Ukulele Pedal Recommendations?

Ask Ukulele Underground

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.

-AJ


Hey Aj!

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.

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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.

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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'

Aloha,
-Aaron (& the UU Staff)

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Comments

  1. As far as EQ + DI, an alternative the the Venue is the Q\Strip Parametric EQ pedal by Tech 21. Since the center frequency of both mode-range knobs can be adjusted, it’s incredibly versatile at dialing in a particular tone profile.

    I do like to get a bit funky, and was inspired by the pedal usage of Jake Shimabukuro. The Tubedreamer overdrive by Jam Pedals is a nice option to bring in a little (or a lot) of 808 style overdrive. It’s all analog, and has been balanced to keep the midrange going for a warm tone, and the diode design is intended to maintain the clarity of picking and fretting.

    He also uses (in some performances) a univibe/chorus pedal and delay pedal, also from Jam Pedals. An alternative that I like is the Juliana chorus/vibe and ARP-87 delay by Walrus Audio. But small warning, without a 9V DC isolated power supply brick for these pedals (BBD and LIFO), the electronics in delays and vibes can bring some noise into your setup.

    For something totally different, I recently started running my uke + Baggs Five.O pickup directly into a Strymon Iridium amp + cab modeler. This was clearly meant for electric guitar… but (in my humble opinion) it produces some awesome tonal options, as well as the convenience of plugging in headphones and skipping the amp or PA altogether.

    The Iridium models three amps, a Fender Deluxe 1960s era, a Vox AC30, and a Marshall Super Lead. With drive turned down there are a lot of options for near-clean, harmonically rich sounds. Then dial up the drive and get playful pretending your Hendrix or Jimmy Page ; ) Bonus, when the Iridium pedal is “off” (but has electrical power) it is still a really, really nice clean output to headphones.

    My current favorite practice setup is uke into Tech 21 Q\Strip into Strymon Iridium + headphones, typically just playing with the Iridium off and listening the the beautiful natural uke tones… but just a click away from phonic ecstasy.

  2. I just put a mini pedal board together for my acoustic electric ukulele. It starts with a pedal tuner, t.v. electronic Hall of fame reverb, Tcelectronic Ditto looper.

  3. I am a total beginner, and I am hearing impaired. I have a Córdoba Tenor acoustic/electric uke. Since my wife has very sensitive hearing, I am able to practice at anytime by striking lightly but plugging my head phones in. I also am easily bored, so to keep things interesting I got an AMpkit (about 100 buck on Amazon,) that allows me to run the UKE through the AMpKit app on my iPhone. The basic app is 19.99 and comes with a good amount of amps/pedals combo’s/presets. So if you want to play around this is a fairly cheap way to get dozens probably hundreds of possible combinations. For me it keeps me practicing my cords and cord changes (really a beginner!) for an hour or more without getting bored. You can make it sound like you are shredding in an arena, or use an acoustic blues pre-set, or one of the classic acoustic presets that sound pretty good with a uke. It is definitely fun.

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