Amplification Advice for my Vintage Uke

ShyClare

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Hi there! I'm a jazz singer/ukulele performer looking for a good way to mic my ukulele for live performance.

I have a 1930s Gretsch that have been reticent to cut into it for a pickup installation, and in fact found out from the local luthier that there is no way to instal any kind of professional grade pickup because of the construction of the saddle.

My current setup is the vintage-type Sure Super 55 with a straight mic stand (to give a nice throwback vibe) for vocals and a Sure SM57 attached to a separate mic stand for my ukulele. But because I have to sing up close to the vocal mic, I have to sandwiching my ukulele in between the two mic stands—which is a bit cumbersome.

Any recommendations on quality mic-ing systems would be greatly appreciated!

Also, I would love to know if anyone has had success using any of these instrument mics?

Sure Instrument Mic
https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/PGA98HXLR--shure-pga98h-xlr-clip-on-condenser-microphone

K&K Meridian Microphone System
http://kksound.com/products/meridian.php

"The Feather" Myers Pickups
https://www.amazon.com/FEATHER-FLEXIBLE-MICRO-GOOSE-Myers-Pickups/dp/B00QSGMSZA

Thank you in advance for the help!
 
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ramone

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hello,

I'm not familiar with any of the products you linked but I did add a K&K Aloha Twin pickup to one of my tenors and it sounds very clean and natural. a hole had to be drilled for the endpin jack, but I don't consider that to be terribly invasive. my instrument isn't a vintage instrument but it did cost over $1000 new and I was a bit nervous. I decided not to buy an instrument mounted mic for ergonomic reasons.

https://kksound.com/instruments/ukulele.php

good luck!
 

Bill Sheehan

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Clare, this may not be very responsive to your post, I realize, but here are just a couple of thoughts...
Every time I start to think that an "onboard" pickup or a special bracket-mounted instrument mic is the way to go, I look at a guy named Chris Hough, known as "Ukulele Uff", who is a great performer, and who, for the most part, seems to prefer good old fashioned "mic'ing up" when he plays. Virtually all of the video clips that he has online show him with one mic on his voice, the other in good proximity to his Martin uke. You might want to take a look at some of his clips (his performing buddy is guitarist Lonesome Dave) to see how he positions things...
Also, I have a device that attaches to your vocal mic stand, and holds a second mic at midsection level for your instrument, so that you're basically able to get by with only one traditional mic stand, while mic'ing up both your voice and your uke; that may be something to consider too.
 

ksiegel

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I've seen products like those you asked about - they seem to work well on guitars and mandolins, so no reason they wouldn't work well on a ukulele, but...

I have three ukes with pickups, and the rest are straight acoustic. When I perform, I always use both a vocal and instrument mic. Both are on booms stands. If I'm performing solo, I use MXL 990/991 cardioid mics. They require phantom power, but are nicely hot - I put the 991 about 1 foot from the instrument, aim it toward the center/upper bought of the instrument, and it just works.

From the manufacturer:
MXL 990
This microphone has a 22mm capsule with a gold-sputtered diaphragm and a fixed cardioid pickup pattern. Condenser microphones are very sensitive, readily revealing very subtle sonic details. They also tend to pick up sounds outside the pattern more than some designs, which can lead to powerful feedback if you are not careful.

MXL 991
This microphone has a gold-sputtered diaphragm and a fixed cardioid pickup pattern. We strongly advise experimentation with placement and isolation requirements with the gain initially set low to avoid equipment (and ear) damaging surprises.

If I'm playing with others, I just use Shure SM58 mics, for both vocal and instrument. And I use the mics even when I have a pick-up in the uke - it really makes things smooth.

My Custom uke has a K&K Twinspot, and I use a K&K Pure preamp. My Fluke has a B&B pickup with built in preamp (no EQ), and my Ohana CK-65D has a MiSi with preamp (No Volume or EQ controls). Also, whenever I play someplace that has one, I always plug into the DI box.

That's my $0.02. I'd recommend a 24" gooseneck if you don't want to use a boom, but an SM57 is fine for the instrument. Otherwise, I don't think you need to change a thing.

For a better, more professional assessment, ask Booli. He's got the best tech explanations I've seen. I just play with the stuff. (Although I did help build a couple of broadcast studios in college, when that was my major. However, I'm more of a wiring/installation guy, not the one who specs things out.)

-Kurt​
 
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ShyClare

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Thanks Bill for the thoughts. The main difference between my setup and Chris Hough’s is that I stand and he sits. I’m interested in the attachment that you mentioned that allows you to use two mics on one stand. Do you know where I could find one of those? I tried something of this nature (with a gooseneck), but the mic was too heavy for it and it wouldn’t hold in place very well.

