Move over Eleuke... It is Teton Time!

Lori

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change out the battery

I have had my Teton since Monday, and I am very happy with it so far. At first I was getting some pops, and a little birdlike squeal every so often, but Mim suggested removing the battery and then putting it back in. That helped, but what really fixed it was getting a new battery. That stock battery with the foreign writing on it seems to be a weak spot in the product (at least for me it was). So, get a new battery if you want to avoid any popping or drop outs.

stock batteryorig_battery.jpgnew batterynew_battery.jpg.

Anyway, hooked it up to my Fender Passport Mini, and it sounds great. I am using my iPad headphones, and they fit into the jack just fine (you just have to push it in really deep). I can't wait to use both amp and headphones when playing in a group. Some group situations make it a challenge to hear yourself.

Will report more later, as I get more experience with it.

By the way, the concert size worked great with low G tuning. Good sustain even with a non wound string.

–Lori
 

teruterubouzu

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69789d1363017754-efr-xidas-media_preview-php-url%3Dhttp%253a%252f%252f0-media-cdn-foolz-us%252fffuuka%252fboard%252ftg%252fimage%252f1342%252f9-jpg

Hilarious!

My Teton tenor arrived Monday morning. I believe Mim uses a time machine, because I'm sure I'd only ordered it an hour earlier.

I’ve had to be away from home for much of the past few days, so I’ve only just had the chance to put down all my thoughts. And time spent writing is time spent not playing my Teton, which cannot be tolerated much longer.

This is one fine-looking instrument. Fit and finish are lovely. I’ve never seen another solid-body uke to compare it to, but it’s extremely well crafted. From the photos Mim graciously provided, I chose one with an assortment of contrasty laminates. I didn’t want anything subtle (although that choice is certainly available), and this fit the bill with its bold, wide stripes of different wood colors to complement the standard center stripes.

I have three quibbles with the construction:

1. Equina spotted the erroneous position marker at the 9th fret instead of the 10th, which will apparently be fixed in the next production run. I’m not skilled enough to spend much time that high on the neck, so it isn’t an issue for me yet, although I know it eventually will be. I’m wondering if a good luthier could somehow reposition it and plug the resulting hole, without the fix looking nasty.

2. The hole drilled in the wood body for the headphone output is the teensiest bit too narrow and deep. I had to try three sets of headphones before finding one (my crappiest pair, unfortunately) that would fit. The straight plastic housing (I don’t know the technical term; it’s the part you hold to push in the ⅛” stereo metal part) on the plug end of my JVC headphones was just wide enough that it wouldn’t fit in the wooden hole, and my Bose headphones’ right-angle housing fit, but the end section of the right-angle was too short to go all the way in. The good news is that, if you have something that fits, it’s snug and protected and you needn’t worry about it pulling out accidentally or snapping off.

3. As I had written in an early post in this thread, I loved the first sample photos that showed how the offset “soundhole” revealed a cross-section of the center wood sections. However, on mine, the darker middle one isn’t fully exposed, so instead of its being a uniform stripe of dark wood with light wood stripes on either side, it’s shaped more like a candle flame, with a pointed top and a bulbous base. In addition, there’s a little dark spot in the grain on another part of the inner edge of the soundhole that goes from front to back and is exposed as three dashes.

HOWEVER, considering the great price on these ukes, how delighted I am overall, and how I quickly I became attached to this particular one, I soon began to see these blemishes as beauty marks. I’m sure I have the only Teton with the Signature Flame and Morse Code “O” Soundhole!

But how does it sound, you ask? Well, like I said in an earlier post, I’ve only played ukulele for a few weeks, and my acoustic Kala is my first-ever stringed instrument. So I’m definitely not the best judge of the solid-body electric ukulele sound, nor can my very limited skills show what the Teton is capable of (I am counting on apps effects and pixie dust for that).

But I really like the way it sounds, for what that’s worth — played “clean,” it sounds like a high-end acoustic ukulele (and you can pot the brightness up and down with the on-board tone control), and with effects it sounds like the electric guitar I’ll never own . . . and now don’t need to! Oh, and like Mim says, there’s equal string volume, which I have read is an issue with many electrics. And she put on a Low G for free, which was icing on the cake of her impeccable setup.

