PDA

View Full Version : which preamp?



ramone
08-28-2012, 10:10 AM
hey y'all,

I bought a Pono AT a few months ago and really like it. sounds wonderful acoustically. I opted for the Pono passive pickup so I could try recording it as well. when I checked it out through a Line 6 Spyder 2 amp, it sounded a little brighter than expected even after adjusting the tone controls. I was wondering which, if any, preamp folks are using to get the best tone from their ukes. is it asking too much for a guitar amp to work well with our little friends? I know tone is very subjective. what I'm looking for is the tradition ukulele sound, just amplified a bit. any advice or suggestions? all ideas are welcomed!

thanks,

ramone

~dave~~wave~
08-28-2012, 10:53 AM
http://www.fishman.com/products/view/g-ii-acoustic-preamp

AzMichael
08-28-2012, 10:56 AM
All of my Kanileʻa have Fishman passive pickups, which I run through an LR Baggs Venue DI. Great tone!

~Michael

ukulelecowboy
08-28-2012, 10:58 AM
This is the one I use for performance. Great and useful DI box.

http://www.lrbaggs.com/paradi.htm

~dave~~wave~
08-28-2012, 11:26 AM
....passive pickup so I could try recording it as well.... .....it sounded a little brighter than expected even after adjusting the tone controls.....


Ramone, if you bought a uke with a passive pickup thinking it would record electronically what you hear acoustically, you may be disappointed no matter what preamp you try.

If you want to record the pure acoustic sound of your uke, you might want to think in terms of a good microphone in a good room.

Piezo pickups have a characteristic "bright" or "thin" sound.
A preamp should help buffer the signal and drive your guitar amp a little better.
Tone controls help, but only up to a point, as you found out.

IMHO the reason for a pickup on a uke is to be able to use effects pedals, play amplified without feedback, etc.

Just my two cents. Good luck.

RevWill
08-28-2012, 12:20 PM
This little guy is very inexpensive and does the trick: Behringer ADI-21 (http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/ADI21.aspx)

ramone
08-28-2012, 12:32 PM
thanks for the replies.

Dave, I have a AKG Perception 220 mic (http://www.zzounds.com/item--AKGPERCEPTION220) but I was hoping for a more straight forward way of recording the Pono. I knew that piezo pickups tend to be bright but what I didn't know is just how bright they really are. :p I've looked at the LR Baggs unit mentioned above and a few others, I guess I should bring the uke to the store and see how they work together.

PhilUSAFRet
08-28-2012, 02:09 PM
This is the one I use for performance. Great and useful DI box.

http://www.lrbaggs.com/paradi.htm

When I inquired on this subject recently, recommendations were overwhelmingly in favor of the Baggs Paracoustic DI......not the cheapest, but sure has a lot of fans.

Geno
08-28-2012, 03:15 PM
L.R. Baggs Para/DI is my favorite preamp. Not cheap, but built like a tank. It's a preamp, parametric EQ and direct box all in one unit. I prefer a good mic for recording and when I can live. Sounds much more natural.

Curly Koa
08-28-2012, 03:32 PM
As a former Nashville recording guy, I'll say that if a player walked into a studio and asked where they should plug in their acoustic guitar, they'd probably get fired on the spot. Piezo pickups sound unnatural; the only way to record an acoustic instrument with good results is to mic it. Even a cheap mic is better than an expensive pickup and preamp when recording. I would go as far as to record electric uke parts (stuff I want pedals on) dry, through a mic, and then re-amp it later with the effects, because those pickups even make "electric" uke stuff sound crappy.

For live playing, I'm sure most of the Fishman, L.R. Baggs, etc., stuff sounds fine.

MGM
08-28-2012, 04:55 PM
For me its the LR Baggs Venue...I used to use the Paracoustic DI but to complicated for my tiny brain...

coolkayaker1
08-28-2012, 05:00 PM
I got the one that agrees to arbitration first, and she keeps everything she brought into it, and I keep everything I brought into it. Works for us.

coolkayaker1
08-28-2012, 05:40 PM
Oh, I'm sorry. Preamp.

ramone
08-29-2012, 04:12 AM
As a former Nashville recording guy, I'll say that if a player walked into a studio and asked where they should plug in their acoustic guitar, they'd probably get fired on the spot. Piezo pickups sound unnatural; the only way to record an acoustic instrument with good results is to mic it. Even a cheap mic is better than an expensive pickup and preamp when recording. I would go as far as to record electric uke parts (stuff I want pedals on) dry, through a mic, and then re-amp it later with the effects, because those pickups even make "electric" uke stuff sound crappy.

