Considering an Electric Ukulele - dummies

Considering an Electric Ukulele

By Alistair Wood

Electric ukuleles are useful for two very different occasions: when you want to play very loud and when you want to play very quietly. Electric ukuleles come in two types:

  • Electro-acoustic: These ukuleles are like standard ukuleles but have a pick-up in them. Pick-ups detect the sound and turn it into electrical impulses which can then be amplified.

  • Electric: These solid-bodied ukuleles (which are just a single plank of wood) produce hardly any sound unless they’re plugged in.

The pure electric ukuleles do have their advantages. Being so quiet when not plugged in, they’re perfect for late-night practice. And at great volume, they’re less likely than electro-acoustics to produce feedback (the screeching sound you get when the amplified sound feeds-back into the instrument’s pick-ups).

Electric ukuleles, however, do lose some of the traditional ukulele sound. So if you’re going for that sound, buy an electro-acoustic ukulele.

Another option is to amplify an acoustic ukulele by buying a transducer pick-up, which you attach to the body of your standard ukulele and plug in — a very simple and effective way to amplify your playing. Transducer pickups are easy to install yourself; they attach to your uke using a suction cup or an adhesive surface. If you have one that uses an adhesive surface, try out a few different positions for the pick-up before you attach it because different positions can produce different sounds (below the bridge and to the right is a good place to start). The up side of using a transducer pick-up is that you don’t have to shell out for a new uke, and they usually produce a more traditional ukulele sound than pure electric ukes. On the downside, they can leave marks on your ukulele if you’re not careful.