Has an amp changed your uke playing?

Jim in Oregon

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Hey, everyone. Have any of you found that playing through an amp has changed your playing?

I got an Enya Nova U Pro acoustic plus tenor uke a few weeks ago. Got it largely for the onboard electronics, then was disappointed by the volume of unamplifed sounds.

So I ordered a very basic Fender Acoustasonic 15. As soon as I started playing through it, I realized I was listening to each note more carefully and taking more responsibility for the sounds that came out of the amp.

I'm in my 70s, but never played anything acoustic through an amp before. Any thoughts?
 

rustydusty

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I mainly use an amp for "gigs", and don't use it at home. (too much noise for the rest of the family...)
Still, my instruments with on board electronics sound just fine unamplified. Guess it depends on the uke you are playing...
 

ripock

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yes, but not for the reason you mention. I have never used a clean signal in my life. I use my amp strictly for pedals, gain, and craziness in general. And I play differently when using a fuzz pedal than when I am culling subtleness from my acoustic chords.
 

donboody

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I recently started using a mic to amplify my uke, played through a powered speaker. I found that with what we in the biz call “a regular-ass mic” then I have to do a real crazy job of angling the body in front of the mic to get a consistent sound. Probably because it’s just a vocalist mic. I have a SHURE SM57 now and I don’t have to do that anymore. So in this instance, my amplification method required some changes until I found the right kind of equipment.
 

SurferJay

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An amp for me completely changed how I play and what I play.

1. I started to play a lot cleaner.
2. It made my playing more immersive as I play along with loops and backing tracks.
3. It allows you to shape your sound via EQ, Pedals etc giving you more dynamic range.

Here are some examples with an amp:



Here is without (the sound is totally different)


For me an Amp is a must.
 

Nickie

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Oh, definitely! I much prefer plugging in to acoustic. The only thing I like about playing acoustically, is NO SETUP!
Tomorrow we do an acoustic set, the audience is very small. ugh.
 

jkib

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An amp for me completely changed how I play and what I play.

1. I started to play a lot cleaner.
2. It made my playing more immersive as I play along with loops and backing tracks.
3. It allows you to shape your sound via EQ, Pedals etc giving you more dynamic range.

Here are some examples with an amp:



Here is without (the sound is totally different)


For me an Amp is a must.
Nice playing! What pickup do you have installed? I can see where it would improve one's playing with looping/backtracks, etc.
 

SurferJay

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Nice playing! What pickup do you have installed? I can see where it would improve one's playing with looping/backtracks, etc.

Thank you kindly sir 😍 I have a MISI pickup installed on the ‘Neo Soul’ clip. This one:


On the second clip it’s just the pickup that came with the Cordoba. I found the model number for it and it’s just a generic pickup for a few dollars on eBay. It’s not bad but it has a grounding issue.

Ares where I’ve improved with the looper is:

1. Understanding how everything fits together or. Chords, Melodies, keys, harmonies.

2. I always used to get nervous when recording. I’d press a button to film and my hands would not play. With the looper your constantly recording yourself so it becomes second nature.

3. Before the looper I played a lot of finger style. But if I sat with another Uke/guitar player I couldn’t play along. Now I could likely play along at least in the background something which would not have been possible before.

My first looper was a LEKATO loop pedal. It’s $35 on Amazon/eBay/AliExpress so if you have an amp I’d definitely get a looper.
 

jkib

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Great info...thanks. I get quite nervous myself when recording. My fretting fingers get tense, and I can't move them as quickly as I would normally. May have to look into this more.
 

SurferJay

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Great info...thanks. I get quite nervous myself when recording. My fretting fingers get tense, and I can't move them as quickly as I would normally. May have to look into this more.

Not to deviate from the main topic of the thread but I used to get really nervous when recording.. Here is what worked for me:

1. Instead of pressing record/stop and playing a song. Just record your entire session. You soon forget the cameras there.

2. Get lost in the music :) You’re not there to be judged by mistakes. Your performance does not have to be perfect. Most beautiful things are not. Your job is to bring beautiful music into creation.

3. Learn improvisation. You can’t mess it up if it’s improvised. In the Neo Soul clip I was literally playing A minor Pentatonic, C major scale and C Major 7 Arpeggios. I did actually make a mistake and hit a wrong note but you can’t really tell as it’s all a mash up anyway.

Hope this helps :)
 

Nickie

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I was really glad to be plugged in today. The acoustics were terrible, and we had 3X the audience as usual. They were enthusiastic, too.
 

Kenn2018

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Using an amp has forced me to not play as hard as when I play without.

For my club's open mike, I usually play an acoustic that is plugged into the PA system. And a mic for singing. I back off the attack and play a little softer.
Sometimes, I play just acoustically with others and have to strum or pick a little harder to be heard. (Or, I play even softer so that people can't hear my fumbled-fingered playing.)

Thanks Surfer Jay. What you say makes a lot of sense. I'll have to start using my looper more.
 

chris667

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Good fun for messing around, but be careful not to be "that guy" at an open mic or uke group who insists on playing louder than everyone else. It's not fair on everyone else.

If you get into performing, you start to realise that less is often more. The louder you play, the louder people talk. When I'm doing really well, other people lean in to listen to me playing and go quiet. I would never be able to do that if I had a big PA.
 

SurferJay

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Good fun for messing around, but be careful not to be "that guy" at an open mic or uke group who insists on playing louder than everyone else. It's not fair on everyone else.

If you get into performing, you start to realise that less is often more. The louder you play, the louder people talk. When I'm doing really well, other people lean in to listen to me playing and go quiet. I would never be able to do that if I had a big PA.

More than messing around an amp allows you to shape your tone especially for different performances when performing.

We all love our ukes but there is a reality that this beautiful instrument has tonal and sustain limitations due to its size.

I have a Fishman Loudbox Mini amp which retains much of the original tone of the Uke and then I use a LR Baggs Para DI to shape the signal … the difference is night and day. It’s definitely not about boosting the ‘loudness’ more about shaping the tone.
 

chris667

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More than messing around an amp allows you to shape your tone especially for different performances when performing.

We all love our ukes but there is a reality that this beautiful instrument has tonal and sustain limitations due to its size.

I have a Fishman Loudbox Mini amp which retains much of the original tone of the Uke and then I use a LR Baggs Para DI to shape the signal … the difference is night and day. It’s definitely not about boosting the ‘loudness’ more about shaping the tone.
Maybe for you playing on your own. But if you have an amp and everyone else is playing acoustically, you have to be sensitive to others around you.

Don't be that person that plays more than they listen. Music is much more listening to others than performance. The more I play, the more I realise that's the case.
 

a green field

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I was given a uke amp as a gift, and now have to pick up an electric uke and see if it impacts my playing! I already have 6 electric guitars so I probably do know the drill at this point.
 

SurferJay

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Maybe for you playing on your own. But if you have an amp and everyone else is playing acoustically, you have to be sensitive to others around you.

Don't be that person that plays more than they listen. Music is much more listening to others than performance. The more I play, the more I realise that's the case.

Im pretty sure there is never a scenario where everyone is playing acoustically and some guy turns up with an amp and drowns them out.. does it? I would love to hear that story!

Alone, together… Most of the top level players are playing with a boosted/amplified signal as it offers the best sound option(s). Happy to be corrected but if you watch TUS on YouTube you’ll notice there are guitars/ukes all playing together all with a boosted signal.. nobody playing alone.