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View Full Version : Thoughts and experiences on a solid body electric.



brucemoffatt
11-29-2010, 08:46 PM
Hi all,

I'm not ready to get into the marketplace yet, but I'm considering buying a second uke. My thoughts are straying along the lines of a solid-body electric, something entirely different to my Makala MK-SN, which I love dearly and play often.

I know very little about electric instruments generally, and all I know about electric ukes is that I think I'd like to have a go at playing a solid-body, maybe a concert size, and hopefully something that is not too expensive.

I've had a browse around the net and I like the idea of the Risa stick, and the eleuke 100 series has appeal.

I'm not sure if it's possible, but can any of the solid body electrics use non-steel strings?

Would anyone like to share their experiences? Tips, tricks, traps for the unwary? I'd love some input from the forum while I save up a few dollars and contemplate a purchase.

Bruce in Adelaide

ichadwick
11-30-2010, 01:20 AM
Solid-body ukes are like solid-body guitars. Their sound is more dependent on the amplifier than on the instrument. Frankly they sound like either an electric guitar or an electric nylon-string guitar. Nylon stringed instruments all use under-saddle piezo pickups, which tend towards a flatness of sound. Steel strings have a choice between single and dual-coil (humbucker) pickups, and have a lot more punch and tonal variety.

Many nylon stringed solid bodies have built-in pre-amps, which can give a little boost and tonal control for the output.

So it depends on what sort of music you want to play. If you want to be able to play edgier stuff, like blues or rock, and want that electric guitar sound, or want to try a slide, go for steel stringed. if you want a softer sound, and want to play more folk, Latin, or uke music, go for the nylon. You can, of course, moderate the sound through a wide variety of effects, but nylon strings don't go as well with some of them as do steel.

Aside from private practice, you need an amp to play these things because you won't be able to hear them more than a few feet from the player, and even then they will be very muted. If your goal is to play at home, look into an effects-based amp with built-in loops or songs for practice like the Boss JS-8 or the Fender GDEC amps. If you're looking at performance, look to the GDEC line or Roland amps like the Cube 30X.

You'll need a strap. These instruments a lot more than their acoustic cousins.

The Eleuke has an internal amp and headphone jack, so it can be played quietly at home without waking anyone. Just don't turn it up too much - you'll get tinnitus from loud music on headphones. That headphone jack is, to me, a real bonus. Otherwise, I am lukewarm about solid-body nylon stringed ukes and think an acoustic with a pickup is better because it still sounds like a uke and can be played unplugged. An acoustic uke with a pickup is more versatile.

No, don't swap string types. On a uke designed for nylon, the neck is probably not designed for the extra tension and the pickups won't get a lot of sound from the metal. And the reverse is also true: steel stringed instruments have a different sort of pickup (one that uses magnetic coils) than nylon, and won't work with non-metal strings.

Check out Jupiter Creek Music, right in Australia. He makes good instruments for a reasonable price. I've got a Risa and Jupiter Creek, and had an Eleuke. Reviews on my uke site.

Hippie Dribble
11-30-2010, 01:27 AM
Solid-body ukes are like solid-body guitars. Their sound is more dependent on the amplifier than on the instrument. Frankly they sound like either an electric guitar or an electric nylon-string guitar. Nylon stringed instruments all use under-saddle piezo pickups, which tend towards a flatness of sound. Steel strings have a choice between single and dual-coil (humbucker) pickups, and have a lot more punch and tonal variety.

Many nylon stringed solid bodies have built-in pre-amps, which can give a little boost and tonal control for the output.

So it depends on what sort of music you want to play. If you want to be able to play edgier stuff, like blues or rock, and want that electric guitar sound, or want to try a slide, go for steel stringed. if you want a softer sound, and want to play more folk, Latin, or uke music, go for the nylon. You can, of course, moderate the sound through a wide variety of effects, but nylon strings don't go as well with some of them as do steel.

Aside from private practice, you need an amp to play these things because you won't be able to hear them more than a few feet from the player, and even then they will be very muted. If your goal is to play at home, look into an effects-based amp with built-in loops or songs for practice like the Boss JS-8 or the Fender GDEC amps. If you're looking at performance, look to the GDEC line or Roland amps like the Cube 30X.

You'll need a strap. These instruments a lot more than their acoustic cousins.

The Eleuke has an internal amp and headphone jack, so it can be played quietly at home without waking anyone. Just don't turn it up too much - you'll get tinnitus from loud music on headphones. That headphone jack is, to me, a real bonus. Otherwise, I am lukewarm about solid-body nylon stringed ukes and think an acoustic with a pickup is better because it still sounds like a uke and can be played unplugged. An acoustic uke with a pickup is more versatile.

