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View Full Version : help with ukulele choice..



wilco
06-19-2008, 01:50 PM
hi there! i'm new to the board and i have a question! i am looking at 2 different tenor ukuleles and i'm not sure which one to go with..

a: Lanikai CK-TEQ Tenor
b: KALA MANGO TENOR CUTAWAY UKELELE (w/ pick up)

i already own a mango kala tenor (w/out pick up) and LOVE the way it sounds, but i need a uke with a decent pickup installed and would prefer to not drill into my current model. any suggestions?

thanks so much for your help!

love, ryan - illinois

nikolo727
06-19-2008, 01:59 PM
Ok bro this is a question I can finally answer...partly.


I happen to have a Lanikai CK-teq and it is a lovely instrument.

Mine was put together wonderfully. No flaws on it at all. perfect.

I do have some problems with it though.

the action gets slowly higher going down to the saddle.Near the last frets(16-18th frets) It is almost too high to play with. You can manage it but it is kind of annoying.

If you want a deeper sound with the ukulele take off the aquila strings.

put on some worth bt's or some D'ddario strings.

even with the aquila strings you will get a beautiful sound. Rich and bright, it will brighten your day just to hear it.

I totally recomend this uke, expecially if you are just starting out.

now as for your other uke I have never heard it. but if you really like that uke i will suggest you still go with the lanikai.

Im only saying this because playing the ukulele and having fun with them is mostly about trying all the different kinds of ukes you can! Thats the beauty of them. There are so many different kinds of woods, strings, sizes, and makes of them that you just have to try all that you can!


I say go with the Lanikai.

wilco
06-19-2008, 02:14 PM
you're awesome! thank you so much for the help! that indeed helps very, verymuch. i was thinking along the same lines.. leaning towards lanikai because of something new and different than my kala. i played the lanikai acoustically while i was in oahu and enjoyed it a lot, but at the time decided to go with my kala without a pickup.

i've been playing for a little while and am just now incorporating it into my band's music (which is a ton of fun) and so in order to play out with it, the pick-up would be a huge help.. so my next question is how do you like the pickup sound and such on yours? i play very gently with lots of soft finger-picking patterns. any thoughts on your lanikai's pickup quality? just curious. thank you so much again!

love, ryan - illinois

nikolo727
06-19-2008, 02:44 PM
It is definetly good by my standards.

mine has the Shadow P3-Pro system and it works like a charm. nice volume control, bass control, and even a good treble control. Not bad at all. If you have even the crappiest of amplifiers you can make it sound however you want. I hooked up my uke to it and was messing around and you can pretty much do anything with it. I even made mine sound kinda like a guitar!

There is a battery that is located near the sound hole, inside the body that you will have to replace but ive had mine for three years, and even though I dont use the pickup much, the battery is still full and the system is still fully functional.

It really is a great instrument.

have fun!

:music:

nikolo727
06-19-2008, 02:50 PM
If your looking at this uke right here:

http://cgi.ebay.com/BRAND-NEW-LANIKAI-MODEL-CK-TEQ-CURLY-KOA-TENOR-UKULELE_W0QQitemZ230260728776QQihZ013QQcategoryZ16 224QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

It is the same uke I have but with a different pickup.

Actually the one listed above is a nicer uke than mine.

my uke had the input hole right where i rest my uke on my leg to play.

this one has it right in the center which is perfect if your sitting down or standing up.

it uses a different battery but im very sure that you will be happy with it.

If I could go back and buy this uke with this pickup system instead of the one I have now I would, but even still, my ukulele is great!

If you have a problem with your system its no biggy really. you can probubly send it to one of the luthiers here on UU and fix it up.

but more than likely if you have a problem with it you can just send it right back to be fixed.

I am very sure though that you will be happy with this uke.

make sure to put some videos up of it when you get it!

have fun!

nikolo727
06-19-2008, 02:52 PM
Im pretty sure this is the exact uke I have:

http://cgi.ebay.com/New-Lanikai-CK-TEQ-Koa-Tenor-Ukulele-Cutaway-Electric_W0QQitemZ360037595999QQihZ023QQcategoryZ1 6224QQrdZ1QQssPageNameZWD1VQQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksid Zp1638Q2em118Q2el1247


I would still go with the other uke though.

The input hole is EXACTLY where you want it to be.

plus the first uke I put up a link for is a buck cheaper

:D

nikolo727
06-19-2008, 05:25 PM
one more thing.

im pretty sure this is the exact uke being played by Ryan Imamura.

you have to watch this vid.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qJQ9Sl9_aA&feature=related

wilco
06-19-2008, 05:27 PM
thanks so much! that helps so much and i'm very grateful to hear it! i think i may purchase it from here.. because they have a good return policy if something isn't exactly as i had hoped..

