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View Full Version : Which strings do you prefer for your U Bass



Pindip
03-27-2014, 09:18 PM
Do you use the proprietary strings or do you prefer Aquila Thundergut or even Aquila Reds? The store I have used to buy my ukuleles in the past has a solid mahogany electroacoustic for sale with either proprietary strings or Aquila Reds as a special at the same price. It is too far away to go and try them so wondered if anyone had an opinion.

Cheers
Jason

DaleR
03-28-2014, 03:24 AM
Silver Rumblers! or just buy a Kala Rumbler with the new electronics...

Pindip
03-28-2014, 05:59 AM
Silver Rumblers! or just buy a Kala Rumbler with the new electronics...

Thanks Dale - a Rumbler man to the core!

~dave~~wave~
03-29-2014, 06:52 AM
Maybe you've already made a decision, but here's my opinion:

The factory pahoehoe strings and the Aquila reds are different like apples and oranges.
Both styles are perfectly playable, sound good, and have strong supporters and detractors.

Personally, I prefer Aquila reds.
The factory strings are extremely elastic, and in my experience need to be tuned up from flatness every time you play. They stretch to half their original diameter and tend to not fill the nut slots.

The reds are less stretchy, more dense, and more stable in tuning.
To me, they represent an evolution in technology over the factory strings. They are also more expensive, so would represent greater "value" if that is a factor in your decision.

The knock on all Aquila strings is that to many folks, they feel "sticky" compared to the very slick and slippery feel of the factory strings. A light dusting of billiard talc powder solves that issue for me.

If you are buying a U-Bass without ever having touched one, it's difficult know which you would prefer, but trying different strings is part of the fun of owning one.

Pindip
03-29-2014, 08:49 AM
Maybe you've already made a decision, but here's my opinion:

The factory pahoehoe strings and the Aquila reds are different like apples and oranges.
Both styles are perfectly playable, sound good, and have strong supporters and detractors.

Personally, I prefer Aquila reds.
The factory strings are extremely elastic, and in my experience need to be tuned up from flatness every time you play. They stretch to half their original diameter and tend to not fill the nut slots.

The reds are less stretchy, more dense, and more stable in tuning.
To me, they represent an evolution in technology over the factory strings. They are also more expensive, so would represent greater "value" if that is a factor in your decision.

The knock on all Aquila strings is that to many folks, they feel "sticky" compared to the very slick and slippery feel of the factory strings. A light dusting of billiard talc powder solves that issue for me.

If you are buying a U-Bass without ever having touched one, it's difficult know which you would prefer, but trying different strings is part of the fun of owning one.

Thanks for replying Dave. The music store has finished its special offer on the Aquila Reds so I'm going to get it with the factory strings. I'll see how I get on but will probably try the Reds when they need changing.

Cheers

Jason

Jon Moody
04-10-2014, 03:45 AM
The knock on all Aquila strings is that to many folks, they feel "sticky" compared to the very slick and slippery feel of the factory strings. A light dusting of billiard talc powder solves that issue for me.

Anytime I hear that you have to add something to a set of strings to make them usable immediately removes them as an option for me.

I tried the Thundergut strings when they first came out, and they were okay. Better tuning stability than the OEM ones, but the stickiness was a definite knock against them. And then, when playing a gig with them and having the drummer compare the tone to Noel Redding's bass with Jimi, I pulled them off as I really didn't want that sound at all.

bassfiddlesteve
06-23-2014, 07:27 PM
I tried the Aquila Thunderguts a few years ago. The tuning stability was nice, but the sticky feel really bothered me. I also felt they gave the bass an more "electric" sound. I'm sticking with the stock pahoehoe strings for now. BTW my U-Bass has the older passive pickup. It's not not having to worry about batteries.

- Steve

Wicked
06-24-2014, 02:00 AM
Anybody try the Pyramid wound U Bass strings?

Yeelaberbin
06-25-2014, 09:40 PM
The sound and the feel of the Pyramid are more closer to the standart bass strings.
I do prefer plastic strings, imho the real sound of the bass uke.

kohanmike
08-22-2014, 04:17 PM
I bought a Gold Tone GT MicroBass a couple of weeks ago with Thunderguts. Since I've never played bass before, I have nothing to compare to, but I'm not having problems playing them and I really like the almost bass fiddle sound they have. I'm also having a custom bass uke made that will use Thuderguts.

