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Looking for ideas to create a small, travel worthy acoustic bass

I play bass, and only have an electric instrument so far.  We go car camping for several weeks during the summer, and I would love to be able to join others playing acoustic instruments.  Space is an issue, however, and there really is not room for a full size acoustic bass.  I have looked into "mini bass guitars" but these are pricey, and still fairly large.  I have thought about bringing my electric instrument along with a small, battery powered amp, since there is no electric hook up.  But, that is a last choice, given the setting.  I see from other discussion that converting a guitar is not ideal due to stress on neck from heavier bass strings.  I would even consider a barritone ukulele, and tuning with bass tuning.  Any suggestions? 

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CapnTac7 years ago
Baritone Ukulele, it's tuned the same way as a bass guitar, and is relatively small.
Actually, no. Baritone ukes are usually tuned the same as the highest 4 of a guitar (DGBE). Kala makes a bass ukulele (uBass) and so does RoadToad (Big Bufo), both of which are tuned the exact same as a bass guitar (EADG). Same octave too. I've tried the Kala and it's really quiet (but it is an electric/acoustic, so you could use a small amp). String length is the same as a baritone uke, but waaaay fatter strings. You could try a "garage sale" guitar modification. Replace the nut and saddle (or just make new notches in the old) and the tuners (or drill bigger holes) and put on short scale bass strings. Not sure if the tension would bend your neck (I think it would be lower, though) but if you find a $10 guitar, you don't lose much. Never done it myself, but check out dennishavlena.com
curbowman7 years ago
I'd suggest to try a Steinberger Spirit bass (1st picture). It's headless, strong, keeps its tune forever, and it can become your main axe very easily! It's just 38.5" long and 7.5 lbs; and there's even a 5-string version!

http://www.steinberger.com/XT2.html

Hohner provides a good Steinberger copy with the same hardware (2nd pic):

http://www.hohnerusa.com/index.php?325 http://www.hohnerusa.com/index.php?323

Of course, these need an amp to get some sound. If you don't want to carry a little amp, then your choice could be the Fernandes Nomad bass (last pictures):

http://www.fernandesguitars.com/nomad-bass/nomad-bass.html

The Fernandes Nomad has a 24" scale (compare that to the 34" of Fenders & Steinbergers) bass includes a small amplifier so all you need is to turn it on and play. Of course, it's just a small "practice bass," but it might be just what you need.

Tell us when you have decided, please. Oh, and remember to give your bass an adequate setup from a qualified technician. It's worth much more than its cost, believe me!
Dteinie.jpgHohner2.jpgNomad1.jpgNomad bass.jpg
gmoon7 years ago
Bass and small just don't go together ;-)

Given that, some of the cheaper pacific-rim acoustic basses aren't very large or pricey--at least when compared to an upright bass...

Mariachi basses are cool, and certainly smaller than an upright. But hardly small, of course.

Good luck!
basslady (author)  gmoon7 years ago
yes, it is an oxymoron, and when it comes to this problem I sometimes wonder if I chose the right instrument ---- but then I hear those low tones, and I fall in love with the sound all over again.  still open to other ideas.  i know i'm not the only person with this dilemma.