Metal String, Solid Body Electric U-Bass for a Reasonable Price?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Peeved T-40, Jan 12, 2021.

  1. Peeved T-40

    Peeved T-40

    Jan 12, 2021
    I'm looking for a solid body U-Bass that uses metal strings and standard pickups and i'm hoping someone here can help.

    Most of what I find are solid bodies with rubber strings which i don't quite understand unless they use piezo pickups? Either way, I'd rather have metal strings.

    There are a bunch of solid body ukuleles and four string tenor guitars for between $100-$300ish but I can't for the life of me find a solid body U-Bass for that kind of price.

    Does anyone know of any?
     
  2. Volker Kirstein

    Volker Kirstein Blippy the Wonder Slug

    You mean something like this?
    bass tinkerbell fame m-03.jpg

    It's not a U-bass; it's a Fame M-03 Mini Bass: 20.5" scale, 38mm nut, 19mm string spacing at the bridge, tuned ADGC.
    bass tinkerbell BH2.jpg
     
    kohanmike likes this.
  3. BruceWane

    BruceWane

    Oct 31, 2002
    Houston, TX
    The rubber stringed basses do use a piezo pickup.

    Using standard steel strings on a ~20" scale bass, you're not going to be able use standard tuning. The strings will be too loose, probably so floppy they'd barely even function at all. You'd have to tune quite a bit higher, like Volker Kirstein mentions above.

    The rubber strings, originally seen on the Ashbory bass, were developed specifically to achieve standard tuning at such a short scale.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021
  4. BruceWane

    BruceWane

    Oct 31, 2002
    Houston, TX
    The roundwound strings for ukulele-scale basses aren't really "steel" strings - they have a nylon core, so they won't work with magnetic pickups.
     
  5. Peeved T-40

    Peeved T-40

    Jan 12, 2021
    So what's the smallest scale bass available with metal strings? I don't think my style of playing would translate to those rubber strings. I do a lot of strumming chords with a pick and I just don't see those rubber strings having a bright enough sound. plus i've heard that those strings have a tendency to stretch and move under your fingers.
     
  6. Peeved T-40

    Peeved T-40

    Jan 12, 2021
    I'm actually not too concerned about them using magnetic pickups if that's not an option. I just don't think my playing would translate to the rubber strings. Round wound nylons would probably be fine for me. is there a u-bass that uses them that doesn't cost a million dollars?
     
  7. BruceWane

    BruceWane

    Oct 31, 2002
    Houston, TX
    Rondo Music Bass Guitars

    Even if they come with rubber strings, you can swap them out for round or flat wound nylons.
     
    HaphAsSard likes this.
  8. HaphAsSard

    HaphAsSard

    Dec 1, 2013
    Italia
    Per the above answers:
    - if metal-on-nylon (basically scaled-up classical guitar "low" strings) is included, some uke bass models come with that kind of strings stock, but it really shouldn't matter - you can simply buy the nyloncore roundwounds separately and put them on the ukulele bass of your choice. Please note thay aren't sticky nor overly stretchy, but they do roll under the fingers;
    - if we're talking steel-core strings only, instruments tuned standard EADG tend not to be shorter than guitar 7/8 scale (the 23.5" of the Orangewood Oliver Jr. Bass Live is the shortest I'm aware of, but I've seen reports on the BeaverCreek Travel Size Bass being 22"). I think TBer @kohanmike can make steel-on-steel strings work on a few of his 22+" basses (they're flatwounds though, ergo not particularly bright).
    You could go even shorter, but you'd have to pick your poison (tubby and chorusy tone due to stiffness of strings too fat for the scale; or unacceptably floppy, sproingy thin strings; or tuning higher than standard).
    To be thorough, steel-core strings for shorter scale, namely 20-odd-inch ukulele basses, have been attempted (the 508/BT set by Pyramid, apparently still available here, and similar sets by La Bella that didn't go beyond the small batch phase), but they were nylon tapewound and didn't have "bright" as a goal.
    (They also didn't work, intonation-wise, as drop-in replacements on fretted uke basses because they would need the bridge moved back for proper compensation, but that's another matter.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021
  9. Peeved T-40

    Peeved T-40

    Jan 12, 2021
    Thank you for the information
     
    HaphAsSard likes this.