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beeejums
05-22-2009, 06:39 AM
So somewhere on some other thread somebody said something about a 7 band EQ improving your plugged-in sound.

I'm a poor man, but I'm trying to improve the sound of my electric ukes... they're awfully tinny. I'm going to try an EQ pedal this weekend at a local guitar shop, but what should I know about it?

Does anyone else use one?

How much should one of these puppies be?

What should I be looking for when I go to buy?

Thanks!

jkevinwolfe
05-22-2009, 08:05 AM
beeejums,

Are you using a piezo pickup? These can be tinny and distorted if they're not buffered correctly for EQ and impedance. Test drive the EQ. It should solve your tinniness if you reduce the high end.

If the EQ sounds distorted, then you still have an impedance mismatch. While you're at the store, try a guitar preamp with tone control. This would probably solve any distortion and tinniness. Should be about the same price as the EQ.

beeejums
05-22-2009, 08:31 AM
Thanks for the input. *googles impedance*

buddhuu
05-22-2009, 08:35 AM
Hey Beeejums, the 7-band EQ was probably me.

I use a cheapo 7-band, a Behringer. It's a guitar pedal and in the UK is about 25.

However, that's not the most important part of my sound processing. For piezos I really wouldn't go without a preamp. I use a Fishman ProEQ II, which is designed to work with acoustic instruments. It sorts out impedance issues, boosts the piezo signal level and gives you some basic 3-band EQ. It also has a phase switch to help cut feedback. In the UK the ProEQ II is about 95.

If I have to go without one or the other I would sacrifice the 7-band. I certainly wouldn't be without the Fishman preamp.

Baggs do a preamp that is also widely liked and recommended, the Para Acoustic. I have tried that one as well and I like it, but the Fishman seems to work better with my Instrument/amplifier combinations.

The 7 band is really a bit of a luxury. It gives just a wee bit more control over the specific frequency bands and can help with feedback. That said, a soundhole plug is the best anti-feedback measure I know.

Does all that make sense? Sorry if it's a bit muddled.

buddhuu
05-22-2009, 08:40 AM
Links:

Fishman ProEQ II:
http://www.fishman.com/products/details.asp?id=41

Behringer 7-band EQ:
http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/EQ700.aspx

The LR Baggs Para Acoustic:
http://www.lrbaggs.com/html/products/preamps_paradi.shtml

beeejums
05-22-2009, 08:45 AM
I see... I'll try out a preamp as well.

Thanks!

haole
05-22-2009, 09:58 AM
I use a Boss 7-band EQ pedal to tweak the sound of my ukes, since I just have a cheap stick-on Dean Markley soundboard pickup and my amp doesn't have a wide range of tonal variation. Works pretty good!

I also like to use it with my Guild acoustic that already has a built-in pickup and preamp, because it allows for even more fine-tuning. No matter what settings I use on the guitar itself, it always sounds tinny and harsh, but by tweaking the EQ I can mellow out the sound.

Still, I'd love to own a uke with everything built in, especially since I have some gigs lined up this summer.

buddhuu
05-22-2009, 11:29 AM
Yeh, I've never found a guitar, mandolin or uke with an on-board preamp I like. The ones I've tried all sounded thin or poorly balanced. Even with a built in preamp on the instrument I still go through outboard preamp and/or EQ.

I'd rather have a passive pickup than on-board electronics. Better to do all the signal processing outboard, IMHO.

JCMcGee
05-22-2009, 12:10 PM
For Live sound I have found the most important things are, in order:

1. The pick up you have. I have a SHADDOW and it's been ace.

2. That the sound man knows what your ukulele sounds like unplugged.

3. A wee EQ pedal can help...I knock off the high frequencies & the bass...I think it more helps calm my nerves than anything.

I've never had feedback issues.
Never needed a pre-amp, though what was said above is interesting.

I spoke with Ukulele Bart about a month ago on this same topic and he gave me some ace info'...covers pre-amps, activ vs passive, feedback: Google him he's an ace guy and a great player...I don't think he'd mind me posting this:

Hey, Jimmy -
I love your videos!
Anyhow, yeah, I play some loud venues with drums and a full band, so I've been through lots of amplification issues. The soundman will never know how to mic or amp an ukulele, so you have to take care of things yourself. And I'm glad you asked me, because it gave me the idea to add a page to my website about it. Sorry about how long my answer is, but I just copied and pasted the thing I put on my website:

The setup I have now is perfect: my custom Candelas uke has a fantastic built-in pickup. You have to get the right kind of pickup, though. Mine is an L.R. Baggs, which is the best company as far as acoustic instrument pickups. And you have to have an active pickup, not a passive. Passive pickups need external amplification, so you'd need to carry around a pre-amp and maybe some pedals. Actives give you power and volume.

