View Full Version : MI-SI or LR Baggs Pickup?

Paul Henneberry
06-16-2014, 05:05 PM
I want to build a pick up into a tasmanian blackwood soprano that I'm about to start. I think I have narrowed it down to either a MI-SI ACOUSTIC TRIO GUITAR SYSTEM http://elderly.com/new_instruments/items/MSAT1.htm or a L.R. Baggs FIVE.O Ukulele Pickup System http://www.stewmac.com/Pickups_and_Electronics/Pickups/Acoustic_Guitar/L_R_Baggs_FIVE_O_Ukulele_Pickup_System.html.

At this stage I'm leaning towards the MI-SI because of the rechargable feature. I don't know much about this stuff so I thought I would ask you guys. What is your preference or is there something else I should consider?



06-16-2014, 08:36 PM
I had a Misi in my kanilea for a while but was never really satisfied with it. There was a strange imbalance in the strings that I tried many times to remedy but was never successful. I switched to the 5.0 and have been much happier with the sound. The volume knob is a nice plus too.

Paul Henneberry
06-16-2014, 08:50 PM
Hi Papplehead,
thanks for the reply, just what I was hoping for, an opinion with a reason.


06-16-2014, 08:56 PM
LR Baggs.

Disclaimer: I'm an LR Baggs Distributor.

That said, the pickup is basically the same, the preamp is not. MiSi leans more towards Fishman (in my ear's opinion), and Baggs leans towards Baggs.

I've not bought into the capacitor charge, and that's the showstopper for me, especially when volts usually = headroom (loved my Bass on 9v, won't let it go once I got it to 18v). Of course, 3v off the Five.O is much less than the 9v Element, but the weight of the whole Five.O is less than a 9v battery (not really, but its close in there).

Five.O is very popular - HMS install a LOT of them. MiSi has their fans as well. Issue for both is they're finicky on the install - the pickup sections needs a nice slot and flat saddle. Fishman is a MUCH easier install IMO, and much easier to balance (then again, not much to do once its installed).

In a way, I like the Element UST better, but the Five.O is very well sized for `ukulele. Haven't made a decision on the voicing of the Five.O v. Element, yet. Of course, unless you have the exact same `ukulele next to each other with one of each pickup in each, I don't think you'll be able to tell the difference. MiSi and Five.O, yes you'll be able to tell.

One thing you can't put an ear to is HOW the pickup plays, which is another story altogether.

Aaron did a nice comparo on HMS' site. You should search for that - MiSi and Baggs are both represented.

06-17-2014, 04:43 AM
Another couple of pickups you might consider is the K&K Aloha twin or the K&K Twin Spot. I've been very happy with both of them, in fact, I've been really happy with all the pickups of theirs that I have put in or heard.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
06-17-2014, 06:53 AM
Personally I've had no problems installing or tuning the LR Baggs UST (common to both pickups you mentioned). Of course your bridge and saddle have to be made perfectly. I prefer the 5-0 for it's more natural (to my ears) sound. I used to be a fan of the MiSi because of the rechargeable factor but I can't tell you how mny people have asked to borrow my charger when they left there's at home, etc. I'd rather just keep a spare battery or two in the case. The 5-0 weighs a fraction more than the MiSi but nowhere near as much as the Fishman with it's 9 volt battery. The 5-0 also has an onboard pre wired volume control which many people like. Also know that the 5-0 is going to cost more than the MiSi. IMO, either of these are heads above the K&K passive stick-on pickups but those do have a price advantage. I have found that placement is critical to avoid them being "too hot" and then you've always got that external noise from body contact. They're a cheap and fast alternative though.

06-17-2014, 07:03 AM
For an alternative view, I've almost always played with a passive piezo and an external belt-clip preamp. While it does add one more piece of equipment to your gig bag, it gives you a LOT more control over your sound in performance, does not require the addition of onboard controls to your instrument, and the one external preamp can be used with any number of different instruments. This is no disrespect to any of the pickup systems mentioned here, just another way of handling it.

Paul Henneberry
06-17-2014, 11:53 AM
maybe I need to rephrase the question. What I need you all to do is to universally agree that one system is better and just tell me what to install. Just joking, I'm learning a lot from these well explained opinions. Thanks a lot for your efforts.



