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View Full Version : Talent Show - Pickup Vs. Mic?



philpot
06-07-2012, 04:52 AM
I'll be playing in a small talent show in a couple months and I was wondering if I could get opinions on something. My options are either playing my Eleuke clean through the sound system to get an ukulele sound, or to get a mic on my Kamaka. The Kamaka might sound better, but would it be loud enough? What would you guys think?

Futch
06-07-2012, 05:47 AM
I play as part of a 6-piece band, with clarinet, drums, double bass etc. I always use a mic for my uke, and it can be plenty loud enough to keep up with the other instruments. Im sure if you're playing on your own you will have no problem being loud enough, and the mic will sound much better. A small diaphragm condenser would be the best choice, I use a Shure PG81.

seeso
06-07-2012, 05:49 AM
It can be loud enough with the right mic and the right sound guy. The eleuke option is more idiot-proof, plus it has the added bonus of you being able to move around the stage.

ghardy
06-07-2012, 05:54 AM
This is a clip of me playing my kala acacia tenor -

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?65788-First-Performance-Crazy-G!

I think with the mic it sounded great, but you can judge for yourself.

Kekani
06-07-2012, 06:19 AM
Install a pickup in the Kamaka. Run it through a Para-Acoustic DI or a Venue, and tell the sound guy to flat everything, then you're in control of your sound, and all he'll be in control of is your volume.

Aaron.

mds725
06-07-2012, 06:22 AM
Sam at Larry's Music in Kaua'i told me (when I was buying a Kamaka tenor from him) that he preferred a mic to a pickup, at least for testing the sound qualities of an acoustic ukulele because with a mic, you're getting information about all the atributes of the instrument, such as the sound of the air bouncing around in the instrument. With a pickup, the sound is being picked up directly from the soundboard (which is why electric stringed instruments can be made of solid wood). I imagine that both sounds have their plusses and minuses, and it may be, as with many other things, personal preference. For what it's worth, performers like Jake Shimabukuro, Victoria Vox and James Hill use pickups, although there may be considerations about playing in front of large crowds or playing onstage (i.e., being able to move about freely and not having to worry about the position of your uke relative to the mic) that favor a pickup.

itsscottwilder
06-07-2012, 07:47 AM
I'll be playing in a small talent show in a couple months and I was wondering if I could get opinions on something. My options are either playing my Eleuke clean through the sound system to get an ukulele sound, or to get a mic on my Kamaka. The Kamaka might sound better, but would it be loud enough? What would you guys think?

There are tradeoffs to both mics and pickups. A good sound guy knows the limitations and should be able to make either sound good.

philpot
06-07-2012, 12:53 PM
Install a pickup in the Kamaka. Run it through a Para-Acoustic DI or a Venue, and tell the sound guy to flat everything, then you're in control of your sound, and all he'll be in control of is your volume.

Aaron.

Unfortunately, budget and time don't allow me to get a pickup installed at this point, although it's a dream of mine. I don't ever intend on selling this ukulele and I'd love to be able to amp it.

I'm leaning towards the mic... I have a bad habit of moving around TOO much when I have to sing, so I get too far away from the mic at parts, so being forced to mic my uke might help my wandering tendencies haha. And I really really prefer the sound of my Kamaka... Don't get me wrong, I LOVE that Eleuke, but for a straight ukulele sound like I want, I really really like my Kamaka.

Hippie Dribble
06-07-2012, 01:58 PM
I've always preferred the honest, raw sound of a stage mic. It's totally transparent and as someone else said, all the subtleties of the instrument and your playing are on display. If the engineer has any clue at all, volume will be taken care of in the appropriate way. Play the uke that sounds the best and that you're most comfortable with mate. Have fun Phil and all the best with it.

Nickie
06-07-2012, 05:53 PM
I used a pickup and small amp in my talent show last week. I would rather have had a mic on the uke... only had one mic, and it was for my piehole, so I could sing and tell jokes...

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
06-07-2012, 05:56 PM
Play the Kamaka. It'll sound great.

Kekani
06-07-2012, 06:09 PM
Unfortunately, budget and time don't allow me to get a pickup installed at this point, although it's a dream of mine. I don't ever intend on selling this ukulele and I'd love to be able to amp it.

Takes me an hour to install a pickup, if that. If you have a Kamaka that you love, why even have a Lanikai? If you can't justify a pickup installation in your best instrument, then I think you're compromising (you asked what we think).

Seems the majority of responses are to go with the mic. As a soundguy, I prefer getting a signal from a pickup than a mic (of course, assuming good quality equipment - LR Baggs Element for me, personally). Just saying.

Aaron

ricdoug
06-07-2012, 07:30 PM
Unfortunately, budget and time don't allow me to get a pickup installed at this point, although it's a dream of mine. I don't ever intend on selling this ukulele and I'd love to be able to amp it.

I'm leaning towards the mic... I have a bad habit of moving around TOO much when I have to sing, so I get too far away from the mic at parts, so being forced to mic my uke might help my wandering tendencies haha. And I really really prefer the sound of my Kamaka... Don't get me wrong, I LOVE that Eleuke, but for a straight ukulele sound like I want, I really really like my Kamaka.

Is less than $10 bucks within your budget?:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?8560-Electrify-your-uke-for-under-10-bucks

DAPuke
06-08-2012, 02:53 AM
I'm leaning towards the mic... I have a bad habit of moving around TOO much when I have to sing, so I get too far away from the mic at parts
Hi Phil, It's exciting doing your first open mic. I know, I did my first last night. I can tell you from experience there are many distractions when you're up there and one you don't need is wondering the whole song if you are close enough to the mic...cuz you will. I am glad I have a Kala with a pickup. If you really want to play Kelekona practice playing in that situation. You HAVE to stand still or your volume will be all over the place and a distraction for the audience. Practice at home with a make-shift mic, (if you don't have one) or play in front of the mirror. I like the idea of using a mic just because you don't have to be dependent on some "thing" to entertain with the uke. But I tend to move around too when I play, I'm working on it. Have fun and post that video:)
Don

Lori
06-08-2012, 05:40 AM
Make sure you get a chance to do a sound check. I have been to very small events where there is no sound tech, and you have to do it all yourself. In that case, a pickup will be easier to use... feedback is an annoying problem. You might want to bring both ukes in case one system doesn't work out. Remember, if you are singing and playing, your uke mic might pick up your voice too.

–Lori

ricdoug
06-09-2012, 07:01 PM
I find most people have poor microphone technique. With a wide pickup pattern, like an MXL990, positioning of vocals and instruments makes or breaks the performance. Here's a great article on using this type of mic:

http://www.pleasantvalleymusic.com/SingleMicArticle.pdf

When it comes to very narrow pickup pattern supercardioid and hypercardioid mics, like a Shure SM58, one has to "eat the mic" - almost kissing the mic as you sing. After many a rock gig, I've had to unscrew all the windscreen balls off my mics and throw them in a sink full of warm soapy water to clean out all the saliva, food and lipstick caked into the screens. It looks as gross as it sounds and is very unsanitary to share mics that have not been cleaned/sterilized. I like to run the mics "hot" to pick up both the vocals and the uke. This takes some experience with speaker placement, mic placement and equalization.

When I plug in, it's easier to control feedback, but harder to get an acoustic sound from the instrument.

Either way you go, get there early and try to do a sound check so you know what you're working with. Good luck Philpot! Ric