View Full Version : Mainland Mahogany Tenor with K&K Big Shot

10-29-2009, 03:29 PM
I got a Mainland Mahogany Tenor from Mike a few weeks back and wanted to write a note about it. First, Mike and Tookta's service is great, I ordered the ukulele in the morning and they shipped it out late the same day. He restrung it left handed with Aquilas and drilled the endblock for me to install the pickup. It arrived in good order, plays in tune better than any of my other ukes, and I really like the tone. This is the first mahogany ukulele I've had. Also, I like the neck profile on the Mainland, it is flatter (like a classical guitar) and makes the fingerboard feel wider than on a Kala, with it's more rounded neck profile. I played the Mainland last night on a gig and really liked it. It was so nice to play the whole night without constantly fiddling with the tuning, trying to find SOME compromise that didn't stick out like a sore thumb (ukuleles and classical guitars make BAD tuning companions).

I installed a K&K Big Shot Internal pickup (sound board transducer or SBT) and this is the ticket, IMO. I have McIntyre Feather pickups in my Kanileas, and would have put one in the Mainland, but I can't seem to find the McIntyres anymore. K&K's are highly thought of in the acoustic guitar world and for $45, the Big Shot seemed like a no brainer. Since Mike drilled the endblock for me, the installation took no time. While the pickup has plenty of gain (for a passive pickup) using a preamp helps it a great deal. I am plugging it into a Fishman Aura Spectrum, setting the High and Mid at 9:00, bass at 1:00 with no imaging (SBT's are airy enough). The amplified sound is great, very natural and airy...cutting some high and mid out on the preamp gets rid of the body noise that you get with SBT's. The great part of a good SBT is that you have no string to string balance issues like many folks on this board complain about with Under Saddle Transducers, where, it seems, no company can take the time to get the saddle slot flat or the bottom of the saddle flat. And if they do, you still have that quacky, under saddle sound.

To finish, hats off to Mainland for making a GOOD inexpensive ukulele that seems to have none of the compromises or issues (like not playing in tune) that so many other ukuleles (inexpensive or not) have.


11-01-2009, 12:26 PM
How did the installation go as far as sticking on the sbt and where did u stick it. I've been thinking of putting something like this in my uke or just getting a new uke with a pickup altogether...any thoughts

11-01-2009, 12:33 PM
I've always used a small diaphragm condenser mic, currently an AKG C1000S, to mike my guitars. I think that I'm going to try that for the uke as well. I never liked the sound of UST's and getting a natural sound from any transducer is hard unless you rely on processing.

Small diaphragm condensers have a much larger effective pickup area than dynamics, you don't have to hold the instrument 6" from the soundhole to get a good sound.

11-01-2009, 03:50 PM
Yeah I second that. I've used - both for recording and for live - a small pen shaped condenser microphone. I've also got a large diaphragm Royer modded MXL 2001 tube microphone which works well on the ukulele.

11-02-2009, 01:02 PM
How did the installation go as far as sticking on the sbt and where did u stick it. I've been thinking of putting something like this in my uke or just getting a new uke with a pickup altogether...any thoughts

Installation was easy since Mike drilled the endblock for the pickup jack. As far as locating the pickup, I should cover the Mainland Tenor bracing first: There's a large transverse brace on either side of the soundhole (neck side and bridge side). There are 3 fan braces running from the transverse brace on the bridge side of the soundhole. One of the fan braces is right down down the center of the sound board, the other 2 are on either side, fanning out at what looks like about a 30 degree angle. I put the K&K on the G string side of the center fan brace (right beside the brace), as far in (close to the bridge) as I could reach. There was nothing scientific about my location, I just put it there first, strung her up, and plugged it in, thinking I would move it (K&K) around to find the sound I wanted. Well, I never moved it again. It sounds great where it is, the only EQ needed is taking a little bit of treble and mid out on the preamp (Fishman Aura Spectrum) and that's it.


PS. I mention this Mainland bracing pattern as I made the mistake of NOT checking the bracing pattern on my Kala Cedar/Koa Tenor (which had a Baggs Element/MiSi preamp in it) before I ordered a Schatten "Duellie" SBT for it. When I got the Schatten, I THEN learned that my Kala is X braced and there is nowhere close to the center of the soundboard where the pickup will fit. So now, I am going to re-install the Baggs Element/MiSi system that came in the Kala. Hopefully, I can get the saddle/saddle slot flat to cure the ridiculously bad string to string balance that this thing has.

And then, I'll sell it!