View Full Version : PlannIng to install pickup for the first time

12-22-2011, 07:14 AM
I ordered the Mi-Si Acoustic Trio from mile at Mainland Ukes. It should arrive any day now. I am planning to do the installyself because I have coontacted multiple guitar stores in the area and they all tell me that Ukes are not their forte and they can "do their best". I am not comfortable with that statement so I have chosen to go at it myself. Before I do this, i wanted to check with the experts here on a couple of things.

1. What size step bit do I use? There is a lot of conflicting info out there.

2. How should I secure the excess wire inside the Uke??

12-22-2011, 07:26 AM
This if from the Mi-Si Web-site http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHkINznNaCY
I tie mine to the end of the pick up in the little hole there. I'm not a big fan of it, but it works. I talked to Mi-Si last month and they are going to start offering shorter undersadle pickups this spring.
Hope this helps!

12-22-2011, 07:30 AM
Protect the bottom bout of your uke with masking tape in case the drill slips and chipping. I did mine in three steps. First started using a 1/2" brad point bit to scour the surface to prevent any chipping, then I drilled a small hole in the uke and then used a 1/2" step bit to open up the hole. Others have used forstner bits but I personally don't like hand holding a drill with forstner bits on something this delicate.

For the extra wire, coil it in a tight 1 inch or so loop and zip tie it.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
12-22-2011, 08:04 AM
The pics should pretty much explain the process even if they may be out of order.
Drill two holes in either corner of the saddle slot and ramp them to avoid any sharp angles. It's important to feed the UST back through the bridge through the second hole (1/4" to 1/2") to avoid any dead spots. Secure the coil with four little zip ties; don't scrimp. Your saddle should be loose enough to easily remove with your fingers but not so loose that it falls out when you turn the uke upside down.

12-22-2011, 08:29 AM
take a look inside the uke before you drill the bridge. I got this same pickup for my Brunkalla tenor. When my luthier friend went to install it, he found out the uke was fan braced. The bracing ran from behind the sound hole and fanned out toward the lower bout. The braces were right under the spot in the bridge where the holes would have gone. That's why he is a luthier and I'm not. He thought to check first !


12-22-2011, 08:52 AM
I asked Bradford, the builder of my uke and he said it was fine. He said to drill through the bridge patch but not the bracing. I am nervous, but excited about this.

12-23-2011, 10:21 AM
The pickup arrived today. I am trying to work up the nerve to do the surgery on my Uke. I feel a bit wimpy saying this, but I am afraid to hurt my Uke!!! More important, I am nervous that I will get it all done and then it will sound bad because I have somehow messed up!!!!

Dan Uke
12-23-2011, 12:34 PM
If you are that worried, buy insurance!!! Insurance only costs $50 - $70 and this isurance I'm talking about is take it to a luthier!!

12-23-2011, 03:21 PM
I have looked At having it installed. The only people to do it are guitar techs. They have all told me how difficult, if not impossible it would be to install in a Uke. They all are willing to try but they offer no guarantees.

12-23-2011, 07:47 PM
I've installed Misi pickups in two of my ukes, one being a Mainland Tenor and the other a Kanile'a K1, both done with no problems at all. If you search Youtube you'll find a Uke minutes with Mike from Kanile'a showing you step by step what to do. He used a stepping bit but I just used an 1/8 and then a 1/2 wood drill bit, using masking tape to prevent slipping.
On the video he routes out the saddle slot but again not being a luthier I just sanded down the saddle making sure the bottom was flat. The only fiddly bit was getting the pickup up through the small hole, but Mike shows you a little tip with a piece of wire.
As for the excess wire, Mike at mainland supplied stick on cable ties, I got my granddaughter to put her hand in and stick it into place. Hope that puts your mind at rest, just take it slow and you'll be done in about and hour.

12-23-2011, 09:54 PM
Watch the video mentioned in the above post, and look at Chuck's photos and post. That's really all you need to know. If you can drill the holes, you can install the pickup easily. If you are nervous about locating and drilling the holes, you might want to get some help or pay someone to do it.

12-24-2011, 05:39 AM
Hi, Mendel. THis is not a mi-si, but the video is fabulous, including the use of the guitar cable to pull it through, and the sanding of the saddle rather than routing the groove. Worth your five minites before doing it.


I installed a pickup (Shadow) without a hitch a couple months ago. And I've got two hooves for hands. G'luck.

12-24-2011, 08:24 AM
I drille the holes today. Because my soundholes are on the upper bout of the i strument, feeding the transducer through the bridge is proving to be exceptionally difficult. I out it down for the day so Ican view the task with a fresh eue tomorrow. I am afraid to make the holes in the bridge bigger because it fits fibe when i testfrom the top. I also do bot want to damage the transducer. Any suggestions?

Steve vanPelt
12-24-2011, 08:53 AM
I tape the end of an old string to the end of the UST and pull it through. I've heard a dot of CA works as well, but too nervous to try it.

12-24-2011, 09:03 AM
Hmm ive tried taping to a string, but it wont come through. Maybe the hole should be enlarged??? Thoughts!?!?

