One of the few drawback of the ukulele is its lack of volume – so if you’re planning on gigging you’ll need some sort of amplification. You could use a standard microphone or you could use a transducer pickup (which you stick to the outside of you ukulele and it picks up the vibrations). But an increasingly popular option is to buy an electric ukulele.
Some electric ukuleles (such as the Applause ukulele) are hollow bodied ukuleles with built in pick ups. Some (such as the electric Fluke ukuleles) are standard acoustic models. But the most entertaining are solid bodied ukuleles such as the BugsGear EleUke and the RISA. These are not restricted in their shape, so come in all sorts of strange designs.
When you’re looking at electric ukuleles you’ll see two different types of pickup: active and passive. Active pickups come with the fancy knobs for volume and tone. The BugsGear has active pickups and the RISA passive.
I have both an EleUke and a RISA. Overall, the RISA is a much better made ukulele. However, the Eleuke does have the edge in some areas. One of the big advantages of the solid bodied ukuleles is that they are very quiet – meaning you can practice without annoying other people. In this respect, the EleUke has the edge. The active pickups mean you can plug headphones in and hear what you’re playing. The sound isn’t great but plenty good enough for practice. Also, newer models allow you to plug your MP3 player into the uke and play along. But if you want an electric uke for gigs and wailing, I’d definitely recommend the RISA.
Another option to consider is ordering a custom Pete Howlett Uklectic.
Pete Howlett shows of one of his Firefly Uklectics.