Kala U-Bass

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joppo
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Kala U-Bass

Post by joppo » Mon Mar 07, 2011 6:25 pm

I've had a Ubass for around 3 weeks now, so time I posted a bit of a review.

For those who have never heard of them, they are a 20 inch scale ukulele bass with really thick and distictive black polyurethane strings (the E string is a whopping 4.5mm thick). It is tuned EADG so any bass player can just pick it up and you're away. Mine is mahogany with a spruce top, but there is also a full mahogany model, and I think there are some other wood options in the US but don't know if they have made it here. They come both fretted and fretless. I got the fretted version - I can't imagine how hard it is to play that short a scale fretless in tune! each string has its own individual passive piezo pickup. There are no volume or other controls on the bass.

So, what's it like? Unplugged it just isn't loud enough for anything other than having a quiet noodle on your own. It wouldn't keep up with an enthusiatic acoustic guitar player. But plug it in and that all changes. It has an awesome tone that is kind of like an upright. The strings have no windings so they are effectively flats. It has heaps of bottom end with a really woody tone, and it has an upright-like "plunk" to the note. I haven't had to do much in the way of EQ - boost the bass a little and maybe cut the mids a little to reduce a bit of finger noise on the strings.

The short scale means you have to be quite precise, but it didn't take long to get the hang of it. The strings take a bit more getting used to. They are very flexible and so takes a lot more winding on the tuners to tune it. The strings have settled in now and seem hold tune pretty well. Once you are away, it is just outrageous fun to play. It is tiny and super light but makes this huge sound. The best bit is the surprised looks from everyone who sees it. I've never seen so much interest in a bass!

So I'm really happy with it. It would never be my main bass because it isn't versatile enough (read I can't play it well enough), but for anything that requires an acoustic bass tone it is superb. I'll try and do a vid soon and post it on the youtube thread. But at the moment I'm having too much fun playing it, so you'll just have to wait :lol:

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john
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Re: Kala U-Bass

Post by john » Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:42 pm

Nice review.
Can't wait to hear your youtube :evil:

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Re: Kala U-Bass

Post by foal30 » Tue Mar 08, 2011 8:52 am

Nice one Nev
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matt
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Re: Kala U-Bass

Post by matt » Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:44 pm

Man - that does look like a very cool instrument!

What sort of context would you use it in - what type of band / gig do you feel it's cool for?
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Re: Kala U-Bass

Post by joppo » Wed Mar 09, 2011 5:21 pm

matt wrote:What sort of context would you use it in - what type of band / gig do you feel it's cool for?
Excellent question! Depends a little on how much street-cred you think it has I guess :lol: It does feedback at high volumes and the small neck and thick strings means it is not particularly fast (at least not in my hands), but it's up to anything else. To give you some sort of idea, it was just made to play songs like Dock of the Bay, Stand by me... that sort of thing. There are some great youtube vids with it being played in jazz band. Bakithi is playing one in Paul Simons band.

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Re: Kala U-Bass

Post by beagle » Fri Mar 11, 2011 7:13 pm

That's really cool Nev.
The ukelele bands / groups are pretty popular at the moment.
There is proibly a group in your area who'd love to have you on board.
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Re: Kala U-Bass

Post by mickeyj4j » Fri Aug 28, 2015 9:45 am

I been looking at one of these and seen reviews, youtube vids etc. I just can't afford the price. I would seriously try the Aquila U-bass strings.
In New Zealamd we have way less choice There are others brands of uke bass out there including the Hayden brand http://www.rondomusic.com/cgi-rondomusi ... a8d614cc26. They can be found on ebay and with shipping would still come in under the price of a Ubass. Although I have brought stuff from ebay I am hesitant to get an instrument shipped. Wonder why someone is not importing the Hayden bass ukuleles in already.
Another product, idea, concept with only few options, brands available. Come on New Zealand.

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Re: Kala U-Bass

Post by greghr » Thu Jun 09, 2016 6:56 pm

Just though I'd add that I am now for the time being the bass player in a Gisborne Uke's band. We play oldies and classics and have a monthly jam here in Gisborne with other uker's. Only two of us play bass at the moment and we both play Kala Ubass. Good fun and once your used to the bennndyyy strings it's quite fun to play on such a short scale. You can definitely get that thump sound reminiscent of a double bass. I'm thinking about getting a solid body version.
Any way nice to be playing bass regularly again. Good fun to be singing also. We can get some nice harmonies going.
Hope all is well in bottom end Aotearoa land.

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Re: Kala U-Bass

Post by martyforrer » Wed Feb 15, 2017 9:45 am

I've bought a GoldTone M-Bass. It's like a Kala Ubass but with slightly bigger body, a cutaway, and longer scale at 23". I got it for salvage cost with a broken headstock. Took me one hour to repair, and it plays and sounds just awesome. A sound guy at a festival I played at said it was the best bass sound he'd ever mixed! Made in the USA too.

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Re: Kala U-Bass

Post by joppo » Thu Feb 16, 2017 8:55 pm

Nice score Marty! Having a cutaway would be nice - I occasionally run out of room on my U-bass. Is it fretted or fretless? I played a fretless U-bass in the US last time I was there and was able to get a pretty realistic amplified upright sound.

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Re: Kala U-Bass

Post by martyforrer » Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:54 am

Fretted.

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