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View Full Version : Mi-Si Acoustic Trio Pick-up quick review...



GrumpyCoyote
07-31-2009, 09:21 PM
Mike (HossierHiver)and Tookta over at Mainland Ukes just sent me my Classic Mahogany Tenor and Mike dropped a pick-up in it for me. We don't really need another Mainland review - so suffice it to say it's quality WELL above what I would expect for the price. Incredible player, wonderful tone, just great all around. It's on par or better with anything out there at twice the price. Surpassed expectations on all counts. Wonderful uke, and great company.

Onto the pick-up.

I've played instruments with under-saddle pickups of varying kinds (both passive, and active) for decades. Generally they either fail on one or two counts... Tone (bass and mid-range are hard to get right) or (with all of my other ukes) balance. By balance I mean one side or another is substantially higher in volume and or tone than another. My Pono pick-up and my K-Wave pick-up both have the latter problem so bad as to render them nearly unusable (the Pono pick-up is literally unusable at the moment because of the issue).

The Mi-Si is active (powered), but without the usual battery/EQ/pre-amp housing. It uses a simple capacitor and a 1/4 inch-to-wall plug system that charges the little devil in just a few seconds. That means no battery, no big holes in the uke... Check out RussBuss' installation review here (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=14734) for good pics of the simple install.


Mi-Si claims (http://www.mi-si.com/trio.html) that 60 seconds of charging gives you 16 hours of playing, and that seems about right. I charged it when it arrived, and have been practicing on my amp non-stop, as well as performing without any issues at all. It's slightly unnerving at first to plug a standard 1/4 into the usual jack, and then pop the other end into the the wall socket - but it works and is darn convenient.

The tone is dead-on-perfect to my ear - nice mids, thumpy bass, and full treble. It seems to grab overtones I didn't know I even had in my strum - in a good way. The balance issues are gone too. All four strings are nice and even and responsive, I don't need to adjust my playing to compensate - it just works.

I will say that I prefer the tone I can put out through a simple PA system over my usual Fender Power Chorus amplifier... this is colmpletly different than my other acoustic pick-ups. Generally, I need the Fender to compensate for the weedy piezio, and model the missing tones. The Mi-Si seems to do MUCH better without it, and in fact it's too responsive for the amp. I find myself cranking the amp way down and backing things off to get a more pure tone, just too much fuss. That's the amp's fault - not the pick-up. I pugged it into a few PAs over the last few days and it absolutely sings. Perfect.

In short - best damn acoustic pick-up I've ever used so far. The only con is the potential to lose the plug. I'm told I can just touch a 9 volt to the outside and inside rings of the 1'4 inch port to charge it in a pinch - so I'll just make sure I carry a spare.

5 stars for the pick-up and 5000 stars to Mainland and Tookta for getting her little hand in there for the install so I didn't have to!

Videos soon - I may pick up a Fishman PA to compliment it first.

Russ' Install Process (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=14734)

Mi-Si Site (http://www.mi-si.com/trio.html)

Captain_Lovehandles
08-01-2009, 03:08 AM
Thanks for this, GC. My Mainland arrived yesterday with the Mi-Si installed. Ditto the thanks for the install. Questions: Is it recommended to charge the uke before each time you gig? Does the charge stay built up over time if left unplayed plugged-in? Is there harm in charging it if it's already "half-charged"?

I'm playing it tomorrow in church, and had it not arrived so quickly, it would have been the Oscar Schmidt with the $2 Radio Shack transducer.

Great review. One suggestion for Mainland: When I was shopping, I looked at the Mainland website, and checked out the options on the uke I wanted. "pickup installed" was not an option. The website seems to indicate that if you want one, you have to buy the trio and install it yourself. So I shopped elsewhere and narrowed my search to two other manufacturers until UkeRepublic told me it was an option. Suddenly my choice was a no-brainer. Maybe add that as an option.

GrumpyCoyote
08-01-2009, 07:13 AM
Thanks for this, GC. My Mainland arrived yesterday with the Mi-Si installed. Ditto the thanks for the install. Questions: Is it recommended to charge the uke before each time you gig? Does the charge stay built up over time if left unplayed plugged-in? Is there harm in charging it if it's already "half-charged"?

I'm playing it tomorrow in church, and had it not arrived so quickly, it would have been the Oscar Schmidt with the $2 Radio Shack transducer.

Great review. One suggestion for Mainland: When I was shopping, I looked at the Mainland website, and checked out the options on the uke I wanted. "pickup installed" was not an option. The website seems to indicate that if you want one, you have to buy the trio and install it yourself. So I shopped elsewhere and narrowed my search to two other manufacturers until UkeRepublic told me it was an option. Suddenly my choice was a no-brainer. Maybe add that as an option.

I'm not sure on the length of time it will hold a charge yet, but I played for two days before I charged it again - so it'll hold for 48 at least. I didn't
bother to give it a zap before my performance, but I suppose it would have been the best plan.