Here’s a clip to give you an idea of my current setup.
https://youtu.be/BPXsrPSkPWQ

I am mainly hoping that a clip on external gooseneck mic would be the solution, but they don’t seem to be very common which makes me wonder if that’s a bad idea.
 

DaveY

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SC, maybe the On Stage MY550 Microphone Extension Attachment Bar will work. I haven't used it -- I just did a search and came across it -- but the reviews are positive, although it seems that heavier microphones don't work as well. And it's just $10, so if it doesn't work, it can be used to stir soup or something.
 

Bill Sheehan

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Hahahahahaha! Dave, lovin' the "soup" remark!! Clare, I have something similar, also made by the folks at On-Stage, which they call a "Posi-lock side mount boom arm"-- essentially a 7" mini-boom with a "toothed clutch". It may be just what you're looking for! I see from your video clip how you sort of have to work around the two stands, and this device may solve that. You and your group are excellent, by the way!
 
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ShyClare

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Thanks, everyone, for all the input. It's been helpful to hear what works for folks. In the past I've tried an On Stage Microphone 13-inch Gooseneck attachment attached to the stand using a CAMVATE Crab clamp. The problem I encountered is that the gooseneck wasn't strong enough to keep my mic in place. One of those side mount extensions might be just the thing. I'll order one of those today and give it a try. Thanks for the recommendations Dave and Bill!

In my perfect world, I'd buy a DPA d:vote 4099 instrument mic (https://www.dpamicrophones.com/dvote/4099-instrument-microphone). But It's a little more than my budget can afford right now ($620), and if I can get a good setup with a side mount extension—who knows—I might just be happier with that $12 set up than having equipment attached to my ukulele.
 

DownUpDave

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Interesting concept Ric, seems to work. I have an IRig Acoustic Stage sound hole mic and the Meyers feather (mentioned by the OP). I think the iRig would work well with this soprano. I have had them on sopranos all the way up to acoutic guitars. It would be fairly discreet compared to the feather and the preamp it plugs into works well and clips on to your belt.
 

anthonyg

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Hi there! I'm a jazz singer/ukulele performer looking for a good way to mic my ukulele for live performance.

I have a 1930s Gretsch that have been reticent to cut into it for a pickup installation, and in fact found out from the local luthier that there is no way to instal any kind of professional grade pickup because of the construction of the saddle.

My current setup is the vintage-type Sure Super 55 with a straight mic stand (to give a nice throwback vibe) for vocals and a Sure SM57 attached to a separate mic stand for my ukulele. But because I have to sing up close to the vocal mic, I have to sandwiching my ukulele in between the two mic stands—which is a bit cumbersome.

Any recommendations on quality mic-ing systems would be greatly appreciated!

Also, I would love to know if anyone has had success using any of these instrument mics?

Sure Instrument Mic
https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/PGA98HXLR--shure-pga98h-xlr-clip-on-condenser-microphone

K&K Meridian Microphone System
http://kksound.com/products/meridian.php

"The Feather" Myers Pickups
https://www.amazon.com/FEATHER-FLEXIBLE-MICRO-GOOSE-Myers-Pickups/dp/B00QSGMSZA

Thank you in advance for the help!

I have personally used the K&K Sound Meridian Pro Microphone system. It worked quite well for me however the point you need to know is that it needs an external power supply/preamp to work which is more expense and quite a large unit. Its also an omni-directional microphone so a little feedback prone. I've used it on a ukulele although its more specifically designed to fit on a guitar.

The Shure unit looks good. Shure is a BIG name in microphones. The unit is lighter, its has a cardioid pickup pattern which is a fraction more feedback resistant and it has a built in power supply and preamp. This is good.

They Myers microphone looks good to. Check reviews.

Any one of them could work for you.
 

ShyClare

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I have an IRig Acoustic Stage sound hole mic and the Meyers feather (mentioned by the OP). I think the iRig would work well with this soprano. I have had them on sopranos all the way up to acoutic guitars. It would be fairly discreet compared to the feather and the preamp it plugs into works well and clips on to your belt.

Thanks for the feedback, Dave! That IRig looks great! Would you still recommend the IRig over Meyers for a tenor ukulele? (That's what I have.) How does it compare in sound quality to the Meyers Feather? I usually wear a dress, and often with no pockets, is there any way to have the box just rest on the floor, or is the chord too short?
 

ricdoug

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In addition to your preamp and pickup electronics, I suggest the 50 watt Kustom PA50 / PowerWerks PW50 self contained three channel PA systems for your professional post amplification instrument and vocal needs. There is no product anywhere their price point that will deliver their level of sound and performance.

