The Kala U-Bass is fairly new, innovative and certainly looks the part. But how does it hold up? Is it worth the price-tag? Let’s take a look at this family of bass ukuleles…
First up – A video review from Steve Sellers
This page will give a general look at things, but for more in-depth model reviews see them on amazon.
The U-Bass is a short-scale bass, with the same pitch and tuning as a normal version. It offers a great alternative to standard bass guitars for those that struggle with the larger size.
Kala are generally known for making quality instruments, and this baby is no different. There is quite a range, and coming in at around $400+ you need to choose carefully before buying. This is no beginner’s ‘whimsical’ instrument!
Origins of the U-Bass
After the discovery that polyurethane strings would make a ukulele sound deep as a bass guitar, Road Toad, the inventors of this instrument would be the first to release a Bass ukulele. However, there was a problem with it. Its production was too expensive. From there on they contacted Kala, a company created by Mike Upton, in search for better and cheaper ukuleles. Headed in California, the Kala Company is known for producing over 120 different models of quality ukuleles.
Features of the Kala U-Bass
What can you expect if you get a U-Bass? We’ll look at some specific models in a moment, but first a look at some general features of the family:
- Available in 4 or 5 string version, all very innovative.
- You can choose from acoustic and electric versions, each with their own advantages. But the acoustic models are all equipped for electrical amplification.
- Fretted or unfretted: You decide, as both options are available.
- Good sounding pickups, with a retail value of almost 200 dollars alone.
- Custom Hipshot tuners, on the mahogany models, designed to endure custom polyurethane ‘pahoehoe’ strings.
- Proprietary polyurethane strings- Feel like elastic bands rather than metal strings, but produce wonderful tones and feel.
- They provide a quality case or a gig bag, with an humidifier adding value to the price. Plus, this makes it easier for you to carry your instrument in a safely manner.
So with the features in mind…
What are the advantages of a U-Bass?
- Quality!!! At these prices, you would hope so! But these instruments are well-crafted, using quality woods and other materials. The choice of woods are spruce, mahogany and acacia.
- Sturdy! Using great pick-ups, solid pick-up jack and sturdy tuners. Should last for years.
- Really superb bass sound: Full, deep bassy tones. Don’t let the size deceive you, the tone can get right down there. Buyers report the pick-up as being very sensitive too.
- The U-Bass allows those with fat and/or short fingers to play bass! This instrument is friendlier than a full-sized bass guitar for such players.
- Maybe too expensive for some. As noted, this is not something a beginner is likely to invest in. More suited for those that know what they are after and want the best.
- May not be very loud without an amp (especially electrical versions). But should be loud enough for practicing.
- The strings take a long time to settle in.
Various U-Bass Models
There’s no shortage of variety in the U-Bass family. Here is a look at some of the popular models:
- U-Bass Spruce Top: One of the cheaper models, but still high quality. As with most, can be bought fretted or unfretted.
- KA-U-Bass FS Solid Mahogany: The mahogany models are more expensive, but are sheer quality. Complete with branded Hipshot tuners.
- Acacia versions: Appear to be the top of the line in terms of quality.
- SUB U-Bass: This electric version is available in a wide range of colors, and all are fabulous to look at.
- Solid Body, 5-stringed version: We haven’t managed to track down many reviews of this version. If you have played or own the 5-string model please let us know your thoughts!
Kala Chief Mike Upton introduces the U-Bass in this short video:
Buyer’s Reviews of the Kala U-bass
The Kala U-bass family has a variety of good quality products ranging from 4 to 5 star ratings on Amazon.com. Most buyers seem to know their stuff and are happy with this baby. Many are frustrated in their previous attempts to play bass (who struggled with dexterity required and/or their hands are too short/fat). Otherwise buyers are those who wanted to play ukulele, but just found it too sweet sounding or for someone who just wants to try something different!!
Some comments include:
“I bought this a couple of weeks ago and I just love it. With a small amp and speaker it has the sound of a huge stand up bass. It’s so easy to play it’s ridiculous. I bought a stand up bass years ago and sold it because it was just too hard to play and took up too much room. This has been wonderful…”
“This little bass has lots of punch – it is small yet totally fun. When amplified it has a nice growl to it. Highly recommended for any ability, size, and style. Enjoy!”
“I like the string bass sound, and always tried to emulate it with my bass guitars, mostly by using flat wound strings, and less high range tones. This little bass sounds more like a string bass than any bass guitar I ever played… I love it!”
The Kala U-Bass family gives innovative instruments, made with bass players and ukulele lovers in mind. It is light, portable and fun to play, with superb quality for the price.
If you ever wanted a ukulele but wished it sounded bassier, or if you wanted a small bass so you can carry around during travels to practice then choose a Kala U-bass. You won’t be disappointed.