View Full Version : Recording Uke

11-22-2008, 10:34 AM
Hey everyone,

I just picked up the ukulele a few weeks ago for fun and have been having a blast with it.

This forum seems like a really cool community with a lot of knowledge.

Anyway, I was wondering if people had any recording tips for getting a good ukulele sound. Like what kind of mics do you recommend and what kind of setups?

I made a video on youtube where i used one large diaphragm condensers and two dynamics. The dynamics didn't get a lot of output so I was wondering if anyone has tried different setups!


11-23-2008, 10:06 AM
Usually, I record my Lanikai uke through a Electrovoice Cardinal mic and a GrooveTube The Brick preamp onto GarageBand on my MacBook Pro. The sound becomes very clear, defined, and warm, also thanks to some presets in GarageBand.

What mics did you exactly use? Brand? -- I really like the sound of your ukulele on the video!

11-23-2008, 01:03 PM
hey! Thanks for replying!

I love Electrovoice mics, the next time I do a video, I might use the RE20 for my voice. It's a great sounding dynamic mic

As for the mics I used on that video, I used one AKG C414. It's the silverfaced one not the goldfaced so it's not as good. also, it was broken, but it gave it a cool character. That mic picked up most of the sound.

To get more of a stereo image you can see that I used 2 Sennheiser MD441s. I used hypercardioid mics to try and get just the uke, but there was still a lot of bleed and I really had to pump the gain on the preamp to get a signal so those mics ended up sounding pretty dirty.

I've tried mostly dynamic mics for recording uke like the standard SM57 and haven't really been satisfied with with the results. I probably will test out some more condenser mics because i have some small diaphragm ones and a large diaphragm tube condenser lying around. I'll probably post a video on the whole subject since I can't find a lot of material on the subject.

The whole boom in home recording lately should give a bunch of new ideas on how to record this great, underrated instrument though.

11-23-2008, 08:30 PM
for a you tube video just my computer mic but if i want to amplifly it i built a simple pick up out of a piezo element and a 5k potentionometer for volume control because the feed back can be horrible


11-24-2008, 08:04 AM
So I know that a lot of people have pickups in their ukes. But I've found that by itself, the sound of the pickup is very brittle sounding by itself even running it through a pretty good channel strip (Universal Audio LA-610). Does anyone put anything in their signal chain before the direct sound gets to the recorder?

I think I'm gonna make a video specifically dealing with the recording of the uke. This video will concentrate on simple and complex mic setups that can be set up with a really small budget. If anyone in the Los Angeles area wants to help me out or be a part of the video, I'd gladly except help from UU members!

11-25-2008, 10:47 AM
I agree with Nic, "The sound of the pickup is very brittle sounding by itself." That is why I chose the EV mic. When I play live I use the pick up that came with my Lanikai uke and go through a DI, either a SWR Interstellar Overdrive (Bass Guitar), my Groove Tubes The Brick Preamp, or if they have a Electrovoice DI on the spot, I try that one first.

11-28-2008, 02:55 AM
I haven't had a whole lot of time for recording lately, but I've done a bit of experimenting with the uke. I don't have a pickup any of mine so it's acoustic recording for me.
I recently picked up a good deal on one of those Joe Meek JM37 large diaphragm sets that also included the small diaphragm JM27. (I've also got a bunch of other mics of various ages and brands that I haven't played around too much with.) They were the new ones so I used them.

For the most part it's about placement. Normally, I'm kind of a fast and nasty, "put a mic in front of it and go, I'll futz with the EQ later" kind of engineer, but I have to say that taking the time pays off. I usually record dry and flat, preferring to do my voodoo later with reverb and the like, so I can fine tune it without being confined to what got recorded. The track is a clean slate to be enhanced.

Best results for me were having the large diaphragm about a foot and a half away at a slight angle to the soundhole. Kind of pointing towards the 12th fret. You'll have to take some time to kind of shift things around a little bit, but for that particular mic there seemed to be a sweet spot somewhere in there. (I'm sure that it's going to be similar with any large diaphragm.) If it was too direct, it'd hit the red. Too indirect it lost the uke. It also picked up some nice ambience from the room as well which was a bonus. Nice small room sound. But large diaphragms tend to emphasize the high end frequencies. By itself it was kind of brittle and too bright.
To balance it out I put the small diaphragm on a boom and placed it behind me by my head pointing down at about ear level. This one was a little trickier to place, but entirely worth it. It takes a little bit of maneuvering but you want to get the mic in a place where it's picking up essentially the same sound your ears hear when you play, but is pointed in such a way that the pattern isn't picking up your breathing as well. This was the sonic money shot.

Balanced out I ended up with something that sounded pretty much like I normally hear it,sounded pretty natural and I didn't feel like I had to fiddle too much with EQ or even add any reverb since it captured the room sound really well.

Howlin Hobbit
11-30-2008, 05:58 AM
Terrific post, Lanark! Rep points to you.