Here’s the UBass maintenance issues I’ve come across with my ubass. I’ll fill in the links as soon as possible.
I always find restringing a bit of a pain. Luckily Ubass strings last a long time and don’t seem to snap suddenly so at the moment it doesn’t look like you need to worry too much about carrying spare strings about with you. The propriety strings, known as Pahoehoes, do take a week or two to settle down so I’ve found I need to plan ahead to a time when I’m not doing many performances.
Putting new strings on is reasonably straightforward. Unscrew the panel on the reverse of the Ubass body which allows you to get to the inside of the body. There are four little screws that hold the panel. Be gentle when removing them as the panel is a bit delicate. I already have the beginnings of a split in mine. Remove the panel and you should be able to see the ends of the existing strings as they poke through the holes in the body just beyond the bridge. They have little red grommets on the end to hold them in the Ubass body. If you loosen the exisitng string at the tuner end then you should be easily about to pull it out and replace with a new one.
Kala produced this very useful video on restring with new strings.
I found this only worked for me with new strings. I made the mistake of taking of an existing string and trying to replace it. Since you trim the end off at the tuner end the string is a lot shorter and when not under tension, it gets even shorter. So when I tried to re house it in the tuner it was impossible to get enough grip in order for the string to stay in place.
I worked out a plan B method of fixing the string using very thin cable ties (HFX 401) from my local Halfords store. I found if you create a loop in the string and cable tie if off (tightly) you can effectively create a hook which will hold the string on the tuner quite nicely. The cable ties I got were black so I don’t think anyone would actually notice they were there.
E & A Strings
Another thing to watch out for is that Kala actually increased the radius of G string, fairly early on . My Ubass acoustic was a very early batch and so the G hole was too small when I came to change strings. I contacted Kala who suggested that I got it reamed slightly to accommodate the new string. I haven’t got round to doing this yet but I’ll let you know.
How long do strings last?
This will depend a lot on how much you use them. Ubass Guru Mike Upton has be quoted as saying
“The strings won’t breakdown material wise. The only thing that they suffer from is stretching. I would think that they would be fine for at least a year but could well last several years depending on the use.”.
I’ve had mine on for about a year and they seem fine. I can tell of any reduction in sound quality due to ageing and I haven’t noticed any extreme stretching as the strings are at such a low tension.
Can I get funky colours?
Sure. Since the strings are polyurethane, they can be coloured in the same way that normal plastics are. Hence you can get some funky colours. I have kept the standard black ones on my mahogany acoustic simply because it looks cool. But I’ve recently changed my SUB U-bass with the matte black body to show off a set of Dreads (Black, Greeen, Yellow and Red). They look lovely! I don’t think the manufacturers are exploiting this market greatly yet.
Road Toad Music is the best place to go. Checkout their BassUke.com site for the various options. These are delivered from the US and don’t (at the time of writing) incur any tax into the UK.
What are Thunderguts?
Thunderguts are a new type of string that Aquila (granddaddy of ukulele strings) has produced as alternative to the standard Pahoehoe strings. These are getting some good reviews but not unanimously. I’ve never tried them but the general opinion is that they provide a great sustain and most importantly will settle down within a couple of days rather than the rather lengthy weeks for the Pahoehoes.
According to this video, they look pretty easy to put on! If you have tried them and found them good to use, then drop me a line.
The thing that has prevented me from ordering a set is that they are white strings. Yuck!
How to restring without taking your own eye out?
How long do strings take to settle down?
Pahoehoes do take a couple of weeks to settle down. During that time you’ll be tightening the strings on a regualar basis but once the settle I’ve found them extremely stable and only detune slightly during cold weather.
Careful with the strap on the jack socket!
How to tighten the jack socket on the sub ubass
G String width issue on the old models of Acoustic Ubass
Removing the Back Panel on the SUB Ubass
Removing the Magnetic Battery Cover on the SUB U-bass
The SUB Ubass has a magnetic battery cover (referred to as a “Cavity cover” in the manual). This cover is held by three high strength magnets and hence doesn’t have any screws. There is a small recess to allow you to pull it off with a single finger. Trouble is, the recess if very small and shallow and I couldn’t get my finger in far enough. Hence I couldn’t manage to apply enough force to flip the battery cover off. Bit of a design flaw. I had to resort to a screw driver and managed to chip the paintwork around the recess. Not good :-(. When I find a more suitable tool I’ll let you know. Until then you’ll need to find a small but very strong fingered child.