What are my options for an active pickup in this vintage Kamaka?

ukeclass

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I would really love to be able to play this instrument amplified in my classroom, and I have concluded that I will likely never sell this HF-1D that I recently had redone by Kamaka. Due to the saddle slot being much thinner and not as deep (about 1.5mm if I’m not mistaken) than current standards, I’m pretty much out of luck using an under saddle pickup put in unless I have the saddle slot widened. Do I have any other options for an active pickup?

I also want it to be active, as I only want to have one connection into my mixer, and not have to run through an external preamp if possible.
 

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It would be an act of vandalism to cut one or more holes in that instrument, especially with something that might well end up failing in a couple of years and could need a different sized hole cutting in it.

I'd get a cheaper one if you must play with a pickup, but that's a very distant second to playing with a microphone.

In fact, I'd just play that one with a mic. I can see the logic of pickups on a ukulele if you're physically moving around a lot, but a mic captures the dynamics of a ukulele so much better than a pickup ever manages.
 
Having an external preamp doesn’t require an additional connection to your mixer, unless I’m confused about what you’re saying.

They’re passive, but I’ve heard good things about the K&K twin spot. They have a hotter output than a typical passive pickup such that you may not need a pre amp. I personally don’t have experience with the uke version, but I have the guitar version (3 spot) in my Gibson J45 and it’s the best sounding piezo pickup I’ve ever used. I use mine with a preamp, less for amplification and more for tone shaping.
 
Hmmm, maybe an IRig Acoustic Stage? Sounds way better than any undersaddle pickup. Has a separate preamp which could be connected to your mixer via a wireless system.
 
Yeah, trade it back to Kamaka for a new one rather drill or cut holes in that.
I would really love to get one of those that sit under the string ends, but on top of the saddle and connects to a 1/8” cable, but those only work on tie end bridges as far I know. I’m highly unlikely to do anything to this instrument anyway, but was just curious. Some of the forum members would try to murder me if I vandalized this instrument 🤣🤣🤣
 
I would really love to get one of those that sit under the string ends, but on top of the saddle and connects to a 1/8” cable, but those only work on tie end bridges as far I know.
Personally, I wouldn't want to depend on those anyway. They look very flimsy with that little connector!
 
Hmmm, maybe an IRig Acoustic Stage? Sounds way better than any undersaddle pickup. Has a separate preamp which could be connected to your mixer via a wireless system.

This is a good solution, I have one and it works very well. It's basically a very small mic that slides on to the sound hole, it is flat on the outside and about the size and shape of a guitar pick.
 
This is a good solution, I have one and it works very well. It's basically a very small mic that slides on to the sound hole, it is flat on the outside and about the size and shape of a guitar pick.
Yes. You won’t have to modify the instrument at all.
 
Yup, that's it. Doesn't damage the sound hole area.

There's a YouTube video of Johnny Highland using it on a vintage Martin D-35; he wanted to use it live but didn’t want to modify his guitar. The feedback killer works extremely well. (Better than the notch filter on my Fishman Blend which is 3x the price of the iRig)
 
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They’re passive, but I’ve heard good things about the K&K twin spot. They have a hotter output than a typical passive pickup such that you may not need a pre amp.
I have a Kamaka HF-1 with a Twin Spot. It sounds excellent and doesn't require a preamp when run through a decent mixer (with tenor and baritone ukes I've had much better results with the Mi-Si Acoustic Trio). The biggest problem with a K&K in a soprano is the installation. I'm fortunate to have a luthier friend with extremely long fingers who was able to install the pickup for me. It would have been an adventure trying to mount it on my own.
 
Is this it?

And will it damage the finish on the soundboard, or is it soft enough that it shouldn't be an issue?
Yes, and they're pretty good.
Basically it is a microphone with an active preamp rather than a pickup.
It just comes in a more compact and "hooks onto your instrument" package than having a big microphone that needs a stand.

My only complaint is that it's a bit of a hassle with wires and stuff sticking out, vs the convenience of just plugging in a jack directly into the instrument.

But yes, it will not damage the instrument and will plug into any amp or PA system just fine.
Might have to adjust a bit to avoid feedback.


If you are still open minded to undersaddle piezos, the Shadow ukulele pickup is on the narrow side and has a fairly shallow profile.
It's a passive, but the signal is quite strong and usable in most situations without a premp.
 
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