View Full Version : Conversion Thread Got Me Thinking...

11-08-2011, 08:05 AM
OK. I posted an earlier thread asking about the thoughts of luthiers on installing a pickup into a Uke. Now I am thinking something crazy.... What if I were to try to install the pickup myself?

I have never built an instrument, and I am not knowledgeable about the manner in which my Uke was built except for the information that Bradford, the builder, was kind enough to provide.

I have; however, become more adept with mechanical things and I am more than reasonably intelligent. I have done electrical work for a long time, and I have a complete set of tools including drills and so forth.

Essentially, what I am asking is, is this something I can undertake on my own in order to gain the experience of doing it as well as the pride associated with it, or should I simply bring it to a shop and have it done? I know the install cost is not too bad so that is not the issue. What do you say? I respect any and all opinions, and I promise that I will not be offended. What say you, oh Guru's of the Uke?????

11-08-2011, 08:23 AM
I am a complete klutz when it comes to anything requiring manual dexterity and I only have tools that you would find in any home, but I fitted a Piezo pickup to one uke and a basic transducer-type to another. Just followed the instructions that came with the pickups and all was easy and successful.

I also fitted one to a melodica (some of you may remember the Youtube video) which was an unmitigated disaster, so it may just have been dumb luck the other two times...

11-08-2011, 08:52 AM
Depends what type of pick up system you want. Most under-saddle pickups are fairly easy to install with common tools.

11-08-2011, 08:57 AM
I did it [ in my Koaloha no less]. Just follow instructions [ there's a good youtube on it] I installed a piezo that sticks on under the soundboard, so I only really had to install the endpin jack. wasn't too hard.

11-08-2011, 10:48 AM
If you're comfortable with using your tools, it can be a nice fun project. If you're doing the UST type pickup, you'll need to do some finesse work on the saddle (or bridge depending on how much of the saddle currently sits in the slot) to reflect the thickness of the pickup. One of the key things is that the bridge and saddle parts making contact with the pickup are nice and flat.

You can watch this video to get a rough idea what's involved (minus the bridge routing part).


If your palms get sweaty after that, time to to seek out your friendly luthier. :)

11-09-2011, 02:40 PM
I am always happiest when my customers can do simple set tasks on their ukes. If you are comfortable drilling holes in wood and have the proper wood bits, like a step drill bit, than go for it. The above YouTube link gives you a good look at what you need to do.


11-09-2011, 03:24 PM
I am thinking about it, Bradford. I have to admit though, while I am comfortable with the idea, the actual practice of it makes me queasy. I would never forgive myself if I mess up Hugs and Kisses!!!

11-10-2011, 02:44 PM
Ive been watching a lot of youTube stuf on this procedure. Is it absolutely necessary to route the bridge? Can i simply sand down the saddle instead? Will that mess up the sound quality of an undersaddle pickup?

Routing is the only part of this that makes me neevous.

Rick Turner
11-10-2011, 04:10 PM
Routing? It all depends. And I hate to say it, but if you don't know what it depends upon, you probably shouldn't be doing it.

Setting up to properly re-rout bridge saddle slots is not that big of a deal...but it is a commitment to doing pro-level lutherie. In a guitar repair shop, it's kind of lutherie 101 stuff. You'd better know how to do it.

11-10-2011, 06:03 PM
Hey mendel, more than likely the saddle slot needs to be deepened. Routing it is the easiest and fastest way to do this provided you have the tools and jig to do so. You need to have at least 50% of the saddle height to go into the saddle slot. Any less than that and you risk breaking the front edge of the bridge and then needing a new bridge.


11-15-2011, 03:47 PM
Hi Bradford! Ive been checking out a ton of youtube tutorials. I have couple of questions that I am hopeful you can answer.

1. How do i make the wire connection and avoid any slack bouncing around in the soundbox?

2. It appears that the bridgepatch goes almost the entire width of the Uke. Can i drill directly through it to feed the wire?

3. Should I drill through the end graft (and block inside the uke) or should i offset the hole and put it at about 4:00 on the side of the uke instead of at exactly 6?

11-15-2011, 08:23 PM
Hey mendel,
1. Coil the excess wire into a one inch diameter coil and secure the coil with two nylon wire ties.
2. Yup, you go through the bridge, through the top and then through the bridge patch.
3. You have to mount it through the end block. If you tried to mount the jack on a unsupported part of the side, you would split the side for sure, probably just by drilling the hole, but if not then, the first time you bumped the jack with the plug in it.

11-16-2011, 10:38 AM
Thanks Bradford. I appreciate your input.