Electric Ukulele vs. Acoustic Ukulele: The Ultimate Guide
How would you describe the signature sound of the ukulele?
This instrument has one of the most distinct and instantly recognizable sounds in the world. From its earliest days in Hawaii to its ever-growing popularity among contemporary performers and songwriters across genres, it is that light and cheery tone that serves as the foundation of its allure and identity. This natural sound of the ukulele is what we often refer to as its acoustic tone.
What is an Acoustic-Electric Ukulele?
An acoustic-electric ukulele combines the traditional hollow body and shape of the ukulele with an electronic pickup that allows the instrument to be projected from an amplifier, or to be recorded directly. Referred to also as an electro-acoustic ukulele or simply just an electric ukulele, the key to a good acoustic-electric ukulele is its ability to maintain its acoustic tone as organically as possible when plugged in.
Ukulele electronics are often referred to as the EQ.
When do I Need an Acoustic-Electric Ukulele?
An electric ukulele offers many players a great deal of utility, allowing them to do more with their instrument.
Generally, EQ is a necessity for an ukulele player that intends to ever play their instrument amplified on stage, perform with a band, or use their ukulele with effects pedals.
In most live situations, especially those in which the player is standing, singing, or sharing the stage with others, owning an acoustic-electric ukulele is greatly preferred. Trying to put an external microphone in front of an ukulele in a live performance setting is often too limiting, difficult to control, and is prone to audio issues like feedback.
Some players with no plans to perform with their ukulele still prefer to purchase an acoustic-electric ukulele because of the built-in tuner in the EQ. All Kala acoustic-electric ukuleles have a battery-powered interface on the side of the instrument allowing players to adjust volume, change their tone, and tune to pitch.
Remember: You will also need an instrument cable and amplifier to get the most out of an acoustic-electric ukulele!
When Do I Not Need an Acoustic-Electric Ukulele?
Acoustic-electric ukuleles are more expensive than their purely acoustic counterparts. So, if none of the scenarios above apply to you, then you may indeed choose to save money and go with a standard acoustic ukulele.
For players that plan to record their ukulele in the studio, or at home, having an acoustic-electric ukulele may not at all be necessary. Musicians and recording engineers achieve the best, most organic ukulele sound on their songs by recording their instrument with an external microphone to capture its true tone. Condenser microphones are the most commonly used in the studio to record the ukulele.
What Acoustic-Electric Ukulele Should I Buy?
If you have decided that an electric ukulele is indeed the best fit for you, we recommend considering the following for each ukulele that may catch your eye:
- How does this ukulele sound plugged in, compared to acoustically?
- What EQ system does this ukulele use and what features does it include
Kala is proud to be the best-selling and most trusted ukulele brand — and our acoustic-electric ukulele models have been achieving high marks in reliability, tone, and player-friendly features for over 15 years.
Here’s a quick guide to our catalog of electric ukuleles, broken down by your potential instrument budget:
Ukuleles Under $150
Ukuleles From $150 - $300