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Lanikai-CKTEQ-Tenor-Ukulele-AcousticElectric?sku=512517&src=3WFRWXX&ZYXSEM=0&CAWELAID=26042135


thanks again for all your help!

seeso
06-19-2008, 05:39 PM
If you know you already love the way your mango Kala sounds, why try something you're unfamiliar with?

Keonikapila
06-19-2008, 06:46 PM
Kala's and Lanikai's are great for the price...easy players, good/consistent quality...but I personally don't like the Shadow pickups they come with.

I have an 8-string Lanikai w/pickup and when it works it's really noisy...it's not as noticeable playing through an amp, but it sucked for recording (YMMV, it's entirely possible that I just got a bum unit and I'm unfairly judging all shadow under-saddle pickups as rubbish). I also don't like the position of the pickup jack, makes it difficult to play plugged in and sitting.

...again, YMMV

wilco
06-19-2008, 06:50 PM
If you know you already love the way your mango Kala sounds, why try something you're unfamiliar with?

that's true.. i have tried the lanikai as well and i liked it from what i remember, but yeah i really do love my kala and have since i got it. hmm.. i'm just not sure!

does anyone have a tenor kala with a pickup that they can tell me anything about, good or bad?

wilco
06-19-2008, 06:53 PM
Kala's and Lanikai's are great for the price...easy players, good/consistent quality...but I personally don't like the Shadow pickups they come with.

I have an 8-string Lanikai w/pickup and when it works it's really noisy...it's not as noticeable playing through an amp, but it sucked for recording (YMMV, it's entirely possible that I just got a bum unit and I'm unfairly judging all shadow under-saddle pickups as rubbish). I also don't like the position of the pickup jack, makes it difficult to play plugged in and sitting.

...again, YMMV

i've heard a few people mention that they're not fans of the shadow systems too.. hmm. i'm just not sure what to do! i'm wondering if i should buy a koa model without a pickup and have a better pickup installed.. my only fear is that here in illinois there aren't very many places familiar with ukulele pickup installation.. and i'm also not sure if the models designed for pickups are best suited, or does it not matter?

seeso
06-19-2008, 06:53 PM
I have a tenor Kala with a pickup and it's not as loud as the one in my Lanikai.

I don't know what kind either of the pickups are.

But I also agree with Keonikapila. The placement of the jack in the Lanikai stinks for sitting down and playing.

NotoriousMOK
06-19-2008, 06:54 PM
I'm with Seeso here -- I'd go with the Kala -- here are a couple that MGM has available -- if you're considering the Koa, then he also carries Kala's Koa variant -- pickups are the same in both, as a matter of fact, you'll find both makers are nearly identical (they share the same roots) -- at MGM you get a case and some other goodies, as well as his popular 'free setup'


Kala Mango Tenor #1 (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=230263398045&ih=013&category=16224&_trksid=p3286.m7&_trkparms=algo%3DLVI%26its%3DK%252BD%252BC%26otn%3 D3%26po%3DOp1%26ps%3D5)


Kala Mango Tenor #2 (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=330244667842&ih=014&category=16224&_trksid=p3286.m7&_trkparms=algo%3DLVI%26its%3DK%252BD%252BC%26otn%3 D3%26po%3DOp1%26ps%3D5)

Honestly, if I were you, I'd get a good pickup installed in your existing uke. I use a fishman AG and it works great -- its passive, so I use an external preamp -- makes it real versatile.


have fun!

wilco
06-19-2008, 06:55 PM
I'm with Seeso here -- I'd go with the Kala -- here are a couple that MGM has available -- if you're considering the Koa, then he also carries Kala's Koa variant -- pickups are the same in both, as a matter of fact, you'll find both makers are nearly identical (they share the same roots) -- at MGM you get a case and some other goodies, as well as his popular 'free setup'


Kala Mango Tenor #1 (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=230263398045&ih=013&category=16224&_trksid=p3286.m7&_trkparms=algo%3DLVI%26its%3DK%252BD%252BC%26otn%3 D3%26po%3DOp1%26ps%3D5)



Kala Mango Tenor #2 (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=330244667842&ih=014&category=16224&_trksid=p3286.m7&_trkparms=algo%3DLVI%26its%3DK%252BD%252BC%26otn%3 D3%26po%3DOp1%26ps%3D5)

awesome, thank you!

wilco
06-19-2008, 06:58 PM
seeso, you're from chicago? that's awesome.. i'm from wheaton, il. about an hour outside of the city.

seeso
06-19-2008, 07:10 PM
seeso, you're from chicago? that's awesome.. i'm from wheaton, il. about an hour outside of the city.

