Ukulele Pedal Recommendations?
Dear Ukulele Underground,
Can you make a few recommendations for pedals to go with my uke? I'm looking for something to have fun, try something new, and just mess around ... nothing serious. There are a bazillion choices out there and I just don't know which to go with.
This one sort of depends on what type of ukulele you play and the kind of sounds you are going for as far as effects go. For live performances, Aldrine doesn't really use pedals for his ukulele - for the most part he just uses an LR Baggs Venue DI. It has an on-board chromatic tuner and you can set a ton of parameters to really dial in the levels for your ukulele and make it sound great. I know a lot of professional ukulele players use this as their primary DI, so you can't go wrong with the Venue.
In his UU+ Master Class, Imua Garza showed us some of the pedals he uses for his ukulele as well, which included a chromatic tuner (Boss TU-3), a reverb pedal (Hall of Fame by TC Electronic), and a delay pedal (ND-1 Nova Delay by TC Electronic). With those basic pedals you can typically get the best acoustic sound out of your ukulele for live performances.
If you're looking to get into a little more crazy electric-guitar-type effects, it's a little bit tough on ukuleles mainly because they are primarily acoustic instruments. It's a lot like running an acoustic guitar through an electric guitar effects pedal - what you get might sound interesting, but it may not necessarily result in the intended effect. If you want to try it out just to play around, there are a few relatively cheap multi-effects pedals out there that offer a ton of options in one small box. I have the Zoom G1on, which typically runs for around $50, to use for electric guitar stuff and it's pretty powerful for what it is.
That said, there are a few ukulele manufacturers that make electric ukuleles. Eleuke/Bugsgear, Teton, and RISA have been making electric ukuleles with nylon strings for awhile, which are alright but don't necessarily transfer the cleanest signal to be able to properly use with an electric guitar effects pedal. They will work, but with varied (and only slightly better than acoustic ukulele) results. There are a few companies making proper steel-stringed solid and semi-hollow body electric ukuleles - most notably Kamoa Ukuleles (their E3 Evolve), and Risa's Les Paul-styled electric ukulele. If you really want to see what's possible as far as effects go, you'd probably have to pair something like that - a steel-stringed electric ukulele - with an electric guitar pedal and see how it sounds.
Hope that helps and if you have any other questions, let us know, we're always here to help you out! Have a great day & keep strummin'
-Aaron (& the UU Staff)
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