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Thread: Uke Bass String Type Change

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
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    Bellingham, WA USA
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    Default Uke Bass String Type Change

    I’m considering purchasing a solid body bass uke to complement my acoustic Kala Scout. I’d want to put round wounds on it so as to get more of a standard electric bass sound out of it. My question is do I need to make modifications to the uke to do this. And if so, what?

    The Kala round wounds specially state that that the should not be used on their solid body ukes.
    Last edited by rorym; 02-26-2021 at 09:26 AM. Reason: Lost text

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Los Angeles, near the Beverly Center.
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    Default

    I use whatever strings I want and have had no problems with any. When I go to a different string, I prefer steel flatwound, either the Gold Tone/La Bella MBLS 25" all steel, or the Galli flatwound 20.5" and 23" steel with nylon core. I'm actually replacing all my poly strings with those.

    Only if the action is too high or low do I do anything to the instrument, either have a new nut made on that end, and/or add or remove any shims under the saddle, and even route out the saddle slot in the bridge. Once you put them on and feel them out will tell you if further adjustments need to be made. Look at the Rondomusic.com Hadean choices, in my opinion just as good as the Kalas and for less.

    https://www.rondomusic.com/bassguitars4.html


    This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly Grove near the Beverly Center
    8 tenor cutaway ukes, 4 acoustic bass ukes, 12 solid body bass ukes, 14 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 38)

    Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
    Member The CC Strummers: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Redmond, WA
    Posts
    726

    Default

    If the goal is to get a standard electric bass guitar sound then you should look at something with magnetic pickups rather than round-wounds on a piezo pickup. With the piezo you'll sound more like an acoustic bass guitar.

    If you're looking at the Kala California UBasses then you're in a price range that shouldn't be hard to find a magnetic pickup. Mike can make better recommendations than I can though.

    Without knowing why Kala recommends against putting the round-wounds on the California UBasses it's hard to tell if those reasons apply to other brands. IIRC, the Hadean Bass ukes have a truss rod but the Kala California's don't.

    --Rob

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Bellingham, WA USA
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    Default

    Thanks to both of you. I did not realize the Kala California did not have a truss rod. That certainly would explain the note about the round wounds. Those Kala's are well out of my price range anyway, so it's not going to be an issue. I'd been looking at the basses on RondoMusic as per Michael's recommendation.

    I'm still in the research phase, so I'll be listening to many sound samples before I make any decision. I'll take a look at short scale basses, too, they have the magnetic pickups, unlike u-basses.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Redmond, WA
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    re: why not round-wounds on the California Solid-Bodies, I just ran across this comment on Facebook from somebody who had one:
    Kala won't put rounds on a solid body nowadays. I think I'm the reason. My A string kept popping and I think they got tired of replacing it!
    So it sounds like they used to put them on but ran into issues.

    Quote Originally Posted by rorym View Post
    I'll take a look at short scale basses, too, they have the magnetic pickups, unlike u-basses.
    Just note that "short scale" on a bass generally refers to a scale length around 30" (IIRC the Ibanez Mikro is about 28.5"), which is much larger than a U-Bass (20"-23"ish).

    There are magnetic pickup options in the U-Bass range (20" - 23") and possibly in the guitar scale (24"-25") range, though all of the guitar-scale basses I've seen are acoustic. I believe Mike has a 23" scale magnetic pickup bass from Fanner Electric Ukulele - Fanner Electric Ukuleles and another custom on the way from a Mexican luthier.

    And now I'm going back to drooling over the short-scale Stingray. If only it weren't too heavy for me to play comfortably!

  6. #6
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    I've actually had junior guitars converted to bass, from 22" to 24" scale. The Fanner from South Africa and and the carved Bruce Wei full customs ran $800 dollars each including shipping. There are also ready made solid body 1/2 scale magnetic bass guitars on Amazon and eBay. Five years ago I bought one from SmallGuitars.com MB-1 for $150 on sale, but the MB-2 is more expensive now.

    Here's my entire collection with details about each.


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