HomeHelpSearchLogin  
 
Page Index Toggle Pages: 1
Send Topic Print
Bass 'Ukulele? (Read 4175 times)
Road_Toad
Member
*
Offline


Eh brah, da buggah flat!

Posts: 41
Kalyfoonya
Gender: male
Bass 'Ukulele?
Jan 20th, 2005 at 6:54pm
 
Hi all,

I posted a few questions on the UGH site at the below link:

http://www.ukuleleguild.org/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=Questions;action=display;...

I was hoping if anyone out there that has any experience with attempting an acoustic bass 'ukulele, please chime in.

Many mahalos,  Owen
Back to top
 
WWW  
IP Logged
 
Ukeman
Senior Member
****
Offline



Posts: 404
Re: Bass 'Ukulele?
Reply #1 - Feb 21st, 2005 at 2:05pm
 
aloha owen..ok all anwers in one fell swoop!

Just got my hot hands on a bass ukulele purchased by Kimo Hussey, and made by David Gomes. His set-up is as follows:

A tenor body with a scale length of about 17 and 1/16th to the front of the saddle.

The fingerboard is just like a tenor scale with inlays at the fret locations in lieu of actual fret wire.

The width at the nut is about 1 and 5/8th inch..a bit wider than most tenors while at the 12th fret the width is 1 and 15/16th....string spacing at the nut is 1/2" center to center. These strings are purty fat, like udon noodles and vary from string to string. The strings on this bass uke were Ashbory strings.

At the opposite end, bridge is about 3 and 7/8th by 1 and 1/8th and at a depth of 5/16th inch...saddle length is 70 mm or around 2 and 3/4", slotted into bridge with a 1/8th bit.

Fingerboard is radiused. Depth of body is from almost 3" at the tail end to 2 and 1/2" at the head...body length is 11 and 7/8ths...close to a martin styled tenor.

OK the rub!  The tuners are special....open geared tuners veiwed from the back with the tuner shaft modified by threading the top 3/8" of the tuner shaft to fit a reverse threaded collar that can be fitted over the shaft of the tuner and tightened via hand opposite direction of normalclockwise tightening! The collar is a 3/4 inch diameter collar about 5/8th inch in height that has a machined 5/32nd inch slot milled into the top of the collar and the middle of the collar is dished out to wind the strings.

to string..knot the udon noodle, fit over slot in head of collar, tighten till knot cosys up to notch in collar and wind onto convex curve in the side of the collar....looks like                           top 3/4" diameter            
           
                                  )  (   5/8th high

                                 bottom

Would be nice to modify a closed housing machined tuner like the gotoh minis...thread the shaft of the gotoh after cutting off hole for string....make a sleeve collar to fit the shaft diameter and screw in...need a machinist with a lathe and a length of 3/4' diameter aluminaum solid rod.   anyhow..as i get more info I will post. Thus far i do have a set of Ashbory bass strings...a working idea of how to make the sleeve work to a gotoh tuner and ass it!       laters   ukeman
Back to top
 
WWW  
IP Logged
 
Road_Toad
Member
*
Offline


Eh brah, da buggah flat!

Posts: 41
Kalyfoonya
Gender: male
Re: Bass 'Ukulele?
Reply #2 - Mar 4th, 2005 at 6:40pm
 
Big mahalos Ukeman. Not sure if you or anyone else knows the answers, but what is the gear ratio on the Ashbory style tuners and any idea of the string tension? I'm assuming the tension is really low with a 17" scale. I believe the Ashbory is 22". I’ll probably end up between the two- 19-20".

I'm thinking of taking a standard guitar mini and turning an ebony cap (spool?), slotting it on top to fit da fat strings & pegging it through the post string hole with a taper or compression pin. It should work if I can keep all the tolerances close... it would be a semi permanent mount and would not allow for easy replacement of a tuner. I would need to add more break angle to the peghead to compensate for the higher string attachment point.

Owen
Back to top
 
WWW  
IP Logged
 
Ukeman
Senior Member
****
Offline



Posts: 404
Re: Bass 'Ukulele?
Reply #3 - Mar 14th, 2005 at 1:20pm
 
Hello Owen:

Ok slowly ever so slowly..am working on the bass uke too! Thus far I have decided to use a 21 and 3/4 inch scale length, on a baritone cutaway body with Kasha/Schneider internal bracings!

Ok so as of now I have rough cut my neck pieces out of Spanish cedar..enough pieces for 3 or 4 necks at the 21 and 3/4 inch scale! I need to pattern route this shapes and laminate em togeher.

That means I have made the neck template pattern and a fret slotting jig for the new scale length.

I have completed most of the rosette or inlay work for the soundboards, one cedar, one engleman.

