Strings don't fit a UBass

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by polycube, Jan 13, 2019.


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  1. polycube

    polycube

    Dec 4, 2018
    I just got a Kala Passenger UBass and I don't really like the strings it comes with. They're sticky and the E string has a weird kind of polytone that the other strings don't have. So I got some Pahoehoe UBass strings that seem to be well-liked here.

    The E string went in fine, but the others are all too big for the hole that goes through the bridge. The A and G strings are close, but the D string is way off. Seems like I could drill the holes to be wider. I'm thinking of just using a power drill to widen the holes as needed for the strings I got. Does that sound like a reasonable solution?

    I sent an email to Kala but I haven't heard back. There's nothing on their website that would suggest specific UBasses only work with specific strings. And the string diameter of several sets isn't clearly listed anyway.

    ubass-front.jpg ubass-back.jpg
     
  2. bassistkll

    bassistkll

    Sep 23, 2007
    Ventura, CA
    I ran into that problem with my Wanderer Ubass. The white Thundergut strings that it came with didn't sound bad but they're kinda creepy. Got a set of black Pahoehoes, but I did have to ream the bridge holes a bit to get the strings through. Big improvement.
     
  3. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    I've tried about every string available on my U-Bass and they all fit without problem. But my bass is first-generation Kala Rumbler. Perhaps they have changed something in production. I am interested in what Kala has to say about it.
     
  4. polycube

    polycube

    Dec 4, 2018
    Did you use any special tools? I just have a power drill. I'm not sure if I would want to invest in some more precise tools or see how much it would cost for an instrument repair shop to do it.

    I think the passenger is a new "budget" model, so the quality control may not be up to the original standards. It was about half the price of the other UBasses at the store.
     
  5. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    were it mine i'd just up size those incrementally with twist drill bits from a fractional/number/letter drill set. i'd do it by hand or use a hand drill. clean work will be easier it you block the bridge plate with sacrificial wood to avoid chip out.

    other alternative would be to use a round file and approach the hole from both ends to minimize taper.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019
  6. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    Pretty tricky getting a round file inside the body to approach it from both sides!

    If the hole really needs enlarging, I would use a tapered reamer. If you use a twist drill, start with the next drill size, 1/64" larger than the current hole. If that's not enough go up one more 64th. Repeat until it's good.
     
  7. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    file halfway down from the bridge and halfway up from the backside through the access cover.

    however it's done, i strongly suggest a non-power tool method. as you said a reamer is also a good choice.

    seen and heard of many people make a big mess by hand holding a cordless drill and stabbing a flat blade wood bit (or other inappropriate bit) into bridge and end pin holes.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019
  8. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    Access cover - that's new. No such beast on my U-Bass.
     
  9. polycube

    polycube

    Dec 4, 2018
    Thanks for the tips, all. I'll see if I can borrow a non-powered hand drill from my dad. The access panel on the back should make it pretty easy.
     
  10. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    would appear to be a new beast. secured with four black philips screws -Polycube's bass has one. don't know the year they started this. our old one didn't have a cover either. Kala's a weird company :)
     
  11. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    Yah - who else would even think of making a bass ukulele? Seems like a contradiction of terms.
     
  12. ak56

    ak56

    Apr 2, 2015
    Carnation, Wa
    My U-Bass has one, and no screwdriver needed. It's attached with magnets.
     
  13. polycube

    polycube

    Dec 4, 2018
    So it's been more than 2 months since I originally picked out this UBass, but I can finally play it with the nice strings. I wrote a up a nice timeline of the whole ordeal... here's the summary:

    • 11/20/2018 - I picked out the UBass I liked at the store, but there was a crack in the neck. They were able to get a new one from Kala, but it took 4 weeks. So I didn't actually buy it until 12/17.
    • 12/18/2018 - I ordered new strings directly from Kala. They put first class postage on a priority envelope, so the post office made me pay the difference. Because of the holidays and weather, I couldn't actually pick them up until after Christmas. Kala gave me a refund for the extra postage.
    • 1/7/2019 - I finally got all set to restring the UBass with the new strings, only to find they didn't fit. I sent a couple messages to Kala. They didn't get back to me until 1/17. They offered to fix it for free if I shipped it out to California or refund the strings.
    • 1/20/2019 - I didn't like the idea of sending it across the country in the middle of winter, so I asked the store I bought it from if they could do the modification. After some back and forth, I was able to get the cost down to the same price as the refund for the strings.
    • 2/6/2019 - I finally have the UBass back with the strings I wanted. It plays great! And the sound is much more consistent across strings. Sounds like it can take some time for these kind of strings to hold their tuning, though.
    Hopefully this will motivate Kala to list string gauges on their instruments and strings. Standard bass strings always have gauges, so I don't know why it so hard to find with the UBass strings.

    Thanks for all the tips. I ended up being to chicken to do the modification myself... But I ended up not having to pay any extra to have it done professionally. So I lost a chance to improve my maintenance skill, but I think my haggling went up at least a little.
     
  14. dab12ax7ef

    dab12ax7ef

    Sep 25, 2011
    Pittsburgh
    Question: Given how stretchy they strings are, will they narrow when stretched? Like is it possible to stretch them a bit to get them to fit? Without modifying the bass.
    I don’t actually know since I haven’t changed strings on mine. But the strings gage is much more variable, and the amount of stretch is unreal.
     
  15. polycube

    polycube

    Dec 4, 2018
    I don't know if they will thin out over time. The only place I was able to find measurements was on this Bassuke website. I decided that site was a little too sketchy for me to actually use the store, even though they're cheaper than the Kala site. I'm guessing the measurements for the standard set (.2", .187", .156", .125") is what I have now. At some point maybe I'll buy a precision calipers and see if that matches up with what they're at. Knowing that it could be an issue, I won't be experimenting with any other strings until I have some solid measurements.
     
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