Plug into an amp first or you’ll never hear your uke. The drummer and bassist are looking to you so jump in. You’re here to take charge of this band so of course you are playing an electric ukulele. That’s right. You’re leading from the position of electric uke.
VOLUME - The point is that you can lead a band with bass and drums while playing the electric ukulele. However, you will need an amplifier that is loud enough. That’s number one. A great player will make any uke and amp combo sound great but it still has to be cranked up enough to be ready to jump when the dynamics of the music demand. This is the easiest thing to consider and fortunately many amps that are designed for electric guitar and other instruments will deliver plenty of volume.
TONE - This is the tricky one. How many amp designers are offering a first rate amp that’s really designed for the electric ukulele? The real problem with most amps is that they are designed for electric guitar’s optimal tonal response. Generally this makes your electric uke suffer at the mercy of amps for which components were not voiced for specifically electric uke players.
You might wind up sounding skinny and lifeless when you plug in your ukulele to a guitar amp. But you can adjust the tone controls to improve the sound. Try turning up the mid and a bit of low. Also try turning up a very tiny bit of presence or bright switch (the controls that are higher range than the “treble” or “hi” control if your amp has them). Make these adjustments carefully while listening to the low, midrange and high areas of the sound that your electric uke is producing. Find these optimal settings for a clean or only slightly overdriven sound and this will be your amp’s BASIC ELECTRIC UKULELE SOUND.
FX - Oh yeah! You’re covered! Everything goes so use anything you want to hear. Now that you have set a good basic tone response on your amp, all of your FX will go on top of that! Whether delay, chorus, reverb, filtering, dynamics or overdrive. Only you can be the judge as to when you’re ripping up or just plain over drenched. Some players like more and others less processing. FX can help define your sound... or mask your great playing if you don’t have it right. A deeper look is needed and will be coming at electricuke.com on the subject of FX and the electric ukulele. Deeper. Deeper. Pushing the limits of sound!
The Electric ukulele is coming to a band near you and taking the leading role. And this is only the beginning. So, I won’t try to declare conventional wisdoms about electric uke amplification that can’t yet exist. It is still useful to look at our interest in electric uke amps in as thoughtful a way as can be. When you’re considering what amp to play your electric uke through, consider what sound you want to get; thinking of what volume, tone and FX are needed. You can get started by comparing the guitar amps that you and your friends already have. Try them out!