No, don't swap string types. On a uke designed for nylon, the neck is probably not designed for the extra tension and the pickups won't get a lot of sound from the metal. And the reverse is also true: steel stringed instruments have a different sort of pickup (one that uses magnetic coils) than nylon, and won't work with non-metal strings.

Check out Jupiter Creek Music, right in Australia. He makes good instruments for a reasonable price. I've got a Risa and Jupiter Creek, and had an Eleuke. Reviews on my uke site.

wow!!! what an amazing breadth of knowledge you have there Ian. So glad you deign to share it with us watery, pappy types. Cheers ol' boy. Very much appreciated. Many of us can learn from such constructive, practical advice like that. Thanks again!!!:)

ukeeku
11-30-2010, 01:32 AM
If it helps, here is a full review of a Eleuke concert I did a bit ago
http://ukeeku.com/2010/03/23/eleuke-concert-full-review/

I have a risa stick (soprano) I like the eleuke better becasue of the volume and tone controls.

brucemoffatt
11-30-2010, 02:37 AM
Thanks for the great info guys. I think I feel the tug of UAS building.

Bruce in Adelaide

Ingrate
11-30-2010, 05:31 AM
I had a RISA stick. Nicely made instrument. No built-in pre-amp, so I used an amPlug for earphone playing. I sold it because it was too unconventional in shape and hard to hold when playing. They are also somewhat stubborn to tune, due to the strings winding around that chrome bar.
I now use an Eleuke MP3 Pineapple, which I like as much as the RISA. Plugging in the earphones directly is a bonus, and it's shaped like my acoustic pineapple so holding and playing it feels "normal". It tunes like any acoustic 'ukulele.
I like both of these 'ukes, and would recommend either one. I prefer the Eleuke, but your personal preferences may vary.

wolfie
11-30-2010, 03:47 PM
I'm eyeing this thread with interest. I too am interested in a solid body uke. I'm leaning toward an Eleuke 100 series.

TCK
11-30-2010, 05:58 PM
I would KILL for a Risa Les Paul, but for now I cannot afford it. As for steal string electric solid bodies when you are broke, two routes seem to work- the first is electric Mandolin, which have a smaller nut (course, as a banjo uker that does not matter to me), or, build one- great set of plans available here (http://www.michaeljking.com/electric_ukuleles.htm).
I have the plans and have not yet built- still looking for my wood....when I get it, it is going to happen

Harold O.
11-30-2010, 06:11 PM
Chip Bennett makes a great electric ukulele. Contact him through his website http://www.bluechipguitars.com/

Ian is quite correct when he says the electric instrument sound is heavily dependent upon the amplifier and circuitry. But for killer looks and a great sound, the Chiptone is terrific. Chip made a batch of 10 recently and may have one or two remaining. Our Canogahana Players group bought up five as soon as we saw them.

Here's a pair of mine (soprano size) with solid walnut bodies. PM me your email address and I will send over some larger images. But contact Chip for ordering info.

brucemoffatt
11-30-2010, 07:54 PM
Well, it's funny how things go. At first I thought, UAS, nah, not me. Then a tiny nibble, and still, nah, I know what that feeling is, I can resist. Then a few stray thoughts here and there, and then a few dollars start to build up in the kitty, and then some half-interested browsing, and a question or two among friends on the UU forum.

OK, I am seriously in need of a Concert size eleuke 100 series solid body, preferably rosewood but maybe mahogany. So if anyone out there happens to inherit a vast fortune or wins lotto or is already rich beyond measure and philanthropic, well you just make a call to Mim for me. If you don't, I should have enough money be the end of January anyway, so don't fret (hah, a pun!) if the above mentioned kindness doesn't apply to you.

I wonder what it'll play like? I wonder how it'll sound?

Bruce, in the grip of the UAS monster, in Adelaide.

iDavid
11-30-2010, 08:51 PM
I've been looking into solid body electrics for a few months now and this is my pick. Although the Risa is very tempting. I am somewhat torn between a steal string or nylon.


http://monkeywrenchmusic.com/


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTYX9uXguvk

brucemoffatt
12-02-2010, 01:07 AM
OK, this is the last post on this subject from me until I get it or get over it.

Mim has a couple of black shiny (B-Stock) Concert size 100 style eleukes up at the moment, minor blemishes in my view and great price. Curse you temptress, you knew I'd be surfing your ebay site, didn't you? The one with the tiny ding is calling out to me, but I'm resigned to seeing someone else buy it before I get the cash together.

I've had to admit that UAS has seriously bitten, and I'm hinting like mad to my wife and kids about Christmas and my birthday in January.

