Welcome All Kala uBass Enthusiasts

If you have an interest in the Kala brand uBass, then this is the blog for you.

The uBass Appreciation Society is the first blog on the Internet solely dedicated to those who play, or are interested in, the Kala brand uBass, a combination baritone ukulele and bass guitar. This ground-breaking 21″ short scale bass guitar produces the same pitches as a standard bass and is the closest you can come to the sound of an upright acoustic bass without an actual upright.

This blog is for all those interested in playing tips, news and information about the Kala brand uBass.

*We are not affiliated in any way, nor are we supported by, the Kala Brand Music Co., its employees or related companies.

– Dean Tomasula – uBass Appreciation Society

Kala “Made in USA” Ukes Get Major Coverage in Music Press

Kala's USA Ukes are the subject of a major article in the October issue of Music Trades magazine.

Kala’s USA Ukes are the subject of a major article in the October issue of Music Trades magazine.

 

Kala’s newly opened U.S. Uke factory is the subject of a major story in the October issue of Music Trades, an industry magazine. While the article focuses on Kala’s new U.S. factory and not specifically on its uBasses, it does mention the U.S.-made uBass.

The article does offer some interesting bits of information about Kala, such as the fact that the first USA-made Ukes should be available in January at the Winter NAMM show. The U.S.-made line of Ukes is expected to sell from $700 to $1,800.

The piece also points out that Kala posted sales of $13.2 million in 2013 of Ukes and related products. The company plans to add some new models to its Asian-made Uke line in 2015. Six and eight-string Uke models are slated for 2016.

Let’s hope they have a new uBass or two in the works.

To read the article in PDF version, click here: Music Trades 10-14 Kala Article

New Forum for Ultra-Short-Scale Low Enders

Join the discussion at the MicroBassTalk Forum

Join the discussion at the MicroBassTalk Forum

 

For all of you out there that are into the Kala uBass, and maybe even some of the competing ultra-short-scale bass instruments available, there’s a new forum. Introducing the Micro Bass Talk Forum, featuring discussion of ultra-short-scale–or micro–basses. Of course you can discuss the Kala uBass (which has its own board), but you can also discuss any other model of ultra-short-scale bass like the Gold Tone MicroBass or the Aquila ShortBass One, to name only two. There’s even a board for travel basses. There also boards for discussing strings, gear, playing tips and recording techniques.

Check it out. Sign up for free and join the discussion. Tell your friends.

And help spread the word about our little bass friends.

New Kala Fifth Anniversary uBass Advertisement

Kala Ad 2014

 

We all know that the Kala uBass rocks (in every sense of the word). But did you know that the company’s ads for the uBass rock as well?

Here’s your proof. And this one features two of the best bass players out there.

For more on Nik West.

For more on Tal Wilkenfeld.

 

Getting Jazzy with a uBass

Gabriel

Gabriel Olortiga plays “Autumn Leaves” on his uBass

 

Think the uBass is not very versatile? Then think again.

Here’s a nice rendition of Ron Carter’s bass line from the Jazz standard “Autumn Leaves” played by Gabriel Olortiga on his uBass.

The uBass is equally adept at Rock, Jazz, Classical, Heavy Metal–it can handle just about any genre of music.

And here’s the man himself, Ron Carter, playing the song.

Handmade Koa uBass on the Way from Kala

Kala's new Acoustic/Electric Koa uBass

Kala’s new Acoustic/Electric Koa uBass

Kala came to Summer NAMM in Nashville this year ready to impress, and it seems they’ve accomplished their goal.

Rick Carlson brought along one of the company’s new uBass models to the show. It’s a handmade Acoustic/Electric Koa model with LR Baggs electronics, made in Kala’s Custom Shop in Petaluma, Ca. And boy is it pretty.

Check out this video of Rick introducing the newest member of the uBass stable at Summer NAMM.

This model sells for $2799 and comes delivered in a tweed hard case. It’s available fretted or fretless. Kala also has a Flame Maple version ($2299) and a Peruvian Walnut version, also $2299.

Say Hello to My Little Friend

Sam Price of the Honey Island Swamp Band.  Photo © C. Stewart Logan

Sam Price of the Honey Island Swamp Band. Photo © C. Stewart Logan

 

The little bass with the big sound.

But then, since we’re uBass players, we already knew that.

So, apparently, Sam Price, bass player for Honey Island Swamp Band (whose music has been described a Bayou Americana) likes to whip out his uBass while on stage to freak out the crowd. He did this recently while playing “Josephine” at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Apparently he’s been whipping it out for a few years now.

As he recently told Bass Player magazine:

“I love to mix in the Uke-Bass once in a while because it freaks folks out to hear such a big, round sound coming from such a little instrument.”

Indeed.

Flattery Will Get You Nowhere

Hadean Omega Bass Uke UKB-24

Hadean Omega Bass Uke UKB-24

 

You know what they say, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Well, maybe that’s true. Maybe it isn’t. It up the person (or in this case company) being flattered (or in this case, imitated) to decide.

