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View Full Version : A bunch of uke questions.



takesuoutswitch
02-01-2011, 07:47 PM
At what price do you get the most bang for your buck? Mine is really cheap, and I'm actually content with it, but I've never tried a really good one so I don't know the difference.

How well do external pick ups work? Would it be the same to just put a mic in front of the uke?

Also, I don't see that many cutaways, is there a reason for this? I think I would like one... What's the most frets a ukulele goes up to?

TCK
02-01-2011, 08:00 PM
Hmmm- OK, I will take a crack at this-
Bang for Buck- I love my Kala's...period. I have five of them, and two have some sort of cosmetic flaw (which kinda drives me crazy). That said, when set up- they play like mad. I also finally had the chance to play a Mainland in the flesh and it has one thing most my Kalas do not- it is solid...so is it's sound. And the set-up was immaculate. Everything they say is true. I also played a Makai laminate (Cedar top, laminate willow sides and back) and it was AMAZING. I have to say, side by side with the Mainland I liked it more, but the mainland was a Mahogany, and I have a Martin 3...nothing compares. In any event- they are all impressive at around $200 and while I like the Martin a lot, if I had to buy it it would sit on the shelf.
For Microphones- I played a Shure external condenser Microphone with my Martin and I covet it now- $279 is the only thing stopping, but I am surely not going to drill a hole in the Martin. Not sure if that is what you mean though- if you mean stick on Piezo pickups- they will not work as well as under the saddle types...all depends on application. They also play really hot, which I don't like with the Ukulele- working on a DIY pre-amp now but do not have it totally sorted in terms of which Capacitors are best to use.
Cutaways- I do not have one yet, but I believe most Ukes are 19 frets tops. Not that I would not like one, just don't have a clue what I am doing when I get down there anyway.

takesuoutswitch
02-01-2011, 08:09 PM
haha! Thanks that really helps!

One more question! Are there any really good books for advance ukulele-ing? lol

Nuprin
02-02-2011, 01:44 AM
At what price do you get the most bang for your buck? Mine is really cheap, and I'm actually content with it, but I've never tried a really good one so I don't know the difference.

How well do external pick ups work? Would it be the same to just put a mic in front of the uke?

Also, I don't see that many cutaways, is there a reason for this? I think I would like one... What's the most frets a ukulele goes up to?

Depends on the pickup and the microphone. For instance I have some pretty nice condenser microphones (I'm finding that these days I mainly use my AKG C451s, (http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/C451BST/) Blue Blueberry, (http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Blueberry/) and Rode K2 (Rode K2.)). The Fishman passive undersaddle pickup (http://www.amazon.com/Fishman-AGO-UKE-passive-narrow-ukulele/dp/B0012E1LUQ) I use in most of my ukes sounds good but nowhere near as nice as when I mic it. I usually use the pickup when I play live so I don't have to bother with a mic (I find I tend to move around a bit on stage and having to stay in front of a mic limits that freedom). When I record I won't bother with the pickup and I'll just mic the uke.

There are a few ukes that use cutaways but many builders find that it's not really needed in order to access the upper frets since a uke's body is so small. Cutaways are also more expensive to build as they take more time and work. There's also a question as to whether a cutaway lessens the sound as you're taking out a large portion of the soundboard...Taylor guitars has stated it does not as the upper bout on guitars does not resonate much. I'm not sure whether the same can be said for ukes as it's so much smaller than guitars. Chuck Moore (of Moore Bettah (http://www.moorebettahukes.com/)) wrote me the following when I was questioning whether or not to put a cutaway in the uke he's building for me...


a cutaway on a ukulele is impractical. Whether a cutawy degrades the sound or not is debatable, but it doesn't help.

GX9901
02-02-2011, 06:40 AM
At what price do you get the most bang for your buck? Mine is really cheap, and I'm actually content with it, but I've never tried a really good one so I don't know the difference.


In my opinion the sweet spot for bang-for-the-buck would the from the basic models offered by the Hawaiian K-brands, which puts it at $500-$1000 depending on what size you're looking at. Most ukes sound pretty good on its own, but when you compare them back to back, it becomes clearer as to which ones are superior.

I have a recent example in the Lanikai Zebrawood concert. I bought it out of curiosity and slotted-headstock lust.:p On its own I believe the Lanikai Zebra a nice sounding ukulele with lots of nice appointments for the money (slot head, good tuners, body & fretboard bindings, etc.). But having played mostly custom built ukes and K-brand ukes at this point of my ukulele life, I found that the sound of this ukulele leaves quite a bit to be desired, meaning I really wanted to reach for a K-brand or a custom while playing the Lanikai. While the K-brand ukes are perhaps not quite as great as a custom built ukulele in terms of sound, they are close enough and I feel that they don't leave me wanting to grab another uke to play because the sound is not up to par. Since the basic K-brand ukes cost quite a bit less than a typical custom built ukulele, that's why I consider them to be at the sweet spot in terms of bang-for-the-buck.

SweetWaterBlue
02-02-2011, 06:47 AM
I think sound-bang for the buck most of the solid spruce top Lanikais, Kalas, and Ohanas can't be beat. They are listed in the general order of price from lowest to highest.

As far as pickups go, I installed a $14.99 JJB pickup (http://www.jjb-electronics.com/PPS-100.html) on my Lanikai ST and it sounds great to me, but to be honest I kind of prefer the sound it makes when I just mic it. I find the logistics of using just one mic to pick up the uke, my voice and maybe even a drum track to be easier with a mic than trying to plug everything in electronically. I really was Jonesing for a Lanikai STEQ, but found this floor model for $90, so I bought it and installed the pickup. Here is a sound sample. (http://www.box.net/files#/files/0/f/0/1/f_546345658)

Cutaways look cool, and if you are a Jake class player that routinely plays beyond the 14th fret they are probably necessary.

At home, I sometimes find the logistics of plugging in the uke electronically, plus a voice mic, plus a drum backing track to be too much trouble and just go with one mic near my face as I did in this practice session. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fEjWXHYIqw). The drum track was playing through my practice amp.