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View Full Version : Passive and pre-amp vs active onboard pickup system



Sanemancured
02-20-2018, 10:32 AM
Hello and greetings from the UK lake District.

I'm in a position to buy a new Uke. I'm probably going to go for an Acacia Pono ATD Deluxe with the Fishman passive PRO-AGO-UKE pickup pre installed by the Southern Uke Store in the UK.

Now there are active set-ups like the MiSi Trio and the JR Baggs 5.0 and as tempting as they are I'm thinking that using a Fishman pre before my Yamaha TRH5A would achieve similar gains without an onboard battery or need for charging. Any opinions or recommendations for pre-amp?

Peter

DownUpDave
02-20-2018, 10:54 AM
Sounds like you have already made up your mind to go with the Fishman passive. Yes you will need a pre amp to get enough sound out of the Yamaha THR5 ( I own one).

Things to consider, pre amps take batteries so you are not eliminating anything. Pre amps add cost to purchase a good one and one more cable to buy. I have had passive pick ups and the right ones sound good through a decent pre amp. But everything I own now has either LR Baggs 5.0 or Misi. Just plug and play, batteries for the Baggs last 300 hrs. My three year old LfdM is still on the original battery and I plug in at least an hour a week. I have other ukes with pick ups so the playing time gets spread around.

Get a good quality pre amp like the LR Baggs para coustic or KK Pure Pre amp. They are a long term investment and worth the price

Sanemancured
02-20-2018, 11:07 AM
Thank you, any thoughts on this? I can power it on a pedal board with my TC Polytune tuner.

https://www.thomann.de/gb/fishman_platinum_stage_analog_preamp.htm

Im not definite on the Fishman and I can ask them to fit the base model with another setup but the Uke is available fitted with the Fishman passive immediately. If the Fishman passive plus pre is on par with say the MiSi or the JR Baggs then it seems a viable option.

DownUpDave
02-20-2018, 11:12 AM
I had seen this on the Fishman website site, it looks nice. I don't have any experience with that product but I sure it would work great with the matching pickup. Maybe someone else will chime in will real life experience. Personally though I would not hestitate to use that Fishman pre amp.

ErnieElse
02-20-2018, 11:55 AM
Hi Peter,

I have sent you a private message.

Ernie

Brad Bordessa
02-20-2018, 02:17 PM
I'm a LR Baggs guy. I use the Venue. But the Para DI is supposedly the same (if not better) EQ section. Tried and true. But you'd be hard pressed to go wrong with the Fishman. I had an older version and it did the job.

However, give it a couple gigs and I'd be surprised if you don't start to wonder about where you might be with a simpler active setup (a single cable). Unless you are gaining anything from the passive pickup or losing something from going active, I'm not sure what your hesitation is. Charging the MISI every couple gigs is no big deal at all. WAY easier than goofing around with an extra piece of gear.

Just my .02 from a been-there-done-that perspective.

hollisdwyer
02-20-2018, 05:58 PM
Sounds like you have already made up your mind to go with the Fishman passive. Yes you will need a pre amp to get enough sound out of the Yamaha THR5 ( I own one).

Things to consider, pre amps take batteries so you are not eliminating anything. Pre amps add cost to purchase a good one and one more cable to buy. I have had passive pick ups and the right ones sound good through a decent pre amp. But everything I own now has either LR Baggs 5.0 or Misi. Just plug and play, batteries for the Baggs last 300 hrs. My three year old LfdM is still on the original battery and I plug in at least an hour a week. I have other ukes with pick ups so the playing time gets spread around.

Get a good quality pre amp like the LR Baggs para coustic or KK Pure Pre amp. They are a long term investment and worth the price


I'm a LR Baggs guy. I use the Venue. But the Para DI is supposedly the same (if not better) EQ section. Tried and true. But you'd be hard pressed to go wrong with the Fishman. I had an older version and it did the job.

However, give it a couple gigs and I'd be surprised if you don't start to wonder about where you might be with a simpler active setup (a single cable). Unless you are gaining anything from the passive pickup or losing something from going active, I'm not sure what your hesitation is. Charging the MISI every couple gigs is no big deal at all. WAY easier than goofing around with an extra piece of gear.