Kala must be really flattered then because they are being imitated left and right. We told you back in December about a few of its competitors with uBass models. Well, the latest one appears to be the Hadean Omega Bass Uke, which as far as I can tell are sold exclusively in the U.S. by Rondo Music. Rondo is well known in the guitar and bass gear community for selling inexpensive Chinese instruments of varying quality, particularly Agile guitars and SX basses. They usually are the sole U.S. distributor of products manufactured by Team International out of Taiwan.

In an effort at full disclosure, I must say that I have purchased a number of bass guitars and some accessories from Rondo over the years. Their customer service is excellent and their products are cheap and for the most part playable. They certainly are not a fly-by-night organization–they stand behind their products and have a generous return policy.

However, their products tend to be Chinese copies of well known brands (Gibson and Fender mostly). In fact, at one point they were selling an SX bass guitar model that looked so much like a Fender, that Fender had to sue them to stop selling it. Team International redesigned the bass and changed the headstock to look a bit less like a Fender in order to keep selling the model.

Anyway, back to the Hadean Omega Bass Ukes. They are clones of Kala–both the acoustic and Soldibody models. I have not seen one in person, so I can’t speak to the quality of the instrument or its sound, but for the price they are selling at, you can’t expect much. I’m not even sure if they are made by Team International, but I suspect they are.

The models are listed on the Rondo Music web site as prototypes, so I suspect Rondo is testing the waters with them.

They have the Hadean Bass Uke UKB-31 (which is a clone of the acoustic Spruce Kala uBass). Here’s what the web site has to say about the model:

Prototype Bass Ukulele

  • Pre-amp for amplified use with volume, bass, mid and treble control
  • Build in tuner
  • Aquila brand strings
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Spruce top, Mahogany back and sides.
  • Rosewood fretboard.
  • Tune like a standard bass guitar Low to high: E, A, D, G

Measurements

  • Overall length: 29 3/4″
  • Length of body: 14″”
  • Thickness of body: 3 3/4″
  • Width of upper bout: 7 1/2″
  • Width of lower bout: 10 5/8″
  • String Size Aquila Nylgut .085,.105,145,185
  • Width of neck at the nut: 1 13/16″
  • Width of neck at the 9th fret: 2 1/8″
  • Thickness of neck at the nut: 11/16″
  • Thickness of neck at 9th fret: 7/8″
  • Scale length: 20″
  • Weight: only 4 pounds!

Rondo Music sells this model for $119.95 plus shipping.

Then there’s the Hadean Bass Uke UKB-24:

Prototype Bass Ukulele

  • Pre-amp for amplified use with volume, bass, mid and treble control
  • Build in tuner
  • Aquila brand strings
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Swamp ash body top, back and sides.
  • rosewood fretboard.

Measurements

  • Overall length: 29 3/4″
  • Length of body: 14″”
  • Thickness of body: 3 3/4″
  • Width of upper bout: 7 1/2″
  • Width of lower bout: 10 5/8″
  • String Size Aquila Nylgut .085,.105,145,185
  • Width of neck at the nut: 1 13/16″
  • Width of neck at the 9th fret: 2 1/8″
  • Thickness of neck at the nut: 11/16″
  • Thickness of neck at 9th fret: 7/8″
  • Scale length: 20″
  • Weight: only 4 pounds!

This one sells for the same price.

Hadean Solidbody Bass Uke UKB-22

Hadean Solidbody Bass Uke UKB-22

There’s the solidbody Hadean Omega Bass Uke UKB-20 2TS that sells for $149.95 plus shipping. And the solidbody Hadean Omega Bass Uke UKB-22 Blue that sells for $159.95.

The solidbodies feature:

Prototype Bass Ukulele

  • Active Pre-amp for amplified use with volume, bass and treble control
  • Aquila Nylgut brand strings
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Solid swamp ash body.

Measurements

  • Overall length: 30″
  • Length of body: 13 3/4″
  • Thickness of body: 1 1/2″
  • Width of upper bout: 8 1/2″
  • Width of lower bout: 10 1/4″
  • String Size Aquila Nylgut .085,.105,145,185
  • Width of neck at the nut: 1 13/16″
  • Width of neck at the 9th fret: 2 1/8″
  • Thickness of neck at the nut: 11/16″
  • Thickness of neck at 9th fret: 7/8″
  • Scale length: 20 3/4″
  • Weight: only 4.5 pounds!

These uBasses look really nice. And they probably are decent instruments for the price. But you shouldn’t expect Kala quality at half the price. They probably don’t sound half as good as a Kala does. The problem that I have found with the basses I’ve owned from Rondo Music over the years is that the electronics leave a lot to be desired. The pickups and preamps were of cheap quality and did not sound very good. I usually ended up changing the pickups and wiring to get a halfway decent sound out of them. I suspect that would be the case with these uBasses as well.

But, as I’ve said before, competition is good for the industry and for the consumer. It’s nice to know the Kala uBass has carved a niche in the market and is now being copied by many other companies. It’s also nice to know that Kala is still the best in quality and sound.

If you want an awesome uBass that looks good and sounds great, there’s only one place to go.