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.”

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.

 

A Little uBass Eye Candy for You

 

Bass Musician uBass Porn

uBasses in the Kala booth at Winter NAMM 2017.

 

I found this photo on Bass Musician Magazine‘s Instagram. It’s from the Kala booth at Winter NAMM 2017.

See if you can name all the different uBass models.

Kala Affected by Rosewood Restrictions

 

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East Indian Rosewood is one of the Rosewood species restricted for export.

 

Like all companies selling instruments and products containing Rosewood, Kala is affected by the new regulations restricting Rosewood species sales across borders.

The company has placed this disclaimer on its web site:

INTERNATIONAL ORDERS
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.

Acoustic Bridge Names Us One of Top 23 Ukulele Blogs of 2016

 

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A big Thank You to Andy and the guys over at Acoustic Bridge blog for naming the uBass Appreciation Society one of their “23 Ukulele Blogs You Need to Tune Into This Year.” He also provided this cool badge for us to use on our site.

We were listed 18th among the 23 Top Ukulele Blogs, though I don’t think the blogs were listed in any order. With blogs like Uke Hunt and Ukulele Underground on the list, we’re in pretty good company.

Here’s what Acoustic Bridge had to say about us:

This site focuses on those who are interested in the Kala brand uBass, which is a combination baritone ukulele and bass guitar. They offer playing tips, news and lots of info!

In case you’re not familiar with Acoustic Bridge, they cover piano, ukulele and guitar for beginning musicians and those interested in acoustic instruments. Go check out the blog and tell Andy the uBass Appreciation Society sent you.

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.

Happy Birthday To Us!

 

The uBass Appreciation Society is Celebrating its Sixth Birthday Today.

The uBass Appreciation Society is Celebrating its Sixth Birthday Today.

 

Today is August 23 and it’s our Sixth Birthday.

On this day in 2010, the uBass Appreciation Society sprang to life, celebrating everything that is the Kala uBass. As with our first post, our singular focus was then, and still continues to be, the uBass that Kala brought into this world in 2007.

So sit back, pop a cold beverage, get out your uBass and read a few of our previous posts to celebrate our birthday. Click on any month in the Archives links to the right and relive the past of the uBass.

Not to toot our own horn or anything…well, OK, to toot our own horn…We’ve seen our traffic steadily increase over the past six years. We’re not talking Google-size traffic or anything, but it’s pretty good for a little ad-free blog covering a very narrow subject area.

WordPress tells us that in the past six years we’ve had more than 55,000 visitors and more than 182,000 views of our 254 posts. So far we’ve got 31 followers (with a number of them with us for five years). And that’s to say nothing of the people who pop in and out at various times.

I’d just like to say thank you to everyone for your loyalty. Keep reading. And we’ll keep writing.