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Thread: Is This an EQ Problem with my Uke Bass?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    Default Is This an EQ Problem with my Uke Bass?

    So...my wife got me a ukulele bass for my birthday. It's a Donner. Cheapest one I could find. I didn't want to put much into it, because I'm not really a bass player. But they look so fun!

    Anyway, I got it and was in love. Super fun to play. Then I plug it in.

    The bottom three strings (ADG) all sound great - loud, clear, etc. But the E string? I can barely hear it at all.

    I suspect the pick-up (it's a piezo, right?) is faulty or not resting under the E string fully or something. But the seller tells me it's a problem with the EQ.

    Since I tried the bass on two amps (an actual bass amp and a little guitar amp to see if something would change), I'm thinking EQ won't fix anything. And isn't EQ to change the sound/quality of output, not the volume of a specific string?

    If I had the uke with my right now, I'd play with the EQ and record the results, but I'm at work.

    That said, here's a 7-second YouTube video of the volume difference. (Note: Video makes the E sound a bit louder than it is in real life. Guessing my smart phone equalized the volume for me.)

    https://youtu.be/23pJA-iqk0s

    Besides the fact that I shouldn't have bought the cheapest possible option, what say ye?
    Buy your new favorite ukulele shirt at my fancy, schmancy Etsy store! https://tinyurl.com/y3y9usoz

  2. #2
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    Feb 2019
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    Default

    I don't have any experience with uke basses. I have read a number of online posts in which uke bass users reported this same problem. The piezo pickups apparently are not always seated uniformly underneath all four strings. Both from your description above and the brief sound sample, this doesn't seem like an EQ problem. Who is the seller -- an individual, or a shop? And do you have access to the piezo (is it underneath the bridge saddle?)
    Kala KA-TE tenor uke (currently tuned re-entrant gCEA)
    Kala APB-CTG baritone uke (currently tuned DGBE)
    Ohana BK-35CG baritone uke (currently tuned low-octave ADF#B)
    Various guitars, banjos, and basses

  3. #3
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    I've had a cheap uke bass for a while and I just got an amp for it recently. It sounded awful until I got the settings right on the amp - trial and error. I think I had similar issues to you too. Can't remember the settings I used (assuming they even correlate to your amp), but I'll check it out when I get home if you don't get a good answer before then. I also have a VOX headphone adapter and didn't have issues with that.

    Kohanmike will probably know what to do.
    Glenn

  4. #4
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    I have a bunch of bass ukes with the same piezo pickups, the plastic saddle with indents between each string. The off balance when amplified is an inherent problem, each section has a separate pickup element underneath. I've fixed it on a couple of mine by taking apart the saddle assembly and using a very thin Xacto saw blade, cut apart the saddle at each indent and reassemble, that allows each section to seat on it's pickup independently.

    On a couple it didn't work, so I decided to buy a small foot pedal compressor which I understand balances the volume of each string digitally. I plan on using it by hand with my Phil Jones Double Four when I set up for playing, and leave it on throughout. My Carvin MB15 amp has a compressor built in.


    This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
    9 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 11 solid body bass ukes, 9 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 34)

    • Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
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  5. #5
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    Aug 2016
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    Ahhh! Just deleted my reply. Round 2.

    Thanks for all the comments! Very insightful. Answers and thoughts.

    1. The seller is just a sell everything eBay operation. Don't expect them to know much, but they asked their "people" who said it's an EQ issue.
    2. Not sure I can access the pickup. When I get home, Imma find out.
    3. Cut the saddle on the indentions? How'd you figure that out? If it comes to that, I'll just return the bass. Afraid of doing mods that would make it impossible to return.
    4. Great idea on headphones! Think the first thing I'll do is try playing it through headphones, via my iRig2. If that sounds loud and clear, I'll figure it's an EQ problem.

    Thanks all and now I'm ready to get home and start investigating!
    Buy your new favorite ukulele shirt at my fancy, schmancy Etsy store! https://tinyurl.com/y3y9usoz

  6. #6
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    If it's a piezo pickup, will need a preamp. Either seperate of if your amp has a switch for piezo. I had the same with my Chenell. A preamp made that sucker blast the windows.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Madsen View Post
    If it's a piezo pickup, will need a preamp. Either seperate of if your amp has a switch for piezo. I had the same with my Chenell. A preamp made that sucker blast the windows.
    Those bass ukes have preamps built in, not just a pickup.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by kohanmike View Post
    Those bass ukes have preamps built in, not just a pickup.
    Yup. It had a preamp and piezo. Last night, I did all sorts of experiments but couldn't get the E string to pick up the volume. What should have been the first thing but wound up being last was that I tapped on each section of the pickup, slowly and with equal pressure. While doing this, the uke bass was plugged into my iRig2, which was connected to my phone. Instead of listening, I watched the EQ/volume level jump as I tapped, and it was substantially lower on the section designated to the E string.

    Convinced there was nothing I could do, I packed it up last night and took it to the post office this morning. Oh well.

    That said - there is a happy ending. Went ahead and ordered my first Enya uke. It's the round one, and I know it's considered too quiet and all that jazz, but 1) it looks awesome and 2) it looks awesome. Oh yeah - it looks awesome. And the price is nice. So don't weep for me and my non-uke bass. Rejoice in the new gift that has already shipped!
    Buy your new favorite ukulele shirt at my fancy, schmancy Etsy store! https://tinyurl.com/y3y9usoz

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by dkbrantley View Post
    Yup. It had a preamp and piezo. Last night, I did all sorts of experiments but couldn't get the E string to pick up the volume. What should have been the first thing but wound up being last was that I tapped on each section of the pickup, slowly and with equal pressure. While doing this, the uke bass was plugged into my iRig2, which was connected to my phone. Instead of listening, I watched the EQ/volume level jump as I tapped, and it was substantially lower on the section designated to the E string.

    Convinced there was nothing I could do, I packed it up last night and took it to the post office this morning. Oh well.

    That said - there is a happy ending. Went ahead and ordered my first Enya uke. It's the round one, and I know it's considered too quiet and all that jazz, but 1) it looks awesome and 2) it looks awesome. Oh yeah - it looks awesome. And the price is nice. So don't weep for me and my non-uke bass. Rejoice in the new gift that has already shipped!
    Cool. I had an Enya HPL uke which I ended up returning, but it was finished really well, smooth fret ends, good intonation, etc. There was a lot to like about it.
    Glenn

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by glennerd View Post
    Cool. I had an Enya HPL uke which I ended up returning, but it was finished really well, smooth fret ends, good intonation, etc. There was a lot to like about it.
    Fingers crossed I find a lot to like about mine! Should be here today, right before my wife and I hit the road for a quick trip. Hope she doesn't mind driving and listening as I play my new uke. hahaha...
    Buy your new favorite ukulele shirt at my fancy, schmancy Etsy store! https://tinyurl.com/y3y9usoz

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