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Brad Bordessa
11-12-2008, 06:52 AM
Hi Everybody,

My current situation is like this: I have a lovely Kamaka tenor, with a really lousy pickup (I think it is a Hilo brand passive). It sounds bad, and you can hear every move I make with my arm when I am playing.

Anyways, I am looking for a good quality (I'm thinking passive - I have the fishman outboard preamp) undersaddle pickup. I'm not sure if I should be looking for an 'ukulele specific pickup (there are only a few), or if one for a guitar would work. I have heard about several 'ukulele types like the Dean Markley, Shadow, and Ko'olau. Does anybody have experience with any of these? Is there something better I should use? Is there anyplace I can hear those pickups in action?

Any input would be appreciated. Thanks,

Kanaka916
11-12-2008, 07:22 AM
I've heard a lot of good things about the Mi-Si Acoustic Trio (Acoustic Trio). Dominator has it installed on his Spruce Top Tenor, he played it at the Napa Valley Uke Festival. You might wanna drop a PM or email him for more detailed info. Elderly (http://elderly.com/new_instruments/items/MSAT1.htm) has it for $119.85. BTW, I guess I missed you at Napa Valley.

http://elderly.com/images/new_instruments/PUA/MSAT1_sm_.jpg

http://www.mi-si.com/images/trio.jpg

hoosierhiver
11-12-2008, 07:22 AM
I think Misi might be the best,but they are a little pricey.

salukulady
11-12-2008, 07:28 AM
I have a Schatten Dualie stick-on pick-up. About $60. It works great and I have used it on stage several times. No movement noise. I am planning installing permanent pick-ups though. I switch back and forth between my baritone and soprano and the sticky stuff invariably wears out during a show and the stick-on pickup ends up on my foot. But for passive home use the Dualie stick-on is fine. (I just jump around on stage too much.)

salukulady
11-12-2008, 07:36 AM
http://accessories.musiciansfriend.com/product/Shadow-Ukulele-Under-Saddle-Pickup-with-Endpin-Jack?sku=302005

This is the kind I'm going to install,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdLUDWoh-cE

....with these instructions.

thejumpingflea
11-12-2008, 07:41 AM
http://www.kksound.com/twinspotinternal.html

I have this installed in my Ko'olau. Very nice sound and it really keeps the acoustic ring.

NukeDOC
11-12-2008, 08:07 AM
before you rip out your pickup, see if you can take your uke into a store that carries an LRBaggs para acoustic DI box. theyre about $160... BUT WORTH IT. see if you can test it out. have someone make some quick settings to it and then listen to the difference. if it still sounds like junk, then yeah, go ahead and get a new pickup. but the trade off is whether the new pickup is going to be an easy swap out with the old one.

back to the DI, ive run that puppy through some whacko shadow pickups (i hate those things) and it does wonders. ive put a guitar with a cheapo passive undersaddle through it, and it sounded like an ovation plugged in. i run my pono with passive ko'olau pickup through it and it gives me awesome tone. for even better tone, run everything through an acoustic amp. i use a roland AC60. butterrrrrr. hahaha

Brad Bordessa
11-12-2008, 08:11 AM
BTW, I guess I missed you at Napa Valley.

Shoots! I hadn't heard that you were going to be there. I am looking forward to meeting you one of these days. Sorry I haven't had a chance to come down and jam with you guys at the grill. Maybe now that gas is cheaper I can swing it.

Thanks for the info guys.

Brad Bordessa
11-12-2008, 08:18 AM
http://www.kksound.com/twinspotinternal.html

I have this installed in my Ko'olau. Very nice sound and it really keeps the acoustic ring.

I like the looks of that one. It doesn't pick up arm noise?

salukulady
11-12-2008, 09:40 AM
Here's a question, What kind of pick-up do the higher end uke manufacturers use? Can the general public get ahold of these? I suspect this might be a question for MGM.

