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View Full Version : coverting a uke, into a bass uke?



covernment
04-07-2010, 07:40 AM
just a question if i got a tenor or baritone uke and got bass uke strings and switched them out would it sound ok? i really want a bass uke but the only one i can find online is 400 big ones and i dont have that kinda money to spend :/. the only problem i see would be the bass strings being too thick to put in the uke. but yea just tell me if i should try it or not.

dnewton2
04-07-2010, 07:50 AM
I think you would need new/different tuners, bridge and strings at minimum. Maybe a special pick-up for the bass, not sure about that. I think in the end it would be cheaper and easier to just save up and buy the bass uke. On the road toad site the cheap tuners are $77, the bass pick up is $70, bass strings are $24 and I will add $10 for a bridge blank. That is $181 for parts, plus you would need a uke and tools to make the upgrades. It can be done since there are base ukes out there.

Skrik
04-07-2010, 07:59 AM
On the other hand, the Kala ukulele bass goes for $499. I say go for it.

Tudorp
04-07-2010, 08:08 AM
I am a bass player, and it might be fun to build one, but ya might need new tuners to accept the larger gauge strings, and changing the bridge and nuts or re-filing them of course. The biggest concern is a good bass will be built much heavier than a standard guitar, with steel rod in the neck too. The tension on the neck is tremendous and might even fold a regular Uke in half.. lol.. I would hate to be holding it when that happens, hahhah..

dnewton2
04-07-2010, 08:19 AM
On the other hand, the Kala ukulele bass goes for $499. I say go for it.

The Spruce top is $409, A little cheaper. I am going to round up my estimate to $200 for parts (added a new nut and some shipping). Plus the uke, I would think at least $100. $300 < $409 but there is build time (time is money) and any tools you might need. I think it can be done, I have thought about it. I am not sure how much money you will save, and depending on you building skills the final product may not be as nice.

If you do it please keep a builders log with pics so you can show us how it is done.

covernment
04-07-2010, 08:20 AM
thanks yall wasnt sure if it would work or not, guess i should start savin!

sebi
04-07-2010, 08:21 AM
I think in the end it's cheaper getting the Kala UkuleleBass from MGM for about $400 on his ebay store. I own one and it is worth all its money. But hey, I've been thinking of building my own Ukulele Bass, too :-) According to my research (and like the others said before), you'd need to change the tuners, the bridge, get a piezo pickup, drill bigger holes for the strings, cut a hole into the back of the baritone uke, and I'm sure I'm missing something. Anyway, would be a nice project for the weekend. Tell me if you decide to do it.

Btw, here my latest video with the Kala U-Bass in action:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wzqq1aY7d0Y

Skrik
04-07-2010, 08:37 AM
I am a bass player, and it might be fun to build one, but ya might need new tuners to accept the larger gauge strings, and changing the bridge and nuts or re-filing them of course. The biggest concern is a good bass will be built much heavier than a standard guitar, with steel rod in the neck too. The tension on the neck is tremendous and might even fold a regular Uke in half.. lol.. I would hate to be holding it when that happens, hahhah..

Luckily, there are plastic strings (the same kind of stuff O-rings are made of) available that give bass tones at ukulele tensions and scale-lengths. Normal bass-strings on a ukulele? I shudder at the thought.

Skrik
04-07-2010, 08:39 AM
New Hora baritone ukulele with solid spruce top: 39 (http://www.hora.ro/pages/mandolins.htm) (plus shipping). (Scroll down the page to see it.)

SailingUke
04-07-2010, 08:51 AM
You would need tuners and probably a major modification to the bridge to get the strings to attach.
No telling what you would need to get the action set correctly. MusicGuyMike has the KALAs for a little over $400.
You would have a first class quality instrument.

dnewton2
04-07-2010, 08:55 AM
There is the Ashbory bass (http://www.largesound.com/). It has a 18" scale and can be found for around $270. It is purly electric. I don't know anything about these personally but it is cheaper then the UBass.

kissing
04-08-2010, 12:56 AM
I was just about the suggest the same thing:
http://www.ashborybass.com/Purchase.shtml

These use latex (rubber) strings though, and would feel different from a bass Uke.
I read in one review of the Kala Ubass that the Ubass had greater playability than the Ashbory bass.

sebi
04-08-2010, 07:08 AM
I've played the Ashbory and it is a really cool instrument, but it is definitely no ukulele bass. The Kala U-Bass really gives you the feeling of a uke. Of course it depends what you are looking for. Just be careful with the Ashbory bass, the strings are rather sticky to play, whereas the strings on the U-Bass are very smooth to play.

angelopb
04-08-2010, 09:05 AM
I think you can purchase ashbory parts a la carte easily. The ashbory pickup transducer is also the bridge so you don't string those through the body. But that works with an active preamp circuit board.