For live playing, I'm sure most of the Fishman, L.R. Baggs, etc., stuff sounds fine.

Curly Koa, thanks for adding your input, I truely appreciate you sharing your knowledge! the recordings I want to make are mainly for my own enjoyment, certainly nothing I'd ever think of releasing. I doubt I'll get fired for anything I attempt! :biglaugh: I'll try using my mic again to see if I can improve the quality of recording. one of the things that bothered me was the amount of ambient noise that was being recorded along with the uke. I have a pc set up in my basement and all kinds of noises come through (a/c, people walking around upstairs, etc). that was the main reason I wanted to try to recording using the pickup. it's hard to tell everyone to stop their normal activities because I'm in the middle of a 'session'. sound proofing is not really an option, this is more or less just a hobby of mine. I guess I was looking for a shortcut to getting a better recording. :uhoh: thanks again!

Fermin
08-29-2012, 04:27 AM
I was quite disappointed when I installed a pickup in my uke as well. And it was a really good one. The sound isn't just right. Ramone, you could instead invest in a good directional mic. Or one of those little clip-on microphones for the uke. I'll see if I can find the thread where someone posted a link to them. It would be good to hear Curly Koa's opinion about them.

Fermin
08-29-2012, 04:30 AM
Here's one of them:

http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/wired_mics/4eefe86da4a8288f/index.html

PhilUSAFRet
08-29-2012, 05:24 AM
For me its the LR Baggs Venue...I used to use the Paracoustic DI but to complicated for my tiny brain...

At $300, I think I could work hard and learn to use the Paracoustic DI

PhilUSAFRet
08-29-2012, 05:32 AM
I have the right size cigar box an plan on installing a 5 band eq/pre-amp made for a guitar with both instrument and mic inputs, tuner. Chinese generic version of ???, but less than $20. If it works well, will post a review

Plainsong
08-29-2012, 05:42 AM
I see what Curly Koa is saying, I mean how could I not? But OTOH, must of the decent pickups nowadays aren't THAT bad either. If I wanted to record acoustic, I agree that I'd rather use my crappy not-sensitive-enough Blue Snowball or one of my crappy dynamic mics. But but but, if it's an effected out sound, why not just plug in? If the amp and pedal combined are any good you should be able to dial in a sound you're after. Like what if I wanted chorus in stereo? Easier to do that just plugging in. Yeah if someone is listening to the song with HD800s and a tube amp, then I'm in trouble, but most people are using stock earbuds anyway.

At least I know I wouldn't be fired outright.... but for not being able to PLAY the guitar. :D

ramone
08-29-2012, 06:46 AM
again, thanks for all the replies!

Fermin, I hadn't thought of the option you suggested. hopefully somebody (Curly Koa?) can share their experience with this type of mic.

PhilUSAFRet, good luck with your project! please let us know how it turns out.

meanwhile, I placed a bid on a LR Baggs Para Acoustic DI, so wish me luck! I do intend on playing with friends so the LR Baggs will definitely help with that. the last few times I got together with my friends, the poor little guy could hardly get a word in!

G Hill
08-29-2012, 06:59 AM
I use the Fishman PRO eq platinum, and have to say I couldn't be happier. A quality product
that is built like a tank and has all the functions you could wish, including Phantom power.
Cheers
Gary

~dave~~wave~
08-29-2012, 09:07 AM
...the amount of ambient noise that was being recorded along with the uke...

I had a feeling that might be what was at the root of your original post.
Some folks record in the bathroom, or at 3 a.m., etc., etc.

Fishman now markets expensive modeling "technology that restores a studio-miked sound to your undersaddle or soundhole pickup."

23skidoo
08-29-2012, 09:19 AM
I picked up a Fishman Aura Spectrum DI for my guitar and uke and it works amazingly well - a little pricey, but it does an amazing job of getting the tinny, quacky sound out of passive pickups..... I've had some success recording lately using a blend of mic and pickup, usually about 80% mic and 20% line in. You still get that natural acoustic sound, but you're able to pickup up some pretty crisp definition and finer detail from the pickup - works pretty well, for what I'm doing.....

EDIT - just saw DaveWave's previous post - that's what the Aura Spectrum DI does and it seems to work well, especially when plugging into a PA. Recording straight through the Spectrum DI still doesn't sound 100% 'natural' but it is still considerably better than any of the other boxes I've tried.... and I still prefer the sound of a microphone or the blend I described above....

lennymac
08-29-2012, 09:27 AM
I play a cole Clark UL3A concert sized uke live and the pickup system is incredible, but I don't know if they make them available to fit to other instruments.

http://www.coleclarkguitars.com/products_ukulele_rechargable.asp

ramone
08-29-2012, 02:10 PM
thanks to all who replied, many great suggestions and tidbits of information. I've taken the plunge on the LR Baggs Para Acoustic DI, so that should at least cover live playing using an amp. I will try micing when recording (again!). I appreciate everybody taking time to help an old guy with a uke!

