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drubin
05-08-2008, 05:10 PM
Maybe it's just that I haven't tried all the latest and greatest...but, to me, no pickup I've ever test driven has come close to the sound of a good microphone and PA setup. Most of the pickups I've tried sound hollow, or plastic, or, rather...too electric...might as well just buy an electric guitar if that's the sound you're going for, if ya know what I mean. Yet, I know many posters here do use pickups successfully, and I don't mean to be divisive. And I acknowlege that I haven't tried the MiSi Acoustic Trio yet, but I'm still feeling skeptical of pickups in general. Don't we play an acoustic instrument for a reason? Even Jake's live sound, which I acknowledge is pretty darn good, still sounds too...pickup-ish to me...But who knows, maybe it's just me...:rolleyes: In any case, I'm wondering, is my skepticism unjustified? Is the sacrifice of tone necessary with even today's best pickups? I realize that certain mike/PA setups can have feedback issues, but I'm mostly a solo player, so that doesn't tend to be a problem for me (as of yet). Maybe my skepticism of pickups is just a feature of the fact that I only play at open mikes and clubs where I can bring my AKG C1000 and there aren't PA problems... In any case, anybody else out there feel what I'm saying, preferring a good mike/PA to pickups? :confused:

degracia
05-08-2008, 05:40 PM
I can sort of see where you're going with this. But speaking of microphones and pickups...

My order from musiciansfriend came in today. I ordered an OS OU2 concert and a Peterson suction cup mic. I knew the mic wasn't going to be up to par but I wanted to test it out. I open it, and the suction stuck on my laminated soprano but not on my makala?? It couldn't stick on the wood at all. The mic was definitely a FAILURE. Sound was horrendous, static-ky, and it was just terrible. Hell, the cord was about 12" long. I definitely had to make a return.

I will have to just save up a few bucks and just have to invest on a REAL pickup like a Dean Markley.

Poi Dog
05-08-2008, 06:08 PM
Speaking of "Pickups"... have any of you tried this one?

Shadow SH NFX-UK Quick Mount Nanoflex Pickup with Preamp for Ukulele (http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Shadow-Quick-Mount-Ukulele-Nanoflex-Pickup-and-Preamp-?sku=300176)
http://img3.musiciansfriend.com/dbase/pics/products/7/6/8/478768.jpg

I'm really interested in what anyone on UU would think of that one.

brokenwing
05-08-2008, 06:26 PM
For pure acoustic tone, no contest, of course. Mics win. Pickups can range from really bad "quacky" to pretty good, though, and they're more convenient for a stage. You can't wander too far from a microphone, right?

I guess it all comes down to what you're willing to deal with when playing live.

This little AKG SD condenser is excellent for live mic situations. Doesn't feed back as quickly as many condensers will and sounds beautiful. Made for cymbal and snare work, it's also perfect for acoustic instruments.

www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/C430/

p.s. that Shadow thingy looks like a time bomb!

seeso
05-08-2008, 06:29 PM
In my experience, there are too many variables that can affect my performance using a microphone in a live setting. Feedback, a bad mic, a bad sound guy, competition from other instruments, etc. are all potential pitfalls when using a mic.

Maybe the biggest reason for my use of a pickup is mobility. I'd have to stay in one place for the whole show if I used a mic. That puts a serious damper on my enjoyment of the evening. If I'm not having fun, how will the audience?

And there is no way that my uke sounds like an electric guitar when I plug in. Yes, it's not as pure as it sounds acoustically, but I can hear my ukulele.

If I'm in the studio, or if I'm in a small cafe playing solo, I will opt for a microphone, but in the live setting, it's got to be a pickup for me.

Neil Cursed Diamond
05-08-2008, 07:28 PM
Are there any soundhole pickups for uke?

seeso
05-08-2008, 07:40 PM
Are there any soundhole pickups for uke?

I think sound hole pickups are magnetic. They wouldn't work on the nylon strings of an ukulele.

Howlin Hobbit
05-08-2008, 07:56 PM
I have no ukes with pickups. When I take my own sound system I use this mike:

http://www.howlinhobbit.com/external/hobavatar_sm.jpg

In fact, sometimes I take that mike and plug it into the house system.

Snake Suspenderz just played a gig tonight at a BBQ joint. Me (on uke, harmonica, melodica and vocals) and the other lead guy (on guitar, trombone and vocals) shared this very mike.

We also have drums and bass in the mix. Tonight we only used two mikes going through my little PA and the bass player has a tiny little amp.

