Restringing a uBass 101

So, your new Kala uBass just arrived. Now what?

Well, the first thing you should do is tune it up and play it. Play it unplugged and then plug it in. This will give you an idea of how it sounds and let you know if anything is wrong with the uBass. If anything is loose or the Piezos in the bridge are acting up.

Once you’ve established that everything is working as it should, take the strings off. That’s right. Take them off. I know you just tuned it. But, trust me, you’ll thank me for this.

What you need to do is stretch the strings. When you tuned up the uBass and started playing, you probably noticed that after a while it would drift out of tune. This happens because the strings haven’t “settled” and they are still stretching and reacting to being played and to temperature variations. Also, when your bass came from the factory, it probably was strung with too many winds around the tuning peg. Normally, you shouldn’t need more than three winds for the G string and probably two or three for each of the others.

When you first start playing, you’ll notice that your fingers tend to stick to the strings. That’s normal. As the “grease” builds up on your fingers the strings will get slicker. If you find it’s a continuing problem, you always could buy a can of Finger Ease or a similar product. But after a while, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Of course there are plenty of ways to string your uBass. Just like with an electric bass with metal strings, everyone has their favorite ways. This method is suggested by Mike Upton of Kala Brand Music Co. and it’s a good one.

Check out Mike’s video tutorial here.

You want to take the strings off the tuner end (leave them attached at the bridge end), grab one in both hands and give it a good tug. Do this for each string. They’re rubber, they won’t break.

The G string of your uBass probably is put on using Mike Upton’s “lasso” method, meaning it’s knotted on the tuning post. To remove the string you’ll probably need a small screwdriver to gently prod the knot open and out from around the post. Do this carefully, or you can scratch the black paint off the post–or worse.

After each string is off its tuning peg, follow Mike’s directions for restringing each string.

You don’t have to worry about cutting off any string edges that stick out from the tuners. They won’t hurt anything. Unlike with metal strings, you won’t poke holes in your hands because of sharp, cut string ends.

After following Mike’s directions, you’ll find that the uBass stays in tune longer. As the strings adjust, they’ll stay in tune much longer. The strings should take a few days or a week to settle down. Since the strings are polyurethane, they should last a long, long time.

If you want to change your strings altogether–maybe you want to string your uBass with Dreads–then you’ll need to remove the strings from the tuners and the bridge.

To remove the strings from the bridge, turn your uBass over. You’ll notice on the back a little “trap door” with four Philips head screws in it (seen below). The trap door will be a slightly different shade than the rest of the uBass. You have to remove these screws. To do so you’ll need a small Philips head screwdriver, the kind that comes with an eyeglass repair kit or a jewelers kit. Take out each of the screws and put them somewhere where you won’t lose them. To remove the “trap door” you’ll need a small Slot head screwdriver, which also probably is in your eyeglass repair kit. Gently slide the Slot head screwdriver between the door and the uBass body and gently pry it off. The wood can easily be damaged, so go slow and be careful.

Once the door is off, you can slide each string out of its retaining slot.

Then all you have to do is slide your new strings in where the old ones were and put the door back.

Now tune up using your favorite method, and you’re done.

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