Speaking of effects, I now FINALLY know for sure that the iRig HD works beautifully with the Teton. I walled myself up in a back room of the closest Guitar Center yesterday, and gave it a long and thorough test. In preparation, I had downloaded a few guitar amp-and-pedal emulation/modulation apps to my iPad, but spent most of my time with GarageBand. I really didn’t know what I was doing, but I sounded better than my wildest guitar dreams. And because life is short, I asked the salesman to add a Crybaby wah pedal to the signal chain (it attaches between the Teton and the iRig HD). I had never heard of a Crybaby until the night before (thanks, YouTube!) and was only vaguely aware of wah pedals, although I’d always loved the sound they made. Wow. I couldn’t leave without buying it.

I will now be eating crackers for the rest of the month, but who has time to eat anyway, when there’s a Teton to be rocked/jazzed/bluesed/R&B’d out on?

If you’ve been on the fence about buying one of these, you may now dismount. And don’t bother going anywhere but to Mim’s Ukes. This was my first time dealing with Mim, but after reading so many glowing reports from UU members, I had no hesitation. Hers is the caliber of service you always hope to get from a vendor (of any product) but seldom do. There may be others who are as good as Mim, but I can’t imagine anyone better.

‘Nuff said. Flaming MorseO Teton, here I come!
Thank you for this detailed review. Now I want one even more than ever, gosh darn it.
 

SparkyD

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That stock battery with the foreign writing on it seems to be a weak spot in the product (at least for me it was). So, get a new battery if you want to avoid any popping or drop outs. . . . I am using my iPad headphones, and they fit into the jack just fine (you just have to push it in really deep). I can't wait to use both amp and headphones when playing in a group. Some group situations make it a challenge to hear yourself.

Good tip! I replaced the stock battery almost immediately because I thought it was dead. Turns out the reason I was getting no volume was that my headphones (ones I never use because they're my worst pair) had their own volume dial that I'd forgotten about, and which was turned down. I almost put the Chinese-made battery back in because my battery tester showed it had a full charge, but I had a feeling that I shouldn't. Now I'm glad I listened to that hunch! (Teton might want to replace all their batteries once their ukes are stateside, to avoid unnecessary customer returns.)

Do your iPad headphones have straight plugs? I just tried the Panasonic earbuds I use with my iPad and they’d fit if they weren’t the right-angle type, which pops out once you push it in as far as it goes. If you have a plug that’s narrow enough to fit in the wooden hole, you have to push it in a lot deeper than you might think is wise, but I don't think you can damage anything.

I didn't realize you can play through an amp and headphones at the same time. I assumed one would cancel the other out. But that would be a handy feature, especially if you can control the volume of your headphones so you can still hear the other musicians loudly enough. Of course, if you’re using earbuds/pods, you could just wear one side. Please do report more later.

What brand/model of headphones are you using, Lori? I think I’d better order me some!
 

Lori

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...
Do your iPad headphones have straight plugs? I just tried the Panasonic earbuds I use with my iPad and they’d fit if they weren’t the right-angle type, which pops out once you push it in as far as it goes. If you have a plug that’s narrow enough to fit in the wooden hole, you have to push it in a lot deeper than you might think is wise, but I don't think you can damage anything.

I didn't realize you can play through an amp and headphones at the same time. I assumed one would cancel the other out. But that would be a handy feature, especially if you can control the volume of your headphones so you can still hear the other musicians loudly enough. Of course, if you’re using earbuds/pods, you could just wear one side. Please do report more later.

What brand/model of headphones are you using, Lori? I think I’d better order me some!

I am using the Apple ones ($29 USD) http://store.apple.com/us/product/MD827LL/A/apple-earpods-with-remote-and-mic?fnode=3d
This is what they look like plugged in, and here is what the plug end looks like.teton_earbuds.jpgapple_earbud_plug.jpg
So, I am plugged in at the Uke for the headphones, and then can still send a signal out to the amp using the 1/4 amp jack. There is a volume control on the Teton, and another on the Amp. By the way, if you need a strap, my Uke Leash Guitar Style Strap with Amp keyhole fits perfectly.

–Lori

By the way, unplug headphones/ cables to prevent draining the battery. There is no power switch, so unplugging everything is like turning it off.
 
