View Full Version : Acoustic-Electric Ukulele vs. Acoustic Ukulele

01-05-2011, 06:23 AM
Hi everyone, new player here- well, I picked up an acoustic-electric eleuke recently and I'm not too impressed with the sound. I mean I don't claim to be an expert but I think my friend's basic acoustic ($70-100) range ukulele sound a lot nicer.

I wanted to get this as something to learn/practice on acoustically, I don't even have an amp but I wanted the room for expansion should I get good one day and decide to plug it in. So just wanted to get your input on this issue, do acoustic-electric usually don't sound as good as acoustic? And any reconmendation on an acoustic... I'm thinking a Lanikai LU Tenor or Concert...

Thanks for reading

01-05-2011, 06:47 AM
Hi iamfroogle,
I'm brand new to Ukulele too.
Just before Christmas I bought a Ohana TK20CE Tenor Acoustic/Electric. I wasn't too sure about the strings that were supplied on it. It was advertised as having GHS with a wound C string. I had read on the web that alot of people didn't like these strings so when I ordered it I also ordered a set of Worth browns.
It sounds absolutely beautiful, to my fresh lughole. You don't say what strings your uke has so it might be worth experimenting.
I did adjust the action too but I'll leave that to the expert Luthiers to comment about.

I'm pleased to find such a helpful forum.

01-05-2011, 05:10 PM
It has new Aquila Strings which are supposedly one of the best

01-05-2011, 05:25 PM
I have nan Applause electric acoustic soprano that goes for about 160 bucks, and a 20 Euro richwood instruments soprano. for acoustic work, the acoustic soprano is much better. The electric acoustic is good plugged in, otherwise it sounds pretty muffled.

01-06-2011, 02:44 PM
At the lower end like that what you are seeing is probably just the variation from sample to sample. With the factory instruments it's not unusual to have two of the same model where one is great and the other is ho-hum or worse. That's just the nature of the beast.

When you get into the higher end handmade stuff I think the acoustic-electric question becomes a little different, and two fold. First, an under-saddle transducer simply isn't very good at picking up the finer nuances of the top so, when it comes to running with the pickup and amplified, you probably aren't going to notice anywhere near as great a difference between a $900 handmade uke and a $300 factory uke as you do acoustically.

The other aspect is something that is purely my opinion, as I've never had the opportunity to do any really meaningful testing. I don't think anyone else has, either. You would have to record a specific uke acoustically under rigid condtions, install the pickup, then record again acoustically under identical conditions.

The issue is this, I think that an under-saddle transducer has the potential to slightly affect the acoustic tone. The UST works by converting compression into an electrical signal - in order to do that it has to be slightly compressible, and that has the potential to rob some transfer of vibration from saddle to top. Just my $0.02 but I'm sticking to it until somebody does the kind of elaborately controlled test that would convince me otherwise.


01-06-2011, 03:14 PM
It really depends. Most acoustic-electric ukuleles, at least the ones that I own, are just acoustic ukuleles with a pickup built into it. You're going to have to pay extra for the pickup so technically, an acoustic uke at the same price (assuming that price=quality, which is not always the case but higher quality things often do cost more) is probably going to be a bit better quality since none of the cost is going towards paying for the pickup. This could explain why a friend who paid the same for an acoustic ukulele ended up with something that sounds better. Different brands and materials sound better than others, so that might be more of a factor than the pickup.

I tour and play my ukuleles live all the time, so I only really play acoustic-electric ukuleles, and they all sound different. The fluke is my favorite. My experience from that is that the sound is more a reflection on the ukulele itself.

Some companies offer the same uke with two versions, with a pickup or without. In those cases, you can see how much money adding the pickup will cost you, and playing both to check if there's a sound difference would be a better test to see whether the pickup changes the sound noticeably.