Convert 4-string Ukulele bass to 2-strings ??

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by LasVegasMixx, Apr 1, 2020.

  1. LasVegasMixx


    Aug 26, 2011
    Las Vegas
    First, I am not a bass player and probably never will be. I picked up an inexpensive small lightweight Hadean UKB-24 Ukulele bass with rubbery Aquila Nylgut strings. These type of strings seem difficult to play without producing some unique finger noise. I tried using a thin nylon/polyester left 3/4 glove that I sometimes used when playing tennis. That seemed to help. Note: I never plan to play this bass acoustically.

    After noodling around a bit, I found that I really could not get a very useful sound from the E string. I also suspect that I will rarely find much need to play anything on the G string. So, with the top and bottom strings more just "in-the-way" than useful to me personally, I am thinking about just removing those two strings.

    Is there any reason that I should not do this?


    A similar model (different wood)

  2. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    The typical stretchy strings on a uBass are under such low tension that removing the E and G strings isn't going to hurt the instrument, especially because you're removing the strings symmetrically. If you were removing them asymmetrically, like for example removing the E and A or removing the D and G, you might over time induce a warp into the neck. But again the tension is so low anyway that it's probably not going to cause trouble.

    That said, by removing strings you are severely limiting what you can do and/or learn to do with the instrument.

    That's your call though.

    BTW, another option is to get heavier gauge strings. A number of sources are making higher tension wound strings for uBass now, and those are more like conventional (nylon) guitar strings. They have a sound of otheir own, but if stretchy strings are bothering you, these higher tension wound strings might be more to your liking.
  3. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    When you're playing silicone and similar strings, you get a lot of drag on your fingers and consequent finger noise. To alleviate that, try using some baby powder on your fingers. I prefer a clay-based formula (Burt's Bees); talc is more abrasive, which bothers me.
    robobass likes this.
  4. LasVegasMixx


    Aug 26, 2011
    Las Vegas
    Thanks for the information, Don and Steven. Hypothetically, can I assume that if I still wanted to just use two strings but replace the stretchy middle strings with two heavier higher tension wound strings, I would still be unlikely to damage the instrument?
  5. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    I can't comment on the engineering, but I'll be interested to hear about a metal string that can produce useful pitch in the bass range on such a short scale.
  6. LasVegasMixx


    Aug 26, 2011
    Las Vegas
    I removed the outer strings. This made it easier to play. It sounds better and has less finger noise. Thanks.
  7. BarfanyShart


    Sep 19, 2019
    DC Metro
    Gallistrings makes a flatwound (synthetic gut wrapped in steel) set for these basses that I think is the best string going. Less string noise, feels less like a toy, better sound on all the strings. YMMV, but I would suggest that as an alternative to just removing the offending strings.
    Kala Flatwound 4-String Set by Gallistrings - Kala Brand Music Co.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2020
    210superair likes this.
  8. 210superair


    Sep 10, 2019
    Am I the only one that likes the big fat rubbery strings? Lol... Those flats look cool tho. I owned a Kala fretted, and imho fretless is the way to go on a ubass. They just seem to play easier and that Kala loved to fret buzz. I've got a cheap Hadean feetless now. Not much different than the Kala for a lot less.
    james condino and BarfanyShart like this.
  9. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    I like them. I don't have Aquila strings though, I've got the Road Toad Pahoehoe.

    For me too, the big difference is getting a fretless uBass. The only way to go.
    BarfanyShart and 210superair like this.
  10. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    Instead of removing strings, I would have tuned all four up a step and tried that. The instrument can stand a little more tension.
  11. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    I tried a Kala in a music store once and found it very cool. I didn't notice any finger noise at all. What are you plugged into? Could be an impedance issue or such.
  12. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    Former geologist here, clay is much more abrasive than talc. Talc may have bigger particles which can feel more abrasive. Corn starch may work too but I would clean the strings frequently if using it.
    mickeyj4j and Steven Ayres like this.
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