Is it a Bass or a Ukulele?

Ohana Ukuleles OBU-22 Uke Bass

Ohana Ukuleles OBU-22 Uke Bass

 

It looks like Kala has created a monster. These days uBass clones are popping up everywhere. And that’s a good thing. Competition is good for the industry and for the consumer.

There also seems to be a trend to make Ukulele basses that use traditional metal bass strings, instead of the polyurethane Pahoehoe string the uBass uses. Manufacturers do this to distinguish their instruments from all the others out there.

At Winter NAMM this year, Ohana Ukuleles debuted their OBU-22 Ukulele Bass. It features a 25″ scale and metal strings. Like the beloved uBass, it’s tuned like a regular bass (EADG). According to Ken Middleton of Ohana, it shouldn’t even be called a Ukulele.

“I suppose strictly speaking, like most basses, it’s not really a Uke,” Middleton told Aldrine Guerrero of Ukulele Underground.

And he’s correct. It really isn’t a Uke. It’s a bass. A small bass, but a bass nonetheless. Anything larger than a baritone Uke body takes it out of the Ukulele range and into the short scale bass range.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the Ohana bass. I’ve been a bass player for more than 30 years and prefer short scale basses (that’s why the uBass is right up my alley). And the Ohana OBU-22 looks really nice and sounds great. But we don’t need to call it a Ukulele. It isn’t. We should just call it a bass and leave it at that.

Ken Middleton told Aldrine at NAMM that the reason Ohana went with metal bass strings, rather than Pahoehoe strings, is because the market “seems to be a little bit saturated” with uBass instruments. He stopped himself short of saying the market is already over the sound of the uBass (probably because he knows that’s not true). It’s that upright bass sound that makes the uBass what it is. If it sounded like a regular bass (which the OBU-22 does) it would just be another small acoustic bass.

You can watch Middleton and Aldrine discuss the Ohana’s ukes here. The OBU-22 discussion starts at 5:20 in the video.

Learning uBass Book by the Book

Ukulele Central's uBass eBook.

Ukulele Central’s uBass eBook.

 

I just discovered this “book”, dedicated to teaching you how to play the uBass. It’s called “U-BASS.ICS: A Simple Guide To Playing Ukulele Bass” and its available from Ukulele Central.

I’m not sure how old it is, or even if it’s any good, because I don’t have one in hand to review.

Anyway, heres’ the info from the web site:

The UBASSics ePack is an all-in-one ukulele bass lesson guide for beginners and ‘just started’ UBass players up to intermediate level.

The ePack is a PDF which contains not only text, diagrams and tabbed exercises but video demonstrations and audio backing tracks to play along with, all in the one document!

This is a highly practical guide that caters to your learning style whether you like to study the details or launch straight in using your ears and eyes.

The book costs $24. You get videos, audio and TABs for your money. It’s basically a PDF and associated audio, text and video files. The whole thing is a 35Mb download.

The price seems a bit high, but it may be worth the price depending on the quality of the information.

Still, it’s nice to know there are some books out there about the uBass.

Ben’s A Star. You Read it Here First.

Ben Rouse and his Ukulele.

Ben Rouse and his Ukulele.

 

Ukulele player Ben Rouse and his uBass are getting some well-deserved press these days. The YouTube video of Ben playing Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1-Prelude on his uBass is making the rounds.

The bass blog No Treble noticed his video and wrote about it today.

Of course, we told you about Ben a full five days ago! Still, it’s nice to see the uBass getting noticed by other outlets, even if they are a bit late to the party.

By the way, Ben’s only got 528 views (as of this writing) on his YouTube video. I think he needs a bunch more than that. Tell everyone you know to check him out. Let’s get those views up people.

Nik West Gets Her (Circus) Freak On

Nik West, Dave Stewart and Orianthi in Dave Stewart's "Every Single Night" video.

Nik West, Dave Stewart and Orianthi in Dave Stewart’s “Every Single Night” video.

 

I realize this video has been out for about eight months now, but it’s still amazing nonetheless.

Not only is Dave Stewart’s “Every Single Night” (from his new album Lucky Numbers) a great song, but it features the multi-talented Nik West on her Solidbody uBass. Playing alongside “Shred Queen” Orianthi, Nik is pretty restrained in her playing, but certainly not in her dancing. It seems like she had a great time making the video.

She certainly sounds great.

Ah, Bach!

Ben Rouse playing the prelude to Bach's Cello Suite No. 1 on the uBass.

Ben Rouse playing the prelude to Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 on the uBass.

 

Who says the uBass can’t do classical?

Check out this video of the prelude to Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 by ukulele player Ben Rouse.

Ben does a good job of making the uBass sound like it belongs in a classical orchestra.

Magnus Makes the Wall!

 

Magnus Sjöquist on Kala's "Wall of Fame".

Magnus Sjöquist on Kala’s “Wall of Fame”.

 

Magnus Sjöquist, a friend of this blog and a great musician, not to mention a champion of the uBass, has been honored by Kala. He has been placed among some of the greatest uBass players that make up Kala’s “Wall of Fame.”

As he notes on his blog:

I am truly honored to be a part of the Ubassist community and now I’m also one of the artists on the wall at kalaukulele.com! Seeing my picture among all the great players there is really great!

Magnus has been a friend of this blog since the beginning. And he runs a great blog as well. His PLAY UBASS! blog is a great place to check out his talent as a uBass musician. There aren’t that many uBass blogs out there. But Magnus’s is one of the best.

He now takes his place on the Wall among such great musicians as Nathan East, Hutch Hutchinson, Bob Glaub and Nik West.

Who knows, maybe we’ll soon see a Magnus Sjöquist Signature uBass. Now that would be pretty cool.