:old: :rock: :shaka:

AndrewKuker
08-30-2012, 01:32 AM
I just wanted to mention that it doesn't matter what preamp you use if your using the line 6 amp. Cut that out of the equation. Get the Baggs to plug into a PA and even with recording getting a second signal to work with. In my opinion superior to a cheap condensor mic. The other thing with condensors is the ability to get silence which can be hard. If you need an amp for small gigs, jams, coffee shop etc. skip the preamp because a good acoustic amp will give you that and a recording out or DI out. BTW the Pono pickup is great for a clean signal without the low mid thumpy thing that many ukes with preamps have.

RevWill
08-30-2012, 01:48 AM
I just wanted to mention that it doesn't matter what preamp you use if your using the line 6 amp. Cut that out of the equation. Get the Baggs to plug into a PA and even with recording getting a second signal to work with. In my opinion superior to a cheap condensor mic. The other thing with condensors is the ability to get silence which can be hard. If you need an amp for small gigs, jams, coffee shop etc. skip the preamp because a good acoustic amp will give you that and a recording out or DI out. BTW the Pono pickup is great for a clean signal without the low mid thumpy thing that many ukes with preamps have.

Andrew makes a good point. The Line 6 Spyder is an amplifier voiced specifically for steel-string electric guitars with magnetic pickups. Nylon-string acoustic instruments with piezoelectric pickups often sound funny through electric guitar amps. The preamp will probably help some, but the uke will ultimately sound better through a dedicated acoustic guitar amplifier, a keyboard amp, or a PA system.

ramone
08-30-2012, 04:35 AM
yeah, I was wondering if the Line 6 was the best option. I've had it for a number of years and just used it to test the pickup. I thought the clean preset would be ok, but I didn't care for the voicing. I also have a small Fender 15 watt amp but I haven't tried that one yet. I'm not sure it will do any better. it might because it doesn't model anything but hopefully the Para Acoustic DI will be a good influence on the the amplified sound. mostly I only need to get a bit more volume when jamming with friends.

Curly Koa
09-02-2012, 09:51 PM
Sorry for the delay, friends. :) I have been on UU hiatus due to focusing on my day job (yawn) and another stint in grad school -- statistics -- yikes! No time for fun, except right now at 2:20 a.m. as I procrastinate! I have never tried one of those clip-on mics on a uke, but have been curious about them myself. If anyone tries one out, I'd love to hear some sound clips compared with the same uke usin the piezo pickup. That would be a cool little test.

As for the ambient noise: that's a tough one. I always turn AC off when recording, remove electronics with fans, etc. When recording at home, I have had lots of good luck (everything sounds exactly the same as tracks from a pro studio if I attend to details -- I have the pro gear but definitely not pro studio construction in my house, though it was laid out before building it to make it more conducive to recording, which helps tremendously). A few other tricks I've found beneficial (not sure this will be helpful, but throwing them out anyway):

- I insulated and boarded up a bedroom window to keep out the noise of a neighbor's AC unit outside. Big plus.
- Same room -- would put the mattress up on its side, behind singers/guitarists, and hung some studio foam on the wall in front for a pseudo-booth.
- Comforters can help a bit with dampening early reflections off the walls, if nothing else is available -- had to do this in a rental apartment in Chicago once and it worked like a charm -- recorded vocalists, acoustic guitars, and amps in a walk-in closet! Sounded great!
- Negotiated with roommate (then later with wife) to watch TV with headphones, not use microwave, etc., during certain times to avoid leakage into mics.
- You can get those little attachments to your mic stand to limit (somewhat) room reflections that leak into the mic, if that's your only option.
- Invest in adequate cabling to make it so you can put your CPU in another room. Sometimes this can be done on the cheap, if you have a big enough closet nearby. Computer fan noise is a big culprit. Just make sure the computer doesn't overheat if you put it in a closet.
- Don't have children. They create ambient noise. (Okay, so that one's easier said than done, but it's been a plus for me.) If you do have kids, I recommend duct tape or grandparents.
- Even the quietest fish tank will be picked up by a mic. I learned that one the hard way...moving a fish tank up and down stairs is quite a chore.
- The further your mic is from the uke, the more ambient noise you'll have, but if it's too close, it'll get boomy and muddy due to proximity.
- Remember that the more compression you use, the more apparent ambient noise will be; it might be smart to record a snippet and listen back to it the way you'll likely compress it in the mix.
- Large-diaphragm condensers are likely to do a better job of recording your uke than pencil condensers.
- If your mic has pattern controls, check to be sure you're using cardioid or supercardioid/hypercardioid patterns that limit the sound that will be picked up from behind the mic. It's easy to forget to check that.
- If you do record with a piezo pickup, play around with multiband compression plugins, if you have any, to find the problem frequencies that often sound like a "clank" and dynamically tap them down a bit. This leaves other frequencies intact while only turning down the problem frequencies when they are a problem. This may or may not work for this purpose -- I haven't ever had to try it, but it's saved me when mixing clanky bass players on multiple occasions (the ones who smack the string on the pickup all the time).
- Most important bit of advice: Even if everything sounds like crap, just record anyway and have fun with it (sounds like that is your outlook already)! The expected lack of pretense and perfection is what I love most about ukes and ukers.

