Amplifying Ukuleles & Guitars - Pickups & Preamp Systems

Active and passive pickup systems for amplifying your ukulele or guitar.

My Personal Recommendations

I use a L. R. Baggs Para Acoustic DI-Preamp and a L R. Baggs Element with my Ko'olau CS Tenor. Very interested in their new Venue with all the features of the Para Acoustic Preamp-DI and a built-in chromatic tuner and boost switch.

A few manufactures have pickups installed on their productions models. Most custom builder's have a preference for the system to use on their ukulele but can install whatever system you would like.

The preamp & pickup system on my Ko'olau is passive, I use a L. R. Baggs Para Acoustic Preamp.

Here is a great thread and review on UkuleleUnderground on portable amps for busking and performing with ukulele.

I'm currently using a Fishman Loudbox amplifier series of amplifiers for live performance and actually practicing. One should actually always practice with the performance setup. Something I don't do enough. These are great amp - so much so after buying a few my self at retail our family store, Funky Frets are a Fishman dealer.

My Personal Recommendations

  • L. R. Baggs

    The L. R. Baggs Element is great for the ukulele and acoustic guitars. I have this installed in my Ko'olau CS Tenor and use it in conjuction with the Para Acoustic DI from L. R. Baggs

  • Mi-Si Design Electronics

    A revolutionary battery free active system

  • K & K Sound Systems, Inc.

    Soundboard transducers

Active vs. Passive System

ACTIVE pickups have a circuit that needs battery power. Passive pickups need no additional power.

PASSIVE pickups send a low power, week signal. Passive systems need an external preamp. Active pickups have this preamp built into the circuit. At a minimum an active systems will have a volume and maybe tone or EQ controls. Passive systems might have a volume and tone control on the instrument but typically do not.

A passive approach gives you the flexibility of using a wide variety of external options for a preamp. The tone controls on your amp, P.A. and any outboard gear will typically perform better then the on-board preamp. Plus, as better solutions become available you are not locking into the on-board preamp.

An external preamp converts a “passive” system to an “active” system and greatly enhances tone and volume.

A Soundboard Transducer is a pickup that sticks to the top of the instrument using tape or suction cups. Either on the inside or the outside of the instrument. The K & K pick is a soundboard transducers system. This is the system that Mya-Moe recommends.

An Under Saddle Transducer (UST) pickup is placed under the saddle in the bridge slot between the saddle and the bridge. It is a thin ribbon like element that picks up the string vibrations. A small wire connects the pickup to the end pin jack. This can be used with an active or passive system.

Visit the Amplifying Your Ukulele page for a great video series by Gordon Mayer of Mye-Moe Ukuleles on ukulele pickups.

Popular Acoustic Pickup System

B-Band Ltd

B-Band Ltd

2009 Ranch Road 620 N.
Austin, Texas 78734
USA

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from the B-Band Ltd web site

B-Band is a manufacturer of high quality pickup systems for acoustic guitars, double basses and drums. All B-Band pickups use our proprietary patented electret film technology instead of common piezo materials. Piezo pickups tend to impart a sound of their own, often described as “quacky” or “plastic’, B-Band transducers act in much the same way a condenser microphone does. This results in excellent reproduction of your acoustic instrument’s unique voice. “Hear the Truth”.

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Dean Markley

Dean Markley

Dean Markley Strings, Inc. 
3350 Scott Blvd., #45
Santa Clara, CA 95054
USA
Toll Free: 1-800-800-1008
phone: 1-408-988-2456
fax: 1-408-988-0441

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from the Dean Markley web site

Dean Markley Strings is a company that manufactures musical instrument related products, primarily strings for acoustic andelectric guitarsclassical guitars and bass guitars. The company also produces pick upsamplifiers, and tuners, with instrument strings being their feature product.

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Duncan Turner Acoustic Research (D-TAR)

Duncan Turner Acoustic Research (D-TAR)

5427 Hollister Ave
Santa Barbara, CA 93111-2345
USA
tel 805.964.9610 fax 805.964.9749

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from the Duncan Turner Acoustic Research (D-TAR) web site

What makes D-TAR different from other onboard systems? The D-TAR Multi-Source combines the Wave-Length piezoelectric under-saddle pickup with a miniature condenser microphone that is nestled in a special absorptive visco-elastic polymer shock mount for optimal isolation. With separate signal sources coming from two different tonal points inside the guitar, and two low-profile knobs for master volume and microphone volume to control the blend of the piezoelectric pickup and microphone, the player has more flexibility to bring out the most natural sound possible from an acoustic guitar when amplifying it. Additionally, output can be wired in mono or stereo to further expand on the tonal possibilities when using two signals. The Wave-Length piezoelectric pickup is powered by an 18-volt preamp that operates via two AA batteries. Compared to a more common 9-volt system, 18 volts allows far more headroom, resulting in increased clarity and less distortion when the strings are hit hard. And something most players will agree with is that having great tone inspires you to play better!

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Fishman Transducers, Inc.

Fishman Transducers, Inc.

340-D Fordham Road
Wilmington, MA 01887
USA
978-988-9199 | fax 978-988-0770

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Funky Frets, Boyertown PA USA

Our family store, Funky Frets is an authorized dealer and carries the Fishman Transducers, Inc. brand.

Listing Info click here to show or hide more info

from the Fishman Transducers, Inc. web site

Fishman is dedicated to helping acoustic musicians achieve the truest sound possible whenever they plug in.