Just my .02 from a been-there-done-that perspective.

If I may chime in, all my current instruments have the MiSi pickup (which I believe is MiSi electronics coupled with an LR Baggs 5.0 piezo under saddle pickup). I also run them through an LR Baggs Para DI into a Yamaha THR5A or a Roland AC33 amp. The Baggs Para DI also allows me to plug into a mixing desk if required.
I also use a medium sized pedal board. All of this gear is battery powered. I am very happy with the performance of all this gear.

Patrick Madsen
02-20-2018, 06:50 PM
Like Dave, I have a Yamaha 5 small amp and a Phil Jones bass amp. I use a Lenmar lithium computer battery to power them when portable. I have Baggs, K&K and Misi on various ukes. It really doesn't matter to me if it's passive or active; they both have the positives and negatives.

I've been using a L.R.Baggs preamp for a couple of years and recently bought the new mini K&K preamp. It's at least 1/2 the size of a reg. preamp and can be hung from a belt. I've started adding a volume control wheel inside the sound hole or sound port; it makes it a lot easier to control the volume for playing rhythm and solos.

Sanemancured
02-20-2018, 08:57 PM
Thanks go to all. There is another issue. I also have a Risa stick, so having an outboard pre would be useful

vanflynn
02-21-2018, 04:57 PM
FWTW. I have a belt clip LR Baggs Gig Pro https://www.lrbaggs.com/preamps-di/gigpro-mixpro-acoustic-preamp and really like the controls at my hips. Just need a 12 patch cord.

FiL
02-22-2018, 02:48 AM
If you have a lot of ukes that you perform with, it can be cheaper to put passive pickups in them, and then you just need one active DI. You can also get more tone shaping and other bells and whistles with an active DI than you can with the pre-amps built into most ukes. But if you just have one uke that you want amplified, an active pickup is certainly a simpler solution, and there's a lot to be said for simplicity.

- FiL

Sanemancured
02-24-2018, 03:55 AM
Thank you. It's not so dissimilar to the world of bass guitar in respect of onboard vs outboard tone shaping. I'm not an obsessive Uke owner (yet) but I used to own 27 basses! I've only 2 Ukuleles (and 5 basses) I'm not a performer but an experienced bassist who is giving up playing in a band and bass playing, more or less and I'm looking for the Uke to take it's place. I enjoy playing amplified and who knows where it'll go.....

I may look at some Ukes next week. I want to try some Ponos and other higher end Ukes and see how they compare with the Mele for tone and playability. I could get a pickup installed in the Mele as an option too.

kissing
02-25-2018, 02:44 AM
In the big picture, having used a lot of both, they're simply different..

Passives have the advantage of never needing a battery.
They pair well with instrument amps. Just plug and play - use the amp's tone and volume controls and you're good to go.
They may not be quite strong enough to plug directly into a PA system's mixer directly, without a DI box or external preamp as mentioned by others. Looking for a cheap, but good quality external preamp? See if you can find any Behringer ones. They're good for their price in the under $100 price range.

Actives have the advantage of having more versatility in the devices you can plug them into, and the ability to shape the tone before it goes to an amplifier.
You can plug them directly into a PA system's mixer, as the powered signal from the inbuilt pre-amp is strong enough. However, having to replace or recharge a battery does add an extra level of liability. Good to have a spare battery in your bag, though you might be unlucky if the battery dies mid-performance.


Quality does vary drastically.
Generally speaking, pickups from reputable brands are better choices than the generic no-name ones or "Belcats" you see on cheap ukuleles.

But, if you invest in an inexpensive (but legit high quality) Artec passive undersaddle pickup and replace the existing crappy one - your quality improves to be on par with the expensive pickups on the market. And you would have only spent $10-20, not hundreds. Artec's undersaddle piezo's do well as a standalone passive setup, or replacing the existing undersaddle piezo on an active setup.

I have done this on many instruments - both as standalone passive setups, or replacing the existing undersaddle on generic active systems that many inexpensive ukes come with ("Belcat", "Mahalo", etc).


P.S. "Pono" undersaddle passive pickups are identical to Artec. Artec is the OEM.