I have braced both soundboards similar, tho one with a transverse brace at the saddle line and the other without..only bridge patch on the one without and a half bridge patch for the one with the transverse brace.

My sides are precut, thicknessed and ready to bend. My forma and bender for the baritone cutaways are completed.

Naggin items:   still not decided on what strings yet! Boy those silicone udon noodles do break mo often than one would want! Makes me hesitate on those puppies...so as of yet not decided.

Wen da strings are decided will also go the mod route on dem tuners and yes threading the shaft on an existing gotoh tuner is also the way I will proceed!


ass all for now...yeah , yeah, someday I will learn to post pictures!  laters ukeman

ps  the digital camera is in the shop now!
Back to top
 
WWW  
IP Logged
 
Road_Toad
Member
*
Offline


Eh brah, da buggah flat!

Posts: 41
Kalyfoonya
Gender: male
Re: Bass 'Ukulele?
Reply #4 - Mar 14th, 2005 at 6:54pm
 
Hey Ukeman,

Would cello or bass violin strings work? I'm playing with the 'noodles' right now and geez, do those boys stretch. I'm not sure those will be the best option since as you say, they break easy.

will post any promissing results.

Owen
Back to top
 
WWW  
IP Logged
 
Ukeman
Senior Member
****
Offline



Posts: 404
Re: Bass 'Ukulele?
Reply #5 - Mar 17th, 2005 at 8:59am
 
aloha owen....should be back from the music store this weekend...will try and purchase all kinds of bass strings that are aviable and glean from what i buy..an inkling of what i want to use...i did get the necks cut out and assemled and yes the scale is long  21 and 3/4 inches so this bass baritone will be a long un. Will also post whatever i can as they are completed.  later   ukeman
Back to top
 
WWW  
IP Logged
 
Ukeman
Senior Member
****
Offline



Posts: 404
Re: Bass 'Ukulele?
Reply #6 - Apr 14th, 2005 at 11:18am
 
aloha owen:

ok status thus far on my search for decent bass strings has ended up at Vanderbilt Music Company...you can check out their website and see that they are specialist in the Harp!

I have ordered a bunch of individual strings via Vanderbilt and await their delivery. You may purchase individual strings in lieu of Harp Octave sets.

I am using or will use combinations of Harp strings in the 5th, 4th and 3rd octave range. All nylon strings with the largest diameter at .092 and down to .048

I tested some other harp strings Lyon Healy brand I got locally at double and triple the price compared with  Vanderbilt...ah the benefits living 3000 miles from the mainstream! I used the 5th octave B string at .085 thickness and the tone is right nice and the tension around 7 to 8 lbs. Mostly these harp diameters make it easier to string resulting in:
normal fingerboard width for baritone sized uke, as opposed to a 1 and 9/16th width on the Ashbory.

not a huge amount of cumulative string set tension (havent tested all strings (no more yet)

just need to redrill the Gotoh tuner string holes toa bit wider diameter...do not think this will be a problem.

standard bridge..since strings are not gigantic like the Ashborys.

And lastly, no need to go with wound bass guitar strings.

Ok Progress to date...sides are attached to the neck and soundboard ala spanish style..my tentalones are in and I am now checking out internal piezo pickups...standard under saddle..or a modification using the odd size pickups from fellow crazy Keith Luke. Until I settle the pickup situation I can not completely box...fingerboard is complete tho and just sitting around ...put a radius on the fingerboard and inlaid the fake fret markers for a 21 and 3/4 inch scale length...a bit long!

I got 2 boxes in the same state..a norfolk pine side cutaway, norfolk pine back plates with a cedar Kasha modified top. The other is a koa back with koa sides, also cut away with an engleman spruce modified Kasha soundboard.Both ukes baritone sized and will have a bit of a soundhole design in the upper treble bout, but will rely primarily on a side port for sound release.

I did get your weed whacker lines and will also try and give them a test...the clear guys have a wire in the center and is encased in nylon, will try to check out the tensions and resultant sounds...diameters are right nice tho!  Aint this fun!     ok   over and out   ukeman
Back to top
 
WWW  
IP Logged
 
Road_Toad
Member
*
Offline


Eh brah, da buggah flat!

