View Full Version : Pick-up recommendations, please!

08-09-2014, 08:34 AM
I'm considering adding a pickup to my favorite baritone which I tune A or Bflat. I want a good pickup, but not over ...um... say $150 or thereabouts.

REQUEST: Recommendations for good pickups would be muchly appreciated. If you can also tell me where to buy the pickup you recommend, that would be grrrreat!

NOTE: I found a barry-with-pickup at mainland. Emailed 2 questions: (1) does it have a torsion rod? (answer=no) & (2) if not can it handle tuning to Bflat? (no answer). Ergo, altho I like what Mainland has, I don't want to take a chance of a damaged neck in the future, so I want to add a pickup to my own barry, which DOES have a torsion rod.

08-09-2014, 09:29 AM
LR Baggs five o

08-09-2014, 10:36 AM
My Ko'olau has some kind of LR Baggs active pickup factory installed. My Kamaka Ohta-San has a passive Schatten UST and an external Mini-Preamp (also by Schatten). This works well because the sound hole on the Kamaka is too small for me to get my hand in to change batteries, while I can on the Ko'olau. Schatten claims 1500 hour battery life in the Mini-Preamp, so it should be quite a while before I need to change it. The Schatten site is very clear that you must use a preamp with the pickup, and my experience has certainly validated that. Schatten offers this pickup either as an active pickup with the preamp in the end pin or as a passive pickup. The price falls in with the OP's budget either way.

To change the battery in the Schatten preamp, I have to remove 4 screws from the back and remove it. To change the battery in the Ko'olau, there is a pouch inside that is velcro'ed to the block where the neck joins the body. Both use 9v batteries.

I have to be really careful with the Schatten pickup in the Kamaka when changing strings because if it shifts even a little, the relative sound of each string becomes unbalanced when amplified. Changing one string at a time (which is what I normally do anyway) causes no problems. I find that this pickup works fine, but don't know to compare it to others.

I don't know that I can compare an aftermarket pickup to one that was factory installed either. Both pickups seem to work fine and there is certainly less fooling around with them to get a good sound compared to a stick-on pickup or mic.

The problem I have with recommending a particular pickup without reservation is that a pickup that works wonders (or at least works well enough) in one situation, may not be at all good in another. In my case, I have a different maker's pickup in each of my two ukuleles and one is factory installed while the other is "after market" installed. Too many differences to make any sort of claim beyond that they both seem to work OK in these particular situations.


Jim Hanks
08-09-2014, 10:40 AM
If you like the Mainland, you can certainly tune to Bb with Southcoast strings
The LML set is listed for bari Bb and it is on the lower tension side so might also work for A. I'm betting you could also use either of the LL sets at even lower tension for Bb or up to C.

08-09-2014, 01:05 PM
I buy all my preamp/pickups from China through AliExpress.com, even though there's a lot of negativity for them, I find they are actually the same ones put into so many commercial ukes, like Kala, Cordoba, etc. I believe the preparation of the saddle space for the pickup is one of the most important elements of the system. I've seen great products where the pickup space is done poorly and the sound is way out of balance, and so called cheap products that are properly installed that sound very good.

08-09-2014, 02:32 PM
LR Baggs five o

Yep. . .

08-09-2014, 03:33 PM
These may be worth a look; http://kksound.com/products/alohatwin.php
The advantage with the K & K Twin spot is the relatively simple installation.


08-09-2014, 09:55 PM
Yep. . .


Note: this is a VERY biased response.

08-10-2014, 04:01 AM
If you're interested in a high quality passive pickup, I've had amazing results with this one


Colonel Uke
08-10-2014, 05:45 PM
I have an LR Bags 5-0 in my Pono Tenor and it's a great pickup. They run about $150 most places.

Brad Bordessa
08-10-2014, 07:56 PM
I'll put in another vote for the Baggs.

08-10-2014, 08:45 PM
I got a couple in the box, which is rare for me since I normally order them in OEM, which means no box, instructions, nothing. Self serving I know, but at least you save on shipping if you were planning on ordering one. Of course, HMS has them, and installs them - may want to contact Andrew if you don't plan on doing it yourself.