It's a capacitor, not a battery - so you can't really "over-charge" it. That said, I wouldn't leave it plugged in for longer than a minute or two, as I'm not sure if the heat builds up. Since it only needs 60 second for 16 hours of play time, it's pretty easy to give it a zap just before you go on if you have to.

Captain_Lovehandles
08-01-2009, 07:50 AM
Good advice. Thanx.

Gcow55
08-02-2009, 04:58 AM
Thank you for the review. I've been debating whether or not to cave, and drop one of these in my Pono (to replace the garbage stock pickup). Your review makes me want to buy one this instant. I can't wait to hear it.

Does anyone know of any videos which show how to install it? Russ' pictures help, but a video install would be awesome.

russ_buss
08-02-2009, 06:23 AM
excellent review Grumpy! i'm glad you did it because my review would have been one sentence long, "it sounds good to me".

also, i had spoken with Dominator shortly after installing my Mi-Si and he also mentioned that you can't overcharge the capacitor. he said that that 8-10 hours worth of play time is actual play time. so you can play an hour today, wait a week, play another hour, and so on until your 8-10 hours is up. it should hold the charge between uses. cool stuff! and keeping a 9volt battery in your case for emergency charges is way convenient too.



Thank you for the review. I've been debating whether or not to cave, and drop one of these in my Pono (to replace the garbage stock pickup). Your review makes me want to buy one this instant. I can't wait to hear it.

Does anyone know of any videos which show how to install it? Russ' pictures help, but a video install would be awesome.

this is the video that i used as a guide:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdLUDWoh-cE

however, since you're replacing an existing pickup, i'm guessing you won't need to do any drilling. so even better!

let me know if you have any specific questions regarding the install. i'll be happy to share what little i know about such things.:)

BruddahMark
08-02-2009, 06:50 AM
Just wanted to throw out a shout on the MiSi trio system. I am sponsored by MiSi and have been using the system in my G-string Ukuleles since seeing them at the Anaheim NAMM show in 2006. I play professionally from small venues to full concert stage productions. Probably have +500 live performances on the same MiSi pick-up and have never had any repair issues with it. I have many friends who have used the same system with the same results.

Some months ago I was given one of the new Fender Ukulele's to test and review. After trashing the OEM pick-up system, the first thing I did to the Fender was install the MiSi trio. Huge improvement to an otherwise entry model ukulele.

Great Review on the MiSi and the people at MiSi are some of the best I have worked with. Aloha.....

Captain_Lovehandles
08-02-2009, 08:16 AM
Played it today at church (through my Genz Benz Shen 60 (http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/GenzBenz-Shenandoah-Series-Shen-60-LT-60W-2x6.5-Acoustic-Guitar-Combo-Amp?sku=483091) and it does indeed sound scrumpdillyicious.

uluapoundr
08-05-2009, 08:14 AM
Got a MiSi installed in my Moore Bettah Tenor and love it. It's light, needs no battery, and sounds great. I don't play much electrified, but it's good to know it's there if I need it.

deznuchs
07-25-2010, 04:12 PM
Just got the Mi-si pick up installed on my Kamaka and I love it!? Anyone that is thinking about getting a pick-up should consider getting this one. Pretty good price and it sounds great.

pwcgecko
08-19-2010, 07:59 PM
So does the Misi not need a preamp or is it good enough to go directly to the amplifier?

GrumpyCoyote
08-19-2010, 08:06 PM
So does the Misi not need a preamp or is it good enough to go directly to the amplifier?

Nope. No pre-amp needed under most circumstances.

bt93
08-20-2010, 08:36 AM
is it possible to use the Mi-Si pickup with one of those Belcat pickups with the tuner built in that kala and riptide uses on their ukes?

this one http://www.ukulele24.de/product_info.php/info/p954_Belcat-UK-300T.html

GrumpyCoyote
08-20-2010, 09:17 PM
is it possible to use the Mi-Si pickup with one of those Belcat pickups with the tuner built in that kala and riptide uses on their ukes?

this one http://www.ukulele24.de/product_info.php/info/p954_Belcat-UK-300T.html
Unlikley... Certainly not without modification. That Belcat is a powered pickup, not just an EQ. The MiSi has it's own capacitor power supply. You could drop MiSi a line and ask if it can be done.

In my opinion, the beauty of the misi system is that you don't need to cut a giant hole in your uke for a big ugly box like that. The power supply is minuscule, and just camps out in the jack / tail piece.

mm stan
08-20-2010, 11:08 PM
Thanks GC and Guys,
I was wondering how the MiSi would stand up preformance wise to my prehistoric Fishman Pickup..
I can see all the other options as a plus ..no large holes, no batteries, and quick charge time...
Should I get with the program and update, I have a perfect canadaite....just one last one,
cost wise, are we talking two presidents or more for the MiSi and the install???? MM Stan..

deznuchs
08-20-2010, 11:38 PM
cost wise, are we talking two presidents or more for the MiSi and the install????

