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Thread: DIY Pick up install Blackbird

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Somerset, U.K.
    Posts
    114

    Default DIY Pick up install Blackbird

    Hi,

    I would be grateful to know if anyone has installed a pickup themselves to a Blackbird Ukulele.

    The shop I contacted said they no longer fit pick ups to the Blackbirds anymore.

    Apparently, the Ekoa material is very unpredictable when you drill into it and the internal end has no specific flat block. Iím assuming you need good contact on the inside as well and the Ekoa may be rougher internally than wood.

    Any tips from people who have experience of fitting a pick up to a Blackbird would be much appreciated. Thanks.
    Clive

  2. #2

    Default

    I do not have experience with Ekoa, but perhaps can help a bit, at least to help clarify.
    You say, "the internal end has no specific flat bloc" - are you talking about the bottom of the instrument? That there is no end block as there would be in a wood uke to reinforce the end grain joint of the sides?
    That could be an issue for the mounting of the endpin, or jack to connect to an amplifier. Perhaps this is why it "is very unpredictable when you drill into it"?
    An external block could be fabricated and glued to the bottom of the uke instead of being on the inside. I could begin to visualize how this could be made to be aesthetically pleasing while providing the support needed. Once the block was in place, drilling should be simplified, I think. Just a thought.
    But you also say, "I’m assuming you need good contact on the inside as well and the Ekoa may be rougher internally than wood." What kind of pickup are you contemplating? A piezo pickup should be able to be glued to the underside of the soundboard. If the surface is a bit rough, Harbor Freight sells a "super glue gel" that should be sufficiently gap filling.
    Or you could install an under saddle pickup. The saddle will have to be sanded down the height of the pickup to preserve the current action. No gluing would be required.
    ...or perhaps I am misunderstanding the problem?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    NorCal
    Posts
    346

    Default

    The Blackbird response on installing a MiSi pickup after production: "Yes, we are able to add electronics after the fact and often install them as the last operation. There is a small retrofit fee given the strap button is bolted in and must be drilled out to replace with the 1/4" jack. There is no negative implication to retrofitting electronics. "

    I recommend contacting them directly for assistance in answering your concerns.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Port Hueneme, CA
    Posts
    2,604

    Default

    I have put many pickups in wood instruments and have no reservations about drilling. I bought a second hand Farallon with no pickup. I was contemplating installing one and decided if I really want a pickup I would send it back to Blackbird. Since I don’t plan on gigging with the uke, I really don’t need a pickup. I tried the other day my old stick on Woodie pickup, it works and sounds great. The few instances I need to plug in I will use it.
    Keep Strummin'

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Somerset, U.K.
    Posts
    114

    Default

    Thanks for all replies.

    I think the problem is internally at the Jack socket area. Some of the Blackbirds have been uneven on the inside and it can take hours to glue shims and supports to get the jack socket to protrude straight and level, without leaving a gap to one side because it is at a angle.

    It can be done and the jack may be solid enough at first, but there is no guarantee of the longevity. The shop now orders Blackbirds with the pick ups factory fitted, as its much easier for them to do it at the factory.

    I have just had a misi installed in my other tenor Uke, so i will use that one. It would have been nice to have one in the Farallon, as i have read how good they can sound amplified.

    I will only be plugging in on the odd occasion over the next few months, but hopefully a lot more further down the line as i grow in confidence. I am currently a novice as far as plugging in goes and I’m researching practice amps now.
    Clive

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Somerset, U.K.
    Posts
    114

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SailingUke View Post
    I have put many pickups in wood instruments and have no reservations about drilling. I bought a second hand Farallon with no pickup. I was contemplating installing one and decided if I really want a pickup I would send it back to Blackbird. Since I don’t plan on gigging with the uke, I really don’t need a pickup. I tried the other day my old stick on Woodie pickup, it works and sounds great. The few instances I need to plug in I will use it.
    I’ll have a look at the Woodie pickup. That could be an option. Thanks for that.
    Clive

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