Not sure if it would work without the active preamp circuit but you can buy that too. I would not purchase a new uke for purposes of converting it to a bass uke.

I have the pahoehoe low tension set on my ashbory bass. The G and D strings seem thinner than the ashbory strings and the output seems a little muted by comparison. But you get way better intonation and it is much more playable with more growl on the ashbory. In other words, more plastic and less rubber is a good thing.

If you are on the cheap find a used ashbory for like under $125. Make sure it is the deArmond/Fender reissues as those are better than the originals LOL. If you have trouble, PM me. But if I part with mine, I am getting a U-Bass. So if you have the coin, get the Kala.

MGM
04-08-2010, 09:22 AM
Great video cover love it and what did you do to compress the voices in the harmonies like that

PhilUSAFRet
07-28-2011, 01:58 PM
For just under $200 you can get a Samick Corsair MC 1 mini bass at 33"
For under a hundred, you can get a no name chinese mini base at 36"
The new 5 string Kala UBass is 31"
Just sayin!

kissing
07-29-2011, 01:45 AM
In my search for short-scaled basses, I also came across the Fernandes Nomad bass.
Also something worth checking out if you want a small bass packed with features :)

greenway
07-29-2011, 02:37 AM
What's with everyone wanting small basses.
I'm mainly a bassist and I'm looking for bigger ones :p

jop
07-29-2011, 03:31 AM
This thread about UkeNukem's project (also has a link to my project) may interest you. It's certainly doable.
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?44202-Yes-it-can-be-done&highlight=ukenukem+bass

Jens

jop
07-29-2011, 03:37 AM
What's with everyone wanting small basses.
I'm mainly a bassist and I'm looking for bigger ones :p

Imagine a regular scale bass equipped with Pahoehoe strings. Talk about DEEP!

ichadwick
07-31-2011, 03:01 AM
In my search for short-scaled basses, I also came across the Fernandes Nomad bass.
Also something worth checking out if you want a small bass packed with features :)
And the Beaver Creek short-scale acoustic bass (25" scale).

kissing
07-31-2011, 03:13 AM
Gosh, it's amazing how many different uke-sized basses there were wayyyy before the Ubass became known. I wonder why they don't hit it off as much.

Maybe because they didn't have the brains to market it to the ukulele crowd, who are the ones really interested in small basses (most bass players seem to be interested in big basses, and think little of small basses)

greenway
08-01-2011, 03:15 AM
^ I dunno about that seeing as a lot of upright bass players buy fretless Ubasses for traveling and such

webby
08-01-2011, 03:32 AM
New Hora baritone ukulele with solid spruce top: 39 (http://www.hora.ro/pages/mandolins.htm) (plus shipping). (Scroll down the page to see it.)

I think you would get a better sound by putting rubber bands on the cardboard box it's gonna come in.

:)

evacita
11-04-2011, 05:08 AM
I'm new to ukulele and to bass but I was wondering whether strings from acoustic bass couldn't be used on a bariton uke. I'm also interested in trying something like this. Do you think that might work?

we tigers
11-04-2011, 05:17 AM
I don't think it'll work. A bass needs to be a hell of a lot sturdier than a uke. I own a UBass and it sure is a nice bass. Just start saving and buy a Kala Ubass ;)

mr moonlight
11-04-2011, 05:55 AM
I don't think it'll work. A bass needs to be a hell of a lot sturdier than a uke. I own a UBass and it sure is a nice bass. Just start saving and buy a Kala Ubass ;)Yeah, bass strings have a lot more tension then regular strings. Even if you did convert a Tenor or Bari into a bass, you'd likely inflict some serious damage to your uke. You'd probably want to widen your neck as well to accommodate for the thicker strings. In the end, you'd be better off just buying one. If you just want a regular acoustic bass, you can pick up a cheap one for around $150 new, less if you can find a used one. Then you can tune it what ever way you want so it will play like a uke bass, but with a longer scale length.

clayton56
11-04-2011, 11:04 AM
I think the baritone uke is built a little too thin as well, it will probably rattle with the vibrations.

What I did with my baritone that works pretty well is convert it to an octave uke, that is, put the lower 4 guitar strings on it and tune it an octave below a regular uke. It's easy to play and sounds like the lower range of a guitar. The tension is correct for that scale length, maybe a little loose.

