What is an Electric Ukulele?
One thing that has always baffled us is the fact that the electric ukulele does not get used as much as it should. The electroacoustic guitar is used often, but most people who play the ukulele tend to amplify it via other means, no doubt because it is far simpler for them to do that.
An electric ukulele is a ukulele which is connected to an amplifier. There will be a set of magnets inside (known as pickups) which will react to the vibrations of the string and filter this through to the amplifier through some technical wizardry. We won’t go into depth on how this works.
The problem many people have with an electric ukulele, and no doubt the reason why people end up purchasing a standard acoustic ukulele and amplifying it in other ways, is likely down to the fact that the sound can come across as incredibly digital, particularly if you filter it through a cheap amplifier. This can take away some of the character of the music you are playing. This is a great shame.
There are three types of electric ukulele:
Solid-Body Electric Ukulele
If you played one of these without an amplifier, you would barely hear a sound. They produce next to nothing. The sound would barely be heard beyond you. They will have steel strings in place. The only way in which the sound can be heard is if the amplifier is switched on. The pickups on the ukulele will pick up the sound and output it. You can filter this sound through effect pedals and the like (often the same effect pedals that you can use if you are playing guitar). Many people do love the sound that a solid-body electric ukulele produces. You may do too, although it is not often the best place to get started. You will want to opt for the second electric ukulele type.
This is the same as a standard acoustic ukulele. The difference is that there is a small pickup placed inside which amplifies the sound. If you do not switch on the amplifier, then the instrument can be heard in exactly the same way as a standard acoustic. Basically, you have the best of both worlds here. This type of ukulele will have either nylon or gut strings.
One of the things that we love about this instrument is that you can tell the difference between the tone of the electronic sound and the acoustic sound. If you are recording then it is a beautiful mix. If you have it as a performance instrument, then not quite as much.
Electric Lap Style Guitarlele
Not as common and probably one that you will not be picking up. This is a ukulele which will lay in your lap and you will play it on its side. This is never going to be the first ukulele that you buy. In fact, we reckon that most professional players have never even so much as touched an electric lap steel ukulele. Basically, you never need to think about this one.