I swiped this photo from Kala’s Instagram. Hopefully they won’t mind.
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 though 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.
The company has placed this disclaimer on its web site:
Please bear with us—due to new International Export Regulations regarding all species of Rosewood there will be an undetermined postponement of orders containing Kala Elites, California U-Basses, and USA Banjo Ukulele shipping outside the United States. We hope to have this resolved as soon as possible.
The Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) held a conference from September 24 to October 4 this year in Johannesburg, South Africa, where it was decided that all species of rosewood under the genus Dalbergia and three bubinga species (Guibourtia demeusei, Guibourtia pellegriniana, and Guibourtia tessmannii) will be protected and its export restricted, according to Reverb.com.
The restrictions went into affect January 2.
Kosso – sometimes called African rosewood (Pterocarpus erinaceus) – will also be protected, they note.
While Brazilian Rosewood is was already under CITES protection, now all the nearly 300 other species of rosewood are under similar regulation. This includes East Indian rosewood and Honduran rosewood – as well as woods like cocobolo (Dalbergia retusa) and African blackwood (Dalbergia melanoxylon) – that are widely used in the manufacturing of stringed instruments, marimbas and some woodwinds.
Rosewood is the world’s most trafficked wild product, according to the UN Office of Drugs and Crime, accounting for a third of all seizures by value, more than elephant ivory, pangolins, rhino horn, lions and tigers put together.
So, if you’re an overseas customer of Kala’s, prepare for delays if you buy an instrument form them. Sales shipped within the United States are not affected. If you already own an instrument with rosewood and have it in your possession, there’s no need to worry. You can also travel with previously purchased instruments with no restrictions.
Nathan East, one of the most recorded bassists in music, has played with everyone from Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Eric Clapton to Phil Collins. He has appeared on more than 2,000 albums in the past 35 years.
Here he is at the Kala booth at Winter NAMM trying out a Kala Koa California Solid Body UBass.
Donald “Pocket” Payne, the pride of Rhode Island, U.S.A, just posted an awesome cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke,” played on his California Series Solidbody uBass.
Check out the video here.
Donald’s YouTube channel, dp UBASS, looks to be brand new, so subscribe to it so he can post more amazing covers for us.
Let’s give the man some encouragement people!