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Flea Market Music offers an on-line community for ukulele players, informative books on the ukulele, ukulele CDs,songbooks, videos and information on our instrument manufacturing of the FLUKE ukulele. Brought to you by "Jumpin" Jim Beloff.
Roy Smeck Concert Ukulele

Original Post By: lifereinspired Date: 2/24/2018 5:55:49 PM

I'm hoping to order an Outdoor Ukulele and I want to add a pickup. I'll likely be starting with a soprano (though still not quite 100% certain, I only mention this in case it has a bearing on which option would be better).

I'm kind of a tech geek and I want the pickup so I can plug into my computer or my spouse's iPad (we have managed to get several cool music creation apps on there now). The problem is, I just don't know how much of a difference there will be in the two options. Both are made by K&K. I think that one is the Aloha Twin (seen here: http://kksound.com/products/alohatwin.php) and I believe that the other is the Big Island Spot (seen here: http://kksound.com/products/bigislandspot.php). These seem to be the two options that best match up with the descriptions posted on the Outdoor Ukulele website (seen here as the K&K Single Passive or K&K Twin Passive pickups: https://www.outdoorukulele.com/collections/custom-shop). My understanding is that they'll install at no additional cost, if/when you purchase the pickup with the uke. The single passive is $45 and the twin passive is $95. I'd love to hear any thoughts on the differences and similarities, pros and cons of each. Why I would or wouldn't want either one.

This is probably a dumb question but I don't have another way of obtaining an answer. I've read in passing, comments that seem to indicate that if your have a pickup in your uke (at least with the OU brand), that pickup connector can act as one of your strap buttons. Is this really true? So would a person rder one less strap button (just one rather than two)mas a result?

Any advice, assistance and expertise that you could share regarding these pickups would be incredibly wonderful - and hugely appreciated! Thank you, so, so much! I just feel really stuck not knowing more about them and having trouble searching for more info online. Definitely grateful for all of your help and assistance.

Thanks again, I truly am grateful. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
Take very good care...
Posted By: karl Date: 2/25/2018 1:25:57 PM
If you go with an undersaddle pickup, twin sensors are better than a single sensor. It gives a more natural sound. Downside is that the price is higher (95$ instead of 45$) and that the transparancy of the ukulele makes the whole system visible.

I think that undersaddle pickups are good for amplification, but not so great for recording, when compared to a microphone of similar value. I've never used more expensive under-saddle systems (MiSi comes to mind), but they are in a different price league.

Outdoor ukuleles come standard without an end pin, but the website does say you can have one installed for a mere 5$. When an undersaddle pickup is installed, you automatically have an end pin. As a personal opinion, I've never needed an end pin, especially not on sopranos.
Posted By: Dionysis Date: 6/2/2018 5:57:59 PM   (Updated: 6/2/2018 6:45:01 PM)
Unfortch, karl’s post is a little inaccurate. If you are just deciding between these two pickups, what you call them matters not. But for those who want to understand all the options it can be important.

Neither of those pickups are actually undersaddle pickups. Rather, they are passive soundboard piezo transducers that are typically installed underneath or in front of the bridge inside the ukulele. What is usually referred to as an undersaddle pickup is a long thin strip that connects several piezo pickups and is installed directly between the saddle and the bridge. To add an undersaddle pickup you need to trim down the saddle, or route the bridge. Otherwise, the strings will be raised by the thickness of that long thin strip, and it won’t be fun to play anymore. Then you drill a small hole through the bridge and soundboard for the wire that connects the strip to the jack.

Here is a review by a true expert who’s advice back in 2013 would be that both are good but the twin sounds better than the Big Spot:


Installation of soundboard transducers is dead-simple if you are comfortable drilling a hole in yer yewk. If you know where to drill, use the right size bit and make a clean hole you are 95% there. The rest is knowing or figuring out where in the soundboard to adhere the transducers. You can experiment with different locations and then once you find the best sound you just peel and stick ‘em in place. If you are a geek you can do this yourself. Here are the company’s instructions to install the Twins:


The Big Island Spot uses one large transducer (hence “Big”) and the Aloha Twin uses two smaller transducers (hence “Twin”). The Twin was designed specifically for the uke and so for smaller ukes it should be ‘more better’ than for say, a baritone which is closer to the original intended use of the Big Spot which I think was designed for guitars.

Because they adhere to the bottom of the soundboard they tend to be most susceptible to amplifying sounds of handling the ukulele. Both are passive, meaning no electronics nor batteries. Some sound boards and amps require either an active pickup, or that the signal from a passive pickup pass through a pre-amp first or it won’t be able to amplify it enough to sound good, if even audible at all.

They are just piezo transducers wired to a 1/4” jack into which you plug a cable that you then run to the amp. On both of these options, the jack is designed to double as a strap button so you can also mount a strap onto them if you ever want to do that. Those are usually mounted where a strap button goes. However, if you know you won’t use a strap you might be able to mount it elsewhere if the other location is structurally strong enough to handle the stress of plugging and un-plugging and any tugging on the cable.

Now one more piece of advice. When you have questions about the uke in the future, never base any decision on the advice of a single individual respondant such as karl or myself on a bulletin board.

So both should be pretty decent and if you had it installed you’re ok. I’m curious. Did you buy the Outdoor, and how do you like it?
Posted By: Ukulele Rob Date: 6/2/2018 7:01:13 PM
Dyonisis: Great summary. The pickup-type debate ranks only behind high G/low G and the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 for historical significance. From my perspective the most important factor is benefit/detriment analysis of active vs. passive pickups. And as a result, I've pretty much stuck with K&K Twinspots in three ukes. My thinking is that if I'm going to be performing amplified, I'm taking my small pedalboard with me anyway (includes reverb, delay, octave, looper, and a pre-amp, so the preamp takes care of amplifying and shaping the sound before the whole thing goes into the soundboard). That way, at least insofar as the uke is concerned, no batteries or recharging issues as with most on-board preamps. Any time batteries in the signal chain can be avoided, it's a plus (and for the pedalboard I use either a big rechargeable 9V for the whole thing, or just plug it in somewhere - always traveling wit a 20' heavy-duty extension chord and multi-plug transformer). But I also frequently use unamplified instruments, and when I do, I usually bring a Shure Unidyne 545 in a boom that clamps on to whatever mic stand the venue has provided. Works great in most venues. But there are folks who swear by the MiSi, folks who swear by onboard Fishman models, etc. Whatever one is using, if it works for you ... then it's the one for you.
Posted By: Dansimpson Date: 6/19/2018 3:42:37 PM
IRig Acoustic Stage, clips into soundhole so you can add it when/if you need it, works with PA/mixing desk/amps and also Apple/Windows stuff.

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Flea Market Music offers an on-line community for ukulele players, informative books on the ukulele, ukulele CDs,songbooks, videos and information on our instrument manufacturing of the FLUKE ukulele. Brought to you by "Jumpin" Jim Beloff. -