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View Full Version : Should I put a truss rod in my U-Bass?



Mild Thing
08-30-2017, 08:15 PM
I am building an acoustic U-bass: based on a baritone sized uke body (walnut/spruce), 20" scale length mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard, fitted. with Aquila thundergut strings.

Do you think I will need a truss rod or any other reinforcement in the neck or should it take the strain? any thoughts would be welcome.

Titchtheclown
08-30-2017, 10:59 PM
Will depend on the strings and tuning. The silicone strings with low bass guitar tuning probably not with a mahogant neck. There is no such thing as an acoustic low bass guitar tuned U bass this is a misnomer. They are more correctly called hollow body electric. You will need amplification for anything but practice.
I have heard of short scale BEAD tuning steel string using baritone guitar strings which will almost definitely require reinforcing but you will get better volume and may work when jamming with ukes.

anthonyg
08-31-2017, 03:46 AM
The u-basses that I have seen have chunky necks. If your happy with a chunky neck then you probably don't need a truss rod. The strings are pretty low in tension.

Do take care with the nut however. Many acoustic ukulele basses that I have seen/played have had serious problems with strings getting stuck in the nut and eventually tearing. They generally need a fair bit of saddle compensation too although the Aquila Thundergut strings don't seem to need as much compensation as the strings that Kala uses need. Mke sure you find out first.

kohanmike
08-31-2017, 04:59 AM
I guess none of the Rondomusic.com bass ukes suited you? They all come with truss rods, acoustic body and solid body. Once you start playing yours, see how well you like the Thunderguts, I find them way too sticky and noisy, and would never consider constantly using powder to make them work (as is often suggested).

Booli
08-31-2017, 06:49 AM
I guess none of the Rondomusic.com bass ukes suited you? They all come with truss rods, acoustic body and solid body. Once you start playing yours, see how well you like the Thunderguts, I find them way too sticky and noisy, and would never consider constantly using powder to make them work (as is often suggested).

As Mike has said above, to the OP, unless your needs are not met by the VERY affordable and workable uke-basses from Rondo, and really want to build from scratch, with exotic/custom woods, I think you are in for a lesson in diminishing returns past a certain point.

I would hope that you have luthery experience, or are committing to a deep learning curve in the process.

Prior to the availability of the Rondo Hadean uke basses, I had converted a baritone uke, with tuners from largesound.com, a new nut, and saddle and electronics, with extensive modifications to the donor baritone uke, and in the end, was not happy with the result.

I had spent about $180 including strings, and about 40 hrs in learning and modifying the original instrument...

For the SAME money or a little less, and only waiting for shipping time, I could have just got a Rondo unit, which after the positive feedback here and on talkbass.com, went and purchased each of a solid-body, as well as acoustic-electric Rondo Hadean uke bass.

I only use them for songwriting and recording at home, instead of my 34" scale full size electric bass or my 4/4 upright bass which is about 7 ft tall and almost 30" wide...but I have no idea as to the durability for playing live with the Rondo models, and as you can see from Mike's signature above, has has way more hands-on with these models, as well as regularly gigs with them.

I used to play bass in jazz and rock bands in college and a little after, but have not been playing bass at gigs at all in about 15 yrs...

I would suggest that maybe you need to see how you intend to use your uke bass, just at home, or out on gigs?

I will never buy a Kala or other, more expensive uke bass, as my budget is small and my needs do not require it and the Rondo Hadean models are 'good enough'...

Also, like Mike (has said elsewhere on UU as well) the Thundergut and ThunderREDS strings are less desirable to me than the PahoeHoe or Silver Rumbler strings (with each set costing about $25-30, these are NOT cheap to try if you end up not using them), and I am soon to be receiving and testing some steel-wound strings MADE FOR uke-bass, which will of course have significantly more tension than the poly rubber strings, so if you intend to use, or want to have this option for higher tension strings, a truss rod might be advisable.

Mild Thing
08-31-2017, 10:11 PM
Titchtheclown - Thanks, I am planning a standard bass tuning - EADG so I am expecting the tension (and volume) to be quite low. I will be fitting an under-bridge piezo pickup and preamp to amp it up.

Mild Thing
08-31-2017, 10:14 PM
anthonyg - Yeah, i've made the neck pretty chunky and I'm tempted to avoid the truss rod to keep it light, however I'm about to glue the fingerboard on soon so it's the point of no return.

Thanks for the tip on compensation, I'm planning to string it up with a "floating saddle" so find out exactly where the best position is for each string, then fix those.

Mild Thing
08-31-2017, 10:18 PM
I guess none of the Rondomusic.com bass ukes suited you? (as is often suggested).

I saw a number of good ukes but this is for my daughter and she was keen that I made her one - I've made a couple of concert-sized ukes before so I guess she was after that personal touch.

She played a solid body U-Bass with thunderguts and liked them so that was part of my brief.

Mild Thing
08-31-2017, 10:22 PM
I would hope that you have luthery experience

I have a made a couple of concert ukes and an electric guitar before but still learning! Actually the build is well underway, I am due to fit the fingerboard to the neck soon which is why I'm now wondering about truss rods.

anthonyg
09-01-2017, 02:36 AM
Given your situation you may as well fit a non adjustable truss rod to keep the neck stiff. No need for an adjustable truss rod.

Mild Thing
09-01-2017, 02:39 AM
Given your situation you may as well fit a non adjustable truss rod to keep the neck stiff. No need for an adjustable truss rod.

Great minds think alike, I just got back from my local luthier suppliers, I ended up buying a 4mm carbon fibre rod (https://www.touchstonetonewoods.co.uk/products/guitars-and-fretted-instruments/truss-rods/guitar-neck-rod-carbon-fibre-96891425638465/), I'm going to glue 2 lengths together to give extra neck strength.

One benefit over the truss rod is that these are lovely and light. All the truss rods I saw would have made the neck way too heavy!

orangeena
09-07-2017, 10:16 PM
i have made a couple of uke bases, one with a mahogany neck, the other with an ash neck (gigging tonight with the former by the way!). I use the aquila strings, and the tension is very low. I don't think there is a need for a truss rod, but it can't hurt can it?
Max

Mild Thing
09-08-2017, 01:42 AM
i have made a couple of uke bases,

Thanks Max - out of interest, what did you use for the tuning pegs?

orangeena
09-08-2017, 04:08 AM
I bought small bass guitar ones for the first one and adapted them to fit the thinner headstock, which was a pain. Also the fattest bass strings don't fit the slot in the winder, which meant some filling and smoothing needed to be done. Frankly they are a bit heavy and mean you need a strap as the neck pulls down. But they were about 7 from china so I can't complain.