View Full Version : Cost for putting pickup on Uke

01-17-2010, 03:12 AM
Toying with the idea of installing a device on my tenor. Any ideas of what this costs? Howie

01-17-2010, 04:19 AM
I'd be interested in hearing what people say as well. Toying with putting an under saddle pickup on mine (or buying a new electro uke; that would be awful wouldn't it, having to buy another one!!!!)

Ronnie Aloha
01-17-2010, 04:27 AM
About $75 for the install (doesn't include pickup itself.)

That's what Brian at KoAloha quoted.

01-17-2010, 04:33 AM
As far as cost, you can buy and pay to install a good Sound board Transducer (SBT) such as a K&K Big Shot Internal for well under $100 (McIntyre's are much more expensive). Under saddle Transducers (UST) will be much more expensive to buy and more expnsive to install. I would figure at least $150 - $200 to purchase and install PROPERLY (getting the string to string balance can take a LOT of time/money). With either, you must use a preamp (some of the UST's come with an internal preamp, which does add noticeable weight to the ukulele).

Here's the K&K link:

In the for what it's worth category as you will get a bunch of differing opinions on pickups, here's my recommendation:

I much prefer soundboard transducers (SBT) to undersaddle transducers (UST) on ukuleles. The smaller body of a ukulele works very nicely with SBT's, and the sound reproduction is very faithful. On my 4 ukuleles, I have 2 different pickups. Both of my Kanileas have McIntyre Feather pickups, my Mainland and Kala both have K&K Big Shot Internal. I like the McIntyres slightly better, this, however, could be a function of them ( the McIntyre Feathers) being installed in much better (and much more expensive) ukuleles. I find I have to EQ the K&K's more but, again, that is probably the ukuleles themselves. You MUST use a preamp with any of these pickups. I use a Fishman Aura Spectrum (I am mainly a guitar player). When I use Aura with the ukuleles, I am using it (the Aura) only as a preamp, no imaging.

I should mention that my Kala had a UST in it (LR Baggs Element with Mi-Si preamp). I pulled the pickup and preamp out almost immediately. UST's (IMO) in ukuleles just don't sound like the ukulele, they sound like a BAD higher pitched cheap guitar. I use UST's on all of my guitars so I like the pickups in bigger bodied instruments. Another MAJOR problem with UST's is string to string balance. The balance on my Kala was horrendous, which didn't matter, as I was taking it out anyway. The saddle slot and bottom of the saddle MUST be perfectly flat to have proper string balance (Something you don't have to fight with a SBT).


01-17-2010, 05:49 AM
I was quoted $60 by a local shop to install a mi-si.

01-17-2010, 06:54 AM
My husband installed Mi-Si pick-ups in a couple of ukes for me, for free. (Well, no money changed hands, anyway. ;) )

The pick-ups themselves cost about $110 or so. I know a lot of luthiers use them, and I believe there is a Uke Minutes episode showing Joe Sousa of Kanilea showing how to install a Mi-Si.

01-17-2010, 08:38 AM
1 misi ~ $120 with shipping
1 cheap drillbit set from harbor freight ~ $5
(already own a drill)
1 1/2" spade bit ~ $4

total ~ $129 if you can get your hands on a drill and only $9 actual installation cost

01-17-2010, 08:42 AM
as low as 10 bucks (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?8560-Electrify-your-uke-for-under-10-bucks)

01-17-2010, 08:54 AM
I had a K&K retrofitted in my Flea by the factory. $75. Included cost of parts, installation, and return shipping. Not bad! Probably the most affordable pickup that I'd feel comfortable installing in a higher-end uke like a K-brand.

02-15-2010, 09:25 PM
anyone got any experience with the Schaller oyster style transducers?

02-15-2010, 10:23 PM
For what it's worth, for the average player's situation I find under-saddle pickups very much more effective than stick-ons.

They are very much less prone to feedback, and they pick up much less handling noise. That is true on ukulele, guitar and mandolin. There is no uncertainty about positioning - they go under the saddle! With stick-ons it can be necessary to experiment to find the best spot. The optimum position for a stick-on is rarely exactly where the manufacturer suggests, which isn't surprising when you consider the idiosyncrasies of individual instruments.

Shadow do a very reasonable passive under-saddle uke pick-up for about 45 GBP. It comes with an endpin jack. Combined with a decent external preamp it is light, robust, sounds good and is pretty resistant to feedback and handling noise.

On various instruments I've tried stick-on bugs by K&K, Schaller, Barcus-Berry, Belcat, Fishman, Baggs and others. Some are pretty good, some are cr@p, however IMHO a decent under-saddle is more practical.

The default choice for manufacturers of electro acoustic instruments is usually an under-saddle pickup. IMHO there are good reasons for that.


[/ :2cents:]

02-16-2010, 10:11 AM
Under saddle for the win stick on sbt is low tech might as well step up to the new age. As for kk sound i would only run it on a cheap uke its not worth putting a $30 pickup on a $1000 uke.

02-16-2010, 11:02 AM
as low as 10 bucks (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?8560-Electrify-your-uke-for-under-10-bucks)

I agree. Okay, the sound won't be as good as an under-saddle, but if cost is your big issue, then I say go for it. It's cheap, easy, and it works.

Here's a video how-to I made
DIY piezo pickup (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N23C9gUSECM)

Ahnko Honu
02-16-2010, 11:09 AM
Free-99 if you do it yourself. I got all the parts at Radio Shack ala Waverly Street website for under $10.00, just gotta make time to do it.

03-04-2010, 08:56 AM
I am a devotee of soundboard transducers. They are far better than undersaddle pickups because they pick up the resonance of the instrument - which is what you hear acoustically - and not just the vibration of the strings. To my ears, a $30 SBT sounds way better than a $200 undersaddle.

I used a Schaller Oyster stick-on with my Flea for a few years, with great results, until it stopped working. I replaced it with a similar $30 stick-on from a cheapo brand, which sounded great too.

Currently I use a Flea with a factory-installed K&K SBT. Amazing sound. I get complimented on the natural sound all the time.

03-04-2010, 04:30 PM
5 dollars for a mediocre piezo pickup. I have one, its usable.