Andover, MAâ€”Being totally focused on the amplification of acoustic instruments explains why Fishman was able to create the AG-series pickup for ukulele in the mid 80s and the Acoustic Matrix preamp system for Ukes in the early 90s.
As it turned out, these visionary products prefigured the nationwide surge in popularity for these four-stringed, two-octave ultra-compact instruments classified as a plucked lute, whose name supposedly means â€œjumping fleaâ€? in Hawaiian. The instrument, introduced to the islands by Portuguese immigrants in the 19th century, is undergoing a renaissance. Hohner Inc., which manufactures the Lanikai brand of ukuleles, saw sales shoot up 300% in 2010.
Nowadays, it seems like the ukulele is everywhere, from Hawaiian virtuoso Jake Shimabukoroâ€™s virtuoso rendition of â€œWhile My Guitar Gently Weeps,â€? a YouTube phenomenon, to Trainâ€™s unavoidable 2010 hit, â€œHey Soul Sisterâ€? and Ryan Gosling playing a Uke to romance Michelle Williams in the film
Shimabukoro recently released an album entitled Peace Love Ukulele that debuted at No.1 on Billboardâ€™s World Music Chart. He and other gifted ukulele masters such as Derick Sebastian and James Hill use Fishman pickup systems in their instruments.
Commenting on his choice of pickup systems, Shimabukuro said, â€œI've been using Fishman pickups with my Kamaka ukulele for many years. I love the warmth and detail it gives me when I'm playing a soft ballad, but I also love the snappy attack I get when I'm really digging in and strumming hard."
Continuing their innovation in amplifying the ukulele, Fishman has introduced the Kula Onboard Preamp System. Designed specifically for the size, shape and sound of the ukulele, the Kula System offers a unique, industry-leading feature set that includes 3 bands of EQ and a built-in digital chromatic tuner.
The small footprint Kula system fits most ukuleles and its specially designed Sonicore pickup features quick, solder-free installation. Unlike any other system of its kind, Kula features an integrated digital chromatic tuner, 3-band EQ, and a low-profile volume control and low battery indicator.
Even the output jack has been totally redesigned to offer an integrated 6V coin cell battery box and output jack or a 9V battery box conveniently combined with an output jack.
Summing up the appeal of the ukulele, Shimabukuro is often approached in airports by people who are curious about his instrument. "There's a friendliness to the ukulele that's very rare," he says. "If everyone played the ukulele, the world would be a better place."
Photos of Jake Shimabukuro by Danny Clinch
For more information about Fishman, call 978.988.9199 or click to www.fishman.com.