Understanding Ukulele Pickup Types

Wondering if you should buy a ukulele with a ukulele pickup? Here are a few simple tips to help you out. Most of the time, people will play this instrument acoustically. But when you need to have more power and a bigger sound, going electric is the only option you have. This is especially true if you plan to play on stage and if you are playing with other instruments. Ukulele pickups take the sound and allow you to amplify it, and this will be essential so people can hear your instrument.

Realize that guitar and uke pickups are very different. Since most guitars use metal strings, they have magnetic coil pickups. They are able to read the vibration of metal strings. Of course, the ukulele usually uses nylon strings instead, so you need to have a special pickup for the job. You will find two different types of ukulele pickups – piezoelectric and microphonic. Some of the most popular makers of these devices include L.R. Baggs, Fishman, and K&K Sound. However, other options are out there as well. Manufacturer websites will often have audio samples so you can get a better idea of how they sound.

What Type of Ukulele Pickup? Microphonic or Piezoelectric

These are a simple type of pickup. They feature an actual microphone on the inside of the ukulele and have a connection to the jackpin, where you will plug in the cable to the amplifier. The user can bend the microphone into different positions in order to find the best spot for the nicest sound. While these are a workable option, many don’t really like them, as they have the potential to cause quite a bit of feedback, especially when onstage and moving too close to the amp without realizing it.

The piezoelectric pickups are a common option, and the easiest to use. They typically have a strip of piezoelectric crystals on them that will become the transducer. When you pluck a string or strum on the ukulele, these crystals gather the sound, transform it into an electrical signal, and then pass it along to the amplifier.

Should I buy a electric ukulele or add a pickup to my current acoustic ukulele?

When you are looking for a ukulele, consider whether you will need to have an electric version with pickups before you buy. Many of the options on the market today already come with pickups installed, and this could be much easier than installing them on your own or hiring someone to do it. When you choose the ukulele, make sure you check out reviews to see how it sounds amplified. You should be able to find some actual audio that can help you make your decision.

While it is possible to add uke pickups to an instrument you already own, take care. Some instruments work best as acoustic versions, so you may want to leave them that way. You can use a stage microphone for amplification if needed, and this negates the need to install ukulele pickups. If you do need installation though, consider hiring a professional to do it for you, simply so you can get the best possible sound without damaging your instrument at all.

When choosing uke pickups to add to your instrument, make sure that you stick with some of the top quality manufacturers. Choose from aforementioned makers such as Fishman and K&K Sound. They have some of the best pickups on the market, and you will know you are getting a high quality sound when you use them. Also keep in mind that the pickup is only part of the equation. You will also need to have a good amplifier if you want to have the best quality sound from your instrument.

With my past experience, I would highly recommend buying a ukulele that already has a pickup installed, preferably a Fishman Prefix series. There's many different types with a equalizer, volume, notch, and phase which is installed on the side of your ukulele. Personally, I've got 2 custom ukulele's with a Fishman Prefix Plus (Late 90's model) and the other with a Fishman Prefix Pro Blend (Early 2000's model). Both are great for live performance, on board electronics, and cutting through feedback. This type of pickups must be installed by a luthier.

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