24.10.10

Fitting K&K Big Shot pickup to Fluke Ukulele

This morning I fitted my K&K Big Shot pickup to my Fluke ukulele - relatively hassle free!

I chose the K&K internal as this is what is fitted by Fluke at the factory.  Its a pad based piezo transducer pickup and this is important as the Fluke has a molded one piece bridge and saddle.  That means that the more common under saddle piezo pickups wont work on a ukulele like this (no saddle to remove to put them under!)

So here are the steps I took to fit the pickup.

k k bigshot ukulele pickup
K&K in packaging

The pickup arrives with all the bits and pieces you need to install, but I suppose it isnt for the faint hearted, as it requires drilling your instrument.

kk pickup ukulele
K&K out of the pack

As you can see above, its a one piece unit with no soldering required.  You need to put the metal jack part through a hole in the ukulele and secure it with a bolt.  The flat disc is then stuck to the inside of the body of the uke using the very thin double sided tape that they supply (thats the brown strip above).  As I say, the jack is secured with a bolt, but also has a strap pin cover.  I dont use a strap on my ukes, so this isnt essential.

To fit, you need to drill a half inch hole in the side of the uke.  Being a fluke, it has a flat base that allows the uke to stand up.  I therefore needed to mount the jack on the side of the uke instead.  When you look at the fluke ukulele body, you will see the ridges that provide strength to the body showing on the outside - I chose to drill between these to make it easier to fit.  I drilled a small pilot hole in the body first, then moved to the larger drill bit to create the hole as shown below.

hole drilled in fluke ukulele
Hole drilled (gulp!!)

Now for the difficult bit - how do you get the jack through the body of the uke from the inside?  The hole on a ukulele is far to small to get your hand in, so this needed a bit of thought.  What I did was get a thin (ish) barbeque skewer from the kitchen drawer and bent a gentle curve into it.  I threaded this through the hole I had drilled, and with a bit of turning and twisting, out it popped of the sound hole with no pressure on the sides of the uke.  I then put the jack socket on to the end of the skewer and secured it will some sellotape.    A good tip here - I tied some cotton to the piezo pad end - I did this to stop the piezo falling inside the uke when I pulled the jack as this would have been a real pain to fish out of the ukulele body!

Gently pulling the skewer, the jack disappeared into the uke and popped through the hole I had drilled no problem at all.  I removed the tape and secured it with the retaining bolt.  Difficult part done.

Now to fit the piezo.  You are always going to be fairly limited retro fitting a piezo like this because of the size of the hole on the soundboard - you will only get your fingers so far into the ukulele body.  I applied the sticky tape to the face of the pickup and loosened the strings right off - reaching inside I managed to reach a spot on the underside of the soundboard dead centre and just behind the bridge - gave it a press, and it was secured.

All done, and the jack from the outside looks like this

ukulele pickup jack

Or like this with the optional strap button

ukulele pickup jack strap button

How does it sound - well very nice actually - gave it a run through my Marshall Acoustic amp and its very nice.  Feedback is easy to create if you are too close, and it does require a bit of a turn up on the volume dial as this is a passive pickup - but still, very nice clear sound.  It does pickup a fair bit of body noise, but that is the downside to piezos generally - no matter - it will force me to improve my playing style!

Also helps to give it a bit of bass or roll back the treble a little as it can be a little bright, but thats what your dials on the amp are for!

Quite an easy job on the whole - I'm pleased!

1 comments:

Joel said...

Great post. Thanks. You know how you said it picks up a fair bit of body noise. Are you able to do tapping like in this video?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gU_LFuJFSQ

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