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View Full Version : Install a pick up in a Kamaka or a Kala?



gyosh
08-19-2011, 12:19 PM
I was reading old threads about amplifying acoustic instruments and I started wondering that since you're amplifying vibrations at the saddle (mi-si trio), how much does the quality of the instrument influence the sound? Would my Kamaka tenor sound that much better than my Kala tenor if I were to install a mi-si pick-up?

Thank you in advance for the education,

-Gary

Brad Bordessa
08-19-2011, 01:28 PM
Ahh... I will eagerly await the replies of the wiser among us. Should be interesting. I have no official knowledge on the matter, just hunches (so don't believe anything I say).

For me there is no substitute for a good instrument. Even if they sound pretty much the same plugged in (which I doubt), the better instrument is (in most cases) going to play better, feel better, and obviously sound better acoustically. But that MISI pickup is pretty awesome.

OldePhart
08-19-2011, 01:39 PM
If you're talking about a UST like the acoustic trio then you are somewhat correct - it's measuring basically the changes in pressure exerted against the "sandwich" between the bridge and top. With those pickups, the pickup, preamp, and amplifier chain have far more impact on your "tone" than the quality of the uke (assuming the uke isn't a complete dog). If you're talking about a soundboard transducer that's a whole 'nother horse of a different ball of wax. :)

That said, you are still probably going to notice some difference in tone between a Kala and a Kamaka - it's just that the difference won't be as great through a UST as it would be with a microphone or soundboard transducer. Of course, you're going to notice a lot of difference in playability - especially if the Kala hasn't been set up well - and playability has an affect on tone because it affects how "happy" you are playing the instrument.

However, a cheap uke with good electronics can sound quite good plugged in. I've got an eleuke concert solid-body, a Mainland mango tenor with a MiSi, an inexpensive Dean Markley soundboard transducer that I've tried out on my Kiwaya and KoAloha, and I used to have a Lanikai laminated tenor with a factory pickup and preamp. Hands down the best one for plugged-in sound was the Lanikai even though it was such a dog acoustically that I gave it away!

John

Dan Uke
08-29-2011, 06:36 AM
Can someone explains how a preamp works?

gyosh
08-29-2011, 07:57 AM
Can someone explains how a preamp works?

I just googled your question because I had no idea either and there quite a few answers out there:

http://www.ovnilab.com/articles/preamp.shtml

http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f15/forgive-my-ignorance-but-how-does-preamp-work-99401/

Hope this helps.

localmana
08-29-2011, 03:55 PM
I've been wondering the same thing. I'm getting a custom made Compass Rose soon. I had the option of installing a pickup but decided against it because I didn't want ANYTHING to distract from the beautiful tone of this uke.
Alan

gyosh
08-29-2011, 07:44 PM
I've been wondering the same thing. I'm getting a custom made Compass Rose soon. I had the option of installing a pickup but decided against it because I didn't want ANYTHING to distract from the beautiful tone of this uke.
Alan

Congrats on the Compass Rose!! I had the opportunity to play Rick Turner's personal uke this weekend and it made me a little sad because it is quite a bit better than my newly acquired Kamaka. I especially liked the kind of "chunky" feel of the neck. I've got larger hands and it felt really comfortable. The sound is really clear/crisp yet still has that koa tone. I don't know when, but someday I'll own one.