Brad Bordessa
11-12-2008, 10:19 AM
The Koaloha Artist models (from what I've seen) use Fishmans:

http://www.fishman.com/products/details.asp?id=37

Gerald Ross
11-12-2008, 10:25 AM
Listen to my recording of "A Smooth One".

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=6933

Recorded with a MI-SI in my Talsma Tenor. Arm noise, tapping on body of uke noise pretty much zero.

It's an under-the-saddle pickup - that helps with the arm noise reduction.

A pickup that is attached to the soundboard wood will be much worse in the noise arena.


I also have the same MI-SI installed on my 1971 Martin D-18 guitar. Very natural sounding pickup. I'm happy.

Kekani
11-12-2008, 01:49 PM
Paul told me when installs the Prefix Pro, there is chance of buzzing because of the preamp design. KoAloha has used Fishman, and Baggs, and may use the new Infinity again. Because of Paul, I tried Baggs. Because of the staff at Baggs, I'll stick with them.

That being said, if you want a serious pickup, then you need to check out D-Tar. They use the Baggs UST in one of their models, and a solid core round wire in another. Anyway, I've heard 3 different versions of pickups with the Baggs UST (Baggs, MiSi, D-TAR) - and the D-TAR was by far the one you BANG away on. Doesn't mean you can't do it on the others, there's just something more there. The MiSi has a bit of the Fishman sound in it, if that's what you like.

As for MGM, on the emergency pickup installations, unless the customer specifically requests a Fishman, his rack instruments and better have LRBaggs Element UST installed. Ask me how I know?

Bottom line again, you want serious, go D-TAR.

Just my $.02 - Aaron

haolejohn
11-12-2008, 02:12 PM
Try fishman. They are a little pricey but they do make them for the ukulele.

MGM
11-12-2008, 05:41 PM
As others have mentioned the pickup in your Kamaka is probably a Passive Fishman which is fine just needs the LR Baggs Paracoustic di. I usually tend to stay away from installing any pickups with tone controls...maybe a volume pot on the actives. i use fishman passive and actives and as Aaron said Lr Baggs element undersaddle pickups. I usually tend to use passives and lt all the controls and eq cicuitry br offboard. Reason. Onboard units have to be small and light and they tend to cut quality circuitry for the least expensive and simplest method...not neccessarily the best. Offboard units such as a Paracoustic Di spend the money on having good translucent quiet circuitry and do not have size or weight limitations ion board units do. My preference is a passive setup with a LR Baggs Paracoustic DI...I found those blend units with mics and undersaddle end up just being a feedback problem and harmonic overemphasizer and are useless.

Kekani
11-13-2008, 02:37 AM
BTW, Fishman makes a 2" UST which is perfect for `ukulele, but they have to be custom ordered from a distributor. Gleason is the only one I know, but you need to set up a business account with him because he wholesales. Also, Fishman UST's are size specific, meaning, 3/32" or 1/8". Baggs Element UST is a mesh wire and will fit any length saddle, and either 3/32" or 1/8" thickness.

Be careful to get UST's that are sensitive across the transducer - there are some that pickup signals only where the strings lie, and most will be for 6 string (guitar).

Also, Fishman's are not expensive - you can get a Matrix Infinity for about $140 from StewMac. http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Electronics,_pickups/Pickups:_Guitar,_acoustic.html

Brad Bordessa
11-13-2008, 07:55 AM
Thanks for the input! Now I'm really confused!:p

I took a look at the D-TAR. Those units look slick. Kekani, do you know what model was in the uke you heard?

Will the UST strip built for guitar be too long for an 'ukulele bridge/saddle? If that was the case could you cut it down in size?

I will see if I can try the Paracoustic DI, but I have the Fishman Pro EQ preamp and I can't see the Baggs being that much better. I don't see how it would cut down on arm noise, which is really bugging me, but I'll give it a shot.

If the DI doesn't help, D-TAR, Fishman, or Baggs?

Thanks again,

Kekani
11-13-2008, 04:37 PM
I took a look at the D-TAR. Those units look slick. Kekani, do you know what model was in the uke you heard?

