Metal wound strings for U-Bass

Rakelele

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I have always liked the sound of the Pahoehoe strings on my U-Bass. Stupendously like an upright double bass (at least to my untrained ears). But at the same time, I felt like I missed out on something, since other brands like Ohana and Taylor have introduced small bass models with steel strings.

So I was happy to find metal wound strings that are specifically made for the Kala U-Bass. There is a set by Kala and another one by Pyramid. They have been around for several years, but they haven't come to my attention until recently.

I have put on the Pyramid set and like it a lot. I mostly play the bass unplugged to myself or accompained by one uke, and these strings are definitely louder than the Pahoehoe in this setting. They also have more treble to them which helps with being heard against other instruments. Whereas the Pahoehoe strings provide the tone of an upright bass, these metal strings sound a bit more like a bass guitar.

They are a lot thinner and feel great. Less floppy than the Pahoehoe. The Pahoehoe were so thick and floppy that they slapped against the fretboard sometimes. The Pyramids, on the other hand, have more noise to them when sliding and when being pressed against the frets.

To compensate the thickness of the Pahoehoe strings, the Kala U-Bass has a lot of compensation built into the saddle. With the thinner metal wound strings, I was expecting bad Intonation, and it is not perfect indeed, but it's ok (again, to my untrained ears). It wasn't perfect with the Pahoehoes either. I guess intonation is always a problem with such a short scale.

Anyway, I think these strings are worth a try.
 

UkerDanno

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I like the feel and sound of the Pahoehoes, they're perfect for accompanying ukulele groups, IMHO. I've played a friends Ohana OBU22 and I hate it, it's big, has steel wound strings and just doesn't sound that good to me. It, and steel strings might be good if you're playing in a rock band and want sharp, precise sounds.
 

Rakelele

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I agree that the jazzy, mellow sound of the Pahoehoe strings is great fro accompanying the ukulele, and that a steel string bass might sound too "agressive" against a group of ukes. However, the Pyramid strings have a nylon core, so what I'm hearing is probably something in the middle: still jazzy and mellow, but with more attack and treble, and definitely louder unplugged. Of course, this isn't much of an issue when playing with a group, as most likely you'll have to go through amplification anyway.

I think it's great to have several options for strings that will provide a different sound without having to buy another instrument. One of my fears when I first got my U-Bass back in 2012 was that only proprietary strings would be available and that even worse, they might go out of production one day. I'm glad to see the opposite happening: more options from several makers to expand the possibilities of this fun little instrument.
 

KohanMike

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I've used Pyramids and Kala steel wound strings on my acoustic and solid bass ukes and could not get past not only the wound noise they make, but much worse was the fret "farting" that was so difficult to control. Then I discovered a set of flatwound 25 inch scale solid steel strings made by LaBella exclusively for the Gold Tone solid body M-bass. I tried a set on my 22 inch scale custom mini electric bass and they sounded and felt great, then I tried them on my solid body piezo bass ukes and again they worked very well. I decided I would stick to Pahoehoe on my acoustic bass ukes.