PDA

View Full Version : WTB - Entry level A/E Tenor



WeaserP
05-24-2016, 06:18 AM
Beginner looking for a used electric tenor in the $150-$175 range. Hoping for decent (entry level) build but also understanding that sometimes you get what you pay for as well. Been looking at Gretsch, Kala and a couple of others in that range. Opinions, thoughts and comments welcomed here as well.

Thanks all!

Weas

strumsilly
05-24-2016, 06:26 AM
a good pick up is in the $150-175 range. In my experience the pick ups in the Kalas / lanikai leave a lot to be desired. better to get the uke you want and install one yourself. you may gett lucky and find a good used one with a decent pick up though, happy hunting.

kissing
05-24-2016, 06:39 AM
Where are you located? USA?

WeaserP
05-24-2016, 06:40 AM
Was considering that as well, SS, but do appreciate the thought. (And here I go hijacking my own thread) What would you consider to be a decent, albeit entry level, pickup?

WeaserP
05-24-2016, 06:40 AM
Upstate NY, kissing. Syracuse.

kissing
05-24-2016, 06:53 AM
a good pick up is in the $150-175 range. In my experience the pick ups in the Kalas / lanikai leave a lot to be desired. better to get the uke you want and install one yourself. you may gett lucky and find a good used one with a decent pick up though, happy hunting.

Not necessarily strumsilly if you know where to shop.

This pickup unit is $6.80
www.ebay.com/itm/331610291574

But it is sometimes sold under famous brandnames for $99.

I do agree that the generic active pickups that come stock on Kalas, Lanikai, Luna and other inexpensive A/E instruments are disappointing.
I have owned many of them.

However, I have found that the problem is more to do with the bad quality undersaddle unit they use, while the onboard active preamp is actually usable.


The solution?
Buy one of those undersaddles, remove the existing undersaddle piezo from the ukulele, and replace it with the purchased Artec unit.
It will convert the cheap A/E ukulele into one that can rival the more expensive pickup systems that cost $100-200.

The replacing procedure is usually quite simple...
-loosen strings
-remove saddle
-unscrew screws of onboard preamp
-unplug existing piezo and remove from under the saddle by pulling it out
-install new undersaddle - the plug is universal between the Artec and the generic "Belcat" style onboard preamps.

If you're unlucky, the Artec undersaddle piezo may not immediately fit into the ukulele, in which case some minor woodworking may be needed (mostly filing with a needle file).



All these ukulele companies have to do is realise that the bad undersaddle units that they use ruin the whole instrument.
They are never balanced nor have a great tone, which kinda defeats the purpose of paying for an A/E.
A simple solution as replacing the undersaddle to a more reliable one like the inexpensive Artec makes such a huge difference.
But I suppose when it comes to mass-production, they must save a lot of money to opt for the lower quality piezos.

Jim Hanks
05-24-2016, 01:06 PM
I have one for sale. See the link in my signature and PM me if you're interested. The uke itself plays well, great setup from Mim, and sounds pretty good for what it is. In all honesty, the pickup is not the best, but it does work perfectly well. It's just a little noisier and picks up handling noise a little more than I'd like for recording. Playing live this is a little less of an issue.

photoshooter
05-24-2016, 04:58 PM
This pickup unit is $6.80
www.ebay.com/itm/331610291574

---snip---

Buy one of those undersaddles, remove the existing undersaddle piezo from the ukulele, and replace it with the purchased Artec unit.
It will convert the cheap A/E ukulele into one that can rival the more expensive pickup systems that cost $100-200.


I've installed a handful of the inexpensive preamps like the ones that come with mass production ukes. I've done exactly as described above and substituted the piezo element with one of the Artecs or similar with excellent results.
One of my ukes just has the Artec piezo with no on board preamp and I get very good results with that one too; often run it through a Behringer AD21 but not always.

Choirguy
05-24-2016, 05:23 PM
Have you considered a Caramel since you are looking for an entry level tenor acoustic/electric?

I feel odd because this is the second time tonight I've mentioned a Caramel. We bought four of these for my school program, but I don't actually own one myself.

Just one example:

http://www.amazon.com/Caramel-CT300-Spruce-Mahogany-Ukulele/dp/B01EUUNN90/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1464146450&sr=8-7&keywords=Caramel+ukulele+tenor

kissing
05-24-2016, 10:57 PM
I've installed a handful of the inexpensive preamps like the ones that come with mass production ukes. I've done exactly as described above and substituted the piezo element with one of the Artecs or similar with excellent results.
One of my ukes just has the Artec piezo with no on board preamp and I get very good results with that one too; often run it through a Behringer AD21 but not always.

That is the same experience I have had! These Artec undersaddles are very good - they're the same kind used in Ovation A/E guitars and ukuleles.



In fact, if one was to purchase a cheap acoustic-electric like the Caramel:
http://www.amazon.com/Caramel-CT300-Spruce-Mahogany-Ukulele/dp/B01EUUNN90/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1464146450&sr=8-7&keywords=Caramel+ukulele+tenor

And replace the undersaddle unit with the Artec, you would end up with a great quality instrument that rivals ones that cost double or triple its price.
(It may also need a good setup)

Croaky Keith
05-25-2016, 12:09 AM
Well, I like my Kala & its pick up/pre amp are O.K. for what I do. :)

Edit: I just play for my own pleasure, & the Seasons. ;)

WeaserP
05-25-2016, 02:40 AM
All great stuff, people. Much appreciated. Jim, I'll definitely be considering the Ohana you have up. I have not considered a Caramel, Choirguy, but have been looking at the Kala's, Keith.

