Playable Works of Art

 

A uBass-sized bass from Ray’s Rootworks. Photo: CraigsList posting.

 

Found this for sale on Craigslist in Portland, Ore. It’s made by Ray Vincent, who runs a company called Ray’s Rootworks out of Canada.

Apparently it’s a bass. Looks more like a work of art than a playable instrument, but, who knows. I haven’t been able to find any videos on this model so I don’t know how it sounds.

The seller wants $650 for the bass, which apparently is a bargain. By the looks of the custom instruments on Ray’s Etsy shop, his stuff goes for way more than that.

This one looks suspiciously uBass-sized and even has a set of Dreads on it.

If nothing else, it’ll look good hanging on the wall.

The Polls Have Now Closed

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 1.03.10 PM

Nearly 90% of respondents voted for us to expand coverage to non-Kala uBass models, so that’s what we’ll be doing.

 

The people have spoken.

The votes are in. The ballots have been tabulated. And we have a winner.

By a significant margin, with 45 votes cast, you have voted for us to expand coverage to include non-Kala brand uBasses. The poll closed at 40 votes Yes and 5 votes No. That breaks down to nearly 90% of respondents voting Yes.

So there you have it folks. Democracy in action.

Look for the new and improved uBass Appreciation Society real soon.

Should We? Or Shouldn’t We.

For almost seven years, we’ve been writing about the awesome Kala uBass. We started this blog in 2010 because the uBass rocks, and it was unique at the time. If you wanted an affordable little bass based on a ukulele, there wasn’t much choice back then.

But that’s changed. Today, Kala has plenty of competition in the uBass field.

So that’s why I’d like your feedback on whether or not we should expand our coverage to include non-Kala brand uBasses, very short scale travel basses and similar instruments like the Kala Paddle bass. We’ll still provide coverage of Kala and its uBass models, but we think there might be an appetite for coverage of non-Kala products as well. This will not only give us other brands to write about, but also compare how the competition fares against Kala.

Our main focus will still be on the Kala uBass, but we’ll also let you know about those instruments that are trying to compete head-to-head with them.

So we’d like to hear from you. Send us a comment about whether or not you think expanded coverage is a good idea, or if you’d rather keep things the way they are.

Or use the poll above and vote for how you want us to proceed. The poll will be live for a week.

So vote early and vote often. (Actually you can only vote once, just like in real life.)

Kala vs. the Acoustic Competition

Bass Direct in the U.K. pits the competition against the Kala uBass Standard and Rumbler models.

Bass Direct in the U.K. pits the competition against the Kala uBass Standard and Rumbler models.

 

Ever wonder how the little Kala acoustic uBasses stack up against the competition? Well, this video, posted by U.K. music retailer Bass Direct will give you a good idea.

In the video, Bass Direct pits the Kala uBass Rumbler Mahogany, the Kala Spruce Fretless uBass and the Kala uBass Mahogany Fretless (with both Pahoehoe and Pyramid strings) against the Tanglewood Roadster Travel Bass Fretless, the Countryman Ukulele Bass Fretless, the Aquila Short Bass One Basic Fretless.

Which one sounds the best? Watch the video and decide for yourself. I will say that they all sound good, though I think the Kala uBasses sound more focused and refined. Except the Mahogany Fretless with the Pyramid strings. That one sounds horrible. And it’s not the uBass, it’s the Pyramid strings and the lackluster playing. Among the competitors, I think the Tanglewood sounds the best.

Though, to be fair, the Countryman and the Short Bass One have horrible setups (with string buzzes everywhere), so they don’t sound their best in this clip. Interestingly, the Short Bass One–which looks to have the largest body of all the uBasses–is the quietest. It does not project sound very well.

While it may not be a very “scientific” test of all the uBasses, this video will give you an idea of what they all sound like.

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.

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.