Now, mind you, I sit down when I perform. But even standing a nice "fat can" condensor like this will do the job. Hell, bluegrass bands often all share one microphone. You have some space to move around, though certainly not as much as when plugged in.

Now you may be thinking, "It's just that ol' curmudgeon Howlin' Hobbit ranting again." And you may be right. But... you know who Del Rey is? Check out what she has to say about one mic stand (http://delreystevejames.com/onemicstand.html).

Feedback issues, etc. can be dealt with. I know that for a fact, because I use that can mike all over the place. And it wasn't expensive. It came in a set with a "pencil" condensor mike for about $100.

Try the idea out. You may just surprise yourself at how cool the acoustic sound can be when it's just reinforced instead of amplified.

Kekani
05-08-2008, 10:46 PM
On the opposite end of the mic spectrum, I've dealt with two UST's, Fishman Acoustic Matrix and L.R. Baggs Element, both active pickups. I like both, but they are decidedly different, both in sound, and technology.

Fishman is pretty standard for a number of builders, and a lot of artists are accustomed to the sound of a Fishman. After hearing the L.R. Baggs, the Fishman sounds quacky (but, that could be part of the technology and the active pre-amp). However, common comments from artists that move from Fishman to Baggs is the Baggs is not "there". Fishman seem to be more sensitive, and installing them requires less critical setup than the Baggs. The old Matrix needed to be soldered - the new ones are plug and play, with a soundhole volume control (old ones were an addition).

That being said, I've switched to L.R. Baggs. Its supposed to be "plug and play", but I custom order the pickups with nothing attached (so, like the old Fishman, it all has to be soldered). This is fine by me because I order the actual UST wire shortened for the `ukulele, as well as the battery and volume control (I just shorten those myself, but they come in unattached). Like Fishman, Baggs has two types of preamps available. Whereas Fishman gears theirs towards body size, Baggs designs for string type (nylon or steel). Obviously, the Nylon is a no brainer. In addition to all the soldering (which is not necessary if you just order it stock), I feel the design of the UST itself is more finicky to installation than the Fishman; meaning, every little thing can affect operation, such as, saddle fit, flatness (bottom), saddle slot flatness, proper tying off of the element, etc. The one panacea I've found is something that Rick Turner came up with, and that is back angling the saddle for proper compression of the UST once its strung up. The best way I can describe what this does is with a comment from Paul Okami - he stated that the pickup was installed "without incident."

So why switch even though (for me) it requires more effort? Sound. Personally (and my friends say the same), the Baggs sounds the most natural, really. And, its worth the effort. I'm not the only one that feels this way. Lots of builders here are installing Baggs (instead of Fishman - of course, now Fishman has the new Matrix Infinity so that may change again).

L.R. Baggs must be doing something right - they supply the actual UST for other companies, like D-TAR and MiSi. I've heard the MiSi and the D-Tar. Not sure I buy the technology of the MiSi, yet (but that can change), but Rick Turner demoed a Compass Rose installed D-TAR and banged (and I mean BANGED) away with no distortion whatsoever - just clean, natural, and loud (because the amp was cranked). I guess the 18v system with outboard batteries and the stereo cable connection (among other things) is the trick. I've seen it, played it, heard it, it works great.

Of course, there is one that that will not change - if you have a crap sounding instrument to begin with, a quality UST will not make it sound "electric", it will make it sound crappy, really loud.

Guess that was more than $.02, huh? -Aaron

UkuLeLesReggAe
05-09-2008, 12:40 AM
Speaking of "Pickups"... have any of you tried this one?

Shadow SH NFX-UK Quick Mount Nanoflex Pickup with Preamp for Ukulele (http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Shadow-Quick-Mount-Ukulele-Nanoflex-Pickup-and-Preamp-?sku=300176)
http://img3.musiciansfriend.com/dbase/pics/products/7/6/8/478768.jpg

I'm really interested in what anyone on UU would think of that one.

LOL i think its expensive haha :D but i bet its really good, i wonder if musiciansfriend can do a special request to send to Aussie?

