View Full Version : Questions about ukulele pick-up

07-15-2017, 02:04 AM
I have Guitarist Q330 tenor uke and it has built-in pick-up.


Q: Why does it sound so different in reality and on record from pick-up?
Phone recording: https://clyp.it/e4akguz3
Pick-up recording: https://clyp.it/xsf223yd
I think I can barely hear A string.

07-15-2017, 01:19 PM
It sounds different because it IS different ... if you want them to sound the same you'll have to adjust the electrics in your ukulele to match what your phone/ears hear when it's unplugged!

Unfortunately it's not easy to make an accurate assessment of an individual string when strumming chords. You'd really need to play a simple melody or arpeggio in each configuration to allow a reasonable comparison.

Good luck :)

07-15-2017, 08:09 PM
That's why the job of recording engineer exits, they control the recorded sound that comes from a pickup or microphone and adjust it accordingly, it's a craft, it's art, it's experience and it's some magic thrown in.

07-16-2017, 01:33 AM
If but one string has lower volume, it may be necessary to re-seat the pickup element and the saddle in the saddle-slot in the bridge.

The saddle needs to be absolutely flush and even against the pickup itself, and the pickup needs to be absolutely flush and even against a perfectly smooth and flat slot in the bridge.

This means no debris nor wood shavings nor sawdust nor dirt anywhere involved between the contact of the strings to the saddle to the pickup element to the saddle slot in the bridge. (I am not familiar with this brand specifically, but by the pictures, it looks like one of the nearly identical ukes sold on Amazon under about a dozen different 'brand' names that are imported from Asian factories, and this is mostly from the soundhole rosette design - yes, I've spent way too much time on Amazon)

I'm not sure what kind of pickup is in that uke, but if it is a 'rod piezo' then the pickup element might be defective, but if it is a thinner 'silver ribbon element' like what is in the Mi-Si or the LR Baggs, it is very common that the pickup is not installed properly with TWO holes, one at each end of the saddle slot in the bridge since about 1/4" to 3/8" at the very end of the pickup ribbon is very much a dead spot, and as such if it picks up ANY sound at all, it is usually very faint...

To investigate this and see what kind of pickup element you have, you will need to slack the strings (but usually do not have to remove them) just enough that you can slide out the saddle and see what is underneath.

If the pickup element is a rigid and (usually) black piece, these are easily replaced for less than $10 USD, if it is a silver ribbon element, you will need something like a toothpick to get under it and gently tease it up and out and then you can see if there was a second hole at the opposite end of the saddle slot whereby the extra length is tucked in.

Below are example images of the rod piezo and silver ribbon piezo pickup elements:



Having said the above, you should understand that due to the immutable laws of physics, the sound you hear in the air with your own ears will almost never, ever be the same as with ANY pickup, no matter what kind, nor with ANY microphone. The best you will ever get is an APPROXIMATION of the pure acoustic sound, and this varies widely both based upon equipment and the person controlling the settings and how they 'hear' the sound, which is in fact very different from how a uke or guitar player will 'hear' the sound.

Most pickups and mics are mono, and your ears are a sort of dual-mono and not quite stereo but a type of phase-shifted and time-shifted flavor of dual-mono called 'binaural'. Wikipedia is your friend on this if you want to know more...

Like Mike said above, capturing true audio fidelity is a Dark Art practiced by Mages, i.e., those experienced with lots of hours in the recording studio. I have but a little bit of this experience over the past 30+ yrs, and I do not consider myself an expert (yet).

Hope this helps! and if you need futher assistance, please report back and let us know. :)