Fishman makes some great acoustic pickups, but they're for guitar. They're too big for an ukulele. I asked them to make me a custom uke-sized pickup, but they wouldn't do it.

An Active pickup is the only way to go. Active PUs have a battery, Passive PUs do not have a battery. So the passive is lighter and keeps a little more of the original acoustic tone, plus you never have to deal with changing batteries. But Passives have no power; they simply send a signal to the P.A.. You have to rely on the soundman for volume and tone, and he's gonna screw it up every time. The Passive signal is so weak that the soundman will have to crank the volume WAY up, and then you'll feed back like mad.

Some pickups have a volume control, others don't. You need a volume knob!

Most uke pickups have volume knobs that mount through a hole in the body of the uke, so you have to cut a hole in the instrument in order to acces the knob. Like Lanikai electrics; they have a volume and EQ built in. But they've cut a big hole in the instrument, ruining the integrity of the sound. My L.R. Baggs has a little volume dial that mounts inside the sound hole.

Another way is a piezo pickup, but that's crap. It's a stick-on pickup that sounds like crap and has no power. You'll still need a pre-amp. Plus, it will pick up all the sounds of your hand rubbing against it as you play. It's inexpensive, but it's a bad idea.

I've tried lots of pre-amps and effects boxes. The only pre-amp worth anything is the L.R. Baggs Para Acoustic. Wow. It's supreme. It sounds natural, has a ton of volume and has a three-band EQ. Plus it doubles as a Direct Input box, with an XLR input built in. And another great feature is the battery compartment. When you need to change the battery, you just push a button and the battery pops out. No need to unscrew any panels. And it's indestructible. Solid steel housing.

But the easiest and best-sounding solution is the Baggs Uke Pickup. No pre-amp, just plug into the P.A. and play. It's about $200. The only place I know to get one is Candelas Guitars in Los Angeles, but he'll mail you one. Tell Tomas Delgado that I sent you!

Ukuleleblues
05-22-2009, 03:47 PM
I bought a 29 danelectro 7 Band EQ. It sure made a difference. Behringer makes on e for 29 the Boss goes for 99. You can cut that tinny sound right out.

jkevinwolfe
05-22-2009, 04:00 PM
A really useful trick is to EQ a piezo pickup with a .01 mfd non-polarized capacitor soldered across the cable at either pickup end or the jack end. The illustration shows how to install it on the pickup.

http://files.me.com/jkevinwolfe/4ncztm

What this does is act as a low-pass filter and filter out some of the tinny high end of a piezo. This brings the tone to a more normal range so you don't have to tweak the EQ unit or preamp so much. This works especially well on the $3 Radio Shack buzzer piezos you see people installing in ukes all the time as pickups.

buddhuu
05-22-2009, 11:57 PM
Yeh, I've done four of the DIY piezo buzzer pickups, and soldering a cap across the connections definitely makes a difference to the sound. Experimenting with different capacitor values is also worth a try.

@ Jimmy:

Great info from Ukulele Bart. :)

Just a couple of things...

When he says that he goes straight into the PA without a preamp... well, if that's with an active pickup then there's usually a preamp of sorts built into the pickup. That's part of what makes it an active pickup. So strictly speaking, he may mean that he goes straight in without an external preamp in addition to the active.

And although being a great piece of kit, the Baggs preamp is certainly not "the only pre-amp worth anything"! :D That really does depend on your specific combination of requirements, instrument and gear.

When Ukulele Bart says: "The soundman will never know how to mic or amp an ukulele", he's spot on. Again, it's a bit of a generalisation, but these days it seems like no one knows how to set up the sound for acoustic instruments of any kind. I've had similar problems with mandolin.

Sound guys are mostly used to engineering rock bands. They often know little about instrument mics, and they always want you to play through a pickup. As my first preference is to play into a condenser mic and only use the pickup for big, noisy situations, they usually hate me.

Fortunately, our singer owns a recording studio and can usually persuade the sound fella that it is possible to work with instrument mics.

beeejums
05-25-2009, 01:46 PM
I loved reading the input from Ukulele Bartt, but unfortuantely, I didn't have his budget.

I went to the guitar shop the other day and tried out a Boss EQ pedal and a Fishman GII Preamp. The pedal made my ukulele sound worse, maybe I was doing it wrong, but the Fishman was not only cheaper, but it made the uke instantly sound much closer to how I want it to sound.

So, thanks for the input! I'm glad I tried before I buyed (I know it should be bought. I wanted it to rhyme).