Posts: 41
Kalyfoonya
Gender: male
Re: Bass 'Ukulele?
Reply #7 - Apr 15th, 2005 at 7:15pm
 
Been too busy and haven't done much yet. Made a fretboard in 20.16" scale out of E. Indian RW. I'll add some maple strips in the slots in place of frets and sand them flush to be truly fretless. I received some Gotoh bass tuners through Stewmac today & some Hipshot tuners from LMII. The Hipshots will handle all the weedwacker line up to .130”.The Gotoh will barely accept the .105”, so it looks like I’ll need to drill out the bottom of the slot for the biggest string. I also picked up some ebony flamenco pegs. By the way, the clear ‘weedwacker’ strings actually have an aramid center, not metal. Just wish I could get 4 sizes in clear. The green can be had in .080, .095, .105, .130,  but I can't find the clear in the .080 yet. It’s Home Depot tomorrow. I have a K & K pure classic piezo pickup system to play with and a redwood box. Maybe in the next few weeks I'll get serious. I’m going to use endpins in place of bridge pins to accommodate the bigger diameter strings.

I don't know if you've ever checked out Jay Hargreaves Kasha/Schneider braced basses. ( www.jthbass.com ). Pretty cool.

Talk (type) at you later.

Owen
Back to top
 
WWW  
IP Logged
 
Ukeman
Senior Member
****
Offline



Posts: 404
Re: Bass 'Ukulele?
Reply #8 - Apr 18th, 2005 at 10:24am
 
aloha Owen....got to test tho rather crudely your weed whacker strings..I LIKE  the sound..very bassy and much akin to the harp strings..so I think they will be cool to use. The diameters are very nice as well and yes i will use gotohs and drill out the string puka shaft a bit mo big....should be a-ok. Got to listen to Norman's baritone with bass guitar wound strings...a bit guitar bass kine twangy sound, not a thumper like the udon Ashbory's nor the harp and weedwhacker variety..so i do think for the sound i envision we best stick to harp or weed whacker  harp is limited to .95 as largest diamer, while your whacke lines have a nice variety of sizes..I still need to figure out how our fishin long liners and their strings work out..

but thus far..............

On one bass will install a contact pick-up ala Keith Luke..who was at my shop yesterday with his latest experimentals...the sound is right nice and , well what the hell, one's gotts try em and put them to the actual test.

On the other bass...I will install a mo traditional unbder saddle compression type piezo set-up..will visit Nate Ching and get his thought on this matter....If i can get the pik-ups out of the way this week I can actually box up!

my Vanderbilt order should come in this week...aint life interesting?       laters  ukeman
Back to top
 
WWW  
IP Logged
 
Road_Toad
Member
*
Offline


Eh brah, da buggah flat!

Posts: 41
Kalyfoonya
Gender: male
Re: Bass 'Ukulele?
Reply #9 - Apr 21st, 2005 at 8:53pm
 
Proto complete less the pick-up.

Weedwacker string tension is pretty high and is bending my top, but since my 9.5" x 14" x 2.75" rectangular redwood box is unbraced, I think that a little reinforcement around the bridge will solve that problem. Right now bridge is bolted with (2) 4-40 cap screws. I have to say that I'm surprised that it sounds as good as it does considering the bolt together construction, cheap materials (can you say luan ply soundboard?) and lack of amplification. I can't wait to do a real instrument.

I tuned it E A D G. The E, A & D really sound nice, but the G string is a different (harder) material and is really wound tight. Maybe I need to use a thinner guage on this one. Using .130", .105", .095", .080" line. I have some .155 coming in, but I'm not sure if I can drill out a tuner to fit that fat a string. I might go .130, .105, .095, .065 unless I can find  a softer 'clear' (not green) .080 string. I almost think .130, .105, .080, .065 would be ideal.

Strings are attached to the bridge via modified end pins with 'Dremelled' in string channels. Fingerboard is fretless and has a 12" radius which works perfectly with the fat strings. I see no reason to bother with frets at all. I had some .020" thick maple strips which are a perfect inlay strip to fit standard .023" fret slots.

I can't figure out how to post a picture or I would do it.

Now if I can only learn how to play those Psychobilly slap bass numbers on a uke.

Happy uke'n

Owen
Back to top
 
WWW  
IP Logged
 
Ukeman
Senior Member
****
Offline



Posts: 404
Re: Bass 'Ukulele?
Reply #10 - Apr 22nd, 2005 at 3:37pm
 
yo owen...me too! On my test with your weed whacker lines on an actual Ashbory bass uke (or whatever) they sound right funky and nice. By the way the original Ashbory strings da udon noodles broke just sitting strung up in my shop over a few week period 3 out of 4 strings...yeah I got another set from Good Guys...but that is not good...with the weed whackers, fingerboard widths can remain constant with a normal baritone so I will continue on on the models. Will test drill some Gotoh shafts to a bigger diameter to fit the whacker or harp strings tomorrow! I got the back plates ala Kasha Schneider all pau and the sides are already dome sanded...jes need install some pickups next week and I will box these puppies up...yup they are likewise fretless, radiused and one with maple faux fret lines and the other with a red veneer faux fret lines...my harp string came in and will try get those on the Ashbory and check the sound difference with the Harp strings...but at least we have a direction on strings and can take the udon noodles of the plate .    laters   ukeman
Back to top
 
WWW  
IP Logged
 
Road_Toad
Member
*
Offline


Eh brah, da buggah flat!

