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.

 

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Flattery Will Get You Nowhere

Hadean Omega Bass Uke UKB-24

Hadean Omega Bass Uke UKB-24

 

You know what they say, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Well, maybe that’s true. Maybe it isn’t. It up the person (or in this case company) being flattered (or in this case, imitated) to decide.

Kala must be really flattered then because they are being imitated left and right. We told you back in December about a few of its competitors with uBass models. Well, the latest one appears to be the Hadean Omega Bass Uke, which as far as I can tell are sold exclusively in the U.S. by Rondo Music. Rondo is well known in the guitar and bass gear community for selling inexpensive Chinese instruments of varying quality, particularly Agile guitars and SX basses. They usually are the sole U.S. distributor of products manufactured by Team International out of Taiwan.

In an effort at full disclosure, I must say that I have purchased a number of bass guitars and some accessories from Rondo over the years. Their customer service is excellent and their products are cheap and for the most part playable. They certainly are not a fly-by-night organization–they stand behind their products and have a generous return policy.

However, their products tend to be Chinese copies of well known brands (Gibson and Fender mostly). In fact, at one point they were selling an SX bass guitar model that looked so much like a Fender, that Fender had to sue them to stop selling it. Team International redesigned the bass and changed the headstock to look a bit less like a Fender in order to keep selling the model.

Anyway, back to the Hadean Omega Bass Ukes. They are clones of Kala–both the acoustic and Soldibody models. I have not seen one in person, so I can’t speak to the quality of the instrument or its sound, but for the price they are selling at, you can’t expect much. I’m not even sure if they are made by Team International, but I suspect they are.

The models are listed on the Rondo Music web site as prototypes, so I suspect Rondo is testing the waters with them.

They have the Hadean Bass Uke UKB-31 (which is a clone of the acoustic Spruce Kala uBass). Here’s what the web site has to say about the model:

Prototype Bass Ukulele

  • Pre-amp for amplified use with volume, bass, mid and treble control
  • Build in tuner
  • Aquila brand strings
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Spruce top, Mahogany back and sides.
  • Rosewood fretboard.
  • Tune like a standard bass guitar Low to high: E, A, D, G

Measurements

  • Overall length: 29 3/4″
  • Length of body: 14″”
  • Thickness of body: 3 3/4″
  • Width of upper bout: 7 1/2″
  • Width of lower bout: 10 5/8″
  • String Size Aquila Nylgut .085,.105,145,185
  • Width of neck at the nut: 1 13/16″
  • Width of neck at the 9th fret: 2 1/8″
  • Thickness of neck at the nut: 11/16″
  • Thickness of neck at 9th fret: 7/8″
  • Scale length: 20″
  • Weight: only 4 pounds!

Rondo Music sells this model for $119.95 plus shipping.

Then there’s the Hadean Bass Uke UKB-24:

Prototype Bass Ukulele

  • Pre-amp for amplified use with volume, bass, mid and treble control
  • Build in tuner
  • Aquila brand strings
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Swamp ash body top, back and sides.
  • rosewood fretboard.

Measurements

  • Overall length: 29 3/4″
  • Length of body: 14″”
  • Thickness of body: 3 3/4″
  • Width of upper bout: 7 1/2″
  • Width of lower bout: 10 5/8″
  • String Size Aquila Nylgut .085,.105,145,185
  • Width of neck at the nut: 1 13/16″
  • Width of neck at the 9th fret: 2 1/8″
  • Thickness of neck at the nut: 11/16″
  • Thickness of neck at 9th fret: 7/8″
  • Scale length: 20″
  • Weight: only 4 pounds!

This one sells for the same price.

Hadean Solidbody Bass Uke UKB-22

Hadean Solidbody Bass Uke UKB-22

There’s the solidbody Hadean Omega Bass Uke UKB-20 2TS that sells for $149.95 plus shipping. And the solidbody Hadean Omega Bass Uke UKB-22 Blue that sells for $159.95.

The solidbodies feature:

Prototype Bass Ukulele

  • Active Pre-amp for amplified use with volume, bass and treble control
  • Aquila Nylgut brand strings
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Solid swamp ash body.

Measurements

  • Overall length: 30″
  • Length of body: 13 3/4″
  • Thickness of body: 1 1/2″
  • Width of upper bout: 8 1/2″
  • Width of lower bout: 10 1/4″
  • String Size Aquila Nylgut .085,.105,145,185
  • Width of neck at the nut: 1 13/16″
  • Width of neck at the 9th fret: 2 1/8″
  • Thickness of neck at the nut: 11/16″
  • Thickness of neck at 9th fret: 7/8″
  • Scale length: 20 3/4″
  • Weight: only 4.5 pounds!

These uBasses look really nice. And they probably are decent instruments for the price. But you shouldn’t expect Kala quality at half the price. They probably don’t sound half as good as a Kala does. The problem that I have found with the basses I’ve owned from Rondo Music over the years is that the electronics leave a lot to be desired. The pickups and preamps were of cheap quality and did not sound very good. I usually ended up changing the pickups and wiring to get a halfway decent sound out of them. I suspect that would be the case with these uBasses as well.

But, as I’ve said before, competition is good for the industry and for the consumer. It’s nice to know the Kala uBass has carved a niche in the market and is now being copied by many other companies. It’s also nice to know that Kala is still the best in quality and sound.

If you want an awesome uBass that looks good and sounds great, there’s only one place to go.