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View Full Version : Ukulele played through bass or guitar amp?



Harold O.
10-18-2011, 04:58 PM
Have you played your uke through a bass amp?

OK, I'll admit this is a sideways plug for something I've made. But this thing I've come up with has presented another pathway for the continuing "amplification of ukuleles" discussion.

My wood shop shares a wall with a guitar store. I've made several custom chairs and stools for the store customers and decided to build more from my own simple design. We call it the Rockin' Stool (http://www.RockinStool.com).

It's essentially a solid bar stool with an amplifier built onto a platform under the seat. The sound comes from all around you when played. Way cool. Solves a number of problems.

And presents another. For guitars, we supply a Fender Frontman 25R. For bass players, we provide a Fender Rumble 15. Both amps are decent in their own right, fit the space we have, and we get them wholesale through the store.

The trouble is, I've played my uke through both setups and prefer the bass amp. Maybe that's not really a problem, more of a solution. There is slightly more bottom end, filling out the uke's lower tones. I suppose I could experiment more with the tone controls and such, but with everything flat, the bass amp sounds better. And yes, I know that everyone should go with what they prefer, but it just struck me as odd that the bass amp came through so well.

Our Canogahana Players group will get to test out both setups this Sunday and get to the real bottom of this.

coriandre
10-18-2011, 05:08 PM
Dont know about the bass amp but thoses stools are a good idea !

Brad Bordessa
10-18-2011, 06:03 PM
I think that's the consensus (for the most part), depending on what sound you're going for. Keyboard amps are even better. ...And acoustic amps are best.

Colonel Uke
10-18-2011, 06:03 PM
I've been playing my baritone uke recently through an Acoustic 20 bass amp and really like the sound.

Jon Moody
10-19-2011, 12:25 AM
I have used my Phil Jones Bass Briefcase amp for amplifying my uke when I've had theatre gigs (mainly because I was already playing bass in the show, and it was easier to put an A/B pedal in front). It really works well for the uke. PJB stuff is pretty flat in comparison to pretty much everything else available, and the eq is very powerful. It gives a very nice, clean, articulate sounds that is fairly close to just mic'ing the uke.

kissing
10-19-2011, 01:17 AM
Bass amps work really well for Ukuleles. Not too sure why, but it sounds better than most guitar amps.

The explanation I can think of is that most Bass amp speakers have a wider frequency range than Electric guitar amps (which focus on mid-range).
Hence, a better, fuller sounding ukulele without excessive treble either.

Harold O.
10-19-2011, 04:18 AM
...And acoustic amps are best.

We figured that, too. The Rockin' Stool idea is aimed more at the electric guitar world and we needed a couple of amp models we could readily supply. The ones we chose work well with those big 'ol things but I couldn't resist the temptation to plug my uke in. That's when the real fun started...

musiccityuker
10-19-2011, 06:42 AM
Harold... VERY COOL units! I would LOVE to have one of them for my small little music studio. You might be on to something with this. And, for the record... After trying several uke amps... the one that works best for me is a small Squierer Bass amp... very similar to the Fender bass amp you've used. Not sure why but it just sounds better with all of my acoustic and Eleuke ukes.

lambchop
10-21-2011, 04:13 AM
If you like the sound of it through the bass amp, then great, but I think since we have such a small instrument it is best to have it push a smaller speaker. An acoustic amp like those made by Fishman or Marshall or Roland will be best for such applications as they all have smaller speakers but have a very defined, rich low end. Personally I tried my bass amp and found it quite disappointing - love my Fishman Loudbox Mini - 6.5" speaker but the sound is round and full. Some bass amps have 8" speakers, so maybe that might work, but as with everything, it depends on which one you are talking about as well.

Harold O.
10-21-2011, 04:57 AM
Some bass amps have 8" speakers, so maybe that might work, but as with everything, it depends on which one you are talking about as well.

The Fender Rumble 15 bass amp has an 8-inch speaker. I've noticed (makes sense but I hadn't really thought too hard about it before) that different ukes sound different when played on a Rockin' Stool. Variations in the pickups and size/style of the instrument all come into play. What's most fun with this stool setup is that when playing on it, the sound seems to come from all around you. Very non-directional regardless of which amp we use.

I'm sure we could pick and choose and select an optimum amp for each user, but that's too tough a row to hoe. So we picked out two that fit the bill and let that baby fly. As they say, sooner or later you gotta shoot the engineer and just build the darn thing.

Thanks for the feedback.

JT_Ukes
10-21-2011, 05:32 AM
........
Thanks for the feedback.


I see what you did there.

kissing
10-21-2011, 01:49 PM
but I think since we have such a small instrument it is best to have it push a smaller speaker.

Hmm, I really don't think so..
Pushing it through a smaller speaker limits it to smaller performance areas. Amplified through bigger speakers simply means you'll get a louder, stronger sound suitable for large audiences.