I know all that is stuff everyone probably already knows, so my apologies for any Captain Obvious notes, but these are things I learned the hard way, and little workarounds that were good for me . . . hope somebody can use one of them! Happy uke tracking!

Kekani
09-03-2012, 09:11 PM
You did say Pre, but didn't limit it to just outboard.
http://lrbaggs.com/uke/

I can tell you that although all of the Elements I've installed sound the most natural direct in at that price range for UST's (I've made them sound better than most mic'd instruments when I've run sound), they sound even better going through a Para Acoustic.

Sad, I have Five.O's and a Venue sitting 10' away from me, and haven't tried them, yet.

I think Baggs got it right - the onboard Pre is a good base, but using their outboard Pre enhances as opposed to changes the sound/tone. Or, another way of saying it is if you don't start with quack, you don't have to take it out.

Aaron

AndrewKuker
09-04-2012, 02:22 AM
What's great about the Venue is - 2 mids w/ controlable frequency. Different than the Para which jumps to preset notches and only has one. So fine tuning EQ is better and considerably less noise than the Para at high volumes. This stuff is huge if your gonna plug in. I really like the individual crystal passive pickup. The Pono, or Dean Markley, Kanilea has one too. This style passive under saddle is a world better than any other passive strip or soundboard transducer I have tried. The 5.0 is the best active system I have tried, for uke.

Earlier posters are correct that a Mic is ideal for real recording. But if your gonna get a USB plug in condensor for 89 at Best Buy and your neighbors dog keeps barking anyway.... Mine as well plug in to a real interface or digital thing with the preamp you got. Or get serious, like Curly Koa, and realize the fragile nature of recording acoustic. I have to ask Zach to stop taping boxes on the floor below when we do sound samples. And then a big van will drive by, damn! People, stop moving, I hear your foot steps!!

Curly Koa
01-05-2013, 06:29 PM
Great points, Andrew. The only thing we can really control, if we don't want to rent time in an expensive room, is whether or not we let ourselves laugh at the things that go wrong!

ricdoug
01-05-2013, 08:32 PM
I'm a long time fan of the LR Baggs Para Acoustic DI, but recently discovered a close second to it in the Behringer ADI21 for 75% less cost:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?74603-Behringer-ADI21-active-DI-

Musical instrument microphones produce great natural sound, but require strict positioning of your instrument. It's great for some professionals, but most I've met and worked with move around too much for a microphone to sound good. These inexpensive instrument microphones do a very good job for those that have enough discipline to stay still:

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Gear-One-DRI100-Buy-One-Get-Two-Free-H79029-i2256365.gc

All work well through this inexpensive, but powerful and clean sounding PA system:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?52824-Ukulele-amp-P-A-system-for-under-100-bucks…&highlight=pa50

AndrewKuker
01-05-2013, 10:01 PM
Great points, Andrew. The only thing we can really control, if we don't want to rent time in an expensive room, is whether or not we let ourselves laugh at the things that go wrong!

hahahaa! yer awesome...so I'm sweating from no AC, got my mattresses against the wall, paid off the neighbors, duct taped the kids..and when you come knocking on the door in the middle of an epic take I'm supposed to laugh it off?!! Ya, I suppose so. Come on on in, what can I get you to drink?

Plainsong
01-06-2013, 02:03 AM
And after all that, listen to the playback and realize that I was breathing passionately with the music, and I like moving the back of the uke against my clothing...a lot. Things you never notice until you record. It's me! It's all my fault!

dhoenisch
01-07-2013, 03:24 AM
I'm coming into this discussion kind of late, and I will be the first to admit my ignorance when it comes to electronics for musical instruments, but I've successfully installed one of these (http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Two-Band-Ukulele-Pickup-UK-300T-With-Button-Cell-/150845284789?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item231f1461b5) in my Oscar Schmidt OU2. I saw Ibanez uses them in their ukes, and since my OU2 isn't really worth anything, I wanted to give it a shot, and besides, if I didn't like it, it does have an on-board tuner, so that's one less thing to have to carry around.

