How I’m Improving My Sound

I’ve been working on slowly improving my sound the last couple of years. It’s still very much an ongoing process and I’m certainly not an expert. But a few people have asked about it on YouTube, so I thought I’d rundown the gear I use when I make videos.


This part has been unchanged for a long time. Almost all my videos are done with a tenor Ohana TK-35G or a tenor KoAloha Sceptre. And I use clear Worth strings for the most part.


I’m using an Audio Technica AT2020 USB. Mostly because it’s super-easy to use.


AKA the thing you record in. Until recently, I’ve been using Garageband (the free software that comes with Macs). But I upgraded to Apple’s Logic Pro X (thanks Patreons!).

Basic Effects

These are effects I use on every video. Unless it says otherwise, they’re the stock effect in Logic.

Noise Reduction

I just use Logic’s built in noise reduction. I keep this at a fairly low level so it doesn’t cut out any ukulele sound.


EQ allows you to adjust the volume of different frequencies (i.e. the pitch of the note). The pros do all sorts of fancy things with EQ, but I just do two things with it. I scoop out anything below the range of the ukulele which cuts down on low end noise. And I boost the high end of the ukulele so it’s more balanced with the lower notes (which tend to be louder).

Here’s an example with no EQ then EQed:



At their simplest, compressors reduce the volume of loud sounds and increase the volume of quiet sounds. That’s particularly useful for ukuleles as it can increase the length of the uke’s sustain. Just don’t overdo it because compression will reduce the dynamics of your performance and can increase the amount of noise.

Here’s an example of two notes without compression then with:



Reverb adds echo to your sound to create the illusion you’re in a pristine acoustic space rather than a Unabomber-style shack. Reverb sounds great. Which makes it very easy and tempting to overdo. And I have overdone it many times in past.

I’ve used the built in Garageband/Logic reverb but I’m currently using Raum.

Here’s an example with no reverb, the amount of reverb I like to use, too much reverb and way, way, way too much reverb:


Other Effects

These are effects that I either use occasionally or just use for fun.

Stereo Panning Tremolo

Tremolo rhythmically increases and decreases the volume of what you’re playing. Like in the intro of How Soon is Now?. But some tremolos can offset the volume changes between the left and right speaker to make it sound like the track is moving from left to right.

It’s useful to turn a mono sound into a stereo one. But you have to be subtle with it if you’re just recording one instrument. I find it works best when you have a steady picking pattern.


Brainworx Stereomaker

The Brainworx Stereomaker is another effect that turns a mono track into a stereo one. But this one does it by means that are beyond my ken.

I’ve only recently picked this one up but you can hear it on the I Know the End video. I haven’t decided whether it’s going get a permanent place in my DAW. I like the sound but I’ll have to learn how to tweak it to my taste.


Don’t pay full price for this. It goes on sale regularly. I picked it up for $10.


I don’t think I’ve ever used delay in a video but it’s a fun thing to play around with. You can use delay to create a complex sound from a very simple pattern. In the example below I’m using a dotted-eighth note delay to create an U2-ish sound.

If you want something wild, check out the free Valhalla Super Massive plugin.


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