Try performing at a stadium with a Fishman Loudbox Mini lol.

ricdoug
10-22-2011, 09:15 AM
Aloha, Harold. Does that guitar store carry PowerWerks products? The PowerWerks PW50 P.A. system is sold at Guitar Center as a Kustom PA50. These are compact, in the same retail price range as the amps you are using in the Rockin' Stool and would give a 3rd category - P.A. system. It's not a Fishman, Acoustisonic, Bose or Roland AC, but you'll see and hear in the YouTube videos is does fine in small venues of 40+:

About 4 months back, I was in Guitar Center checking out sound reinforcement gear. I came across a Kustom PA50 and intrigued by its size, specs and versatility:

http://www.hunt101.com/data/500/KustomPA501.jpg

http://www.hunt101.com/data/500/KustomPA502.jpg[/img

It shows a list price of $159 bucks, but they sell them for $99 bucks:

[img]http://www.hunt101.com/data/500/KustomPA503.jpg

I searched the Guitar Center website, Musician’s Friend website and Kustom Amps website, but did not find any reference to this system. When I searched PowerWerks, I came up with:

http://powerwerks.com/pages/PA-Systems-8.aspx

http://powerwerks.com/ContentHandler.ashx?ID=87 Owners manual.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZk33_3GmE4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nL-RzN98VT0

http://www.youtube.com/user/GenoKreis?blend=5&ob=5#p/u/0/0xIY65YWEi0

The frontal shows the two 4.5” drivers and the high frequency horn:

http://www.hunt101.com/data/500/KustomPA504.jpg

You can also note the rugged construction and the protective steel speaker grill. In addition, each corner is protected.

ricdoug
10-22-2011, 09:20 AM
The rear view shows the three channels, controls, inputs and outputs. I was asked if the XLR and ¼” inputs could be used at the same time, so I plugged a microphone and instrument into both jacks on both channels. All can be used at the same time:

http://www.hunt101.com/data/500/KustomPA505.jpg

One of the long sides has a carrying handle and the other side has four rubber feet:

http://www.hunt101.com/data/500/KustomPA506.jpg

The bottom has a speaker stand adaptor and four rubber feet:

http://www.hunt101.com/data/500/KustomPA507.jpg

Here it is shown mounted on an OnStage speaker stand:

http://www.hunt101.com/data/500/medium/KustomPA508.jpg

I liked the first one enough to purchase a second one. I almost always have one loaned out. Hula halau’s like to use a microphone for announcing and an MPR/CD player for their music when musicians are not available. There are no effects onboard, but I generally prefer to use my systems “dry” - without effects.

If you stare at the hula dancer Kristine in this video long enough, two old ukulele and guitar players will appear in the background (optical illusion). Kristine’s dad, Jay on the left and myself on the right. The PW50 is mounted on a stand to the left of Jay. Also on the right is Kay Das (steel guitar first runner up at the Hawaiian Music Awards) and Keef on the gutbucket. My uke is not plugged in. I place the microphone between the ukulele and my vocals:

http://www.youtube.com/user/kristineegg#p/a/u/0/uvIvuZbUb5M

ricdoug
10-22-2011, 09:23 AM
Another optical illusion. Stare at Kristine dancing hula long enough and you'll see two ukulele players playing and singing through microphones plugged into the Kustom PA50:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22XtXT9lBLo

Harold O.
10-22-2011, 11:08 AM
Hey Ricdoug, I tried reaching you through a UU PM but your box is full. Shoot me an email via harold [at] westhillswood.com

ricdoug
10-22-2011, 11:25 AM
E-Mail sent, Harold. Ric

Jon Moody
10-22-2011, 03:16 PM
Hmm, I really don't think so..
Pushing it through a smaller speaker limits it to smaller performance areas. Amplified through bigger speakers simply means you'll get a louder, stronger sound suitable for large audiences.

Try performing at a stadium with a Fishman Loudbox Mini lol.

Phil Jones Bass amps are used in stadiums, and they use 5" speakers. It's not all about size, but what your tonal goals are. A 15" will sound different from two 10's, but both can be useful in different applications.

Harold O.
10-23-2011, 12:51 PM
OK, we held our regular meeting of the Canogahana Players today and the bass amp had the most play by far. For guitar guys, it could go either way, but when ukulele-based players call, I will point them toward the bass option. Same price and all, just different sound. And that's what it's all about anyway. Heck, most of us play acoustic regardless.

chindog
10-23-2011, 01:07 PM
That is a great idea with the stool. I might just have to put my small bass amp in one of those to play my peanut through.

earljam
10-23-2011, 02:46 PM
My Yorkville 50W bass amp would be nice for a stool like that.

itsme
10-23-2011, 03:03 PM
Bass amps work really well for Ukuleles. Not too sure why, but it sounds better than most guitar amps.
Years ago I wanted an amp to use with my flamenco guitar and the guy at Guitar Center said bass amps were better for acoustic instruments so I ended up buying a small Fender RAD bass amp, 15 watts, I think?. I only used it a few times but it sounded really good to me. :)

It's been in the garage for a few years now, maybe I should drag it out and see how it does with a uke. I have a couple of those Dean Markley stick-on piezzo pickups.

adam2180
10-23-2011, 04:49 PM
A bass amp is closer to a PA system or acoustic amp then an electric guitar amp. It has nothing to do with the size of the speaker. An electric guitar is all mid-range, an acoustic needs more low and high.