Kala uBass on Display at MIM

 

MIM ubass Display

This spruce acoustic Kala uBass is on display at the Musical Instrument Museum in Arizona. Photo: MIM

The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix, Arizona, has a 2012 spruce Kala uBass on display as part of its collection of instruments. The uBass was a gift from Kala to the museum.

The MIM, which has more than 6,500 instruments on display from more than 200 countries around the world at any one time, boasts more than 16,000 instruments in its permanent collection. The organization says all of its instruments have artistic and historic merit.

The display card for the uBass reads: “U-Bass (plucked Lute). China 2012. Mahogany, Spruce and Ebony woods; metal. Kala Brand Music Co., maker. This 21st-C[entury] version of the ukulele generates a rich bass tone when amplified. Gift of Kala Brand Music Co.”

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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.

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.)

Black Friday California uBass Sale Coming!

Kala is offering 10% off its California Series uBasses in a Black Friday sale.

Kala is offering 10% off its California Series uBasses in a Black Friday sale.

 

Kala announced it is holding a Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale on its California Series uBasses.

From Nov.25 to Nov.28, Black Friday Weekend here in the U.S., the company is offering 10% off its California Series uBasses. You’ll also get a free Kala USA T-Shirt with your purchase.

The deal is only available for purchases through Kala’s web store.

Handmade. Right Here in the U.S.A.

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Kala’s figured Solid Maple California Series uBass.

 

Kala plans to make available two new models of uBass in its California Series next month in its online store.

The company said it will make available two handmade acoustic/electric models – one in figured Solid Maple and one in Solid Koa. The California Series currently consists of 4-string and 5-string Solidbody models.

“These basses will represent the pinnacle of acoustic UBass tone and sound,” Kala says.

The company says it will release more information and photos soon – presumably the price and detailed specs – on the two models. Kala plans to make the models available for purchase on October 14.

As they say, watch this space.

How to Restring a Solidbody uBass

Chris demonstrates how to put Kala metal Roundwound strings on a solidbody uBass.

Chris demonstrates how to put Kala metal Roundwound strings on a solidbody uBass.

 

If you’ve ever wondered exactly how you would go about restringing your new (or even old) solidbody uBass with Kala’s metal Roundwound strings, wonder no more. The good people at Kala – namely Chris – have released a video that will walk you through the process.

The video shows Chris restringing a 5-string Solidbody, but the same techniques apply to a 4-string as well.

For those of us who don’t have a bass tech waiting in the wings, being able to change strings ourselves is a fundamental skill to have. It’s not very complicated. So don’t be afraid to dive in and put on a new set of strings.