Hadean Uke Bass; Gut String Grunt On A Budget

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mojobone
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Hadean Uke Bass; Gut String Grunt On A Budget

Post by mojobone » Wed Apr 05, 2017 9:17 am

Did you ever wish for a string bass that would fit in a pedalboard case and cost less than $200? If you don't need to bow it, I have some good news.

http://www.rondomusic.com/product8218.html

It uses jumbo Aquila Thundergut nylon strings, and a piezo bridge pickup with a two-band active preamp to make a sound that comes pretty durn close to a full-sized plucked acoustic bass when pumped through a suitable tube or solid state bass amp and does it on a solidbody uke with a 22" scale. Given the size, given the sub-$200USD price tag, I was expecting a really fun toy, but I was gobsmacked on opening the package to find that this tiny terror is built like a brick shipyard, as heavily as say a Peavey five string and while nine pounds is a fair weight for a full sized guitar, this is smaller yet, so the feel is downright chunky, even before you strap it on, but when you do, it balances perfectly.


It's not a total replacement for the real deal and arguably it kinda also has it's own thing; there's a few quirks. Even if a bow worked on these slightly slick strings, string crossing would be improbable, cuz there's less arch or radius to the strings/bridge. You'll likely have to make some adjustments to your technique, and particularly so, if you're emulating pizzicato or slapped bass. (I can't quite slap with mine, yet but the bridge gets microphonic at full bore so I'm pretty sure it's possible) Other considerations, if you don't properly arch your left hand fingers a bit, the fat strings can roll under your fingertips, skewing your intonation. If your hands are greasy the strings will get sticky; try dredging your left hand fingers in cornstarch, not baby powder which has talc, which you don't wanna breathe. Right hand technique will also be an adjustment if you're coming from guitar, left hand adjustments will be necessary if coming from a full size bass,(cuz of the small scale) but stretches are gonna be easier than you're used to. Speaking of which, like a string bass, you can't bend these strings but you can still slide, which helps with authenticity but visually, this is maybe never gonna look as cool as a standup bass nor even a Beatle bass. OTOH, if you wear a diaper on stage and your band is Dread Zeppelin, all bets are off.

I've heard tell these strings take a really long time to stop stretching, which is important to note, cuz the turn ratio on the tuners is really high. I can't really address this, cuz time will only tell, but I'll note that the strings as installed at the factory were NOT according to Aquila's specification of essentially tying them to the oversized, split string posts. In fact, my specimen arrived with too much A string wound around around the post, but a pair of household scissors fixed 'er right up. For now, they still slip a bit when whacked hard; YMMV, if you use a lighter touch. Either case, the tuners are very slow and precise, though the non-adjustable intonation wanders a bit when you climb too high up the neck; truly was it said, there's no money above the fifth fret. If you need perfect intonation, there's a fretless model with a hollowbody-this I haven't played/heard, but folks on Youtube don't seem to like the stock preamp on that one, but who knows what they plug into, right?

So at the end of the day,what is this little hybrid beast? You'd think it'd end up neither fish nor fowl, given its odd heritage, but like the offspring of a jackass and a mare it's uniquely adaptable; it has it's own thing while being able to fill in for another in some contexts, like you want a string bass sound but only need it for a couple of tunes, but I can tell you it sounds awesome, and it's fun and easy enough to play all night long. I ain't skeered to say this little mule is a real professional instrument, and for an amazing price.

See the original thread, It Goes To Eleven: http://forums.taxi.com/post528622.html#p528622
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Re: Hadean Uke Bass; Gut String Grunt On A Budget

Post by mojobone » Sat Apr 08, 2017 7:14 am

Here's a similar bass in action. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wly-EG0wfE
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Re: Hadean Uke Bass; Gut String Grunt On A Budget

Post by LamarPecorino » Sun Apr 09, 2017 7:01 am

Thanks for the tip, Mojo. I've wanted a Kala U-Bass for awhile, but the price was a bit much for me. So I've been on the lookout for a used one in the $200 range. This might be a nice alternative.
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Re: Hadean Uke Bass; Gut String Grunt On A Budget

Post by mojobone » Sun Apr 09, 2017 10:22 am

Bear in mind this is NOT obvious from Rondo's website, but they offer U-basses in two scale lengths, 20" and 22"; Aqulia's Thundergut strings come in three different gauges/formulations, and I'm finding that string tension/composition are pretty important to the tone and playability. Kala's U-basses come stock with Pahoehoe strings which I theenk are made by Road Toad.
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Re: Hadean Uke Bass; Gut String Grunt On A Budget

Post by LamarPecorino » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:27 am

Road Toad! Too funny!! :lol:
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Re: Hadean Uke Bass; Gut String Grunt On A Budget

Post by mojobone » Sun Apr 23, 2017 5:01 pm

A few further thoughts; If you're intimately familiar with the sound of a real string bass and you have some fingerstyle guitar chops, the fretless version of this same axe has recently become available, after an 18 month absence from Rondo's website. It's still under $200 and available in only one color. My fretted version sounds amazing, 'til you slide more than a whole step; you can't get a true portamento, so I'm seriously considering buying the fretless, cuz I have a stompbox capable of supplying (hollow) body resonance and 'air'. I thought this thing sounded great plugged into a bass amp, but run direct, with a body resonance IR, some early reflections and a very tight ambience, it's pretty much indistinguishable from a recorded string bass, and it's easy to adjust the amount of string articulation/apparent mic distance, when using the onboard controls and a Zoom A3 which, despite a confounding operating system is capable of some amazing sounds. As long as you don't do anything technique-wise that takes the sound out of string bass territory, you can fool a lot of people.
Last edited by mojobone on Wed May 17, 2017 11:11 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Hadean Uke Bass; Gut String Grunt On A Budget

Post by mojobone » Wed Apr 26, 2017 7:31 am

Hm. Seems I misspoke; the fretless versions have a 20.75" scale and come in two colors.

http://www.rondomusic.com/product8204.html

I think the extra 2.25 inches makes a real difference in string tension, but I guess there's only one way to find out.
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