You're all cementing the reasons why I came here (after lurking for a while), everyone. Great information.

JackLuis
05-25-2016, 04:43 PM
Off topic a bit but...
I have a Caramel Tenor and wondered if an Artec p/u would change it's sound? Acoustically it is not as 'chimy' as my other tenor. In all other respects it is very nice to play has good projection and intonation, but it doesn't have the "It" factor, of my travel tenor. I don't generally play electric, but maybe the CT-100 might sound better?

I have tried a couple of different string sets, mostly F-Carbon types, do you think Nylon types might have a different 'ring' to them?

kissing
05-25-2016, 06:09 PM
An Artec undersaddle will improve the electric tone of the cheap unit in the Caramel.

The thing to look out for is whether the dimensions of the artec pickup will it snugly in the saddle slot of the Caramel

WeaserP
05-26-2016, 01:19 AM
Hmm, now I'm reconsidering if I want to pick up a little nicer acoustic-only uke and install an Artec pickup as opposed to buying an a/e. Are saddle slots somewhat standard or are do they vary widely?

JerryWithaJ
05-26-2016, 01:24 AM
or..............get a Kala from Amazon (be sure Amazon is the seller or the seller has a reasonable return policy). Try it. If you don't like it, send it back.

Demick
05-26-2016, 04:29 AM
Width and length are fairly likely to fit. But that Artec pickup is about 3mm thick. And it is unlikely that the saddle slot is deep enough that you can simply shave 3mm off the bottom of the saddle to make room. So you will probably have to route the saddle slot deeper to make room for the pickup.


Hmm, now I'm reconsidering if I want to pick up a little nicer acoustic-only uke and install an Artec pickup as opposed to buying an a/e. Are saddle slots somewhat standard or are do they vary widely?

WeaserP
05-26-2016, 04:47 AM
Ok, that's giving me third thoughts. I'm a long time guitar player who does some basic work on my guits but I've never pulled out a router and I'm not sure that I want to start practicing on my first uke.

strumsilly
05-26-2016, 04:55 AM
Ok, that's giving me third thoughts. I'm a long time guitar player who does some basic work on my guits but I've never pulled out a router and I'm not sure that I want to start practicing on my first uke.It really depends on the uke. You may only have to shave the saddle.

photoshooter
05-26-2016, 07:42 AM
So far I've been able to do it by shaving the saddle. I'm able to route out the slot if necessary but haven't had to do it.

spookelele
05-26-2016, 10:08 AM
So far I've been able to do it by shaving the saddle. I'm able to route out the slot if necessary but haven't had to do it.

Did you do it on your atp-ctg-ce?
I finally found one used for a good price.. but I'm disappointed in the electronics.
I'd be willing to mod it.. just wondering if it's worth the risk/effort

WeaserP
05-26-2016, 10:26 AM
Did you do it on your atp-ctg-ce?
I finally found one used for a good price.. but I'm disappointed in the electronics.

Those are beautiful ukes. Probably something I'm going to be looking for down the road...

photoshooter
05-26-2016, 11:20 AM
Did you do it on your atp-ctg-ce?
I finally found one used for a good price.. but I'm disappointed in the electronics.
I'd be willing to mod it.. just wondering if it's worth the risk/effort


I don't have the CE model (Cutaway Electric), I just have the regular cedar top tenor (actually two of them).
But yes, I did add a MiSi Acoustic Trio pickup to that one. I was able to shave down the saddle to accommodate the piezo element plus a little extra to take the action down low. It's my most comfortable uke to play. I will be adding a piezo to the second one soon. Not sure if I'll go with MiSi again or just use an Artec as the difference in quality may be wasted on me.

As far as buying a used CE… If the price is good I would certainly jump on it. The under saddle element could easily be swapped for an Artec piezo or other similar quality element if you're not happy with the sound.

OK, subtly steering this thread back on topic as pertains to a "for sale" forum…

WeaserP,

As far as buying an entry level uke there are lots of choices and it seems like their "personalities" differ mainly in neck profile and nut width. In your price range they're all going to be good, playable ukes. As far as the acoustic/electric debate my two cents: You're not spending a lot of money on a uke. A pickup adds a $60 to $75 premium to the cost of that uke. Only you know if that's important to you. That being said if you're not comfortable doing garage luthiery the added cost is a bargain for the convenience. Buying a used A/E here on the forum mitigates that added cost so it's a good idea to keep checking here.

A few more morsels to consider…
I'm a newb/amateur/hack. I enjoy playing uke but honestly I'm not at a level where I can really appreciate the difference between my $150 MiSi and my $6 Artec pickups. I play mid-range production ukes, plug in to "economical" preamps (Behringer AD21) and go out through a fairly basic PA. There are amazingly talented musicians on this board that can wring every bit of sound out of a uke. I'm not one of them so I don't sweat the small stuff. The pickups that come with the Kalas and others are fine for most of us. If the shortcomings become apparent there are easy upgrade paths. My guess is that most people would upgrade their uke before upgrading their electronics.


Just my thoughts from my own experiences. I'm no expert so your mileage may vary…

Mike

WeaserP
05-27-2016, 01:27 AM
Once again, many thanks for the perspectives. I think I'm going to continue to hang around, soak up more opinions and consider all the options. One of these days (and my bet is it will probably be sooner rather than later) something's going to hit me as being a "must-have now!" thing. It happens all the time with guitars already. ;)