Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by rericsawyer, Dec 7, 2018.

  1. rericsawyer


    Dec 4, 2018
    I play a variety of short scale basses, including a couple of SUB ubasses from Kala. I have put their wound-rounds on those, and I am quite pleased with them.

    Just yesterday though, I took delivery of one of their solid mahog hollow-bodies. I like it because the more upright tones make it a better fit for some "jazz-inspired" sounds. In fact, that was the argument I used to justify the purchase, and the fretless neck.

    Of course, it came with the stock strings. I like them quite a bit better than the ones I first encountered about 4 years ago (not as sticky) but I wonder what might be even better.

    Remember, my whole goal for this instrument is to get as close as I can to the sound of an upright - For a seasonal reference, think "The Christmas Song" (aka "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas") with perhaps some piano or a jazz guitar and brushes on a snare. Mel Torme, that sort of thing.

    Any suggestions?
  2. trothwell


    Apr 9, 2008
  3. Well there's not a lot of possibilities out there I am afraid. The original strings are made by Pahoehoe. They are the black ones that came with the original UBasses and can be found in black (both 4 and 5 string versions) and also be found in the 'Dreads", which is the 4 string set that is colored like the strings for a guitarrone. They are rather slick feeling and good, but can be a real pain to get strtetched out before they settle down.

    Aquila makes four different sets, including the Thunder Guts, Thunder Reds, Thunder Blacks, and the Rumbler sets. They all, except for the Thunder blacks, have the sticky "grabbing" feel that many dertest. Talc powder is used by many before playing to help lessen the grabby feel. Thunder Blacks are like a combo of the Pahoehoes and the Aquilas. I liked them, but the E string is not as powerful as the other strings, so I changed the E out for a spare E Thundergut string I had. Sounds fine now. Try sticking a piece of foam at the bridge for that "White Christmas" sound. Let me know how it went.

    Both Kala and Pyramid make metal strings, that, for all the world, are like giant classical guitar strings. These will probably not help you if you wish to have an uprightish sound. Labella was selling a set similar to their black nylon string tapes. I have never seen a set nor known anyone who used them. Not sure if they still make them anymore.

    Out of all the sets I would have to say my favorites are the Rumblers. Not quite as sticky as the Thunderguts, and they are very well balanced compared to most the others. I feel the perfect set (At least for my likes) are still not here yet. In the meantime I will enjoy the sets I have.
  4. rericsawyer


    Dec 4, 2018
    Thank you! I have a set of the round wound Kala strings on my two Solid Body u-basses (4 and 5 string), and consider them a big improvement for a more standard bass guitar sound. I like them a lot.

    The first thing I noticed on unpacking this new fretless is that the strings are not NEARLY as grabby as I remember the Pahoehoes in the past. I wonder if they ship with Rumblers? I might give Kala a call.
    All in all, I like these strings. At least better than the old Pahoehoes. And for the sound I am chasing, better than the round-wounds.

    I see your point about a little foam mute at the nut. I might play with that (I mean, that mod is almost as cheap as I am!) but I think controlling the envelope with left hand technique, and keeping ones nails groomed so as to allow either nail or flesh when picking seems to do well.

    All in all, a very helpful post. Thank you!
  5. Rumblers are a dark gray color. Pahoehoes are a shiny black. I looked at the website and the solid mahogany basses are supposed to wearing Pahoehoes when delivered these days. What ever you have it sounds like you like them, so play them. You may end up really liking them. I have a roundwound set on my SUB bass and they really sound good on it, but couldn't stand them on my 5 string fretless solid body.
    I am glad to see you really enjoying your Kalas. Have fun with your fretlessing adventures. :smug:
  6. Greywoulf

    Greywoulf Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2000
    Freehold, NJ. USA
    I have the Aquila Thunderblacks on my Hedean U-bass. They're black rubbery non-sticky strings that are silky smooth, a pleasure to stroke, and have a nice ('huge' when plugged into my Rumbler 25!) upright tone to them... For around $130 for this well made bass, with these strings, I doubt you could find a better setup anywhere if you're looking for a mini bass that has that upright jazz sound... My ears and my fingers both love the way this baby plays!
  7. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    I have Aquila Silver Rumblers on my bubinga fretted Kala U-Bass. They are great strings. Compared to the stock strings, they have a hair more tension, are more consistent, and have a big, round tone that to me might sound and feel good on a fretless. I actually turn down the tone knob on my U-bass one notch because the articulation is almost too clear when played with other ukulele players, although that may be a function of the bubinga being a bright wood as we all know.