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View Full Version : Tenor uke - pickup of choice?



herbsandspices
02-09-2012, 12:40 PM
Hey all,

I'm in the process of starting my Howlett Koa tenor kit (thanks Pete!), and want to put a pickup in it. I'm starting this thread in the Luthiery forum because I respect your all's opinions, and would rather get the opinion of the maker players than just the players.

Notes:

I don't have a budget, and have no problem paying for what I get
99% of the time I go through a Baggs Para-Acoustic DI into either an acoustic amp or PA
I play in a 7-piece acoustic band, in a variety of venues


My choices are:

Schertler Resocoil Internal (1/4" version)
I have a Schertler Dyn-M in my concert uke, and love it, however Steve from Eastman said: "It is dynamic microphone, and is low impedance, therefore the XLR connector. You can use if it is a very short run, like 5 feet or less. Beyond that, the sound degrades." I haven't found that to be the case with my Dyn-M and the PADI, but maybe the Resocoil is different?
K&K Twin Spot
Have one of their Banjo Twin Spots for my banjo, and like it quite a bit. That being said, the banjo is a different beast!
Mi-Si Acoustic Trio Uke
Would love to give it a whirl, but I'm sort of absent minded and am afraid I wouldn't always remember to charge it before a show (the 9v battery charge option is pretty awesome though).
LR Baggs Five.O
Not crazy about soundhole volume dials, but love the sound of the Element in my guitar.
Pick-up the World Uke UST or SBT
I know so little about these guys, but Pete recommends them, so I thought I'd throw their name in the ring. Their UST or SBT both seem great, but I've never heard their products.


I'm leaning towards the Schertler, because I love their pickups (and the Unico amp is amazing), but all the rest are a fraction of the price and well liked. SO, if you have experience with multiple of these products (for comparison's sake), your help would be loved and appreciated! :-)

Thanks guys!!

john

Chih-Wei Liu
02-09-2012, 03:01 PM
UST with nylon strings always sounds quacky. Some more elastic USTs don't sound as quacky as the harder ones, but they absorb more high frequency so the acoustic sound suffers more. I'll vote for K&K twin spot for its light weight, sound, and price.

Ken Middleton
02-09-2012, 09:08 PM
I recently considered putting a pickup in my Howlett Custom. I considered for all of 10 seconds. I changed my mind because my Howlett is the lightest tenor I have ever held. Any system that I fitted would change the balance, feel and weight of the instrument. However, I do not have to use it for live playing.

I am really happy with the sound of the Fishman system that I have just fitted to another tenor. I do like the under-sound-hole controls. But then again, it was retro-fitted. If you are building a uke from a kit, you can do pretty much whatever you want. From your list, I personally like the idea of the Mi-Si system. It seems a very elegant and easy solution.

Allen
02-09-2012, 09:37 PM
I've used the K&K and love the natural sound from them. They were installed after the instrument was assembled, and to do so again and knowing I'd use one, then it would go in before the box was closed. I wish more clients would request them, but most want the MISI. Good marketing I guess.

The MISI was also a nice pickup, and I was surprised at how natural it sounded. But like you I'm a little convened about remembering to charge it up. Not my worry too much as it's the clients that request them.

I'm about to put a Pick Up the World UST including their preamp into a baritone. I've got a mate that has used them a bunch and likes them, but does say they need a preamp of some sort.

Kekani
02-10-2012, 05:57 AM
LRBaggs Element Undersaddle Active, nylon. I haven't tried the 5.0, but not unlike my aversion to the capacitor charge on MiSi, I always keep 9v around. Besides, the MiSi's that I've heard sound too much like Fishman, if that's what you like (many like the inherent quack that Chei referred to).

The Element is more natural, but more finicky of an install (unless you throw a back angle in the saddle). With the Para-acoustic, you'll be set.

No budget? DTar. Clear, no quack, HIGH headroom w/ 18v.