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SparkyD

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I am using the Apple ones ($29 USD) . . . So, I am plugged in at the Uke for the headphones, and then can still send a signal out to the amp using the 1/4 amp jack. There is a volume control on the Teton, and another on the Amp. By the way, if you need a strap, my Uke Leash Guitar Style Strap with Amp keyhole fits perfectly. . . . By the way, unplug headphones/ cables to prevent draining the battery. There is no power switch, so unplugging everything is like turning it off.

Thanks, Lori! I'm going to order those earpods. Apple says that “not all [iPad] models support volume up/down functions,” so I’m hoping that the now-invisible 3rd gen iPad (owners of this model will know what I’m talking about . . . aarrrgh) will do so.

Your Uke Leashes look very cool and clever. (One of the things I really like about your regular non-button Uke Leash, as opposed to the covered-hook type I’m using on my acoustic, is that if for some reason I let go of my uke, it wouldn’t plummet earthward.) I’m happy right now with the straps I currently have on my Teton and Kala, but as I will no doubt again fall victim to UAS, I have bookmarked your site.

Funny, I recently gave that same battery-drain-prevention tip on another thread. I’d read it somewhere about a different electric uke. It’s definitely worth repeating!

I really appreciate your taking those photos for me. Too bad I couldn’t see more of your Teton, too!
 

SparkyD

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And that battery-saving tip should definitely be one of the items that Teton includes in their upcoming user guide. If I were them, I'd consult with current owners to find out the kinds of things we wish we'd been able to read about when we got our ukes. None of the "do not play ukulele when driving over 65 mph" stuff — just the truly helpful facts, ma'am.
 

Mim

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And that battery-saving tip should definitely be one of the items that Teton includes in their upcoming user guide. If I were them, I'd consult with current owners to find out the kinds of things we wish we'd been able to read about when we got our ukes. None of the "do not play ukulele when driving over 65 mph" stuff — just the truly helpful facts, ma'am.

I will see if I can compile something for at least the ones I send out. Because yes, unplug everything when not in use of your battery will drain and it is usually the most commonly not realized thing with these.
 

UkeKiddinMe

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This is also a good lesson to just - throw out the battery that ships. I don't know where those batteries come from, but I have seen
near instant battery fails from supposedly new batteries in a box many times. Just chuck it and put a good, new duracell in there.

I had this happen with my Riptide, which comes with a watch a battery. It was absolutely, positively new from the factory,
and it came dead. I was worried that it was a wiring issue because I couldn't believe the battery was completely dead.
When I changed it out, all was well.
 

Hms

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For Mim,
Normally products provided with batteries have the following wording in the paperwork...
"The battery included with this product is for test purposes only so its life span may be shorter than usual."
Which basicallly suggests to replace it!
H
 

SparkyD

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Thank you for this detailed review. Now I want one even more than ever, gosh darn it.

Thanks and apologies. I feared that my words might ignite smoldering desires in others. There is only one way to quench those flames, teruterubouzu. Well, actually twenty-four of them, the last time I counted the Tetons at Mim's Ukes.
 

BgmUke

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It's HERE!!!

But I've got a lecture, dammit....
Expect photos and a review in the next 12 hours!
 
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BgmUke

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I sound weird and monotonous, but don't let my boring tone fool you. I'm loving the uke.

This is the first instrument of mine to have undergone a professional setup (I'm a cheapskate), and it feels incredibly comfortable to fret, I should be able to fix my deathgrip habits with this uke. My other uke dishes out the pain when barring the 1st fret, this uke just gives up the goods with no struggle :)

Mim fanbase +1!

The uke feels sturdy, neck is nice and stocky (in a good way), feels great in the hand.
The wood is beautiful, chromed tuners are pretty too. I wipe prints off them after tuning. *cough-OCD-cough*
The fretboard looks very tight-grained, unlike my cheap uke. Shiny too, wonder if Mim oiled and polished it up?
The centre hole just makes the playing experience very familiar.

Surprisingly, the headphone jack fits my Shure 425's, which have huge ummWhatAreThoseCalled-Thingys, you know what I mean.
Even volume output across the strings, C string dominates slightly as it's thickest.
The uke sounds alright through my bass amp, but I'm thinking of getting a modelling amp to mess around with some effects. I get what others on the forum meant when they said that the Eleuke and other solid body nylon electrics don't sound exactly like ukes when amplified.

