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Posts Tagged ‘Ukulele’

Summary: Like its cousin for the classical guitar, the NG-2, the UK-2 is a piezo pickup that slips under the string loops on the tie-down bar. And like the NG-2 the sound that this pickup produces is absolutely natural, capturing even the subtle harmonics and overtones that my uke creates. And at $99, it’s an affordable solution to get a great sound!

Pros: Incredibly easy to install. In fact, it took me more time to loosen my strings than it did to slide the pickup under the loops! As I mentioned above, the sound is crisp and natural.

Cons: None.

Price: $99

Tone Bones:

Having experience with the NG-2, I figured this would be yet another great pickup from KNA and I wasn’t wrong. Don’t be fooled by the low price. As I always say: It doesn’t have to be expensive to sound good.

Funny What You Can Find In An Antique Store

Last weekend while I was shopping in an antique store in Healdsburg, CA, I heard the beautiful sound of a ukulele being played. Recognizing the tune and the playing style, I realized my son was playing. So I walked over to where he was and I saw him playing this absolutely gorgeous instrument. When he saw me, he handed me the uke and I immediately fell in love with it and just about bought it on impulse.

But the pragmatic side of me took over and I knew I had to do some research, so I looked up the ukulele. From what I could gather at the time, the Alulu brand is part of a Taiwanese company. According to forum posts I read, Alulu produces inexpensive instruments that tend to be a step or two above the cheapo stuff, and as such, quality tends to be a little hit or miss.

The recommendation of those who have them is to play a few, which means this brand is a bit like the Squier brand for Fender. They’re excellent guitars but you have to play a few to find the gems. With my Alulu, I got lucky and found a real gem of an uke!

This particular model, the UKT has an acacia top with Koa sides and back with a mahogany neck and a laminated koa headstock. The company claims the neck is Koa, but I know mahogany when I see it. 🙂 Maybe I’m wrong but that grain is pretty hard to mistake. But frankly, it just doesn’t matter because the uke sounds so good!

So I pulled the trigger and bought it…

Getting Gig-Ready

The gods must’ve been smiling on me because next week I’m playing a memorial service gig and the family asked me to play Brother Iz’ rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Normally I just play that on my guitar, but as soon as I purchased the uke, I knew I was going to use it for the gig. Given that, I knew that I had to get pickup for the uke, and I immediately thought of KNA. I wasn’t sure if they had one for ukulele, but I figured that if they had one for classical guitar, they’d have one for uke. Luckily they did and I immediately purchased it.

So Easy to Install!

Installing the pickup couldn’t be easier. Once your strings are loosened enough, it literally takes seconds to slip the stick under the string loops on the tie-down bar. In fact, it took me over 10 minutes to loosen my strings because the machine heads move so little with each turn. Then it took another 20 minutes after installing the pickup to tune up my uke and get the strings stable again.

How It Sounds

But here’s where it all pays off! Like the NG-2 this pickup is like having a microphone close up to the instrument! It just doesn’t pick up the sound of the instrument. It produces an incredibly natural tone that when recorded, sounds so close to the original sound of the instrument, it’s hard to tell the difference. And it’s incredibly sensitive as well, picking up even the slightest taps and rubs on the body.

I recorded a couple of clips to demo the pickup. These were recorded raw, right into GarageBand with no compression nor EQ and all ambient and reverb effects turned off. The sounds is awesome!

What’s so incredible to me is that as the pickup captures the natural sound of my uke, I will not have to do much EQ with it, if at all. And while I’ll probably add reverb or room ambient effects to create a more live sound, I just won’t have to do much more than that.

This is a winner!

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