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Thread: Lipstick pickups and all that jazz!

  1. #1

    Default Lipstick pickups and all that jazz!

    Hi all,
    I'm loving hving my new uke but I want to play around with one and mod it out a little bit so I've bought myself a cheap Octopus Soprano to fiddle with. I'm thinking of fitting a lipstick type pickup to it along with metal strings to make something different to the usual piezo type pickups. Will I be able to use the existing traditional type bridge and simply push the strings through the holes so the ball-ends g tight against the end or will I have to fit a tailpiece like a mandolin?

    Also, will the ukulele need any more reinforcing or will the tension just pull the poor thing apart?

    Many thanks,
    Lloyd

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Yakima, WA
    Posts
    1,623

    Default

    Cheap acoustic ukes will not take the added tension of steel strings, in fact, no uke will. Maybe you should think about an instrument that is made for the purpose you seek. Plenty of them out there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Flecktarnfisher View Post
    Hi all,
    I'm loving hving my new uke but I want to play around with one and mod it out a little bit so I've bought myself a cheap Octopus Soprano to fiddle with. I'm thinking of fitting a lipstick type pickup to it along with metal strings to make something different to the usual piezo type pickups. Will I be able to use the existing traditional type bridge and simply push the strings through the holes so the ball-ends g tight against the end or will I have to fit a tailpiece like a mandolin?

    Also, will the ukulele need any more reinforcing or will the tension just pull the poor thing apart?

    Many thanks,
    Lloyd

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Queanbeyan, NSW Australia.
    Posts
    1,742

    Default

    Steel strings and nylon strings are not interchangeable on the same instrument. An instrument needs to be built from the start for one type of string for 2 important reasons. String tension and string flexibility.

    Nylon strings have lower tension and are more flexible. As such the construction is lighter and the saddle compensation is less and more even. Hence the straight, perpendicular saddles. Steel strings have higher tension with a greater range of flexibility. Hence the heavier construction and the slanted saddle.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Wakanda
    Posts
    6,468

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    Bad idea to put steel strings on a uke or any other instrument not built for steels strings.

    Steel strings will likely cause the uke to implode. If you do your research you will see that steel strings have approx 4-5x the tension of nylon-type strings.

    Also, you will likely never get anything close to proper intonation unless you remove the bridge and fill and re-cut the saddle slot (likely at an angle) since wound steel strings need a saddle that is NOT parallel to the nut in order to intonate well.

    Look at the bridge and saddle of acoustic guitars (google image search is your friend) and you will see.

    For an acoustic instrument, you might instead want to look at the premade steel-string variants of the ukulele such as the cavaquinho or charango for they are built for steel strings and can be tuned like an ukulele.

    see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavaquinho

    and: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charango

    If you really want a steel string uke that is cheap enough to hack on, Mahalo makes a soprano that is in a V-shape that comes in both steel strings and nylon strings and also Vorson has one that comes in an ST, T or LP style (strat, tele, les paul respectively) that can be found on both Amazon, as well as American Musical Supply. I got one of the Vorson 'factory blem' models for $89 shipped and it works ok.

    see:



    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yCwVc6JuZs

    and:



    https://www.americanmusical.com/Item--i-VOR-FSUK1-LIST



    https://www.americanmusical.com/Item--i-VOR-FTLUK3-LIST



    https://www.americanmusical.com/Item--i-VOR-FLPUK2-LIST
    This ═╣FAQ link╠═ will help you learn about many things.
    You should click it, as the answers are waiting for you.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.
    Posts
    5,552

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    If you're in the UK, those Vorson steel string ukes come labelled as Clearwater ukes, about 120.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    928

    Default

    Thanks for video Booli. I found same model with nylon strings/piezo under saddle pick up. It looks the same but sound more like traditional ukulele sound amplified. Both good I guess depending upon what you re after. I favour nylon myself. Currently not available on Amazon.

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