In Kala’s new blog, “Me & Uke,” there’s an interview with founder Mike Upton, called “Meet Mike Upton.” He talks about such things as where he’s from (Mountain View, California) and when he first started playing the Ukulele (when he was two years old).
But it’s the last question that’s of most interest to us here:
Q: Last question, what is your favorite uke or U•Bass and why?
A: I just love the original Mahogany U•Bass with the black strings. To me, those were the magic. They just sound so great. The solid bodies are cool, but that’s not really my thing, I like the woody sound of the acoustic.
So there you have it folks. Mike likes the original Mahogany. There’s always something special about the first one.
Of course, I’m sure he likes all of Kala’s other instruments just as well, even if he didn’t say as much in the interview.
You can read the entire interview HERE.
Like the dinosaurs, the original Kala California Koa Acoustic U-Bass is going extinct.
Kala posted on its Facebook page photos of the last California Koa Fretless available, saying once it’s gone, they will be gone forever. Only to be replaced by a new, improved series coming in 2018.
Kala had this to say about the California Koa:
Our finest creation in the acoustic U-Bass world. Meet the All Solid Koa Acoustic U-Bass made right here in Petaluma, Ca. Our manufacturing team has put a lot of effort into making sure this bass is everything you want it to be. Extravagant wood grain figure, a neck formed perfectly to your palm, the highest quality components and electronics, and hand finished for the best natural finish you’ve ever witnessed.
And this about its future:
This the LAST available model of this instrument EVER after this final fretless U-Bass sells this series will be discontinued and those wanting a California acoustic U-Bass will have to wait until 2018 for the next development in the U-Bass series.
Even though we have to wait a year for the new series to emerge, I’m sure it will be worth it. It’s hard to see how Kala could improve on the California Series, but then, not many people could envision a U-Bass in the first place, then Kala introduced one, so we’ll wait with great anticipation.
As pointed out by Bass Player magazine, Kala is now offering its uBass models with different string options.
Not exactly new, the uBass models have been available for a while (all except the Bubinga, which is fairly new) and you could get the strings separately and restring your uBass if you were so inclined. Still, it’s nice to know Kala is offering options if you are not a fan of the original Pahoehoe strings.
You can now get The Rumbler U-Bass with Aquila Silver Rumbler strings, which are designed “with increased density and stability for a clear, resonate low end.”
You can buy the The Bubinga U-Bass strung with Road Toad Polyurethane Pahoehoe strings, which gives “it a deep, punchy low end.”
Or you can buy The Exotic Mahogany U-Bass with Kala Round Wound strings that adds “treble while retaining the immense low end.” Pahoehoe also are available on the Exotic Mahogany if you prefer.
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.
Here’s a nice video of Jordan Kiener putting a fretless Rumbler through its paces. See how many songs you can name.
If you can’t get them all, here’s a list of what he’s playing:
0:00 – “So What”
1:00 – “Money”
1:43 – “Dazed and Confused”
2:42 – “I Want You Back”
3:33 – “Bad”
3:57 – “Green Onions”
3:23 – “46×2”
4:57 – “Come Together”
5:24 – “Portrait of Tracy”
5:52 – “Chameleon”
6:27 – “Watermelon Man”
7:07 – “Bass Folk Song”
7:37 – “12 Bar Blues in G”