So this turned out differently than I thought! This morning I got out my soldering iron and electronic pieces and started assembling a passive loop switcher (this is the schematic I used). I’ve been meaning to make one for a while to try this experiment. You can also buy something like this Radial Bigshot to do the same thing (and more).
Everyone always says “a preamp will make your ‘ukulele sound better.” I wanted to know if it’s true or not. Obviously the extra features that are usually included on a preamp are super useful, but I was curious about the actual preamp circuit. The preamp I used was my trusty LR Baggs Venue DI.
This video contains the results I came up with. I was surprised!
Things to keep in mind during your viewing:
- An active pickup (like what I used – the LR Baggs Five-0) is likely to need less signal polishing than a passive pickup. The sound that the preamp is working with is much more refined before it even touches the Venue. My guess is that the difference would be much more noticeable if you were to do this same experiment with a passive pickup.
- Recording a pickup directly into a computer like this is probably the best way to capture a pickup at its most “bleah.” I usually think my pickup sounds great live, but in this video it sounds pretty quacky and lame. So playing through a PA or amp is a big factor in the overall sound quality of a pickup. Again, I think the difference between preamp/no-preamp will be more noticeable when the ‘ukulele is being amplified.