I'm about to convert an electric solid body Epiphone Les Paul Express 3/4 guitar into a bass and because it uses magnetic pickups, I'm going to use Rotosound RS88S flat wound steel strings with a black nylon wrapper, which also are supposed to sound like a double bass.

http://www.fairfax67.com/images/LP Bass mockup.jpg

bnolsen
08-22-2014, 04:36 PM
kohanmike...those flatwounds are for 30" scale. you'll end up having to tune this almost picollo to not have super floppies. Maybe if your low 'e' string was .130

I would suggest taking the low 4 strings of a 5 string ibanez mikro for your short scale if you can find some that wont unravel when cut short.

kohanmike
08-22-2014, 08:13 PM
I haven't seen any strings with E .130, but the Rotosound have the nylon cover that's supposed to make them deeper. Since they're on their way, I'll give them a try and see what happens.

I did just read on Talk Bass a suggestion to add a length of tubing between the barrel and the bridge plate to get more length. I'll look at that possibility too. Hey, that got me thinking, maybe I should add a tailpiece to get more length from the strings, I have about 5" of space from the saddle to the tail of the guitar, which would make it 27".

http://www.fairfax67.com/images/tailpiece installed.png

Gillian
08-26-2014, 01:27 PM
After taking almost 1 1/2 years to settle in, I'm staying with the Pahoehoe strings on my U-Bass.

I given an Ohana OBU-22 for a birthday present. It comes with stock round wound metal strings that I really, really dislike so I'm having them changed to Rotosound 77S Jazz Bass flatwounds.

bnolsen
08-26-2014, 05:35 PM
Yesterday I put thunderguts on my ashbory bass. Today I tuned them up and redid the 'G' string, I made a confusing mess the first time around. I must admit, as much as the stock silicone strings sucked (and I mean seriously sucked, the bass only had 2 of the silicone left when I got it), I think I liked their sound a bit more.

The thunderguts are spectacularly stable, I think they are almost as stable as steel strings which probably makes them worth it.

kohanmike: screwing with a tailpiece isn't going to do jack. The string vibration happens between the nut and saddle point. Extending the strings may make it easier to use short scale or ibanez mikro strings but will have zero impact on the sound.

The reason I mentioned .130 is that is a common size for 'B' string. I was suggesting perhaps looking into using a shortend BEAD set of strings on your micro scale bass. You'll need the extra diameter to compensate for the scale.

And yeah I personally am liking flats over rounds. I have my gretsch g2202 with d'addario chrome flats, a squier bronco with GHS precision flats and I'm going to put some ghs brite flats (ground rounds) on my long scale squier protone 5er with dual soapbar passive pickups. Sadly I may have to dump the protone as my shoulder (rotator cuff) is disliking the weight of that bass, even with a 4 inch well padded strap.

kohanmike
08-26-2014, 09:05 PM
Extending the strings may make it easier to use short scale strings but will have zero impact on the sound.

That's really all I'm thinking, that they fit better.

Gillian
08-28-2014, 12:31 PM
Here's an update to my wanting to put flatwounds on my new Ohana OBU-22 fretted bass ukulele...DON"T do it!

Upon Ohana's advice, I bought a set of Rotosound 77s flatwounds to replace the stock roundwound brass strings and had my luthier install them. The bass sounded awful...intonation off from the fourth fret on all strings as much as a full note off..all sharped. The E was the worst.

Called Ohana and was told I was given erroneous advice. The fretted OBU-22 should only have roundwounds on it. If you want flatwound strings, then you need the fretless model, with or without fretlines.

I am most impressed by the customer care at Ohana. I was given an apology and told they will replace the fretted model with the fretless (with lines) model. Having never played a fretless model, I was assured I would easily get used to it and being fretless, has lower action so playing should be even easier.

A big thumbs up to the folks at Ohana and Ukulele Source.

bnolsen
08-28-2014, 01:56 PM
Here's an update to my wanting to put flatwounds on my new Ohana OBU-22 fretted bass ukulele...DON"T do it!

Upon Ohana's advice, I bought a set of Rotosound 77s flatwounds to replace the stock roundwound brass strings and had my luthier install them. The bass sounded awful...intonation off from the fourth fret on all strings as much as a full note off..all sharped. The E was the worst.

Called Ohana and was told I was given erroneous advice. The fretted OBU-22 should only have roundwounds on it. If you want flatwound strings, then you need the fretless model, with or without fretlines.

I am most impressed by the customer care at Ohana. I was given an apology and told they will replace the fretted model with the fretless (with lines) model. Having never played a fretless model, I was assured I would easily get used to it and being fretless, has lower action so playing should be even easier.