Will the UST strip built for guitar be too long for an 'ukulele bridge/saddle? If that was the case could you cut it down in size?

I will see if I can try the Paracoustic DI, but I have the Fishman Pro EQ preamp and I can't see the Baggs being that much better. I don't see how it would cut down on arm noise, which is really bugging me, but I'll give it a shot.

If the DI doesn't help, D-TAR, Fishman, or Baggs?

Thanks again,

It was either the Timber-line or Wave-length. With the Timber-line, this is what I was referring to if you really meant serious. If I recall, the suggested installation requires a ball nose tip into the bottom of the saddle slot to accomodate the round pickup piezo. Rick Turner told me that by doing this, it really makes a difference. One thing about his technology is that they use 18v, instead of 9v, and yes, you can hear the difference. The Wave-length seems (because this is off the record un-confirmed) to use the Baggs Element piezo.

If MGM is correct, and you have a passive Fishman, then your problem may not be the pickup. As for the active Fishmans, my experience has been that they are very sensitive across the piezo, in a good/balanced way.

As for the UST piezo, depends on what kind of saddle you have, how wide, etc. I install closed end saddles, so I HAVE to get the shortened 2" Fishmand, which is another reason I now install Baggs - they are just an easy company for me to deal with (not that Fishman is not, I've never tried dealing with them directly). I believe on the Kamaka, even though you have an open end, the saddle itself is not much wider than 2", so you'll need the same. Do NOT cut the piezo down - that's something for the manufacturer to do (which I have Baggs do for me).

For the Pre-amps, I don't use them, so I can't comment. Unlike MGM, I actually like the active pickups, which can be plugged directly into a P/A. Of course, I'm just a cheapie and don't want to buy a Para Acoustic DI - probably will someday.

As for the choice - personally I would install the Baggs. . .but that's for me. Its supposed to be plug and play, but I always ended up re-soldering the lengths of the battery, volume and piezo wires at the pre-amp (prior to custom ordering lengths, which still need some adjustment). The new Fishman Matrix Infinity seems to be an easier install, but the piezo length may be a problem for you. The D-Tar is certainly the higher end - again, I've never installed one, but I've heard them and played them on a Compass Rose. First question to answer is who is going to do your installation, and go from there.

Oh, one more thing, to confuse you even more - I throw in a back angle of about 7 degrees for the saddle on all my bridges. When you install pickups, you appreciate this effect. Of course, when you setup instruments, you appreciate this as well, especially if you set intonation before you set action, but that's another thread.
BTW - the back angle idea originated from Rick Turner. If you don't know who he is, and you want a serious pickup, do some research on him. Shouldn't be too hard.

SamWise
11-14-2008, 03:05 AM
Headway HE-1. Seriously. Accept no substitutes. I've used the guitar version of this pickup (which is wonderful), and I also had the Hamano H-100 with one fitted to test. Best I've ever tried, though potentially hard to source in the USA.

Brad Bordessa
11-15-2008, 01:21 PM
Ok, new development: I just heard from Chuck Moore that instead of using a pickup I should go with a mic.

I think that it is a great idea, but I think an internal mount soundhole mic is the only way I could go - I've got to be able to move around! I've heard a few and I thought they sounded pretty good - even through a bad wireless setup and keyboard amp. Does anybody know anything about these things?

Kekani
11-15-2008, 01:35 PM
I think that it is a great idea, but I think an internal mount soundhole mic is the only way I could go - I've got to be able to move around! I've heard a few and I thought they sounded pretty good - even through a bad wireless setup and keyboard amp. Does anybody know anything about these things?

I think you answered your own question, both in going with a mic (which I used to recommend as well), and you're requirement with moving around.

Brad Bordessa
11-15-2008, 02:39 PM
I think you answered your own question, both in going with a mic (which I used to recommend as well), and you're requirement with moving around.

I think I did...

Thanks for the info everybody. I'll let you know what I find out.

Kekani
11-16-2008, 03:08 AM
I have a question (forgive my ingnorance on showmanship if that's the answer): Why would you need to move around if you're not planning on playing with anyone else when you're going through an amp and a mic?

