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Expand your horizons! A guide to Electric Ukulele

Expand your horizons! A guide to Electric Ukulele

Posted by Duke of Uke on 8th May 2019

"I don't know how to function without music. When I'm not making it, I'm listening to it. It gives me courage and takes care of my mind.."

Billy Eilish 

Prince, Billy Eilish 

Get Creative with Electric Ukulele

"To create something from nothing is one of the greatest feelings.. I wish it upon everybody."


Being creative is what playing music is all about. And let’s face it, for exploring the possibilities of amplified sounds and effects, guitar players have had it too good for too long.. The Ukulele is opening out creative possibilities for more people than ever. 

Imagine plugging your ukulele into an amplifier, adding a range of effects shape the sound, looping, rocking out, and creating your own signature sonic palette.. 

Find inspiration in the world of Electric Ukulele. If you’re a songwriter or musician looking to explore new instruments and effects to create new sounds, read on!

What is an Electric Ukulele?

A solid-body electric ukulele works on the same principle as an electric guitar, using steel strings (rather than nylon) and magnetic pickups. Just like electric guitar, the creative possibilities for songwriting and creating new sounds from your instrument is limitless! 

Electric ukuleles are tuned exactly the same as their acoustic counterparts, in G-C-E-A tuning. For the full electric experience, some electric ukuleles are tuned with a low G, increasing the range of notes. A solid-body ukulele requires an amplifier to project the sound, just like an electric guitar. 

What’s the difference between an Electro Acoustic and Electric?

Electro Acoustic ukuleles have an under saddle pickup that works differently to magnetic pickups, to amplify the sound of nylon strings. It will sound more like an acoustic ukulele at a louder volume. 

Creatively you can do almost anything with Electro Acoustics that you can with Electric Ukulele, once you plug in, it’s all about experimentation and having fun! 

Bohemian Electric Oil Can Ukuleles, Risa “Fender Style” Electric Ukuleles

Electric Ukuleles to Inspire

Electrics look cool! For a first instrument, it’s well worth checking out the Bohemian Oil Can Ukulele. Based on the South African Oil Can Guitar, the ukulele versions are fun to play, feature magnetic pickups and come in six funky designs.

German manufacturer Risa are undoubtedly the kings of Electric Ukulele. Essentially ukulele versions of well known electric guitar models, these electrics have the same cool finish options, and stage ready build quality you’d expect from any big guitar brand.

Selection of Xvive Micro Effects Pedals

Effects for Ukulele

Just like their guitar counterparts, ukuleles sound exceptionally great when put through effects!

"I honestly cannot live without that great amp reverb. I’ve tried and have survived, but it’s not a happy life without reverb."

Cat Power

Reverb Pedals

Reverb sounds amazing on electric instruments, and can really liven up a plugged in sound. Reverb emulates the open sound of various rooms and environments. Spring, Plate, Hall are common styles, and pedals often allow you to switch between these modes to create new textures and colour your sound.

Loop Pedals

A looper ‘records’ your playing, so you can accompany yourself! Most prominently used by Ed Sheehan and KT Tunstall, looping can be used to create a new world of texture or to build up an ensemble of multiple parts using just one ukulele!

Delay Pedals

Also referred to as ‘Echo’ this effect repeats sound back to you. Delay can be used for making ghostly sounding echoes, for creating ethereal big sounds or for building up intricate polyrhythms!

Distortion Pedals

Distortion adds gain, crunch or overdrive to your sound! Any big sound you would associate with rock or punk electric guitar playing is usually achieved with a distortion effect. Great on electric ukulele if you really want to Rock Out!

For an Electric Ukulele or effects to expand your horizons, see our recommendations below

Bohemian Oil Can

Electric ukuleles are fun, but if you want something wilder, something stranger, something that rocks; meet the utterly unique Oil Can Ukulele, from Bohemian. For a ukulele that stands out from the crowd, look no further!

These characterful ukuleles sound as great as they look! Each Bohemian Oil Can Electric Ukulele comes with a unique retro print design inspired by classic automobile industry graphics and vintage Americana. Oil can guitars have become central to the sound of many street bands in Johannesburg, nothing else sounds quite like these resourceful and innovative instruments. Get the sound of South Africa in a Ukulele sized package!

Risa TE Seafoam Green Electric Tenor Ukulele

Risa make some of the best Solid Body Electric Ukuleles around and the Risa TE is no exception.

A scaled down faithful ukulele recreation of the Tele, the Risa TE features a single coil pickup in the neck and humbucker in the bridge. Traditional volume and tone controls on the Tele style chrome plate add to the possibilities of shaping your sound between chiming lead tones, jazzy rhythm and growling, crunchy riffs - it's all here.

Risa ST Cream White Electric Tenor Ukulele

A scaled down faithful ukulele recreation of the Strat, the Risa ST features a single coil pickup in the neck and humbucker in the bridge.Risa ST Electric ukuleles come in the classic 60s colours familiar to many, with Black, White and Sunburst finishes available in high shine gloss.

As fun to play as it's famous guitar counterpart, there is no match for Risa in electric ukulele, these steel stringed wonders really are are the real deal.

Risa UKS385MP Stick Electric Concert Ukulele

A perfect electric instrument for travelling, the Risa Concert Stick is compact with a big sound. Solid body like other electric instruments, with traditional Nylgut ukulele strings like your trusty acoustic, this electro Concert is great with effects and ready for both stage and the road!

Effects Pedals

Xvive Micro Effects Pedals are ideal for expanding the sonic possibilities with an Electric or Electro Acoustic Ukulele.