difficult to get a good live sound just micing a ukulele given the lower level of volume it generates.

Bottom line, I'd say go for the Kamaka with the passive pickup. It certainly won't hurt having it. As far as active vs. passive, there are numerous direct boxes you can run your passive pickup into to get the eq control and response of an active pickup.

Hope that helps,

-John

NukeDOC
03-05-2008, 07:52 AM
here's my take on pickups so far.

if you just want the ability to plug into any amp and be louder, then by all means go with a pickup. passive or active. up to you.

but if you are actually going to be playing in front of an audience, then sound quality is very important. for the kamakas, im sure they put either fishmans or lr baggs pickups in them, so i wouldnt worry too much. but i do prefer the passive pickups. that way you can get an external pre-amp to fine tune the sound that you want to come out of the speakers.

as for the lower-ish end of the spectrum, ie lanikai, kala, etc, that come with those shadow pickups... i hate them. hahaha. but like i said, if you just need to hook up to a speaker to be heard, there's nothing wrong with it. but for performances, sound is everything. and sound costs money.

in conclusion, what im saying is...
if you have the option of choosing what kind of pickup to be installed, go with just a straight acoustic, and have them install the pickup of your choice for you (if youre not comfortable enough to do it yourself). if you dont have a choice, get the acoustic, shop for the pickup you want, and take it to someone who can install it for you (again, if youre not comfy enuf).

keep in mind, that the saddle on a straight acoustic instrument is in direct contact with the bridge, which is in direct contact with your soundboard. by installing a pickup (which is more than likely to be an under-saddle type), you are putting something foreign in the middle of the mix. this may or may not affect the acoustic tone of your instrument. i just learned this fact last night when i installed a pickup into my acoustic guitar.

Landon
03-05-2008, 03:58 PM
Try and ask if the pickup was installed by Kamaka. If it was i would definately buy it. It plays well w/o a amp so dont worry about that. But if it was not installed by Kamaka then try and play it first to see if the sound is still good, just because the fact that someone could have messed up installing it where as Kamaka only sells quality products and would not sell something of low quality.

Also im sure it wont be hard to find a Tenor w/o a pickup and it would probly be cheaper. the only thing is in the future its nice to have a Ukulele with a pickup in it, even if its not a must for you right now.

Aldrine Guerrero
03-05-2008, 07:03 PM
Scotty's music is actually where I picked up Mika :3

Anyway...

The built in pickup that Kamaka uses is a nice Fishman passive pickup. Itll do you some justice if you're not really picky about the sound that comes out of the amp or if you don't have too many experiences plugging in. I started on passive pickups as well and then changed to an active pickup via the tenor applause that I used to play. If you're ever on Oahu, you can probably drop it off at the Kamaka shop and you can have them install an active pickup if you really needed an active one. I don't think they sell Kamaka's with active's... I might be wrong.

I'd say go for it. It's an extra hundred bucks but it also keeps you versatile. You have an option to go plugged in or straight rather than not have that option at all. If you're gonna spend the 800-1k anyway, you might as well go the whole nine yards.

Lemme know what you decide dude! Make sure to post us samples and whatnot :D

Rod
03-06-2008, 03:41 AM
Guy's,

Thank you for the great replies! All of my questions were answered and I am definately going to pick it up with the pickup. I will be sure to post up some video samples.

Thanks again, your help is very appreciated.
Rod

Rod
03-10-2008, 10:51 AM
Oook, well my muddha is on her way to Scotty's on Kauai right now to pick up the Kamaka Tenor with pickup. So now the question is, what do yall plug into? Guess what Im getting at is, what can be used, Roland MiniCube, Honeytone Miniamp???

Just curious on what you have found to work best, or prefer. Sorry if these questions sound silly or do not make sense, pickups, amps etc. are all new to me.

Thanks Again,
Rod

brokenwing
03-21-2008, 01:47 PM
Rod,
I come from the guitar side of things, but you'd need an acoustic amp that strikes a balance between quality, affordability and portability. The Ultrasound has always received solid reviews.

www.acousticfingerstyle.com/UltrasoundAmps.htm

dakine2009
03-21-2008, 04:28 PM
I have a pickup in my ukulele and i don't use it very often, so one of the guys at Harry's Music Store in Kaimuki told me to take out the battery because if you don't use the pickup often, the batteries could leak and ruin your ukulele.

seth
03-23-2008, 01:32 PM
I'd say go for the pickup.

Rod
03-27-2008, 05:33 AM
Thanks for the replies guys. I went ahead and picked up the below to learn and play around with....