I'm not exactly inconsolable, however I do find that I'm playing 'God Bless the Child That's Got His Own' and 'Cry Me A River' with a more authentic bluesy sound while I pine for the future-uke that isn't mine yet.

Bruce in Adelaide

musiccityuker
12-02-2010, 01:15 AM
It has Aguila nylguts on it. One of the good things about the Eleuke (and others) is that they work well with acoustic amps. So, if you've already invested in your standard ukes and an acoustic amp... you're good to go!

dnewton2
12-02-2010, 02:06 AM
I just got a used Howlett Electric uke yesterday. I have not had much time to play around with it, but one thing I can say it is a lot nicer then the rebranded eleuke I had a while back. Mine has a Passive undersaddle pickup but I do not have an amp or a headphone amp yet so I don't know what it sounds like plugged in. I bought it more for quite practice around the house though.

brucemoffatt
12-06-2010, 03:02 AM
Thanks all for the great advice.

I've pulled the trigger on an Eleuke 100 series from Mim's Ukes. It's so good to deal with someone like Mim who really knows ukes and cares about her customers. She has really gone the extra mile for me on this one. Thanks Mim.

I'll post some time in the future when it arrives.

Bruce in Adelaide.

brucemoffatt
12-24-2010, 01:49 AM
Got notified that the eleuke is in Australia and has cleared customs. It should be delivered in a couple of days. I can't wait now, it's very exciting.

Bruce in Adelaide

brucemoffatt
12-28-2010, 11:52 AM
It arrived this morning AND IT IS AWESOME!

It is so sexy I get all blushy when I pick it up. It looks like pure come-play-with-me seduction.

The action is soft as butter.

It came with a gig bag, a 3.5mm cable, a tuner, Aqulia strings and that action set-up that is so spot on.

I've snarked it up and plugged it into the Vox amp and started wailing at the back fence. It is a total mind-blow job.

Mim, a million thank-yous. You got the Eleuke half way round the world, weeks before my birthday. We'll all eat ice-creams today in your honour.

Back to the practice yard. Video of the unboxing to follow.

mds725
12-28-2010, 12:09 PM
Congratulations on the new eleuke, Bruce! Pics, vids, sound samples all highly anticipated. I just bought an Eleuke 100 tenor from Mim this weekend and I'm waiting for it to arrive, so I was very happy to read that you're enjoying yours.

brucemoffatt
12-28-2010, 11:15 PM
OK, it's a bit long and boring because there's no actual uke playing in it, but we video-ed the unboxing ceremony.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YT4JGO9yILU&feature=player_profilepage

I spent a lot of the day fiddling around with the new uke and the new amp trying to figure out what magical combination of settings suit each of the songs in my practice set. My finger tips are a bit more calloused, but they aren't sore at all. What I'm finding straight off is that the action is set to perfection and there's no effort to get a good chord or note out of it. Also the soprano size suits my hands perfectly. I tried classical guitar, but my finger nails curl under so I was going nowehere with that. I tried mandolin, but the tension of eight steel strings nearly killed my left hand permanently. This little beastie is a different thing all together. I'm so happy with it after the first day of strummin and hummin with it.

I must get the Makala Soprano action set as well.

Oh, we made a new word. It's a verb. To Snark. It means to take something that is almost perfect it and tweak it to perfection.

brucemoffatt
12-29-2010, 10:13 PM
I did a bit of a review of the uke, the amp and then a practice session. They're just finishing loading onto youtube.

Beware, the practice session is just that, a musical and uke newbie with severe performance anxiety having a bash in the back room. If you're expecting performance quality you'd do well to skip video 3 altogether.

So here's the first one, a look at the uke, an Eleuke CC100-PHP
http://www.youtube.com/user/brucemoffatt?feature=mhum#p/a/u/1/RIXnmNtSK6o

And here's a look at the practice amp, a Vox Mini3
http://www.youtube.com/user/brucemoffatt?feature=mhum#p/a/u/0/x7DDO5jPI5Y

And here's the practice session.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wso7-_nzn6Y

Despite the high-stress practice, I am getting heaps of fun out of the new uke and amp. It just doesn't look like it in the vid. Trust me, I'm heaps better when no-one is looking :))) [sure sure]

Oh, and for some reason youtube is unsynching sound from videos for some uploads at the moment. I'm not really a ventriloquist.

Hippie Dribble
12-30-2010, 12:27 AM
hey Bruce, thanks for the review mate. And you've got some sweet sounds coming through that amp. Thought your playing sounded excellent, especially since you've not been playing a long time. She's a lovely looking uke. Really pleased for you. Cheers and happy new year!!!

brucemoffatt
12-30-2010, 12:30 AM
Thanks mate, happy new year to you and yours as well.