View Full Version : Converting Acoustic to Electric

11-06-2011, 03:13 PM
Hi Everyone-

I am curious about this process. Any insight would be appreciated. Is it exceptionally difficult? Foes it change the sound quality? Most important- is it an insult to the instrument and luthier who built her? I am not committed to doing this, but i am curious. What do you guys think?

11-06-2011, 04:48 PM
Hey mendel,
It is not terribly difficult, but like everything else needs to be done right. I prefer the K&K Twinspot mounted to the bridge patch with a belt worn preamp. I have heard that the MiSi preamp now offers a LR Baggs UST that is made for a uke. If you go the UST route, the saddle slot should be deepened and be dead flat. If installed correctly this should have little to no effect on the sound.


11-07-2011, 12:14 AM
Thanks for the responses. I'm not sure i am completely in favor of te change, as it seems to me that it could damage the instrument ou love and it might not e worth the risk. This came up because my buddy received what i believe is a vintage Martin uke. I said he should leave it as it is a classic. He immediately wanted to convert. The more I read about it, the more I liked the idea for my own Uke, but i still believe the Martin should be left alone. He asked me why and I said that i think it devalues the instrument.

Can any guitar place so the procedure, or if I decided to go forward, should i ship it back to Bradford for him to be the surgeon? What areyour thoughts, Bradford?

Rick Turner
11-07-2011, 04:46 AM
I wouldn't put a pickup into a valuable vintage instrument, but I do put pickups into a fair number of my Compass Rose ukes, and in fact, all the bridge saddle slots are cut with the idea that this can be done at any time in the future. I use the D-TAR Timberline undersaddle pickups that I helped design, and I do not hear any problem with the acoustic tone with pickups installed.

11-07-2011, 08:15 AM
I am with the others as to not messing with the Martin. Vic, assuming good installations, the K&K and UST's will sound very similar. I prefer the K&K because I want my transducer and preamp to be separate. Mendel, a good guitar repair facility should be able to handle this easily, it would cost more to ship the instrument back and forth to me than the installation should cost. Because you have twin sound holes in the upper bout, a MiSi acoustic trio would probably be the easiest install. I do recommend Chuck's trick of drilling holes in both ends of the bridge to center the element. Also because you will be working from the upper bout and you do not want a lot of excess wire inside, the installer will have to plan ahead and have the thread for pulling the element through the hole in the bridge attached before inserting the assembly inside the uke.


11-07-2011, 08:17 AM
BZZZTTT... Please don't hack that vintage Martin... Of course dude can do what he wants with it... but just sayin', it's gonna lower the value and vintage Martin lovers are going to shed tears.

That was my assessment too. I told him if he put a hole in that Uke, I would be tempted to pop him one right in the head.

11-07-2011, 08:19 AM
Hi Bradford,

Although I do not have any idea what you mean (in case you don't remember, I am mechanically deficient when it comes to this type of stuff) if I decide to do it, I will certainly follow your advice and I will bring in a printed version of your statement to the place doing the install. Thank you all for the advice.

11-07-2011, 08:26 AM
Cool mendel,
Let me just add this, if the installer does not instantly recognize what I'm saying, take it somewhere else.


11-07-2011, 01:13 PM
Absolutely Bradford! Any idea on what it should cost?!?!? Just so i dont get ripped off??

11-07-2011, 08:10 PM
Your topic threw me for a loop (not really). Even if you install a pickup, its still an acoustic instrument.

Not unlike Rick, all of my instruments are designed with intent of installing a pickup. In fact, most of them have them requested anyway. Once I run out of my current stock of LR Baggs Elements, seems I'm going with the Five.0.

FWIW, I've not heard a pickup yet that can touch Rick's DTAR. You'll pay a little more, BUT, in this case you get what you pay for. I've heard one in his Compass Rose go through an amp, and it made it sound, simply, louder. I cannot describe it any better than that - the instrument was just louder, as was meant to be. No nothing of anything else. You'll hear players talk about "Fishman sounds quacky, but sensitive" and "Baggs sound natural, but can feedback and isn't as sensitive as a Fishman" or "MiSi sounds like a Fishman wanting to be a Baggs. . ." DTAR? All I have is "louder".


11-08-2011, 08:35 AM
Hey mendel, the installation should easily be done in less than an hour, so assume an hourly rate of $75 and go from there.

And I agree with Aaron that there is a lot of Ford vs. Chevy talk when it comes to pickup brands. I have yet to hear any piezo transducer that faithfully reproduces the acoustic sound of a ukulele. The standard in the guitar world has been a UST coupled with an internal microphone with the signal blended through a preamp/mixer. I know that is one of the systems that DTAR offers. For me, I still like the KISS principle. Just a K&K Twinspot or a UST wired to the endjack in the uke, plugged into a belt worn preamp. and over to the amp. My amplifier is a Roland AC60 with inputs for a vocal microphone and the instrument. At a gig when I am not singing, I drop the microphone in front of the uke and play that way and it sounds quite nice. The sound quality that you get from any system is going to be a combination of the ukulele, the pickup(s), the preamp and the amplifier. Different people will have different preferences. I am encouraged that with the popularity of the ukulele, that there are some pickups coming to the market specifically for the uke, and I'm waiting to see how they work.