I had to remove the back of this uke to re-brace it as the top was failing due to soft laminate, and I figured while I had the top off, I would add this device to it. Now, since I went from the existing bracing to fan bracing, the sound of my uke changed acoustically, so I can't tell you if adding the under-saddle pickup changed the tone, but playing my uke acoustically sounds just fine to me. Not as loud ad it was, but the tone sounds really nice to me. And, with the uke plugged in, the electronics are clean. No feedback whatsoever when plugged into an amp (and I've had it in a couple different acoustic amps). With the settings just right, it just sounds like I'm playing into a mic.

Anyhow, just a suggestion in case anyone wants to experiment with their inexpensive ukes.

Dan

LifesShort
01-07-2013, 10:34 AM
I just received the exact same preamp that I am going to install in my KPK. I hope to get to it by this weekend. It just depends on how quickly I can finish other projects.

Curly Koa
01-19-2013, 07:36 AM
Andrew: You can pour me a Gentleman Jack on the rocks. :D

AndrewKuker
01-19-2013, 07:47 AM
Andrew: You can pour me a Gentleman Jack on the rocks. :D

Oh, sorry, we got water. spent all the money on gear.

But good to see you. Who doesn't love curly koa!;)

Curly Koa
01-19-2013, 08:14 AM
Curly koa good. Ambient noise bad.

AndrewKuker
01-19-2013, 08:31 AM
Curly koa good. Ambient noise bad.

yes, laws of the universe.

just got a vintage Neumann KM84 and the Apogee duet 2. Wish me luck :cool:

Curly Koa
01-19-2013, 09:37 AM
yes, laws of the universe.

just got a vintage Neumann KM84 and the Apogee duet 2. Wish me luck :cool:

Aww, man . . . awesome! That will sound sweet. Hope you find some time to post some full-res WAV files. I'd love to hear that $7k archtop and a Koolau tenor with cedar top/rosewood back and sides, if you're taking requests. No compression or eq!

I'll be starting a uke project and experimenting with uke recording techniques a little in the coming weeks/months. Going to reamp tracks recorded with good mics through a handwired Vox AC30 with Alnico blues and A/B with the same uke direct to the amp (same settings). I'll post on UU for anyone who is interested in hearing the difference. I'll do the same direct to Pro Tools.

AndrewKuker
01-19-2013, 11:02 AM
Aww, man . . . awesome! That will sound sweet. Hope you find some time to post some full-res WAV files. I'd love to hear that $7k archtop and a Koolau tenor with cedar top/rosewood back and sides, if you're taking requests. No compression or eq!

I'll be starting a uke project and experimenting with uke recording techniques a little in the coming weeks/months. Going to reamp tracks recorded with good mics through a handwired Vox AC30 with Alnico blues and A/B with the same uke direct to the amp (same settings). I'll post on UU for anyone who is interested in hearing the difference. I'll do the same direct to Pro Tools.

Sounds cool CK. I had one of the wood cab handwired AC15's for a few years. That'll be an interesting A/B. I'm gonna PM you about room acoustics and other geeky topics. Thanks dude~

Curly Koa
01-19-2013, 11:42 AM
Any time. I went through two of those AC30s, because the first one had an issue--I think it was a microphonic tube, because it had a wave of noise that would go in and out on the top boost channel, and also a high-pitched feedback squeal from time to time, when cranked, even though nothing was plugged in. It sounded like the tube was picking up signal from the speakers and feeding it back a bit. The second amp didn't have either issue.

It's probably pretty obvious to you by now that I have had really bad luck with online gear purchases, but continue to do it anyway. :confused:

ricdoug
03-25-2013, 07:40 PM
You did say Pre, but didn't limit it to just outboard.
http://lrbaggs.com/uke/

I can tell you that although all of the Elements I've installed sound the most natural direct in at that price range for UST's (I've made them sound better than most mic'd instruments when I've run sound), they sound even better going through a Para Acoustic.

Sad, I have Five.O's and a Venue sitting 10' away from me, and haven't tried them, yet.

I think Baggs got it right - the onboard Pre is a good base, but using their outboard Pre enhances as opposed to changes the sound/tone. Or, another way of saying it is if you don't start with quack, you don't have to take it out.

Aaron

+1, Aaron. Ric