A big thumbs up to the folks at Ohana and Ukulele Source.

That sounds like a steaming pile of advice and excuses they gave you. Roundwounds and flatwounds aren't appreciably different. I can only guess what happened...the tension of the flatwound strings differed radically from the roundwounds causing your neck to radically bow (or unbow). I don't see a truss rod adjustment or saddle height/intonation adjustment on that bass ukulele so you MUST BE CAREFUL what strings you put on it. Likely you are stuck with whatever strings are stock for that instrument unless someone specifically makes strings compatible with your bass uke.

If ohana wanted to they could provide flats that would work just fine with your bass uke as is. They just decided not to offer that.

Whenever I change strings (electric bass) to a different type of string I've always noticed that the relief is different (whether or not I adjusted the truss rod is another story), I have to readjust the saddle height (again, if I really feel like it at that time) and most certainly have to adjust the intonation by moving the saddles.

Gillian
08-28-2014, 03:40 PM
That sounds like a steaming pile of advice and excuses they gave you. Roundwounds and flatwounds aren't appreciably different. I can only guess what happened...the tension of the flatwound strings differed radically from the roundwounds causing your neck to radically bow (or unbow). I don't see a truss rod adjustment or saddle height/intonation adjustment on that bass ukulele so you MUST BE CAREFUL what strings you put on it. Likely you are stuck with whatever strings are stock for that instrument unless someone specifically makes strings compatible with your bass uke.

If ohana wanted to they could provide flats that would work just fine with your bass uke as is. They just decided not to offer that.

Whenever I change strings (electric bass) to a different type of string I've always noticed that the relief is different (whether or not I adjusted the truss rod is another story), I have to readjust the saddle height (again, if I really feel like it at that time) and most certainly have to adjust the intonation by moving the saddles.

Thanks for your insight. I also wondered about the different tensions between the two different string sets as being a cause and Ohana does provide an Allen wrench to adjust the trussrod. I was going to bring the bass uke back to the luthier but after speaking to Ohana, I thought, well, if that is their reason and they want to send me a replacement new bass uke with flatwounds, that's fine with me. They could have put the blame for the bad intonation back on the luthier but they didn't.

I just want my new bass uke in my arms, with flatwounds, sounding good, and rattle the rafters with my new Fender Rumble 500.

bnolsen
08-28-2014, 03:59 PM
ahh good it has a truss rod. didn't see that on elderly. without an adjustable bridge your options are limited.

Jon Moody
09-12-2014, 07:26 AM
I can only guess what happened...the tension of the flatwound strings differed radically from the roundwounds causing your neck to radically bow (or unbow). I don't see a truss rod adjustment or saddle height/intonation adjustment on that bass ukulele so you MUST BE CAREFUL what strings you put on it.

That's it entirely. Flatwounds by and large will have more tension than roundwounds of the same gauge, sometimes by quite a bit.



Likely you are stuck with whatever strings are stock for that instrument unless someone specifically makes strings compatible with your bass uke.

And given that there's not a lot of demand (yet?) for the instrument, the idea of having a set of flats for it may not be feasible.



If ohana wanted to they could provide flats that would work just fine with your bass uke as is. They just decided not to offer that.

My thought is that Ohana went with the cheaper and more widely used option of strings, since flats are more expensive to make and aren't used by everyone as opposed to rounds.

Unforgotten
10-25-2014, 11:59 AM
I mentioned on another thread that I went mad and bought a load of different strings. Some initial observations on the Thunder Reds vs Stock Black...

Stock Black
+ cheap
+ very slippy, great for sliding up and down the fret board
+ relatively soft, easy on the fingers
+ easy to restring
+ black always looks cool :)
= low tension, great for that-double bass feel, bit weird compared to "conventional" strings, e.g. nylon Ukulele, P-Bass, etc.
= low tension also requires care, especially on the E string, to avoid slapping on the fretboard, light touch required
- possible to make the strings squeak when sliding but IMO you can work this out by technique
- very stretchy, take a long time to settle
- easily roll across the fretboard if you try to bend a string
- very light, hammer-ons and pull-offs seem a little lacklustre

In summary, great if you're interested in that upright sound and sliding up and down the fretboard. Great fun on a fretless!