Right on, dude. Wilco rules, btw.

wilco
06-19-2008, 07:24 PM
agreed.. have you wilco play? they're incredible live.. one of my favorites.

seeso
06-19-2008, 07:44 PM
I've seen both the band and Jeff Tweedy solo. Amazing shows.

nikolo727
06-20-2008, 08:47 AM
I agree with Seeso. As I said before the input hole is in the worst spot.

The one ukulele I showed you had an undersaddle pickup but the input hole was right in the middle of the bottom of the uke, which is pretty much the perfect place for an input hole.

Oh and Seeso, I only recommended that he get the Lanikai over the Kala because I thought it would be cool to try different ukes to just get the feel of all the different ukes out there. I just think having a whole bunch of different kinds of ukes makes playing a lot more fun.

idk just an idear.

Keonikapila
06-20-2008, 09:05 AM
i've heard a few people mention that they're not fans of the shadow systems too.. hmm. i'm just not sure what to do! i'm wondering if i should buy a koa model without a pickup and have a better pickup installed.. my only fear is that here in illinois there aren't very many places familiar with ukulele pickup installation.. and i'm also not sure if the models designed for pickups are best suited, or does it not matter?

If you're serious about plugging in and playing, I'd definitely get one without a pickup and then get a better aftermarket pickup installed. Installation is pretty much the same as installing one in a guitar...so it shouldn't be too big of an issue to find someone to install it for you

If you do decide to go that route, you might want to find out how wide the saddle on the uke you're looking at is, and make sure you find a pickup with an undersaddle element that'll fit into the slot...it'll save you a little bit of headache :D

Keonikapila
06-20-2008, 09:08 AM
I don't know what kind either of the pickups are.
I'm pretty sure Kala and Lanikai both use Shadow pickups

wilco
06-20-2008, 10:02 AM
If you're serious about plugging in and playing, I'd definitely get one without a pickup and then get a better aftermarket pickup installed. Installation is pretty much the same as installing one in a guitar...so it shouldn't be too big of an issue to find someone to install it for you

If you do decide to go that route, you might want to find out how wide the saddle on the uke you're looking at is, and make sure you find a pickup with an undersaddle element that'll fit into the slot...it'll save you a little bit of headache :D

Keonikapila, thank you so much for the advice.. that helps a lot too, especially after reading so much negative about the shadow pickups built into the one's i'm looking at. thank you for the suggestion, it also helps a lot to know that the installation process is similar to guitar, as well as the bridge size info.. thanks a lot! that sounds like the most sensible route..

another question i had would be why most of the models that come with pickups have that cutaway? i'm assuming it's just a preference thing for people that want to have easier access to higher frets, but i wanted to make sure it doesn't have something to do with pickup response to the body or something like that..

so, my next huge question is which tenor would anyone recommend to someone who loves his kala mango tenor, but also loved the koa models.. any thoughts on the kala's koa model, or another brand that has similar price range? (sorry for so many questions! i'm excited, indecisive and uneducated with this!

thank you so much again everyone for your help!

Keonikapila
06-20-2008, 10:49 AM
another question i had would be why most of the models that come with pickups have that cutaway? i'm assuming it's just a preference thing for people that want to have easier access to higher frets, but i wanted to make sure it doesn't have something to do with pickup response to the body or something like that..

The cut away is just to give easier access to the frets and doesn't have anything to do with the pickup.

I'm not a luthier, so if anything I'm about to say isn't right, someone please jump in here and correct me:
With these under-saddle type pickups, the body of the uke doesn't really have much to do with the way the pick up works, the sound is coming directly from the vibration of the strings...the strings contact the saddle, which is pressed against the pickup element. The acoustics of the body (as far as I know) don't have any effect on the sound output by the (undersaddle) pickups...you could fill the body of your uke with sand and there would be a negligible (if any) difference in the output from the pickup....not that I've tried that--but it would definitely prevent feedback though

wilco
06-20-2008, 10:52 AM
The cut away is just to give easier access to the frets and doesn't have anything to do with the pickup.