Posts: 41
Kalyfoonya
Gender: male
Re: Bass 'Ukulele?
Reply #11 - Apr 23rd, 2005 at 11:46am
 
A bridge plate & 3 braces solved my string tension top deflection problem. Temporary ‘stick on’ piezos are ala K&K Pure Classic for nylon string guitar and work fine. I will try some of Keith’s piezos next. As far as the ‘weedwackers’ go, I have mixed and matched the various sizes. Using the Goldilocks method of testing to find ‘just right’, the best performing combo uses .130” E, .105” A, .080” D, & .065” G. I found the scale length is too short to use any bigger diameters on the D & G strings, though I bet I can go .155, .130, .105, .095 on a 34” scale bass guitar and keep with the same brand line on all courses (A non uke project). I’m very tempted to consider the nylon harp strings to replace the D & G ‘weedwackers’ I’m using. I went to the Vanderbilt site, but there are so many individual courses that I almost think that getting 2 octave sets is the only way to find the best matches.

It sounds pretty decent without amplification, but when I plug it into an Ultrasound AG-30, it sound every bit as good as the bass lines played by Gene Vincent’s Bluecaps, though there’s a little vibration between the top & fret board because there’s no attachment there (all bolt together). Maybe double stick tape will fix.

Click on the www link to the left of the post and go to the ‘ukes’ section for pictures. They all start with Bass –

A ‘real’ instrument will follow by this summer.

Cheers,

Owen
Back to top
 
WWW  
IP Logged
 
Road_Toad
Member
*
Offline


Eh brah, da buggah flat!

Posts: 41
Kalyfoonya
Gender: male
Re: Bass 'Ukulele?
Reply #12 - Apr 25th, 2005 at 7:10pm
 
Went to the 12th Annual NorCal Ukulele festival this past Sunday to gauge response and get feedback on the Ukubass or in the Road Toad lingo, Big Bufo.

The response was very favorable. A couple folks want to build them and I had a couple people ask ‘how much?’ The next month or so will maybe see some pick-up exchanges and string swaps. I also may try a pre-amp. Does anyone know of a small equalizer that is relatively inexpensive, but still performs well?

I want to credit Peter Hurney of Pohaku Ukulele on a suggestion that makes a lot of sense. Add a little break angle to the neck to bring the strings a little higher off the body. I’ll probably go with an archtop style bridge and tailpiece for that one. A second will have a conventional in-line neck one with bridge pins. It will make for a good playability comparison.

Owen
Back to top
 
WWW  
IP Logged
 
Road_Toad
Member
*
Offline


Eh brah, da buggah flat!

Posts: 41
Kalyfoonya
Gender: male
Re: Bass 'Ukulele?
Reply #13 - Jul 10th, 2005 at 6:11pm
 
Bass uke was completed 7/1/2005... posted pictures are on the UGH site in the Luthier's section:

http://ukuleleguild.org/mgallery.php

Overall, I'm really pleased with the results

It's tuned E-A-D-G. I also dropped the E down to a low B as an experiment and it still has excellent tone.

Owen
Back to top
 
WWW  
IP Logged
 
Road_Toad
Member
*
Offline


Eh brah, da buggah flat!

Posts: 41
Kalyfoonya
Gender: male
Re: Bass 'Ukulele?
Reply #14 - Dec 3rd, 2005 at 4:13pm
 
I tried to reach down an octave by using a .155" line for an E and it just won't work. Too much mass to that string. The largest I feel good about using is the .130" and that will work fine as a B.

Here's my current breakdown:

Firewire (red line)-
B = .130"
E = .105"
A = .095"
D = .080"
G = .065"

Magnum Gatorline/Nylon harp strings-
B = .130" 'Gator'
E = .105" 'Gator'
A = 5th octave 'B' harp
D = 5th octave 'E' harp
G = 4th octace 'A' harp

While the above combo is great for a variety of situations, I still want to try to get into that 6th octave range without using the Ashbory 'rubber bands'. Checking into the Worth poly urethane strings.

That's it for now.

Owen
Back to top
 
WWW  
IP Logged
 
Page Index Toggle Pages: 1
Send Topic Print


Home | About Us | About Classes | Shop Store | Shop Tour | Session Tour | Luthiers Diary | Gallery
Class Schedule | Register | Alumni | Message Board | Tool Tips | Building Tips | Contact Us