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View Full Version : Bari to ubass conversion?



bunnyf
05-12-2015, 03:37 PM
I'm wondering what people's thoughts are on converting an old mahogany baritone into a UBass. I never play it since I have better baritones and was thinking of recycling this one. Is it a waste of time and money? Will I likely be happy with the result or would I just be better off getting an actual UBass? I don't have crazy high expectations but would like something playable for not a ton of dough and thought that it would be nice to give the Harmony a second chance. Your thoughts or experiences please.

PhilUSAFRet
05-12-2015, 04:02 PM
It's how the UBass was born. Started out as a baritone. I think it's still for sale on ebay. http://www.ebay.com/itm/The-1st-Kala-Uke-Bass-ever-made-a-prototype-by-UNCLES-GARAGE-UKULELES/181743388264?_trksid=p2047675.c100011.m1850&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIC.MBE%26ao%3D1%2 6asc%3D30987%26meid%3De7775383130c4d939260332a411f a712%26pid%3D100011%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D1%26sd%3D1817 14042750

Scroll down about 2/3rds of the way:https://ubassappreciation.wordpress.com/tag/uncles-garage-vintage-ukuleles/

bunnyf
05-12-2015, 04:27 PM
Interesting, Phil, thank you. I've have seen some conversions for sale too but was just wondering how difficult it is to do, how costly the parts are, and how successful the result is, in general. I'd love to be able to repurpose my existing Harmony. Hoping for some tips or alerts to potential pitfalls.

kohanmike
05-12-2015, 09:16 PM
Here's a suggestion; Rondomusic.com has acoustic and solid body u-basses for around $140-$170 US, built reasonably well and sound reasonably good. I don't think you can modify a baritone for these prices. I bought two solid body models to modify because of how low the prices are.

This is being modified:
http://www.kohanmike.com/uploads/Rondo blue bass.jpg
http://www.kohanmike.com/uploads/Rondo blue bass pick.jpg

And this will become a violin style:
http://www.kohanmike.com/uploads/Rondo Hadean burst.jpg
http://www.kohanmike.com/uploads/Violin bass solid red705.jpg

Deaks
05-12-2015, 11:15 PM
You can gets kits on ebay for $40 that provide all the parts you need to convert a small guitar. These might work to convert your baritone?

PhilUSAFRet
05-13-2015, 12:51 AM
Lots of links on the matter: https://www.google.com/#q=convert+baritone+ukulele+to+bass Tension not a problem and now that Hipshot style tuners are available as parts, no big problem. Install a passive pickup system and get one of the Behringer external pre-amp/eq's. Here's all the parts you need: http://www.kalabrand.com/ProductPages/U-BASS-Parts.html

bunnyf
05-13-2015, 04:44 AM
Deaks, Phil, thanks for info, gonna check it out now for pricing and get a better idea how much work is involved. Phil, I understand you tinker a lot. I may have to have someone do some or all of this for me. I'm game but not skilled. Good thing the Harmony is a freebie that I don't really play anyway, so I'm not super concerned about minor screwups.

PhilUSAFRet
05-13-2015, 05:57 AM
Here are some videos. Old adage - "measure twice, cut/drill once." Only complicated steps might be re-drilling the headstock for the bass tuners, and adding a new bridge. There are a few guys on UU who have actually done this, but I can't remember who. Kohanmike maybe????

https://www.google.com/#q=youtube+converting+a+baritone+uke+to+a+bass

kohanmike
05-13-2015, 08:41 PM
I never changed a wood bridge or drilled new tuner holes, I converted a Les Paul Express small electric guitar into a bass, the bass bridge only needed two new screw holes and I kept the existing guitar tuners, but I'm planning to replace them with bass tuners, so I too have to enlarge the tuner holes. Not quite sure how to do that, probably have to fill them with dowels, then drill.

mrufino1
05-22-2015, 08:24 AM
Hi, this is my first post here, I discovered this forum while looking for info on uke basses as I'm getting very close to getting one of the rondo ones. I made a 1/2 sized first act acoustic guitar that was hanging around my house into a uke bass last week, it's a little rough due to my poor woodworking skills but it sounds fantastic. I just wanted to see how a uke bass was to play before I sunk a ton of money in, I have about $30 into this rough one so not a bad research investment! Here's a youtube video of it:

https://youtu.be/xHzE0uiKZXs
And if this is in bad form for this forum let me know and I'll delete, but here's a thread about it on talkbass with some photos.
http://www.talkbass.com/threads/homemade-uke-bass.1153119/

I look forward to reading and posting more on this forum (and hello to those I see here from talkbass)

Inksplosive AL
05-22-2015, 10:58 AM
Interesting, Phil, thank you. I've have seen some conversions for sale too but was just wondering how difficult it is to do, how costly the parts are, and how successful the result is, in general. I'd love to be able to repurpose my existing Harmony. Hoping for some tips or alerts to potential pitfalls.

Why would you ruin an antique instrument? Once the old Harmony's are gone they are gone!

Dunno looks sad to me seeing a 50's-60's label on a headstock of something like this.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/181748490232?item=181748490232&lgeo=1&vectorid=229466&rmvSB=true

BTW this guy makes quite a few prototypes.

Jon Moody
05-26-2015, 02:33 AM
I'm wondering what people's thoughts are on converting an old mahogany baritone into a UBass. I never play it since I have better baritones and was thinking of recycling this one. Is it a waste of time and money? Will I likely be happy with the result or would I just be better off getting an actual UBass? I don't have crazy high expectations but would like something playable for not a ton of dough and thought that it would be nice to give the Harmony a second chance. Your thoughts or experiences please.

It all depends.

If you want to do it because you enjoy working/tinkering on instruments and the entire process in general, do it. At that point, the money and time spent is valuable to you in terms of knowledge, whether the instrument is actually usable at the end or not.

If you want to do it simply because you don't play the baritone and wonder if it would be better to get a UBass and fiddle with that, don't do it. The money and time spent would be better used in selling your baritone and buying an actual U-Bass, especially since Rondo Music has some very affordable options.

I've been in both situations, and while I enjoy modding/building instruments (the bass you see in my avatar I made myself, FYI) you have to look at what you're going to enjoy doing or what you're trying to do just to save a buck.

bunnyf
05-26-2015, 08:41 AM
I have decided to leave my Harmony (late 40s early 50s green label) as is, except for the tuners, which I am changing out to new Grover friction tuners. I have fiddled with the originals long enough and they are just not smooth nor do the hold well. Otherwise, I'll keep my Harmony for a regular player when I'm out and about and don't want to take my better baritone. I'll look elsewhere for a bass. Thanks everyone for your input.