12-24-2011, 10:39 AM
I use a very thin wire to wrap around the end of the transducer and it's inline with the tip to thread it through the hole.

Steve vanPelt
12-24-2011, 10:52 AM
Hmm ive tried taping to a string, but it wont come through. Maybe the hole should be enlarged??? Thoughts!?!?

1/8" hole, small piece of tape wrapped tight, works for me. I'll probably try Trinimon's wire trick next time around with an old steel string.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
12-24-2011, 11:12 AM
Use an 1/8" bit only if your saddle slot is 1/8". Otherwise, choose a bit that exactly fits the width of your saddle slot. The bit I use is about a #40 for my slots which are .100" wide. I've installed a ton of MiSis. the best way I've found to thread the UST through the hole is my applying a tiny drop of medium CA glue to the very end of it and stick it to a length of carpet thread. It feeds through without a problem.

12-24-2011, 11:30 AM
I will try. Crazy glue tonight. I am sure it work perfectly. I am excited. I hope all goes well. Merry Xmas eve y'all!!!

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
12-24-2011, 12:01 PM
I will try. Crazy glue tonight. I am sure it work perfectly. I am excited. I hope all goes well. Merry Xmas eve y'all!!!

Use MEDIUM or GEL type only and use the tiniest drop followed by a spritz of accelerator. The last thing you want is the ca glue to wick along the length of the UST. Practice on something else first.

12-24-2011, 03:18 PM
Thanks Chuck!!! I was able to get the transducer through the bridge! It was a combination of your advice and my dumb luck. I shaved down the saddle a bit, and it looks to be exactly as much above the bridge as it was before. After all is said and done, my uke is still beautiful. She has a minor scratch, but she has moxy now. As far as the sound is. Concerned- i don't own an amp, as this is my first non-acoustic instrument. I have to string her up tomorrow and find an amp to check her out on. As it stands, I will either be spending my Xmas money for an amp, or to have my Pickup professionally repaired!!! Thanks to one and all for the advice and encouragement.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
12-24-2011, 03:50 PM
Dumb luck will win out every time.

When you check out the pickup with the amp, the thing you'll want to check for is to make sure you get an even output from all the strings. That is, you don't want any strings louder or softer than the others. If they are (typically either the G or A string with the Baggs UST) shift the UST in the slot 1/8" either way before messing with any saddle adjustments. (You did put two holes in the bridge and fed the leading of the UST through the second hole about 1/4" to 1/2", right?) If your balance is still uneven either your saddle slot or the bottom of the saddle itself isn't flat. The best surface to level a saddle at home is on a marble counter top. There are other fixes to these problems (saddle lean angle, saddle material, etc) if you run into them but 97.8% of the time these pickups install without any issues. YMMV

12-24-2011, 03:59 PM
Thanks so much for the info. I did drill two holes in the bridge and feed it about 1/8 to 1/2 inch in on the other side. It was sitting pretty well in the bridge and I was also able to grt the excess wire coiled up and the. Lip it came with is attached via 2 sided tape to the bottom of the sound board as directed. I will strIng her up tomorrow and head to a Sam Ash on Monday to check her on an amp. I hope it will be good times. If not, i will reassess and work util she is perfect.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
12-24-2011, 04:05 PM
I'm not understanding what you attached to the bottom (underside?) of the sound board. I don't like the idea of attaching anything to the sound board.

12-24-2011, 04:14 PM
All of the excess wire was. Coiled up and put in wire ties. The pickup came with a plastic clip the wire tie attaches to. On the clip, there is tape that attaches it to the bottom of the soundboard so the wire doesnt bounce around. Oh my god! Dis I destroy my Uke by taping that up there!?!?!?

12-24-2011, 05:52 PM
All of the excess wire was. Coiled up and put in wire ties. The pickup came with a plastic clip the wire tie attaches to. On the clip, there is tape that attaches it to the bottom of the soundboard so the wire doesnt bounce around. Oh my god! Dis I destroy my Uke by taping that up there!?!?!?

Nope, you didn't destroy your uke, but the idea of coiling the excess is so that you don't need to attach the coil to anything; its taking up the slack between saddle & end pin. By affixing it to the top, you just introduce the possibility of eventual buzzing. But, it will probably be fine.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
12-24-2011, 06:46 PM
yeah, attaching anything to the top is a bad idea. Those wire keepers you got were to hold the wires in place if needed. They are meant to be stuck to the sides or kerfing of the uke. I don't use them. As Gmoney said, if it's done right the coil of excess wire is in suspension, not touching anything. If you hear a buzz or a rattle at least you'll know where it's coming from.

12-25-2011, 02:35 AM
Is there any way I can fix this? Should I peel the clip off of the sound board? If tere is residual tape, do i leave it there? Wht do you suggest?

Update: I just strung her up, and while the strings are obviously not holding tune yet, when I strum, I do not hear any rattling or buzzing. I know that I will bot hear anything major until I plug in, but I am happy that I at least can play it acoustically without issue.