Our ongoing commitment and wide range of innovative products has helped our company grow to become the industry standard for acoustic amplification. From the largest arena to your own living room, wherever you hear an acoustic instrument, you can bet you’ll hear a Fishman. Fishman users are passionate about their brand of choice, for one simple reason: we put the needs of the acoustic musician first. With exciting new products in development and the ongoing growth of Aura Acoustic Imaging technology, Fishman continues to lead the way in acoustic amplification.

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K & K Sound Systems, Inc.

K & K Sound Systems, Inc.

PO Box 626
Coos Bay, OR 97420
(541) 888-3517
1-800-867-6863
Fax: (541) 888-4846

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from the K & K Sound Systems, Inc. web site

Our mission is to establish K&K as the premier manufacturer of the highest quality acoustic amplification products in the world while maintaining the highest respect and service to our customers, employees, and community. All K&K products are designed and manufactured in house, enabling us to quickly react to customer and market needs. Specific requests for customized products are easily met for musicians, dealers, and manufacturers. Our products are proudly Made in Oregon, USA. We encourage our customers to shop local and we strive to do the same.

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L. R. Baggs

L. R. Baggs

483 N. Frontage Rd.
Nipomo, California 93444
USA
Phone (805) 929-3545
Fax (805) 929-2043

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from the L. R. Baggs web site

We started this in a loft in downtown Los Angeles, California, with a hope and a dream, and no business sense whatsoever. The first L.R. Baggs product was our LB6 Series Pickup. We would like to thank Leo Kottke for his early support. Stores would call us and say, “Leo Kottke said he was using your pickup.” We could literally track his touring route as the stores would order in his wake. Early endorsers were Steven Sheehan of the Judds, James Taylor and Kathy Mattea. These endorsers gave us the encouragement and support that sustained us when we had more enthusiasm than business sense. They spread the word and gradually our business grew.

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Mi-Si Electronics Design, Inc.

Mi-Si Electronics Design, Inc.

178 Crescent Road
Needham, MA 02494
USA
office / fax: 617.795.2146
cell: 617.943.0414
fax: 617.795.2146

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from the Mi-Si Electronics Design, Inc. web site

Battery-Free Technology for Acoustic Amplification

**Mi-Si Electronics Design, Inc.** (pronounced “My-Sigh”) was founded in April 2004 by an experienced team of engineers with a passion and a drive to make music technology better - for both artists and music lovers. Although new to the marketplace, Mi-Si’s engineers bring an arsenal of expertise and more than 25 years experience in the amplification field, developing exciting and revolutionary electronics specifically designed for acoustic amplification.

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Pick Up The World

Pick Up The World

PO Box 7122
Corte Madera, CA 94976
USA
415-295-4599 / 800-217-0590

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from the Pick Up The World web site

Pick-up the World is dedicated to reducing our environmental impact and to this end, PUTW’s pickups are now built using 100% non-polluting, renewable energy. Additionally, all of PUTW’s pickup packaging is made from United States small farm grown / Non GMO quick composting plant based materials.

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Schatten Design

Schatten Design

367 Ottawa Street South
Kitchener, Ontario Canada N2M 3P3
(519) 742-3862 fax (519) 742-1843
toll free (877) 633-0177

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from the Schatten Design web site

Schatten Design’s continuing quest to build the finest pickups, preamps, and related accessories in the world has produced some truly fine new products. Newly introduced at the 2010 Los Angeles NAMM show was a series of innovative pickups for Uprighnt Bass and for Steel String Acoustics. Also introduced was a new endpin jack preamp, The Player Preamp. The Dualie for Ukulele Dual Element Acoustic Soundboard Pickup

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Shadow Electronics

Shadow Electronics

Shadow Elektroakustik
Peter-Händel-Straße 2
91334 Hemhofen
Germany

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from the Shadow Electronics web site

Shadow Electronics stands for high quality and absolutely reliable pickup systems - and this since 1971. Shadow was founded by Joe Marinic in 1971 and is one of the most experienced companies in the musical instrument business. Up to the present, musical enthusiasm and recognized electronic knowledge are the interlocking columns of the success of Shadow. We cooperate not only with world known top-musicians but we also have a team of highly qualified engineers and partners on staff.

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Tech 21

Tech 21

1600 Broadway
New York, NY 10019
USA
212 315 1116
212 315 0825 (Fax)

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from the Tech 21 web site

Tech 21 was formed by a guitarist possessing the unusual combination of a trained ear and electronics expertise. In 1989, B. Andrew Barta incorporated Tech 21 and made his unique invention commercially available to players and studios around the world. His highly-acclaimed SansAmpTM pioneered Tube Amplifier Emulation in professional applications for recording direct and performing live, and created an entirely new category of signal processing. While there have since been many entries into this niche, SansAmp continues to maintain its reputation as the industry standard.

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Electric Ukulele Pickups

Aero Instrument Pickups

Aero Instrument Pickups

Aero Instrument
156 Lyman Springs Rd
Hilo, Hawaii 96720
USA
Phone: 808-969-6774

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from the Aero Instrument Pickups web site

AERO Instrument designs and manufactures all its products. We are not an importer. We focus on artful design and high quality workmanship. We listen to our customers, and to the best of our ability, advise and educate them.

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Content is always being added and updated. So check-in often. Thanks, Curt

Over 500+ lessons, 54 songs and TABS, 240+ archtop luthiers, 200+ ukulele builders, festival information, ukulele links on the web. On the web since the early 90's and growing everyday. This site just never stops growing!!!

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