Hey wassup MM Stan. I can't speak to the difference in performance between a Fishman Pick-up and the Mi-Si but I did my whole Mi-Si set up for $120. I ordered the pick-up from Ederly for 120 or 130. My brother and I just watched the install video from UU, than prayed to the higher power, and then we went to work. My brother is much more handy then I am so he was helping me, or maybe I was helping him, but Every thing turned out perfect and I love the set up. It's sounds pretty true to an acoustic sound. Im still a newby but I have compare it to my other set up and this was cheaper and sounds much better.

mm stan
08-21-2010, 12:01 AM
Aloha Deznuchs,
Mahalo bruddah for the 411, your kamaka now must sing, eh...so jealous...gotta get with plan!!!
Take Care, and many thanks again....MM Stan...

PhilUSAFRet
02-03-2011, 04:12 AM
Been researching this pickup for possible installation on my Mele Koa Tenor. Seems like the secret is to have a "perfect fit" between bridge, pickup ribbon, and the saddle, regardless of the uke. A poor fit, even if you can't quite "see" it will render it unsatifactory on even the best of ukes. I just googled the pickup until I saw some "problems" and started readin.

yoshowa
02-09-2011, 03:34 AM
Just had this installed in my kala acacia tenor and this pickup is fantastic I'm super happy

edgar44
02-18-2011, 12:46 PM
I watched UU's video with Joe Souza from Kanilea and figured, "hey, I could do that". And so I did...love my Kanilea Super Concert with a new Misi Pick Up...sould great!

FreakyBob
02-18-2011, 01:54 PM
Installed the Mi-Si (best price I found was at Mainland - thanks Mike) myself in an Kala acacia tenor and it works great after figuring how to get all the extra ribbon under control. At first I used the self-sticking plastic holder thing that came with it to wrap the ribbon through a couple of times and stuck it on the side.

Strung it up and boy did I have string buzz. So long story short, after trying a different bridge, filing the bottom of the bridge slot several times and after losing count on the number of times I restrung, I finally figured out the culprit must be that plastic holder thing. So off goes the strings again and out came that plastic part. I then coiled as much of the ribbon as I could into about an inch and a quarter loop and secured it with a couple of small ties and then - it was perfect.

I love it. And as always I appreciate all that I learn when I eventually overcome these types of challenges, despite the number of family suggestions I received to take it to a luthier! Ha! They thought I had ruined a perfectly good uke by drilling all those holes in it!

ukulelecowboy
02-23-2011, 03:52 AM
I use four ukuleles on stage when we perform.

3 Ponos and a Rick Turner Compass Rose Tenor. All Have MiSi pickups as does my wife's Oscar Schmidt Bari Koa. I love those pickups! They sound great, have accurate reproduction and don't leave a bunch of batteries in a landfill.

Great product!

UkeRN
07-04-2011, 08:45 AM
To all who have installed the mi-si via DIY, did you sand the bridge down a bit top accomadate the pickup? Installation otherwise looks pretty doable. Thanks!

Bryan

hoosierhiver
07-04-2011, 08:51 AM
To all who have installed the mi-si via DIY, did you sand the bridge down a bit top accomadate the pickup? Installation otherwise looks pretty doable. Thanks!

Bryan

You should only have to sand down the saddle.

UkeRN
07-04-2011, 08:56 AM
Thanks! What grade sanpaper, and just the thickness of the pickup?

hoosierhiver
07-04-2011, 08:59 AM
Thanks! What grade sanpaper, and just the thickness of the pickup?

I usually use 120 grit, just the thickness of the pick-up wire if you have the action where you like it. Best to go slowly and turn it around every few passes so you don't end up with an uneven saddle.

UkeRN
07-04-2011, 09:00 AM
Cool! Thanks a bunch! Looking forward to installing it...

Ron98GT
07-14-2011, 09:38 AM
Uke Minutes 69 - How to Install an (Mi-Si) Ukulele Pickup:

http://ukuleleunderground.com/2009/11/uke-minutes-69-how-to-install-an-ukulele-pickup/

bynapkinart
02-12-2012, 06:03 PM
To those of you who've installed the MiSi on a Pono...is it possible to just use the existing undersaddle piezo unit and plug it into the Acoustic Trio, instead of going to the hassle of taking the saddle off and re-situating a new piezo in there? I'm new to acoustic pickups, so I don't know if that's an option or not.

faithmusic
01-04-2013, 11:03 AM
I installed this pickup in my KPK tenor and it sings!
Great pickup!

OldePhart
01-04-2013, 01:41 PM
To those of you who've installed the MiSi on a Pono...is it possible to just use the existing undersaddle piezo unit and plug it into the Acoustic Trio, instead of going to the hassle of taking the saddle off and re-situating a new piezo in there? I'm new to acoustic pickups, so I don't know if that's an option or not.

This thread got bumped so maybe 11 months later is not too late to answer? The MiSi web site used to state that the design they used for their preamp was tailored very specifically for the capacitance and impedance of the pickup used but I don't find that statement on their site anymore. So...I guess the answer is, "maybe?"

John