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

Cheeseburgers and uBasses in Paradise

Jimmy Buffett bassist Jim Mayer and his uBass.

Jimmy Buffett bassist Jim Mayer and his uBass.

 

Jimmy Buffett’s longtime bassist Jim Mayer has played his uBass on several of Buffett’s albums. In fact, he says it’s usually a hit with the fans at their shows.

Mayer recently spoke to For Bass Players Only:

At Buffett’s concerts, one of the things that really helps the bassist stand out is his diminutive Kala U-Bass, which is essentially a ukulele built to play as a bass. While it may not have the girth of other basses, Mayer consistently blows audiences away with its sound.

Mayer has played the U-Bass on several of Buffett’s albums and taken it on tour with the Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band to Europe. He told FBPO that it does “an excellent job filling in the gaps in the midrange tones” in Buffett’s music. He also said it sounds great on reggae tunes too.

“Everybody I’ve played it for or played it with just can not believe how huge the tone is out of that tiny instrument,” the bassist says. “It still sounds enormous!”

Calling the uBass an “amazingly versatile instrument,” Mayer says he usually always has one on stage with him.

You can read the full interview HERE.

Happy Birthday to Us

Happy Happy Birthday Bass

 

It was five years ago today – August 23, 2010 – when it all began. Today, the uBass Appreciation Society turns five years old.

For the past five years we’ve been covering the wonderful little bass known as the Kala uBass (and its competitors on occasion) and we have no plans to stop anytime soon. As long as Kala keeps making the uBass and selling them, we’ll be here to let you know what’s up.

It’s been fun these past five years. And we look forward to seeing how the uBass evolves in the coming years.

During the past five years we’ve posted 228 posts. Who knows how many we’ll have in the next five years. Stay tuned to find out.

If you weren’t around in the beginning and are curious to see how it all began, check out our first post HERE.

The Mike and Magnus Show

Magnus Sjöquist speaking with Mike Upton about the uBass. Photo: YouTube Screenshot

Magnus Sjöquist speaking with Mike Upton about the uBass.
Photo: YouTube Screenshot

Here’s a real treat for all of you uBass fans: Mike Upton of Kala interviewing Magnus Sjöquist, uBass Artist and Play UBass! blogger about the uBass. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Our friend Magnus explains how he first encountered the uBass and what attracted him to it (Spoiler Alert: It was the big sound.)

This is Part I of the video with Magnus. Hopefully Part II will be up soon. And hopefully there’ll be more than just two parts.

I know Mike’s a busy man, but it would be great if this could become a recurring series of interviews with Kala uBass artists.

Separated at Birth?

Kala-Rotosound

 

Notice any similarities between these two string packages? The Rotosound Nexus Bass strings on the left have been around for about four years. The Kala Silver Plated strings are fairly new. But the packaging is eerily reminiscent of each other.

So what’s the deal? Great (marketing and design) minds think alike? Imitation? Coincidence?

Who knows.

It’s probably more like, when you hit upon something good, you go with it.

I guess just as in Western music where everyone is working with the same notes, there’s just so much you can do with string package design.

 

Changing Strings? Try Metal.

The packaging for Kala's new metal round wounds uBass strings.

The packaging for Kala’s new metal round wounds uBass strings.

 

Let’s face it. Sometimes you just need to change things up. You need to try something different. Well, if you’re about to change the strings on your uBass, or are getting bored with your Pahoehoes, why not try Kala’s new metal round wound strings.

The strings are constructed with a nylon core with silver plated windings. In a video touting the new strings, Mike Upton says while the strings are “boomy” like the Pahoehoes, they do tend to offer a bit more treble than the other strings. So if you want your uBass to sound more like an electric/acoustic bass and less like a double bass, these may be the strings for you.

“These round wound strings provide a warm booming sound that the U-Bass is known for,” Kala notes. “They feature lower tension compared to traditional built bass strings, making them easy on the fingers with a great overall feel.”

The new strings feature the following:

  • Nylon core with Silver-plated windings
  • Specifically constructed for use with the Kala U-Bass
  • Provides player with extreme playability
  • Warm, powerful sound with clear note articulation
  • String construction and gauging gives player very accurate intonation

The new strings are very responsive and very articulate, according to Mike Upton. They still feature the “boomy” sound the uBass is known for, but with a bit more clarity and top end.

These new strings should not be confused with Kala’s Silver Rumbler strings made by Aquila. The Silver Rumblers feature Nylgut and a proprietary formula and are not metal strings.

Check out a video with Mike demoing a set of the strings HERE.

The uBass on Tour with Magnus Sjöquist

Magnus Sjoquist backstage with his uBasses.

Magnus Sjoquist backstage with his uBasses.

 

Recently, our friend Magnus Sjöquist did an 18-show tour of his native Sweden and took a couple of his uBasses along.

According to Magnus:

The tour that started in October last year finished with a sold out show in the prestigious Berdwalldhallen, home of the Swediah Radio Symphonic Orchestra in Stockholm. All in all we played 18 shows. On the first four shows I used my Bakithi Kumalo signature solid body for six of the 18 songs in the show that celebrated the life and music of Ted Gardestad.

He also made a live CD of the shows. While the CD is only available for purchase at his live shows, Magnus was kind enough to offer some sound clips on his website PLAY UBASS!

Magnus notes that the songs on the CD include:

  • “Chapeau Claque”(Bakithi Kumolo Signature Solid Body Ubass) This song is so much fun to play. It really takes a while getting used to the combined meters throughout the song! I used the solid body here relying on its warm and round sound!
  • “Angela” (Bakithi Kumolo Signature Solid Body Ubass) This song is a bit folky and I go “full country” with a root-five motion in the verses! Since I didn’t bring a P-bass [Fender Precision Bass] on the tour the solid body doubles as one. And does a very good job!
  • “Äntligen på väg” [Finally On Our Way] (Spruce fretless acoustic/electric Ubass) For the “unplugged” feel of this song the acoustic/electric was a easy choice. It sounds perfect here and it also looks killer!
  • “När Showen är Slut” [When the Show Has Ended] (Bakithi Kumalo Signature Solid Body Ubass) Once again I’m looking for a P-bass-ish sound.
  • “Satellit” [Satellite] (Bakithi Kumolo Signature Solid Body Ubass) This song is so much easier to play on a ubass compared to a regular full scale electric bass! I also sing backup vocals on this one and the extended fingering I use makes it easy to focus on both bass part and vocal part since I don’t have to look at the Ubass during the choruses because I don’t need to do any position shifts. I first used this approach when we did concerts back in 2012 featuring this song.
  • “Ag Vill ha en Egen Måne” [I Want My Own Moon] (Spruce fretless acoustic/electric Ubass) For the encore I use the acoustic/electric again. It feels so good the let people have the “sight memory” of this wonderful instrument in their minds as they leave the concert hall.

You can listen to snippets of these songs on Magnus’s web site HERE.