Ian Boys
05-09-2008, 02:19 AM
I'm a microphone guy, however, occasionally I"ll use a Dean Markley pickup... they're possibly the best somewhat inexpensive pickups to get a good acoustic tone from. However, you do need to use it with a pre-amp when you're using it on a ukulele, as it's designed for more resonant instruments (such as guitars and cellos... well, it isn't designed for use with cellos, but that's what I primarily use it for)

drubin
05-09-2008, 04:37 AM
Great discussion, folks. :D Many thanks for your thoughtful and insightful replies, especially Seeso, Brokenwing, Kekani, and Howlin Hobbit. That Del Rey link is really helpful. :) I've been wanting to try the Rode NT1 for a while. BTW, I picked up Del's "Blue Uke" DVD a while back and I think it is a superb learning tool. Makes me want to add a resonator ukulele to my arsenal...

brokenwing
05-09-2008, 06:40 PM
just real quick... the other type of pup not discussed is the AST (acoustic soundboard transducer) which attaches inside the uke/guitar to the bridge plate (underneath the bridge), usually with double-sided adhesive tape or super glue. they are passive and benefit from a pre-amp but that's not always necessary.

K&K, PUTW make very nice ones. I think the Ibeam is one, too. purer acoustic tone - some claim microphone-like - than a UST (under saddle transducer) but more prone to feedback. again... trade-offs...

Kekani
05-09-2008, 11:55 PM
I think the Ibeam is one, too. purer acoustic tone - some claim microphone-like - than a UST (under saddle transducer) but more prone to feedback. again... trade-offs...

Funny that you mention the I-Beam. I've been toying with the idea of installing an I-mix, but right now, they don't make a slim version of the side mounted on-board, so I'd have to install the panel on the back (inside the instrument). I heard one of the Baggs staff demo the I-Mix through their new Acoustic Amp at the NAMM Show - very impressive. The new SBT they have works great on the Mandolin, but they haven't tweaked it for the `ukulele, yet.

Back to the I-beam - one more issue I have to deal with (actually, two) - the recommended installation is to put the front edge even with the front edge of the bridge. I can't do that because my bridge patch only goes up to the front edge of the saddle. Also, the classical version of the I-Beam only has one slot down the middle to go over bracing. Because its so wide, I would need to cut the bracing that goes over the bridge patch.
Either way, major surgery and adjustments on the bracing - not willing to do that. Bagg's recommendation? Element UST, nylon.

brokenwing
05-10-2008, 05:25 AM
yea, the Ibeam is kinda chunky and was designed for guitar so I'm not surprised there are problems fitting it properly with a uke - and fitting it PROPERLY is critically important. You screw that up and the sound will be poor.

thing with a UST that I don't particularly like, aside from the sometimes quacky piezo sound, is that it's a barrier between your saddle and bridge, which has to soak up some of the vibrations the strings are generating to the uke sound board. so when you're not plugged in, you're probably compromising your ukes potential to a degree.

PUTW (Pickup The World) and K&K Mini's are completely adjustable. two separate wired sensors attatch individually to the "sweet spot" on both bass and treble sides of the bridge plate. You'd probably want a preamp with mixing capabilities to go along with it though, like the Baggs Para DI.

Bourbon Boy
07-07-2008, 05:51 AM
I'm a microphone guy, however, occasionally I"ll use a Dean Markley pickup... they're possibly the best somewhat inexpensive pickups to get a good acoustic tone from. However, you do need to use it with a pre-amp when you're using it on a ukulele, as it's designed for more resonant instruments (such as guitars and cellos... well, it isn't designed for use with cellos, but that's what I primarily use it for)
Hello guys, has anyone ever used one of these.... ??http://www.acousticon.com/soundholemicsl.htm

I am torn whether i install a pickup on my uke or just get one of these mic, they look cool, but do they do the sound justice?

SnakeOiler
07-07-2008, 05:27 PM
Maybe the biggest reason for my use of a pickup is mobility. I'd have to stay in one place for the whole show if I used a mic. That puts a serious damper on my enjoyment of the evening. If I'm not having fun, how will the audience?
If I'm in the studio, or if I'm in a small cafe playing solo, I will opt for a microphone, but in the live setting, it's got to be a pickup for me.

Yes and yes. Live, I like to plug in for freedom.


Sometimes I'll record with two inputs. One mic and one plugged at the same time. When I look at the sound wave, the plugged one is very uneven and square. The attack and fade are much sharper. The mic'ed one is always smoother.

SnakeOiler
07-07-2008, 05:29 PM
Hello guys, has anyone ever used one of these.... ??http://www.acousticon.com/soundholemicsl.htm

I am torn whether i install a pickup on my uke or just get one of these mic, they look cool, but do they do the sound justice?

That's a pretty cool idea. I wonder what it would sound like to install that into a Uke or guitar and then sing or play another instrument into the soundhole of the first one.

UkuleleBlake
07-07-2008, 09:34 PM
Setting up an acoustic mic to your uke does wonders and sharing a PA with vocals is a good way to do it.