With most guitar sets, the top two strings would be quite loose, because they are tuned down 1/2 step from the intended tension. However I found a set where those two strings are a little heavy, and they work perfectly. It also has a wound third string so all four bass strings are wound (it's the GHS Doyle Dykes set).

Jon Moody
11-04-2011, 02:02 PM
Yeah, bass strings have a lot more tension then regular strings.

This is a misconception. Bass strings actually have less tension than guitar strings, which is why if you string a bass BEAD instead of the standard EADG, you will have less tension on the neck even though there are bigger strings. Conversely, if you string a bass ADGC over the standard, you have a lot more tension on the neck as a whole. It comes down to string gauge over "Is it a bass string or guitar string?" because the top couple of strings on my 6 string bass are exactly the same the guitar string of the same gauge; they're just longer and are made to be wound on a bass over a guitar.

The switching of string gauges isn't as much an issue here with conversion as much as everything else; a different nut, tuners, bridge, internal bracing, etc.. Those other things make converting a bari uke to a true bass uke not an easy feat. However, I'm sure you could find a set of string gauges that would facilitate a piccolo bass set up quite easily on a bari.

gbeckwith
12-05-2013, 05:09 PM
Old thread but I'm posting anyhow. Unless you've got a big ego this is a very inexpensive project. Buy a used or factory second baritone uke and try to spend less than $50 for it. You can find cheap tuning machines for $10-15 on eBay. USP and jacks can be had, also off of eBay or even Amazon for $10-15 for the system. Strings $25 or so. You'll have to file the saddle down when you add the USP, notch the nut to fit the strings. Depending on the bridge, you can drill appropriately sized holes there or move down towards the base of the sound board and drill your holes there. No need to cut an access hole. Drill out the tuning machine slots and mount your machines. Take your time and do it right. I'll bet I can turn mine over for $250 or so.

Flyinby
12-05-2013, 07:31 PM
I agree with the other thoughts that you'll end up spending nearly as much for something not as good.

You can find Kala ubasses on ebay from Butler Music that are seconds or blems, for $300-350, sometimes even less. If you got one that actually had some problem, it would be easier to fix yourself than to try to make up one from a normal baritone uke. I bought one (spruce top) from Butler a year or so ago as a 'blem' for about $300 shipped, and it was shipped directly from Kala. I couldn't find a thing wrong with it anywhere.

I'm not sure there's a lot of benefit from fancier models, solid bodies of different woods, as I don't know how much it affects the amplified sound...very little, I'd guess. And the acoustic sound, who cares if there's a slightly different sound, as they need to be amplified for anything other than quiet practice.

PhilUSAFRet
12-06-2013, 03:50 AM
A Kamoa is a good example of a piccolo bass, wonder if those strings would work. There's a guy selling converted baritone to ubasses on ebay that claims Aquila thunderguts are very low in tension. YOu may have to drill them out, but Chinese bass tuning machines can be had for well under $20.

Lots of assumptions here, many incorrect. Many examples online, several sites, where baritones are converted to a "ubass" successfully and cheaply.

https://www.google.com/#q=convert+baritone+ukulele+into+bass

DaleR
12-07-2013, 10:10 AM
This had been discussed on the bass forum. I converted my baritone to a bass baritone, just by installing the bottom four strings of a classical guitar. EADG tuning. It does not give the contrabass octave, but rather the bottom four strings of a guitar. Light volume is compensated by a clip on mic and a Pignose amp. Really pretty sound too! Much lighter than guitar.

iamesperambient
12-08-2013, 09:39 AM
just a question if i got a tenor or baritone uke and got bass uke strings and switched them out would it sound ok? i really want a bass uke but the only one i can find online is 400 big ones and i dont have that kinda money to spend :/. the only problem i see would be the bass strings being too thick to put in the uke. but yea just tell me if i should try it or not.

its totally possible.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2t-5UgUD-cg

this guy did it i recommend getting a cheap baritone like the rogue to attempt this though.

Flyinby
12-08-2013, 10:47 AM
"Possible" and "Practical" don't always coincide. If your funds are limited, and do have some mechanical skills and tools, along with free time to tinker (and you enjoy doing so) then by all means, give it a try. The Rogue/YouTube guy spent $90, say you add some real bass tuners to it for a total of $110 or so, that's a lot cheaper than even a blemished Kala. Whether the $200 you might save is worth it to you for the work involved, time spent, and considering what you end up with, will vary from person to person. ( I thought the Rogue conversion was pretty decent, until I saw the tuners, which reminded me of a certain Disney mouse...)

A washtub and broomstick and bass string are probably the ultimate budget bass. Great for travel too, just take the string with you and buy a tub and broom wherever you end up.