View Full Version : Neck reinforcement on bass uke

11-07-2016, 02:24 PM
I have a special order from someone for a Bass uke so I ordered some aquila thunderguts, some standard bass tuners and thick fret wire and suddenly realised I have no idea what I am doing.:confused:
I assume I need to go to my local kite shop to get a carbon fibre rod for neck reinforcement.
Any other tips?

11-07-2016, 03:02 PM
I've played a few bass ukuleles with polyurethane/Thundergut strings. Those strings don't have a lot of tension in them although all the instruments have chunky necks. Reinforcement would be a play it safe idea but don't be too worried.

Having played a few, most of them suffer from poor headstock design and nut implementation. The strings get stuck in the nut VERY easily which makes tuning horrible and I've seen strings slowly tear apart (I was surprised that they didn't immediately snap) at the nut. My two bobs worth is keep the string runs to the tuners straight, definitely not coming into contact with other strings and make a VERY slippery nut.

Also those strings need quite a bit of saddle compensation but I'm not knowledgeable enough to give you figures.


11-07-2016, 03:06 PM
Since your in Canberra. Better Music in Phillip had a 2nd hand Solid body Kala u-bass when I was there last week and Pro Audio had a New Tanglewood U-bass STYLE instrument when I looked last week too.

Have a look at how they work. Find out from the client what he wan't you to do that he can't buy off the shelf.


11-07-2016, 07:37 PM
You will not really need a truss rod, but I suggest instead of the Aquila Thunderguts, which are very sticky and will "sausage" over time, you might consider the Road Toad Pahoehoe, they're very smooth, have in my opinion a deeper sound, will last a very long time and not sausage, but will stretch a lot and take longer to settle in.

11-08-2016, 12:06 AM
Thanks for this
Got to better music and had a look at what they had. The Kala Ubass had some nasty rubbery stickynugly things on it that I did not like the feel of and had massive compensation built into the bridge. The Riptide(?) bass had the Aquila strings on, which I preferred the feel of anyway. No compensation in the saddle though, not that I could tell too much.The action at the 12th fret looks a little high to my uke and guitar playing eyes on both of them but on the Ubass it actually felt like it was not enough when playing it, not that I know what I am doing with a bass anyway.

To put it into context I went to the Ukulele Republic on Canberra (URoC) meeting on Saturday and sold a heap of my Titch the Clown Mo Ukulele Movember cookie tin ukes to raise money for Movember and the bass player/organizer Charlie Chan kept asking me where his bass uke was. Never one to pass up a challenge unless it was hard or difficult or inconvenient or boring or I didn't feel like it, I hopped on the web and started buying bits.
Actually got in my hands the DAddario Nyltech ej88ub set. Total tension set 45.76 lbs on 533mm scale length.

Dont let me forget around 520mm scale length, about 45mm at the nut and about 70 mm wide at the bridge.

Never forget, the ukulele is a fun instrument. I shall have fun making this. I may even make it a twin neck just for fun, just so that when Charlie asks me where his bass ukulele is I can say Sorry Charlie I only made a half Bass - the other half is tenor scale.

My Mo ukulele movember add is on gumtree and allclassifieds.

11-09-2016, 12:44 AM
I have made a couple of ukulele basses now, the first one based on a kit (although I made the body instead of using a donor 3/4 guitar). There is no need for a truss rod. These strings are so low tension you could lift them out of the nut slots with your fingers, pretty much.
I would agree with the comment about getting the angle of the head stock right as the nut will grab the strings which means turning the tuning peg has no effect.....no effect.....no effect.....LOADS of effect. This can result in you having to nurse the strings through the bridge. The second one I made had a better neck angle and doesn't suffer the same problem. I had to adapt a set of ordinary bass tuners as I could not find any for the ubass (well not in my budget anyway). This involved filing the slot to accommodate the chunky E and A strings. I failed to do this smoothly and the result is the tuners will damage the strings. But nothing has gone twang just yet, probably because the tension is so low. I didn't have to worry too much about saddle compensation, just used Stewmacs calculator. These strings are so stretchy you can sort of persuade them into tune when you need to.
The first bass has been gigging successfully for a year now and sounds like a big ol' upright with the right PA.

11-09-2016, 10:07 AM
My wife plays bass uke and tuning her U Bass used to be a problem. To improve things, I ever-so-slightly softened the sharp corners on the nut and saddle and applied graphite (pencil lead) for the black strings and talcum powder when she changed to white strings. Noticeable improvement.