A Unique Concept in Uke Music


The 6-song EP from Sweetwater Studios features music played with Kala Ukuleles and uBasses.


Progressive Rock played on Ukuleles? Including the uBass?

Well, yes. That’s the concept behind the band UniKuE (Get it? It spells unique and Uke at the same time. Clever, huh?)

UniKuE is also the title of a six song EP created with Kala Ukuleles, uBasses, drums and vocals. There is not a guitar in sight. Not even a Kala Tenor Guitar.

The concept is pretty simple – and impressive:

The UniKuE concept was born when South African bassist Bakithi Kumalo (Paul Simon) made a visit to the Sweetwater Studios with his Kala U-Bass. Producer Mark Hornsby loved the sound of the bass and wanted to do something that featured the instrument. Mark, along with drummer Nick D’Virgilio and guitarist Don Carr, came up with the idea of recording a few songs using not only the Kala U-Bass, but the whole Kala Ukulele family.

The tracks on the EP include:

  1. Living In The Past (Jethro Tull)
  2. Closer To The Heart (Rush)
  3. Frame By Frame (King Crimson)
  4. Kid Charlemagne (Steely Dan)
  5. Going To California (Led Zeppelin)
  6. Roundabout (Yes)

Sweetwater music, the online music retailer, produced the EP in their studios, recruiting top-tier musicians and producers. Bakithi Kumalo plass uBass on Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne” and Jethro Tull’s “Living In The Past”. Adrian Belew plays on King Crimson’s “Frame by Frame”.

You can purchase the EP as an audio CD or download for $9.99 from Sweetwater.





Magnus and Mickey jamming on their uBasses in the Kala Booth at Winter NAMM 2017.


Here we have Magnus (Sjöquist) and Mickey, jamming on their uBasses at the Winter NAMM 2017 Show.

Magnus is playing a signature Bakithi Kumalo Fretless uBass and Mickey is on a Kala Exotic Mahogany uBass strung with Roundwound Strings

This video was posted on Kala’s Facebook page. Give it a look.

Bakithi Covers Bass Player Magazine

Bakithi Kumalo and his signature uBass on the cover of the October 2016 issue of Bass Player magazine.

Bakithi Kumalo and his signature uBass on the cover of the October 2016 issue of Bass Player magazine.


Bakithi Kumalo and his signature Kala uBass cover the October 2016 issue of Bass Player magazine.

It should be hitting the newsstand any day now, so run out and pick it up.

They’re Almost Here!

Bakithi Kumalo with his signature Kala uBass.

Bakithi Kumalo with his signature Kala uBass.


The new 2016 USA California Series uBasses, that is. Tomorrow, August 12 is the big day. That’s when they will be available to order through Kala’s web store.

According to the company:

Tomorrow the 2016 California UBasses will be released and available for purchase! We will be including a free brand new Kala UBass T-Shirt with every UBass as well as offering a 10% discount coupon to all customers who order a Ubass! We will also provide free shipping to all U.S. customers!

A free T-Shirt and free US shipping. You can’t beat that.

The new uBasses will be available to order through Kala’s web store here https://shop.kalabrand.com/pages/shop starting tomorrow.

The company notes that the series has been completely updated for 2016:

The California UBass has been cut and sanded to a smoother, more rounded shape–providing ultimate comfortability. We coat the wood in semi-gloss, UV-cured polyester which is durable and environmentally friendly. This is also our largest UBass yet with an overall length of 28.75 inches for 4 strings and a 32.75 inches length for 5 strings!

One of the biggest changes to the news series is in the neck. The new uBasses now sport offset face dot markers, which Kala says offers “a fresh new look and greater visibility” when playing. They updated the neck joint contour for greater access to the upper frets. The uBasses also have a slimmer neck profile.

Kala also posted a neat little video on its Facebook page of the new series being constructed. Check it out here.

And if that’s not enough, Kala also is offering individual customizations on new uBass purchases. Contact the company for more details and pricing.

Keep any eye on Kala’s Facebook page because the company is offering a 10% discount code to purchasers of the new series uBasses.

What’s the Difference?

A portion of the uBass Comparison chart put together by Magnus Sjöquist. © PLAY UBASS

A portion of the uBass Comparison chart put together by Magnus Sjöquist. © PLAY UBASS!

Now that Kala has like 1,000 different models of uBass, I bet you’ve often wondered what the difference between them are. Well, wonder no more, because our friend Magnus Sjöquist at PLAY UBASS! has put together a very useful chart explaining the differences between the various models, both Acoustic/Electric and Solidbody.

The chart includes such information as Model Name, Retail Price, whether it’s available in Fretted and/or Fretless, what options are available and the type of strings it comes with.

Take a look at the chart and download one for yourself. It’s a very handy reference guide.

You can download a PDF copy of Magnus’s chart HERE.

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.”

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.