Issues:
-People keep wanting to touch my new uke. No touching till I ding it once and get over the ensuing grief.
-After rewiring from guitar 9th inlay to 10th, I'm going to have to rewire again -.-
-High G, wanted a low g; not sure if I requested it properly but I'm fine either way.
-Guitar strap subtracts from the aesthetics of the uke, might get a thin leather one.
-Recording via the headphone jack gives terrible noise, can't even hear what is being played, which is weird because battery is fresh and earphones work fine through the jack. Any help?
 
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PTOEguy

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I'm about 90% sure I'm going to order a teton in the next week - but am waffling because I have no idea about what to get for an amp. Any thoughts?
 

Jim Hanks

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If you have an iPhone or iPad I'd say skip the amp and get an interface ($100). If you want a starter amp I'd recommend a Roland MicroCube.
 

SparkyD

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Thanks for the great review, BgmUke! You filled in a lot of the blanks I left in my own review. I’m sure the video demo (with its soaring angel choir as your camera swept across all the glorious surfaces and curves) will be helpful to anyone who’s contemplating buying a Teton electric uke.

My Teton also looks way better in the flesh/wood than a photo could capture, although it looked pretty darned good in Mim’s pix.

Speaking of Mim, she put on the low G for me — I recommend it.

I loved your comment on your “death grip.” That’s a great way to develop tendinitis in your hand and wrist, so the buzz-free low action (I don’t know how much of that was Mim and how much was the manufacturer) makes a stranglehold unnecessary. You might want to look into getting your Suzuki set up by a pro. A little improvement goes a long way.

I was surprised that your right-angle, thick-thingied (you know what I mean) headphone jack fit so well into the countersunk hole drilled in the wood of your uke. As you know, I had issues with that. And mine doesn’t click like yours does, although it’s plenty secure and there’s a good audio connection. The depth of both holes (just the wood part) is roughly three-eighths of an inch. I think that’s a little over a centimeter, but I’m American and therefore metrically dumb. How deep is yours countersunk?

I feel your pain about not wanting to pass your Teton around until you’ve had it longer. I’ve avoided a couple of jam invitations for that reason. I know that anyone who loves instruments will want to get their greasy, butterfingered paws on it.

I thought that your comment on “rewiring” the fret inlay was referring to your physically moving the fret marker, which got my brain fizzing until I realized you were talking about your own brain and rewiring it! The problem with that is that you’ll have to have two sets of wiring schematics for your brain — one for your Teton and the other for all other ukes. So I’m wondering if (as I mentioned in my own review) a good luthier could cleanly reposition the marker, or if there’s something those of us with single brain-wiring could do to mark our fretboards on the ninth, without it looking bad.

When you talk about noise issues when recording with your headphone jack, what are you recording into? Why are you using the ⅛” headphone jack, rather than the ¼”? As Teton Guy (I don’t know the rep/demonstrator’s name) said in response to OldePhart’s question, the ⅛” is convenience stereo, not true stereo, so there’s no audio advantage in recording with that. In Teton Guy’s video demo, he’s recording (into GarageBand?) using the headphone jack, but the entire video is hissy, including his voice, so I don’t know if he’s encountering what you’re dealing with, or what’s going on. And he does say that this is not a setup he recommends.

I just did a test of a couple of recording options in GarageBand, and here are my results. You didn’t mention if you were using an iPad, so I’m going to assume that you were recording into your PC or Mac. If you’re doing it with dedicated equipment, this information may still apply. I have a Mac, but what I did is probably similar to a PC.

Initially, I plugged my Teton from the headphone jack directly into the mic jack at the back of my Mac Pro tower. I believe that Teton Guy did a similar direct connection in his video. At first, I thought it sounded fine (and in fact, I had done this several days ago and said so in an earlier, more ignorant post). However, I soon realized that I was getting an intermittent hiss. I couldn’t deliberately replicate it, but it was there. Not there. There again. Aaarrrgh.

I then introduced my iRig HD audio interface into the mix. There are other such interfaces (Jim Hanks likes his Apogee Jam, for instance), but this is all I've used and so far it’s been a gem for me.

I used the Teton’s ¼” jack and connected the guitar cable to one end of the iRig HD. To the other end of the iRig HD, I connected the USB cable that came with it, and plugged that into a USB port on my Mac. Et voila! No hiss. Clean signal. Terrible recording.