Danelectro N10 HoneyTone Mini Guitar Amplifier
Monster Cable Standard 100 Instrument Cable

Thanks again for the help and direction. My new Kamaka tenor is wonderful.
Rod

4strings707
09-19-2008, 08:07 AM
Scotty's music is actually where I picked up Mika :3

Anyway...

The built in pickup that Kamaka uses is a nice Fishman passive pickup. Itll do you some justice if you're not really picky about the sound that comes out of the amp or if you don't have too many experiences plugging in. I started on passive pickups as well....



hey aldrine...is the pickup a Fishman AG passive on ur kamaka?

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&item=140180105858

i've decided to install a pickup myself. if kamaka uses fishman, i'll use it too.

Aldrine Guerrero
09-19-2008, 08:55 AM
hey aldrine...is the pickup a Fishman AG passive on ur kamaka?

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&item=140180105858

i've decided to install a pickup myself. if kamaka uses fishman, i'll use it too.

Fishman active

When I bought it stock, it was a passive pick up. I changed it to an active shortly after. I like the active pick ups a lot better, but they're more pricey.

upskydowncloud
09-19-2008, 09:00 AM
I'm considering getting the same uke as you Aldrine, do you think it's worth getting it with the stock passive pickup to begin with even if it's not that good? I don't plan on playing in front of anyone in the near future but thought about getting it anyway.

freedive135
09-19-2008, 12:25 PM
Ok for the non plugged in crowd (but thinking about it) what is the difference between a passive and active pickup and why do I want one over the other???
And what is this about needing battries?

NotoriousMOK
09-22-2008, 11:29 AM
an active pickup includes the electronics to amplify and/or eq your signal, so you usually need a battery for these (a 9v is common) . a passive pickup is just the pickup, so you would use an external preamp instead. personally, i prefer a passive pickup on my ukes, so I can use one external preamp for all of them and I don't have to put a big hole in my uke for the panel.

hope this helps -- have fun!

Lance
11-02-2008, 05:07 PM
Fishman active

When I bought it stock, it was a passive pick up. I changed it to an active shortly after. I like the active pick ups a lot better, but they're more pricey.

Do you know what model pickup you have?

Thanks,
Lance

Kekani
11-02-2008, 05:54 PM
I don't have to put a big hole in my uke for the panel.

Not all active pickups are "onboard" type. Fishman Matrix (and the new Matrix Infinity) and LR Baggs Element Active have the pre-amp in the end pin. Baggs does have an onboard I-mix that secured to the back, and not the side, but you'll need to reach in to make adjustments - better for guitar I would imagine.

Keep in mind with pickups, different technologies provide different sound. The Fishman is very easy to install, and you can get away with a less than stellar attention to detail at the bridge. Fishman batteries will last about 10 times as long as the Baggs. As I understand, they have an on/off technology built in which supposedly powers the signal, only when there is one. I may have been misled to believe this, but, makes sense to me, as far as battery life is concerned.

Baggs seems to be more finicky and picky on the install. The bridge doesn't take little anomalies very well, and will show up in lack of string balance. Of courese, once I went with Baggs, I've stuck with them, for the sound.

Here's the thing, if a player is used to the Fishman sound, switching to Baggs may not be the best thing, initially. I've heard players say something is missing. What's usually missing is the sensitivity of the Fishman, and also the quack. Baggs may seem to be a "darker" pickup. Some say its more natural. I've seen Rick Turner blast away on a DTAR installed `ukulele with NO QUACK! DTAR uses the Baggs UST wire (as does MiSi).

Again, two different sounds.

If I were just installing, Fishman, no question. Playing, Baggs. Playing loud, DTAR.

Sorry to get off track.

wickedwahine11
09-01-2009, 02:48 PM
Fishman active

When I bought it stock, it was a passive pick up. I changed it to an active shortly after. I like the active pick ups a lot better, but they're more pricey.

Sorry to dredge up an old thread, but I'm considering having Kamaka install a pickup on my HF3 when I'm in Oahu this December, and I'm torn between getting the active or the passive.

I don't think I need all the bells and whistles of the active, but I'm just curious Aldrine, if you see this, why did you opt to change your passive to an active? And is the active a Fishman also?

jinsk90
09-01-2009, 03:02 PM
I just had a pickup installed on my HF-3. After doing some research, I went with going with a Fishman Passive, but I also baught a LR Bags Para Acoustic DI (preamp). A Fishman Active requires a battery, a lot more space then the Passive. I believe the MiSi Active doesn't require a lot of space, as you can charge through an external adapter.