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Old 08-16-2012, 03:20 AM
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Default Decompression technique

OK, so since I've been playing so much drums lately, my official decompression technique has been to re-connect with my Hawaiian roots and I've actually been enjoying learning how to play the ukulele lately. Everytime I pick up a guitar, the sheer size of it is kind of a turn off so I've been neglecting the guitars, but the uke has been working out for me.

However - and this is where my fellow Drummerworld Guitarists can help me out - I just got a brand new Eleuke tenor jazz style ukulele, which is a solid body, with a piezo pickup, but I've noticed when I listen through the headphone jack on the uke, or have it plugged into my combo amp (a Vox Mini3) and even my PA (Mackie 1604VLZ into a Crown amp and Peavey speakers, with the volume knob tuned way down, the signal wants to overdrive a bit. I'm wondering if its the electronics or if I'm doing something wrong? The uke is powered by an on-board 9V battery so I'm wondering if there's too much power in the battery? As a sound guy I'm a little flummoxed and have put in an email to the store I bought it from. I want a nice clean uke sound when I plug it in, but it wants to distort rather easily, which would be good if hat's what I wanted all the time.

Any one have any thoughts? Picture below of my new axe....
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Old 08-16-2012, 03:45 AM
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Default Re: Decompression technique

It does sound like the pickup has a very high output. Piezos produce their own current so I'd imagine it can be used passively - unless the preamp is doing all the work. Just try taking the battery out. Is there a discrete setting for the preamp independent of the volume output or is the preamp the only volume adjustment? To lower the output would be quite simple if you don't mind getting the soldering iron out! Just wire in a variable resistor to trim the output or a static resistor if you know the value you want.

It could also be string proximity to the pickup. Is the pickup housed in a way that you can adjust it? It would usually be fairly trivial just to lower the pickup further from the strings.
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Old 08-16-2012, 03:50 AM
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Default Re: Decompression technique

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Originally Posted by BacteriumFendYoke View Post
It does sound like the pickup has a very high output. Piezos produce their own current so I'd imagine it can be used passively - unless the preamp is doing all the work. Just try taking the battery out. Is there a discrete setting for the preamp independent of the volume output or is the preamp the only volume adjustment? To lower the output would be quite simple if you don't mind getting the soldering iron out!
I'll have to open it up and find out if there is a discrete setting (I'm at work now). I didn't think about taking out the battery, that's another thing to try. The demos I've heard, everyone gets a nice clean sound out of them, but mine is overdriving. I don't mind soldering if I have to, but I'll try the simple things first. It's a very cool instrument.
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Old 08-16-2012, 03:55 AM
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Default Re: Decompression technique

If taking the battery out means the output is too low then you'll need to run the uke through an external preamp. You obviously wouldn't have any issues with doing that (and the DI that it would probably need too!). I edited the original post to suggest lowering the pickup which would be my number one solution before taking the battery out.

This is why I hate active bloody instruments! The only active system I've ever liked is my LR Baggs M1 Active that's in my acoustic. No fuss whatsoever.
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Old 08-16-2012, 04:47 AM
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Default Re: Decompression technique

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Originally Posted by BacteriumFendYoke View Post
If taking the battery out means the output is too low then you'll need to run the uke through an external preamp. You obviously wouldn't have any issues with doing that (and the DI that it would probably need too!). I edited the original post to suggest lowering the pickup which would be my number one solution before taking the battery out.

This is why I hate active bloody instruments! The only active system I've ever liked is my LR Baggs M1 Active that's in my acoustic. No fuss whatsoever.
I had considered the Baby Taylor guitar - I think that's what my problem is, I want to play a stringed instrument, but a regular acoustic guitar is big and bulky, and an electric is too heavy - it's always such an event for me to just pick them up to play them. With the uke I can be sitting any where and just pick it up and play it. I hope it's being an active instrument isn't creating a bigger headache...

Maybe I should try a good acoustic uke with a Fishman pickup installed....
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Old 08-16-2012, 01:43 PM
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Default Re: Decompression technique

I think you should persist with this uke. It looks great. High output is a bit of a problem but any other instrument with a piezo pickup is probably going to have an active system - including any Baby Taylor. It might be worth trading it for a purely acoustic uke and just using a microphone.

Maybe you should just go all the way and take up the violin!

EDIT: Baby Taylors have no electronics. You probably already knew that. I'm not sure how big the sound hole is but if it's smaller than average it'll be a pain to fit an aftermarket pickup. If you're looking at guitars then I would buy an acoustic and an LR Baggs M1 Active pickup. Honestly, it's the best pickup I've ever had the pleasure of using and I've owned one for about five years now. It's a hybrid magnetic/piezo and it sounds great.

If you're looking at 'small' guitars then a Guild F20 or M20 might be worth considering.
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Old 08-19-2012, 03:35 PM
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Default Re: Decompression technique

Bo, have you tried using the line input on your desk & engaging the pad button/switch? That normally buys you -10db compared to the mic inputs if the instrument signal's hot.
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Old 08-19-2012, 05:07 PM
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Default Re: Decompression technique

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Bo, have you tried using the line input on your desk & engaging the pad button/switch? That normally buys you -10db compared to the mic inputs if the instrument signal's hot.
I tried that, but all to no avail. The thing is, I'm supposed to be able to plug headphones directly into it too for silent practicing and it shouldn't distort, but this uke is not having any of that. The store is going to get back to me Tuesday so we can discuss what to do (they were on vacation). I have a feeling a return is in order, since the owner of the shop admitted that this happens from time-to-time. For the money I spent, I could've gotten a nice acoustic tenor uke and had a really good piezo pickup installed. I wouldn't be able to practice silently, but that's ok. This is kind of a drag.
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