What?!?! Oh, I forgot to mention that I’m a total newbie and my ukulele playing is not fit for polite society. So the recording quality is great, my artistic essence not so much. In the test I did, there were a couple of nanoseconds there when I sounded amazing, but the rest is embarrassing. But NO HISS or any other noise. Except my playing, which some (many) may consider noise.

So it may well be that what you need is an interface. If you buy an IK Multimedia one, make absolutely sure it’s the iRig HD, not the original iRig (without the HD), which had noise issues the HD doesn’t.

P.S. There’s so much that I’m learning about electric ukuleles, and even more (way more!) that I don’t yet know. I wish there was a separate electric uke forum here at UU, so those of us of the powered persuasion could share our knowledge and trials and errors and discoveries.
P.P.S. Love your cat! Clearly a ukulele hipster.
 
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SparkyD

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If you have an iPhone or iPad I'd say skip the amp and get an interface ($100). If you want a starter amp I'd recommend a Roland MicroCube.

Hey! That's what I was going to say. (When I was plagued by doubt, Jim repeatedly reassured this nervous nellie that an interface would work with the Teton, and he was right.)

Even if you don't have an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, the interface (mine is an iRig HD — I should be getting a commission for how much I'm promoting it) is golden, and will eliminate noise issues if you connect to a PC, Mac, or mobile device, with all the amazing effects (and recording capability, and jamming with a backup band) they provide.

I don't own a Roland MicroCube, but I've seen it recommended so many places by so many people, that it's on my Christmas list.

If you buy both the interface and the Roland, you'll be in hog heaven. If you just buy the interface, you will only be able to hear yourself through headphones, but that will be heavenly, too.
 
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BgmUke

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You didn’t mention if you were using an iPad, so I’m going to assume that you were recording into your PC or Mac. If you’re doing it with dedicated equipment, this information may still apply. I have a Mac, but what I did is probably similar to a PC.

Hey sparky, I was recording directly from my headphone output into my PC's mic port. It still buzzes alot and even more so when I touch the screws on the backplate.

Borrowed a cheap guitar to usb interface and tried recording through the 1/4 jack and everything sounded ok, slight passive noise but easily removed with audacity.
Unresolved issue with the headphone jack but since it works fine for headphones, I don't really mind.

I am jealous of mac users because of the iRig
 

SparkyD

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Hey sparky, I was recording directly from my headphone output into my PC's mic port. It still buzzes alot and even more so when I touch the screws on the backplate.

Borrowed a cheap guitar to usb interface and tried recording through the 1/4 jack and everything sounded ok, slight passive noise but easily removed with audacity.
Unresolved issue with the headphone jack but since it works fine for headphones, I don't really mind.

I am jealous of mac users because of the iRig

I'd be curious to hear from other Teton ukers, or from Teton Guy himself, whether there's an answer to that jack noise. If they'd just said it was for headphones only, no problem, but it's supposedly for clean stereo output for other purposes, so maybe you and I are doing something wrong.

Before I bought my Teton, I read every review and article and watched every video I could find on electric ukuleles. Somewhere in my Sherlockian travels, I'm sure I read something about grounding issues with some other brand. Your mentioning the backplate screws triggered that memory, and when I was testing the direct connection myself, I was also having variations in the buzz/hiss, but I couldn't figure out what I was doing or not doing to make it change. Maybe something I was touching, even if unintentionally, was somehow interfering with the electrical circuitry.

Doesn't anybody make a good guitar-to-PC USB interface? (Usually it's Mac users who don't have access to all the cool toys.) There seem to be a lot of cheap ones for various platforms, but bad user reviews. You get what you pay for with these . . . most of the time, anyway.
 
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Tootler

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Doesn't anybody make a good guitar-to-PC USB interface? (Usually it's Mac users who don't have access to all the cool toys.) There seem to be a lot of cheap ones for various platforms, but bad user reviews. You get what you pay for with these . . . most of the time, anyway.

Google audio interface usb and you will get plenty of hits at prices ranging from a few tens of dollars to many hundreds. All but the cheapest will have 1/4" sockets for instrument input and most also have XLR or XLR/jack combi sockets for mics as well. All those I've seen say they are for Windows/Mac. USB is a standard interface, after all.

Actually Macs are well catered for with cool toys. It's Linux users who usually miss out. Everything just says Windows/Mac but so far all the USB devices I've bought have worked just fine with my Linux PC.