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Ukulele Electric Bass


yotter
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Hi Yotter,

I find the same thing really. So I tend to mostly gig with my EUB these days.
I did once own a Kala U-bass. Lovely construction / quality, nice sound, but I really struggled with the rubbery, low tension / floppy strings. Also, it was some shift to play something so short scale. After an initial period of playing it as much as I could, I found I wasn't playing it much at all. Those strings really did get on my nerves. I even swapped them at one point, for another plastic / rubbery type of string - slightly higher tension, but still lots of "drag" for my left hand. Plus, both sets seemed to need retuning every 5 minutes. They do seem to take an age to settle.

However, there's a thread on here (started by yours truly) about the newer Kala - the Journeyman. This bass seems to come fitted with metal Flatwound strings, which may be a better option. You can also get rounds for a Kala these days - but there are several models of the bass around, and I'm not sure whether they all have truss-rods. So I wouldn't want to fit higher tension strings to a bass without a truss-rod.

There's not a shop anywhere near me which stocks a Journeyman or any other U-bass with metal strings, so I can't give one a whirl. This is a shame, as I fancy getting a Kala again, as long as I can get strings I like. At the time I had mine, I didn't know that such strings existed, or I might have kept it.

Other than that, of course, a U-bass is a heck of a lot more portable than an acoustic upright. And it may depend on how quickly you can adapt to a much much shorter scale. Good luck with your quest -  let us know how you get on.
PS. Taking my EUB to gigs, I get a heck of a lot more comments & discussions about that than I ever did with my acoustic upright. I love playing it too.... but that's a whole other topic

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I haven't used my ukulele bass at a gig yet, but I reckon I might give it a go in places that are tight. I haven't struggled with the strings like some people and I went for fretless which is more DB-like plus allows you to correct tuning issues a bit. My one (a Laka) has a good preamp and it sounds good amplified. This guy shows how it can be done:

 

 

So I'm not sure if that's much help, but I do think it's usable at a gig.

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On the subject of the 'orrible rubbery strings, you can achieve a great deal simply by taking a small tin of talcum powder in your gig bag, and dusting your hands with it before each set.

 

May attract some funny looks from the rest of the band, but it really does make a difference.

 

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I will confess to having quite a history with these. I have learnt a few things.

 

1. In my experience, eventually the flobbadob (copyrigh HJ above) strings settle down and are ok.

 

2. The solid body ones do not cut it as a DB-alike. You need that acoustic body to give the thud.

 

3. Fretless ones do make it even easier to DB.

 

4. For me, the scale length thing ceased to be and issue within about 90 seconds.

 

Give me a second and I will dig out the proof of my love for the concept.

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4 hours ago, bassace said:

That drummer’s a bit busy isn’t he. We used to call the tune as ‘quickly as in a shop doorway’.  Takes all sorts.

Haha, he is, I was focussed on the bass so I didn't notice that, but now you've said it...they also speed up a lot.

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Feedback was an issue for me so I made a sound hole cover.

 

I don't get all the whining about the rubber strings. Different, but controllable ime.

 

To stabilize tuning quicker you can pick up the string off the nut.

 

The D string tends to stretch out and overflow the peg if you aren't keeping an eye on it. Some numpties have managed to break the tuner when the windings bound up on the body! Take off and restring with minimal windings.

 

With the G string, it doesn't want to tension up and keeps slipping through. By winding first over the tail then continuing under you get some bite on the tail to get tension on.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I got a uke bass a few years ago. Tried a few, and for the money thought the Countryman was the best, certainly not a great deal of difference with the Kala I tried which was maybe £300 more. Going for solid woods etc seems a bit unnecessary in such an instrument, where the electrics are the key part. I’ve used it on gigs and it’s been fine, straight into the PA.  Took a bit of getting used to scalewise and rubbery strings etc, but sounds great and the portability factor is a big selling point for me. At the moment my work doesn’t require it but will hang onto it for future gigs. 

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Played with a bloke playing a hollow fretted Kala u bass with the rubber strings on the other week. 

 

It sounded "nearly" like a double bass ..much more than a fretless electric bass does. It genuinely did sound like a real one except when compared to my real real one, upon which the difference was immediately apparent.  But given the difference in price, size, effort to play, it was quite upsettingly decent.

 

Had a go playing it ... flummoxed by the teeny weeny scale length and miniscule distance between frets. But I'm used to full scale electrics and a 4/4 dB.

 

Visual impact is a bit odd in a jazz band.

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21 hours ago, casapete said:

I got a uke bass a few years ago. Tried a few, and for the money thought the Countryman was the best, certainly not a great deal of difference with the Kala I tried which was maybe £300 more. Going for solid woods etc seems a bit unnecessary in such an instrument, where the electrics are the key part. I’ve used it on gigs and it’s been fine, straight into the PA.  Took a bit of getting used to scalewise and rubbery strings etc, but sounds great and the portability factor is a big selling point for me. At the moment my work doesn’t require it but will hang onto it for future gigs. 

Countryman is excellent- best £100 I ever spent! 
Don’t see the point of metal strings; persevered with rubberised ones and never looked back. 

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I think they’re absolutely brilliant - toured one with on and off for the last ten years around UK and bits of Europe. Sounds great, super portable and people are always blown away by the sound / size combo. Yes the strings take some adjusting to as does the scale length but that’s a small price to pay over carting an upright around (flying with one is impossible - but the Uke bass fits in a large rucksack!). 

@Happy Jack I just discovered the talc trick after a very sweaty tour of Germany - stops string squeak as well when you get really sweaty.  

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

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