Thunder Reds
+ Slightly smaller diameter so not quite as freaky :) Absolutely no need to change the nut though.
+ Higher tension, feels more "conventional" and a lot less fretboard slap on the E string
+ Much heavier, hammer-ons and pull-offs are more significant
+ Will roll but nowhere near as much as the stock, I tried bending strings but, meh, I don't think this scale-length is suited to it.
+ Cumulatively all the above add a lot more power so much so I found the battery holder began resonating with a high-B!!!
= very slight rough feel but nothing like the thin nylon replacements (e.g. reg low-G on a Uke)
= very slight stickiness, combined with the above there's a noticeable
friction when sliding
? seem stable but I've only been playing about with them for an evening; let's see in a week
- they're red, I'm really not sure these go with anything, e.g. ThunderGuts on a mahogany top make for a nice contrast.
- expensive but not a waste of money

In summary, a much more conventional feel while still in-keeping with the "rubber revolution" in strings :)

I also have Silver Rumblers on hand and some Pyramids but I want to spent at least a week with the Reds before swapping again.

kohanmike
10-25-2014, 09:31 PM
In case anyone has been following my Les Paul guitar to bass conversion, I ended up doing string-through holes with ferrules at the tail, which made the length of the Rotosound black tape wound short scale 30" strings fit perfectly. Since playing it for the last couple of weeks, when going back to my Gold Tone with Thunderguts, I find them to be very sticky now. I bought a set of yellow Pahoehoe 22-24" strings that are much more slippery and will change them on the Gold Tone in the next couple of days.

I'm about to receive the custom u-bass from Vietnam, which also has Thuderguts, so I bought a set of Thunder Reds and will change them when the u-bass arrives.

http://www.fairfax67.com/images/LP Bass converted.jpg
http://www.fairfax67.com/images/U-Bass finished side.jpg

Unforgotten
10-26-2014, 02:21 AM
I picked up a Hofner Shorty Basshttp://www.hofner-guitars.com/electric-basses/other-bass/hct-shb-bk-0.html a while back and while it's a standard, short-bass 30" scale the bridge is right at the very end of the body so it probably makes for a similar overall size to your LP conversion.
72205

Stacks of strings for 30" about, got some nice RotoSound flats on right now. The single pickup might be a worry buy everyone who's heard or played it thinks it's great; surprising given the 129 price tag. One thing though: fretboard width feels more like something from a 34" but personally this was fine as I was working towards a U Bass anyway.

Going back to the Thunder Reds I can now see some real value in using them with a half-size, 6-string acoustic conversion.

kohanmike
10-26-2014, 08:15 PM
The Thunder Reds are for my custom fretless acoustic 21" U-bass on it's way from Vietnam, not the LP conversion, I'm very happy with the Rotosound tape wounds on the conversion.

I looked at that Hofner, but even though the over-all length is like my LP conversion, the neck of the Hofner is still a 30" short scale, which is too long for me. I really like playing on a sub-short scale 21-22-23" neck.

bnolsen
10-27-2014, 03:11 AM
the ibanez mikro is i believe 28.6". they have a 5er which i my be interested in. heres another sorty 4 string. 25.5" scale:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005QOQ9Z0

Unforgotten
10-27-2014, 02:14 PM
I'm not sure what I like more: Kala being "brave" (in a business sense) to mass produce an ultra-short bass or the fact the products have normalised the desire for such a thing.

Heh, I picked up the Hofner again to play a few grooves to see how much the U Bass has affected me and surprisingly not by much. Okay, the approach to flatwounds and frets is obviously different but accepting that it just stuck me as so wasteful running up and down almost a yard of wood :D

Unforgotten
10-29-2014, 12:33 PM
Okay, bored of the Thunder Reds now, fitting the Thunderguts...

Let me just comment on the Reds again after playing with them a few days. Definitely the biggest problem is friction: it just doesn't feel comfortable sliding up and down the strings. This is more pronounced on the larger strings, D & G aren't too bad. The surface does mean no squeaking so that's something :) After a few days I noticed the E & D strings seem to be settling nicely but not so A & G... bit odd but easy to compensate for. YMMV on this one though. Size-wise they're magic, after the stock ones they feel more "right" if that makes sense :)

I'll just run through a few initial observations of the Thunderguts; they seem to fall somewhere between the Stock & Reds.

Squeak: very easy to do (at least fresh out of the packet) I had to put some effort in with the Stock Blacks.
Roll: just as "rolly" as Stock.
Weight: about the same as the Reds I think because...
Size: bleedin' 'eck these are huge! I had to check against Stock but I swear the E-string is 1mm larger in diameter :( Maybe the it's just the slimming effect of wearing black :P
Tension: seems about the same as the Reds, definitely more than Stock.
Cost: relatively common/cheap
Colour: off-white, looks great on a Spruce top, nice contrast on Mahogany, might not suit Koa and pure white would look better on something like a Sub.