Brad Bordessa
11-16-2008, 05:29 AM
I have a question (forgive my ingnorance on showmanship if that's the answer): Why would you need to move around if you're not planning on playing with anyone else when you're going through an amp and a mic?

I'm not sure I understand your question, but...

I like to be able to move around - even if it's just a little bit. It feels like I'm in a cage and my music can't come out if I'm in front of a stationary mic. It would be one less thing to worry about if I knew that my mic would be in the perfect spot wherever I move. Plus, I really hate playing by myself.

MGM
11-16-2008, 08:28 AM
I strongly advise against a internal mic. I have never seen one that can do stage volumes without tons of feedback problems. The mic inside the body is also affected by the wood body's natural harmonic tendancies and you will notice certain notes feedback really easily,. I mounted stage mic works but as you said you want to move....go with a UST and good preamp....can even get a wireless system and you can run all over the stage and do backflips too....

Brad Bordessa
11-16-2008, 08:37 AM
Backflips would be cool.

Kekani
11-16-2008, 04:23 PM
I'm not sure I understand your question, but...

I like to be able to move around - even if it's just a little bit. It feels like I'm in a cage and my music can't come out if I'm in front of a stationary mic. It would be one less thing to worry about if I knew that my mic would be in the perfect spot wherever I move. Plus, I really hate playing by myself.

MGM actually hit the nail on the head, but I'll define anyway. . . my thoughts were that if you were going with a mic, you'd be playing by yourself because you would have a difficult time cutting through other instruments/players/singers if your only instrument amplification was a mic (as MGM stated, feedback etc).

Taking that one step further - LRBaggs I-Beam, while actually a stick-on undersaddle, is marketed as a recording pickup. They make the I-Mix, which blends the I-Beam and Element, which allows the player to cut out the beam and go only Element when performing, and vice-versa.

MGM
11-17-2008, 06:03 AM
Hey Kekani any Ukulele sightings in Florida How about running to Loprinzis for me and picking out some stuff....

Brad Bordessa
11-17-2008, 03:19 PM
The internal mic is out, and I don't want an soundboard transducer unless there is one that blows everything away with very minimal arm noise.

I have been looking around and I noticed that the MI-SI Acoustic Trio actually uses the Baggs Element. Does anybody know if the MI-SI preamp is as good or better than what I would get with just the Baggs setup? I like the idea of going active, but losing the battery.

Kekani
11-19-2008, 07:07 AM
The internal mic is out, and I don't want an soundboard transducer unless there is one that blows everything away with very minimal arm noise.

I have been looking around and I noticed that the MI-SI Acoustic Trio actually uses the Baggs Element. Does anybody know if the MI-SI preamp is as good or better than what I would get with just the Baggs setup? I like the idea of going active, but losing the battery.

I gotta be honest, I was going to not respond - you ask all these questions about pickups, and get the standard internet forum answers, so you go to Chuck Moore (who is a very talented builder) to get some advice, and say you're going with the mic. Now you say its out and you're looking for something better. Yeah, I would say most would have nothing to respond to this thread.

BUT, its obvious you still have questions.

I would suggest (if you get no more responses) to go back and read this thread - there are some answers for you about the MiSi, and Baggs, and what others have heard about MiSi, and Baggs, and Fishman.

Gerald pretty much nails it on the MiSi, and he's a player, so he should know.

One question not asked, or answered, is who is doing the pickup installation? This does matter, and may determine which pickup you go with. As for MiSi and Baggs, they're different pickups, because of the amp. Here, I think you answered you're own question again - you like active, you don't like the battery. You have two choices, MiSi and DTAR, and you've already chosen MiSi, because it doesn't have a battery.

*note: sorry if this sounds brash, haven't loaded up with coffee yet, and I'm on vacation!

Brad Bordessa
11-19-2008, 08:34 AM
Don't worry about it sounding brash, I probably deserve it.

I'll look into the different local stores and see who does the best work.

Thanks again for all the info,