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 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.

 

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.

You Now Have (String) Options

 

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Kala uBasses (from left) The Rumbler, Bubinga and Exotic Mahogany are now available with string options.

 

As pointed out by Bass Player magazine, Kala is now offering its uBass models with different string options.

In an article on their online site, they point out that Kala is now offering Road Toad Polyurethane Pahoehoe, Aquila Silver Rumbler and Kala Roundwound strings on some models.

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.

Paddle Faster, I Think I Hear Banjos

 

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Kala unveiled its new Paddle Bass at the Winter NAMM Show earlier today.

 

It’s not a uBass. But it is small. And it is a bass.

It’s the new Kala Paddle Bass. The company unveiled the new paddle-shaped instrument at the NAMM Show earlier today.

Kala says that the new bass is aimed at “those who are brand new to the bass and for schools who want to add a cheap alternative to their ensemble.” The frets are marked with their respective notes. This one is tuned to “G.”

It looks to be a one string short scale bass. Most likely uBass scale. The string looks to be a Pahoehoe.

Kala says it’ll have more info about the little bass after the NAMM Show.

While one string basses are not new, this one looks to be a lot of fun to play. It may find a home among uBass players, as well as kids and schools.

Tonal Variation: It’s All in the Wood

Kala Tonewood Chart.

Kala Tonewood Chart.

 

So, you’ve decided to buy an acoustic Kala uBass, but you are not sure which model to get. It’s a tough choice, for sure.

There are a number of considerations when you’re in the market for a new uBass. What sound are you going for? What type of strings do you plan to use: Pahoehoe or Roundwound? What look are you going for?

These are all important considerations. But probably the most important consideration should be what kind of wood do you want your uBass to be made from. While there has been a debate for years in guitar/bass/ukulele/mandolin circles about which tonewood is “better” for a particular instrument, the type of wood doesn’t really matter much in an electric instrument. But an acoustic instrument is another thing entirely.

When you are looking to buy an acoustic instrument, the type of wood used to make that instrument is probably the number one consideration. Do you want a light and airy tone? Or a dark, rich tone? The type of wood used will have a major effect on the sound of the instrument.

So, now that you want to buy an acoustic Kala uBass and you know that the type of wood it’s made of is important, which do you choose? Ask three musicians their preference and you’ll get three different answers. But fear not. Kala has got you covered.

As you can see in the above photo, Kala has categorized the tonewoods it uses and the sound you can expect from a uBass made from it.

For example, Spruce will give you “crisp, consistent note articulation.” While Mahogany will give you a “soft and warm balance” with a lot of mids. Koa, on the other hand, is “sweet, mellow and warm.”

So there you have it folks. Straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were. Kala has taken all the guesswork out of which tone wood gives you what sound.

Now go out and buy that uBass!

First Look at Kala’s New Upright uBass

Frescia Belmar playing the new Kala Upright uBass.

Frescia Belmar playing the new Kala Upright uBass.

It looks like Kala brought a prototype of its new upright uBass to Bass Player Live this past week.

Bass Player magazine posted a short clip of Chilean bassist Frescia Belmar playing one. The magazine says they will be available sometime in 2016.

From This Clip, it looks like the new uBass upright may have taken some inspiration from the Hofner Beatle bass. It also looks to be a solidbody. From the clip, the scale looks to be about the same as a short scale bass, possibly 28″ or 30″. This one looks to have Pahoehoe strings on it.

I bet it would sound great with metal strings.

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.