In summary I think the squeak and the size are gonna p*ss me off :) After a few days I'll see if the stickiness appears and how well they're settling and if the first two issues change.

kohanmike
11-06-2014, 08:01 PM
I switched the strings on my Gold Tone MicroBass from the Thuderguts to Road Toad Pahoehoe yellow and I like them much better, very smooth, tunes up well, not as much stretch as I heard. I also received the Thunder Reds that I was going to use on my custom acacia u-bass, but when I felt them, I found that they were still not very slippery, so I ordered a set of Road Toad Pahoehoe red. I'm using different colors on my four basses, yellow Pahoehoe for the MicroBass, red Pahoehoe on the custom u-bass, black nylon coated flat wound Rotosound Tru-Bass for the Les Paul conversion, and white/clear nylon coated flat wound with steel center La Bella Deep Talkin' on the custom Tele style bass currently being made. I much prefer flat wound, smooth strings to round wound.

Unforgotten
11-07-2014, 04:04 PM
Getting bored with the Thunderguts; summary so far:

Stock Black
+ very slippy, great "upright" sound, cheap
- initial stretchy nature, light & floppy (low tension)

Thunder Reds
+ high tension, great size reduction, good for picking, powerful, settle in quickly
- high friction, bad for sliding, expensive

Thunderguts
+ cheap, nice colour, good tension (feels "right") tone gets close to the Stock Black, stable
- E string is huge - seriously, friction still not good (on E & A noticeable after a week, not as bad as Reds)
~ sound high up on the fretboard seems odd, can't quite figure out why :/

I'll take a look at the Silver Rumblers tomorrow. They have no knots or washers so I'll strip the necessary bits off the Thunderguts. However, if I examine the E-string and find it's the same diameter as the Thunderguts I really don't know if I'll bother: might move straight to the Pyramids.

Unforgotten
11-09-2014, 02:27 PM
Okay, so I've tried both the Pyramids and the Silver Rumblers now (both briefly.) As the Silver's come with no ends or knots I initially gave up trying to do a small, non-slip end knot and put the Pyramids on...

I only tried the Pyramids for one day so don't take much from this:

+ Metal strings so, if you're coming from something conventional like a P-Bass then you'll be right at home.
- Tension is odd (compared to a standard full length bass) but probably similar to rubber U Bass strings but as they're metal you're freaked out either way :)
~ Personal observation: rattly; but on a solid body you're not really noticing this so much (via headphones or amp) but as you're quite likely practising unplugged...

Anyway, I didn't like them for all the wrong reasons. They are quality strings and they do get you back to that solid body, electric vibe but oh deary me, I've been spoilt into thinking I've got a double-bass tucked away in my top pocket and I missed it too much :D

One other thought jumped out at me: whilst the U Bass is a short scale the fretboard width is relatively wide (to suit the fat strings obviously) and the Pyramids seemed so small they were kinda lost. More of an aesthetic thing that practical really but it struck me that, if you had a standard Ukulele (e.g. Tenor, Baritone) the neck would be a lot narrower and, if one were to convert something with the neck strength to handle it, Pyramids might give you a really "micro bass" in scale length and fretboard width. Something for the luthiers among you to think about.

After really not liking the Pyramids I had another go at the Silver ends and (I hope) I have a secure knot now; stripped the plastic washers from the Thunderguts.

+ Same width as the Stock Blacks
- Otherwise seem to be like the Thunderguts as in squeak, roll, friction etc.

I'm just letting them settle in at the moment but, if I didn't have Stock Black, I think these are the ones to go for. To re-iterate: I have a fretless so I'm biased towards the upright sound.

More updates later :)

kohanmike
11-09-2014, 06:48 PM
The other bass player in my uke group put Pyramids on his spruce top Kala u-bass by suggestion of our teacher, but a soon as I heard them, I didn't like the wound brass sound with the typical string slide noise, and agree, not enough like a bass fiddle. But I do like the sound of the Rotsound Tru-Bass on my Les Paul (hopefully the LaBella Deep Talkin' will be similar on the custom BGH Tele).

I'm going to add my preamp to the Bruce Wei u-bass (and also change the preamp in the GT MicroBass) and maybe do a video of both in the next few of days (taking my car in for work Tuesday and Wednesday, so I'll have time).