06-17-2014, 07:51 PM
The main reason was the imbalance on the strings like I mentioned above. The E string was just way more "hot" than the others and had a completely different tone. This was fine when I would play chords but something like playing a c scale over three strings would sound inconsistent as I would change stings. I used an EQ to try and compensate but eventually I just switched out the pickups.
One thing that I did like about the misi was the rechargeable battery, which I never actually had a wall charger for. I would just use a 9v but I was never in a situation where my battery would die in the middle of playing which happens sometimes with coin battery pickups.

Hope this helps

06-19-2014, 02:25 AM
My touring/performing nephew is sold on the MiSi, although his reasoning continues to befuddle me -- how freakin' difficult is it (as Chuck indicated..) to carry a few extra batteries & swap 'em out?! I have quite a few diverse guitar pick-ups -- of both the active and passive variety -- on a number of my guitars, with factors including: type of genre guitar most utilized for, style, which instrument (a PAF simply doesn't look right under the black Floyd Rose tremolo or several of my more "metal-style" guitars, where nothing but active EMG's will do the trick etc..)

With the smaller Ukes, I always (*thought I* - read on..) preferred the natural sound of the 1st (non-Fishman-syle) passive K&K I installed, compared to the actives I had experienced previously (the 'cut-a-hole in-'da-side' cheap-o variety..) 'til I stumbled on the following link comparing the Baggs to a MiSi. There is simply no comparison; in fact, I think it's gonna be a loooooong time before a manufacturer comes up with something that competes with the Baggs for amplifying a worthy instrument (they're not cheap, but again, worth the ~$150 for non-imports & perhaps really nice foreign-made Ukes as well, imo!)

Although YMMV, (mine didn't) the comparison video is in THIS LINK (http://ukeeku.com/2012/04/02/l-r-baggs-five-o-ukulele-pickup-full-review/) :)

Rock on.. :rock:

06-19-2014, 04:22 AM
I've always been really happy with the K&K stuff....until this thread. I listened to the Baggs demo of the 5 O and was amazed how good it sounded. I always take thses little manufacturers demos with a little skepticism but even with that thrown in that pickup is impressive. I gotta try one.
NoKaOi, when I worked at the Makowao Steak House years ago their slogan was "Makowao Steak House NoKaOi"

06-19-2014, 10:31 AM
I've always been really happy with the K&K stuff....until this thread. I listened to the Baggs demo of the 5 O and was amazed how good it sounded.
Similarly, I thought my all-solid Kala sounded decent (for a Uke anyway..) 'til I happened upon one of Chuck's "Moore Bettah" masterpieces -- while I am not yet an owner of one of Chuck's incredible creations, I now have owned a number of truly amazing instruments that deserve proper amplification, which I previously felt was adequately represented through sub-par pick-up systems -- the Baggs video (and my subsequent purchases) changed all that, as did the purchase of my 1st Gibson Les Paul custom in '78.. ;)

NoKaOi, when I worked at the Makowao Steak House years ago their slogan was "Makowao Steak House NoKaOi"
Ownership finally changed up there, Terry -- the folks who run the "Cafe O'Lei" restaurants on island took over the establishment that was getting a bit tired in '12, and really re-vamped the joint! Definitely worth a jaunt upcountry -- particularly, since this "NoKaOi" follows the adage that "fish are friends NOT food!" :o

Alo)(a, bud.. :shaka:

06-21-2014, 10:44 AM
Okay, since no one posted Aaron's vid from HMS, scroll down a little, here it is:


I think this one is very well done, and compares K&K, Pono, MiSi and LRBaggs.

If you plan on listening to this through your computer or ipad speakers, and then make a decision, don't be lazy. Plug in a good set of headphones (I picked up an AKG K240 after doing research, comparing prices, etc, just for practice, but now my kids use it for everything because they like how comfortable they are, and how good they sound. Beats who?) and listen.

I'll be honest, I was impressed with the quality of the sound, and when it came to the LRBaggs, it sounded like, well, an LRBaggs. IME, it takes your instrument, and makes it louder without coloring, like it should. However, that includes everything, meaning, you can hear Aaron "hitting the strings" (which I heard in my headphones, but not the iPad). That said, the rest of the pickups should be similar in how close they sound in real life, which is why I think this review is a good one.

One variable not addressed - we don't know what the base Pono sounds like unamplified in the review. If you have the exact Pono, you should be close to what it sounds like with any of the pickups. Otherwise, you need to make an educated guess.