Stagg Electric Uke Hack : Fitting a pickup to a cheap uke

King Uke has also fitted a piezo pickup to his £11 Stagg US-10 Ukulele.

My inspiration was a series of posts stuck up by Electric Ukulele Land on the Electric Ukulele Land website. After some words of encouragement and a few pointers from Julian Davies I got onto ebay and ordered the pickup: a UK-2000… from Hong Kong.

It arrived this morning!

Here are a load of photos taken at various points throughout the day. Some are a bit blurred, but I’ve stuck them up anyway… I keep forgetting about the ‘macro’ setting on the camera :-)

And no, this isn’t something I’ve done before, so I could no doubt have done things differently. I’ll call out where I think that I could have done better.

Here is the pre-amp. The UK-2000 has a low battery indicator,
Treble, Bass and Volume controls. A battery was included
along with 4 screws to attach it to the body.

And here we have the jack with the washer and bolt
for securing to the body

I’ve included this picture to show you how the wiring works.
The pickup (top middle) and the jack (right) both come
with jacks that plug into the pre-amp (left). There’s
no soldering required. Simplz.

For completeness, here’s a shot of the pickup.
It’s advertised as a “SPIRAL PIEZO CABLE PICKUP”.
And top left and right are a cable tie and fastener.
I didn’t use them in the end.

I tested the pickup before I went any further…

I don’t think that there is any convention for where you place the
pre-amp, but you can see here. The face-plate on the UK-2000
is contoured and a perfect match for ‘the hips’ of the body.

I had to cut the body to fit the pre-amp. This had me sweating, so I went a bit over
the top trying to get it right. First I cut a template in card…

I taped the wood all round where I wanted to put the pre-amp,
and then taped the template on top of that…

The cutting took a while, but that was because I did
it with a Stanley knife. I just went round and round it
again and again until I’d worked the blade through
the wood. The picture’s poor, but you can sort of see that
I got surprised by hitting the internal bracing (top
and bottom).

Here’s a shot of the pre-amp in place. Of course, it didn’t fit first time…
I had to file it to get it right. One thing to watch here is to make sure that
you have enough clearance for the battery latch. Mine was too
tight originally and the battery kept wanting to pop out.

Next up, I tacked the bridge. I took off the
strings and popped out the plastic.

I masked the ends of the bridge and lowered the
hole beneath where the plastic sits – this is where the
pickup goes.  Then I drilled a hole in the body for the
pickup itself.

Here is a shot of the fitted pickup. The pickup wire runs the length of the bridge
underneath the plastic. This was one of the more difficult jobs… I struggled to feed
the pickup through from inside the body. In hindsight, I should have fitted the jack
socket before fitting the pickup so that there was no chance of me damaging it.

Next I fitted the Jack. I stuck on a bit of masking tape, marked and
drilled a hole. And I got the hole too small and had to file it! Damn! 

Like a fool, I removed the masking to do the filing and
look what happened! I was cursing at this point.
Getting the Jack screwed in place was the most difficult
part of this whole project for me.

Finally, I could plug everything together and put the pre-amp in for
the final time. I don’t have a drill-bit to fit the screws at the moment,
so they’re not currently fitted. Another thing I didn’t do was to tie down
 the wires inside the body. The bits came with the kit, I just didn’t
see the need to do it.

And the very last thing to do was to fit some strings.
The first set of Aquilas that I’ve fitted myself.

The strings are colour-coded. Come on Aquila… think about your
poor unfortunate colour-blind ukers!

And here’s the final product…

Beautiful!
I haven’t done much with it yet so can’t really comment on the sound. I’ll maybe blog on that another day…