Many years back, I was in Guitar Center checking out sound reinforcement gear. I came across a Kustom PA50 and intrigued by its size, specs and versatility.:

KustomPA501.jpg


KustomPA502.jpg


It shows a list price of $159 bucks, but they sell them for $99 bucks:

KustomPA503.jpg


I searched the Guitar Center website, Musician’s Friend website and Kustom Amps website, but did not find any reference to this system. When I searched PowerWerks, I came up with:

http://powerwerks.com/pages/PA-Systems-8.aspx

http://powerwerks.com/ContentHandler.ashx?ID=87 Owners manual.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZk33_3GmE4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nL-RzN98VT0

http://www.youtube.com/user/GenoKreis?blend=5&ob=5#p/u/0/0xIY65YWEi0

The frontal view shows the two 4.5” drivers and the high frequency horn:

KustomPA504.jpg


You can also note the rugged construction and the protective steel speaker grill. In addition, each corner is protected.

The rear view shows the three channels, controls, inputs and outputs. I was asked if the XLR and ¼” inputs could be used at the same time, so I plugged a microphone and instrument into both jacks on both channels. All can be used at the same time. There is also phantom power on the XLR channels for use with condensor microphones:
 

ricdoug

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KustomPA505.jpg


One of the long sides has a carrying handle and the other side has four rubber feet:

KustomPA506.jpg


The bottom has a speaker stand adaptor and four rubber feet:

KustomPA507.jpg


Here it is shown mounted on an OnStage speaker stand:

KustomPA508.jpg


I liked the first one enough to purchase a second one. I almost always have one loaned out. Hula halau’s like to use a microphone for announcing and an MPR/CD player for their music when musicians are not available. There are no effects onboard, but I generally prefer to use my systems “dry” - without effects.

Bottom line - The sound quality is surprizingly transparent. Two singers with 2 microphones and two guitar players (using their active electronics or active D.I. to control volume and tone) can perform through a single Kustom PA50. For a "breadbox") system, I've yet to see anything in this price range compare. Understand this is no Fishman SA220, Bose L1, Roland Acoustic Chorus, Fishman Loudbox, Fender Acoustisonic or Marshall AS. It's a nice system for those on a budget or those that are looking for a rugged backup system to professionally gig with in small to to medium to large venues (these PA systems can be cascaded infinitely for any sixe audience!.

Ric
 

DownUpDave

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Thanks for the feedback, Dave! That IRig looks great! Would you still recommend the IRig over Meyers for a tenor ukulele? (That's what I have.) How does it compare in sound quality to the Meyers Feather? I usually wear a dress, and often with no pockets, is there any way to have the box just rest on the floor, or is the chord too short?

Both mic-pick ups sound good, not one a whole lot better then the other. The preamp on the iRig has a number of different setting, can really fine tune the sound. But it must be worn on your person or clipped to a strap if you use one. You can't put the preamp on the ground in front of you, just a very thin wire and not long enough, I worry about its durability.

The preamp of the Myers as you know only boosts the signal, I do find the boost a bit weak, need to crank the volume of the amp up more. But it attachs nicely to the instrument and has good sound. Both units have pros and cons, hope that helps
 

jimavery

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I notice on the iRig website you can buy spare mics for it, which would be handy if you don't want to unclip/clip from one uke to another, but also reduces the worry (a little; it's not cheap) about that thin wire.
 

DaveY

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Hahahahahaha! Dave, lovin' the "soup" remark!! Clare, I have something similar, also made by the folks at On-Stage, which they call a "Posi-lock side mount boom arm"-- essentially a 7" mini-boom with a "toothed clutch". It may be just what you're looking for! I see from your video clip how you sort of have to work around the two stands, and this device may solve that. You and your group are excellent, by the way!

I vote for Bill's choice -- the Posi-Lock Side Mount Boom Arm -- over my discovery, the Microphone Extension Attachment Bar, as I bought and tried out both. The Boom Arm is more stable, and I think more versatile; the other thing did not keep the mic clip connection stable. (It was, however, good with the soup application, as long as the pot isn't too deep.)
 

ShyClare

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I vote for Bill's choice -- the Posi-Lock Side Mount Boom Arm -- over my discovery, the Microphone Extension Attachment Bar, as I bought and tried out both. The Boom Arm is more stable, and I think more versatile; the other thing did not keep the mic clip connection stable. (It was, however, good with the soup application, as long as the pot isn't too deep.)
Good to get confirmation on this! I actually ordered this the other day and it came in the mail over the weekend. I thought I’d give this a try first before spending the big bucks on a clip on mic. I think I’m going to like this, and look forward to trying it out at my gig on the 30th.

I’ll let y’all know how it goes!