I'm not a luthier, so if anything I'm about to say isn't right, someone please jump in here and correct me:
With these under-saddle type pickups, the body of the uke doesn't really have much to do with the way the pick up works, the sound is coming directly from the vibration of the strings...the strings contact the saddle, which is pressed against the pickup element. The acoustics of the body (as far as I know) don't have any effect on the sound output by the (undersaddle) pickups...you could fill the body of your uke with sand and there would be a negligible (if any) difference in the output from the pickup....not that I've tried that--but it would definitely prevent feedback though

that makes a lot of sense for sure! i assumed, but as usual when i do that and act on it, it's definitely not right. ha. thanks a lot for the help! do you mind me asking which pickup(s) you have in your ukulele's? any you would recommend specifically? no obligation of course!

thanks again!

Keonikapila
06-20-2008, 11:08 AM
that makes a lot of sense for sure! i assumed, but as usual when i do that and act on it, it's definitely not right. ha. thanks a lot for the help! do you mind me asking which pickup(s) you have in your ukulele's? any you would recommend specifically? no obligation of course!

thanks again!


I have 2 Pono Tenors, with the stock passive Pickups (I think they're Dean Markley pickups, I gotta double check). They're good pickups, but you're going to want to get an outboard preamp so you get a little control over the tone and level.

I also have a KoAloha Tenor and just got an LR Baggs Element pickup installed...this is a really good, low noise, pickup. I posted a thread (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3063) about it a few weeks back (complete with blurry pictures and an audio sample)

wilco
06-20-2008, 11:35 AM
okay, excellent. yeah that sample you put up sounds really great.. especially from a pickup sound. very cool!

hmm..uh oh i can feel the urge to buy a better ukulele than the one's i'm looking at coming on.. do you like your pono tenors? i'm assuming so since you have two!

bummer.. i wish chicago/illinois had somewhere i can play some!!

ichadwick
06-20-2008, 11:43 AM
b: KALA MANGO TENOR CUTAWAY UKELELE (w/ pick up)


I have a Kala spruce top w/pickup and it's pretty good for amplified sound, but I am annoyed about the internal wiring. It sometimes touches the wood of the uke and buzzes or rattles when I'm playing. Aside from that, I like their electronics. The model I have has a battery-powered pre-amp with volume and tone control. Helps keep the feedback down.

wilco
06-20-2008, 11:48 AM
thanks, ichadwick! that's great to know.. yeah, i've been really impressed with my kala overall.

wilco
06-20-2008, 11:53 AM
here's another question for anyone that may know the answer..

if i were to say purchase the kala tenor with the shadow pickup built in, would i be able to change out the pickup for a different one, or is this something that isn't recommended?

i figure, if i get one with the shadow and am disappointed with the pickups inside, i could just replace it.. hmm.. any thoughts?

Keonikapila
06-20-2008, 02:46 PM
here's another question for anyone that may know the answer..

if i were to say purchase the kala tenor with the shadow pickup built in, would i be able to change out the pickup for a different one, or is this something that isn't recommended?

i figure, if i get one with the shadow and am disappointed with the pickups inside, i could just replace it.. hmm.. any thoughts?


Assuming that the new pickup has a preamp box the same size (length and width), or slightly larger (you can make a hole bigger to accommodate it, but if it's too small for the hole it'll just be nasty looking), and the pickup element fits the saddle you shouldn't have any problems

Also, as far the Ponos go, I think they're great and well worth the extra money. I've seen a few local performers using Pono's at their gigs here and they hold their own on stage. If you do decide to go with a Pono, you'll probably want to get a decent outboard preamp--more $$ to spend unfortunately...

nikolo727
06-20-2008, 04:23 PM
Yea man Pono ukuleles are really expensive. I was thinking of getting one myself but then I heard that lately their quality has been terrible.

wilco
06-20-2008, 05:59 PM
thanks guys for all the advice! i really, really appreciate it. yeah, it's tough for me to make any choices blindly like this, since i can't really try any of the ones i'm looking at! blind purchases aren't fun!

i think what i might do is buy either the same model i already own (but w/ pickup installed) and see how it suits me, and if it's not quite the tone i'm looking for, i'll look into finding a better pickup. AND THEN, next time i'm in hawaii, i'll be ready and saved-up for a nicer, higher end ukulele.. perhaps a pono, or kamaka.

thanks, ichadwick for your thoughts on your kala as well! yeah that wiring buzz would definitely be a pain.. maybe some gaffers tape inside there would help? i'm glad to hear you like the electonics pretty well otherwise.. would you say the plugged-in captures the ukulele's tone pretty well, or? is it more bright/purcussive plugged-in or more mellow and warm?

does anyone else own a kala tenor with electronics built-in? curious to hear their take on the uke as a whole, pickup sound and acoustic sound..

again, thank you guys for all of the tips! i really appreciate it.