Aaron

herbsandspices
02-10-2012, 06:04 AM
Thanks all for your input thus far - exactly the types of responses I was hoping for!

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
02-10-2012, 06:10 AM
LRBaggs Element Undersaddle Active, nylon. I haven't tried the 5.0, but not unlike my aversion to the capacitor charge on MiSi, I always keep 9v around. Besides, the MiSi's that I've heard sound too much like Fishman, if that's what you like (many like the inherent quack that Chei referred to).

The Element is more natural, but more finicky of an install (unless you throw a back angle in the saddle). With the Para-acoustic, you'll be set.

No budget? DTar. Clear, no quack, HIGH headroom w/ 18v.

Aaron

You get used to quick charging the MiSi. It's really no different than remembering to change the battery, you just need to do it more often. With Fishman you'll get 1000 hours playing time from the 9 volt battery. The Baggs 5-0 will reportedly give you 300 hours. The Misi, up to 16 hours on a charge.
If I have to install a battery powered pickup I usually like to attach the battery to the head block. The Baggs 5-0 battery lead is too short to do so unless you don't mind seeing the wires running right behind the sound hole. I really wish Baggs did a little better research with the 5-0. The wire to the UST is still too long and I'd like to see the battery wires a bit longer.

herbsandspices
02-10-2012, 06:56 PM
Thanks for the reply, Chuck. The Mi-Si sure seems great - the lack of a battery is really nice. I think I'm down to the Mi-Si, the Schertler, and the K&K Twin Spot. Hmmm...

charlotteh
02-12-2012, 05:33 AM
I installed the MI-Si in my daughters baritone and we are both really happy with the sound and the convenience of having no battery to change.
Currently I am in the throes of a cbg addiction, aka cigar box guitars and have been using piezo discs without preamps and I am embedding 2 20mm discs inside the bridge and am getting great volume and love the sound. The piezo discs are unbelievably cheap and with a jack and volume control pot at cbgitty.com for $12.99. Don't knock the sound till you actually hear it. The jack is not an endpin jack so if you wanted to go that route you can go to stewmac or ebay for that part and you are still saving a lot of money.

Dan Uke
02-12-2012, 07:09 AM
I have a Fishman Prefix Pro that uses a 9V battery. Even though it adds weight, the balance isn't an issue for me as I rest the uke on my lap or use a strap when I stand up. Having weight on the body is much better than having a heavy headstock. If you perform, it's nice to have an EQ, volume control, brillance control. I don't know if it's worth $300 + installation but that's up to you. Secondly, you use a Para DI so it might be overkill

Rick Turner
02-12-2012, 08:10 AM
I'm not going to promote my D-TAR system; it's too expensive for most uke players, but I'll put it up against anything on the planet as far as sound goes. Most uke players are just astounded that pickups work at all, much less becoming connoisseurs of amplified tone.

That said, it's always baffled me that few musicians have an issue owning or using studio microphones costing up into the multi-thousands of dollars, yet once you get over about $150.00 for a pickup system, folks have apopleptic fits. Checked the prices on MicroTech Gefell, Neumann, Schoeps, or Josephson mics lately? $4,000.00 to $5,000.00 for a good mic causes barely an eye blink in the world of pro audio.

And yes, if you use a UST, you're much better off with a tilted-back saddle to get better down pressure on the pickup. We've installed literally thousands of USTs in instruments here, and the tilt back feature makes it a breeze to get good string to string balance whether it's a uke or a 12 string guitar or a 6 string bass.

herbsandspices
02-12-2012, 08:31 AM
That said, it's always baffled me that few musicians have an issue owning or using studio microphones costing up into the multi-thousands of dollars, yet once you get over about $150.00 for a pickup system, folks have apopleptic fits.

Truth! Especially considering how much people will spend on their instruments, and then how many hours they spend in a live environment... why not buy the very best? Thanks much Rick.