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I have been searching for a decent ukulele pickup for ages and have tried most of the transducers that are available but, until now, I couldn’t find one that gave a natural sound i.e. it sounded like my uke – but louder!

I came across JJB Electronics as a result of a recommendation from a guitarist friend of mine who swore that JJB transducers sounded better than any other pickup he had tried.  Given that JJB charge less than £13.00 I ordered one direct from JJB and a few days later it turned up in the post all the way from the USA to me here in the UK.

I bought the EXT-100 model which allows for temporary installation on your uke and has the advantage that you can quickly swap it between instruments.  Being able to move the pickup around on the top of the soundboard also facilitates experimenting with placement.  It is surprising how much tonal variation there is between one spot and another on the soundboard.

I have to say right here and now that this pickup is extraordinary – a real revelation.  It accurately amplifies my uke’s acoustic sound and doesn’t add anything of it’s own.  I ran it straight into my Roland Micro Cube on the ‘acoustic’ setting – the lowest gain setting on the amp and this passive pickup drove the amp perfectly.

I have a uke with a sonicore system with on board pre-amp and I can honestly say the JJB sounded infinitely better.   I tried the pickup on my Martin guitar that has a big brand under-saddle pickup – again the JJB simply blew it away in terms of clarity, producing a marvellously uncoloured sound.

Since buying the pickup I’ve done a bit of internet research about JJB pickups and the reviews are unfailingly complimentary as are the comments about customer service and after-sales backup.  I’d like to add my own thanks to Jessie for producing such a great sounding pickup at such a reasonable price point.  I honestly think this pickup is the best out there at any price point. 

Work and family stuff have conspired to keep me from posting for the past few days but I’ll be back tomorrow with my usual meanderings, including a review of Zoe Bestell’s terrific debut EP.

Watch this space ……..

I bought a 2nd user Hamano 100T, tenor uke, for £165 (including nice tweed hard case) today.  The few that are left still retail for around £350 in the UK, so,  although it was a lot of money, I still feel that I got a bargain.

I don’t know how the guy parted with it – it is simply superb.

I already have a Mainland Mahogany Concert which I cannot fault – apart from the fact that she’s probably just a little too pretty to take out to sessions.  The Hamano is like the plain girl with glasses – you don’t worry about someone trying to ‘pick her up’,  but when the glasses come off, i.e. when you play her, you find out just how sweet she really is….

This really is a terrific  ‘player’s’ ukulele.  It’s a real plain Jane, apparently a close copy of a 20s Martin, but all I can say is that I’ve had a few high end Martin guitars over the years, but the only Martin I’ve never parted with is the old slot head, 12 fret ‘hog’ 000-15s that still hangs next to my chair.  I’ve got a feeling that my relationship with the Hamano is going to be the same.

P.S.  The Islander MT-4, just a couple of weeks old, will have to go, as my other half has a strict ‘one in- one out’ policy. In my opinion it’s about as good as you can get for under £100 – any offers?

My daily trawl of all things uke related on the web led me to this heart-warming little short….

We all know that the Loveable Rogues got fast tracked to the televised finals of BGT but it was great to see yet another young act featuring the ‘bonsai guitar’.  They have real talent and mega ‘user friendliness’.  Their exposure has gone stratospheric but it remains to be seen if their appearances on BGT has undermined their ‘street cred’ or become a stepping stone to stardom – watch this space.