Need an Amp for Those Busking Sessions?

 

 

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The new Vox Adio Air BS bass amp. Photo: Vox Amplification

 

If you’re looking for a small, portable, lightweight, yet powerful amp for your subway busking sessions, or just to practice your uBass at home, you may be interested in the new offering from Vox Amplification Ltd.

Vox, well know for their guitar and bass amps, in July plans to release their Adio Air series of modeling amps in both bass and guitar versions. The bass version, curiously named the Adio Air BS, features 50 watts, two 3″ speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, battery or AC power and it weighs just over 6 pounds without batteries. It can be powered by eight AA batteries, or the included AC adapter.

The Adio series of amps feature 11 amp models built in, or 17 models with the company’s Tone Room software. They also have a built-in tuner.

The company notes that:

The unique slanted design of the Adio allows you to position it with the speakers pointing diagonally upward so that the output reaches your ears directly even at short distances. This means that you can enjoy always performing or listening in the sweet spot. The chassis is designed to minimize parallel surfaces, delivering a smooth sound that suppresses any internal resonances.

Check out Vox’s video of the Adio Series amps in action HERE.

The amps should be available in July, and retail for $299.99.

 

 

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Are Hadean Uke Basses a Kala uBass Alternative?

Hadean uBasses look similar to Kala’s Solidbody, but that’s where the comparison ends.

 

Three years ago we told you about Rondo Music, a musical instrument retailer that was (and still is) the sole importer of SX basses and Agile guitars – among other brands – here in the U.S. Back then, they had just begun importing the Hadean brand of Chinese-made acoustic uke basses and were introducing a solidbody version, no doubt to try to cut into the market that was solidly (and still is, not surprisingly) dominated by Kala with its uBass models. That ubass was known then as the Omega Hadean uke bass.

Rondo’s inventory of instruments – particularly SX basses and some Agile guitar models – don’t remain available for long on their web site, selling out almost as quickly as they come in stock. This seems to be the case with the Hadean uke basses as well. Probably because they are inexpensive, but surprisingly good instruments. They sell for about a third of what a new Kala SUB uBass goes for.

As of today, Rondo has three models of the solidbody Hadean uke bass in stock: the UKBE-22 33″ in blue; the UKBE-22 N Fretless in natural and the UKBE-22 Fretless in blue. They’ve dropped the Omega from the name and the headstock, but the Hadean ubasses seem to be the same as when they were introduced.

If you’ve always wanted a uBass, but don’t have the money for a Kala version, the Hadeans are a worthy substitute. Don’t expect them to be a cheaper version of the Kala, because they aren’t. But they are good instruments in their own right.

The fit and finish of the Hadeans are good, but not as meticulous as the Kala uBasses. I wouldn’t hesitate to gig with a Kala. I’m not sure a Hadean would stand up to the rigors of the road for very long. I could be wrong, but they don’t seem as sturdy.

The electronics on the Kala uBasses are superb. Each model has that upright bass sound. The Hadeans do not quite measure up. They sound good for what they are, but they don’t quite have that upright sound. To be fair, it may just be the Aquila Nylgut strings, which I never thought sounded as good as the Kala Pahoehoe strings, particularly for that upright sound. The electronics on the Hadean basses sound a bit “scratchy”  and “thin” sometimes. I’ve never found that with the Kala uBasses.

Rondo is selling three models of the Hadean uBass: the UKBE-22, which features a swamp ash body and is a 33″ scale model (which seems to me to kind of negate the reason for a uBass to begin with). Just an inch shy of a typical long-scale bass guitar (which is 34″ scale), it’s more of a medium scale bass than a Uke bass. And two versions of the 30″ scale Hadean, the UKBE22, both fretless, both with Swamp Ash bodies, but one is in blue and one is in natural.

The UKBE-22 Blue model sells for $179.95. The UKBE-22 Natural sells for $169.95 and the UKBE-33, also in blue, sells for $179.95.

If you have some extra bucks lying around (come to think of it, who does these days?), these are good alternatives to the more expensive Kala solidbody uBasses. Just don’t expect them to be able to compete head-to-head with Kala, in any category.

You get what you pay for. But in the case of the Hadean uBasses, you get a lot for little money.

 

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

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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.