The Secret is in the Strings

Jon Liebman of For Bass Players Only interviews Kala's Mike Upton about the origin of the uBass.

Jon Liebman of For Bass Players Only interviews Kala’s Mike Upton about the origin of the uBass.

 

The uBass is all about the strings. Or, to put it another way, the strings (specifically the original Pahoehoe strings) are what made the uBass possible.

That’s according to Mike Upton of Kala, in a new interview with Jon Liebman of For Bass Players Only. Liebman interviews Mike in a video entitled “The Story Behind the U-Bass,” which you can watch on YouTube Here. Intercut in the interview is footage of Abraham Laboriel and Bakithi Kumalo playing during what looks like the recent Bass Player Live uBass clinic.

According to Mike, the uBass is a success with professionals and amateurs alike. He told Liebman that Kala has sold about 15,000 uBass instruments in the past five years. The Spruce-top acoustic is arguably the company’s most popular uBass, Mike notes.

Today, Kala has two solidbody uBass lines (California Series and imported) and the original acoustics and the USA acoustic/electrics. The solidbody uBasses are a different animal altogether, Mike says, being “a lot more focused and a lot less woody” sounding then the acoustics.

But that’s not the biggest news from the interview.

Mike says Kala is developing an upright uBass! That’s right, a uBass on a monopod stand that can be played upright, or quickly flipped over and played like a regular uBass. No word on when they will be available or how much. But I do know that I definitely want one. That will definitely be my next uBass purchase.

I can see the ads now: “Much More Bass. Still Less Space.”

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Bass Player Live 2014 uBass Clinic

Abraham Laboriel Sr. and Bukithi Kumalo on stage at Bass Player Live 2014.

Abraham Laboriel Sr. and Bakithi Kumalo on stage at Bass Player Live 2014.

 

If you were lucky enough to be at Bass Player magazine’s 2014 Bass Player Live show on November 8-9 in Los Angeles, then you probably saw the uBass clinic live. If you weren’t there, you can still enjoy the clinic thanks to Kala, which posted the highlights in a vide on its YouTube channel.

The clinic was hosted by Abraham Laboriel Sr. and Bakithi Kumalo. Those in attendance were treated to a duet by the two bass greats, with Laboriel on an acoustic uBass and Kumalo on his signature Solidbody.

Check out the video Here.

Highlights from the show include:

The presentation of Abraham Laboriel’s Bass Player Lifetime Achievement Award, followed by a performance by Open Hands, with Abraham, keyboardist Greg Mathieson, saxophonist Justo Almario and drummer Bill Maxwell.

A VSOP clinic performance by Abraham Laboriel, Bakitihi Kumalo (Paul Simon) and Hutch Hutchinson (Bonnie Raitt), presented by Kala.

If you play bass, then the Bass Player Live event is like heaven for you. All that bass talent in one place would make anybody want to immediately run out an buy a uBass – or two.

Going Once. Going Twice…

This Custom uBass SUB, signed by 12 famous bass players, is being auctioned for charity.

This Custom uBass SUB, signed by 12 famous bass players, is being auctioned for charity.

 

If you’ve always wanted to pick up a uBass with a little something extra, now’s your chance.

Kala is auctioning for charity on eBay a U-BASS-SUB4FS-SBK, signed by not one, not two, but a dozen famous bass players. The uBass was made by Kala’s Custom Shop and features a pink mirrored pickguard and truss rod cover provided by WD Music.

The uBass sports the following bass players’ autographs:

Abraham Laboriel
Bakithi Kumalo
Leland Sklar
Tim Lefebvre
Phil Chen
Mike Merritt
Bob Glaub
Chuck Rainey
Steve Bailey
Neil Stubenhaus
Philip Bynoe
Oscar Cartaya

Kala says that 100% of the funds generated by the auction will be donated to Family House, Inc., a non-profit that serves as a home-away-from-home for families of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

The uBass features the following:

Poplar body
Fretted bolt-on Maple neck with rosewood fretboard
HIPSHOT licensed tuning machines
Rosewood nut
SHADOW active pickup system with volume control and 2-band EQ
Proprietary Polyurethane strings
U-Bass logo gig bag included
Pink mirrored pickguard and truss rod cover

You can bid on the bass on eBay Here. As of this posting, the bass has four bids and is at $510. There are nine days left in the auction.

It’s a great uBass. And an even greater cause. If you have the money, put in a bid. You might just win. If you don’t win, you’ll still be contributing to a great charity.

The Kala Booth at NAMM is the Place to Be

Abe Laboriel playing a uBass in Kala's booth at WInter NAMM.

Abe Laboriel playing a uBass in Kala’s booth at WInter NAMM.

Do not under any circumstances find your way over to Kala’s Facebook page. Or if you’re lucky enough to be at the NAMM show, stay away from their booth.

Why? Because after watching all the videos of great bass players playing a uBass, or actually seeing these guys in person playing one, you’ll 1). question your talent as a bass player, 2). want to buy every model uBass Kala has on display and 3). wonder why anyone would want to ply any other instrument.

Over on Kala’s Facebook page, there’s a nice video of Abraham Laboriel playing one of the new USA-made acoustic/electrics. And at 0:24 in the video Abe apparently is very impressed, because you can hear him say “Wow!” That tells you everything you need to know about the new uBasses.

By the way, Mr. Laboriel’s son, Abe Jr. is currently Paul McCartney’s touring drummer. He’s been with McCartney since 2001.

There’s also a video of Hutch Hutchinson playing a Spruce acoustic/electric.

There’s also pics and videos of Mike Merritt, Steve Bailey, Philip Bynoe and others who stopped by the Kala booth to check out the new uBasses.

I think it’s fair to say that the new models will be just as big a hit, if not bigger, than the originals.

Playing a Little Bass

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Hutch Hutchinson, Abraham Laboriel, Bakithi Kumalo and Steve Bailey jamming at the Kala uBass Day.

Wow! Just, Wow!

This is what’s possible with a uBass in the hands of a master. And in this case, the uBass is in the hands of not one, but three, masters.

Check out this video from last month’s Kala uBass Day at the Berklee College of Music. Here, Hutch Hutchinson, Abraham Laboriel, Bakithi Kumalo and Steve Bailey jamming together with three uBasses and a Warwick six-string bass.

It’ll blow you away.

Kala uBass Day at the Musician’s Institute – The Full Video

Kala uBass Day at the Musician’s Institute

Kala today posted the full video of the recent uBass Day at the Musician’s Institute, which took place in Hollywood on May 30th.

The video is nearly 45 minutes of uBass goodness, starring Stu Hamm, Abraham Laboriel and Bakithi Kumalo.

Watch the video Here.

The uBass at NAMM

Steve Billman, Abraham Laboriel and Daniel Ho in the Kala booth at Winter NAMM

The Kala uBass lineup caused quite a stir at the NAMM show two weeks ago.

Check out the action in a couple of videos posted by Kala.

In the first video, we have Tal Wilkenfeld and Reggie McBride checking out the Solidbody series.

Next up we have Abraham Laboriel, Daniel Ho and Steve Billman in a trio on uBass. Check out the solo that Laboriel lays down in this one. It’s killer.

And as an added bonus, here’s a video of Laboriel on his own playing a variety of uBass models.