A Unique Concept in Uke Music


The 6-song EP from Sweetwater Studios features music played with Kala Ukuleles and uBasses.


Progressive Rock played on Ukuleles? Including the uBass?

Well, yes. That’s the concept behind the band UniKuE (Get it? It spells unique and Uke at the same time. Clever, huh?)

UniKuE is also the title of a six song EP created with Kala Ukuleles, uBasses, drums and vocals. There is not a guitar in sight. Not even a Kala Tenor Guitar.

The concept is pretty simple – and impressive:

The UniKuE concept was born when South African bassist Bakithi Kumalo (Paul Simon) made a visit to the Sweetwater Studios with his Kala U-Bass. Producer Mark Hornsby loved the sound of the bass and wanted to do something that featured the instrument. Mark, along with drummer Nick D’Virgilio and guitarist Don Carr, came up with the idea of recording a few songs using not only the Kala U-Bass, but the whole Kala Ukulele family.

The tracks on the EP include:

  1. Living In The Past (Jethro Tull)
  2. Closer To The Heart (Rush)
  3. Frame By Frame (King Crimson)
  4. Kid Charlemagne (Steely Dan)
  5. Going To California (Led Zeppelin)
  6. Roundabout (Yes)

Sweetwater music, the online music retailer, produced the EP in their studios, recruiting top-tier musicians and producers. Bakithi Kumalo plass uBass on Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne” and Jethro Tull’s “Living In The Past”. Adrian Belew plays on King Crimson’s “Frame by Frame”.

You can purchase the EP as an audio CD or download for $9.99 from Sweetwater.


The Original Mahogany is Mike’s Favorite



Kala’s Mike Upton with the original Mahogany uBass. Photo: Kala “Me & Uke” Blog

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.

Coming Soon to a Computer Near You…


Kala plans to launch a blog on October 13.


…Is the brand-spanking new Kala Blog, featuring all things Ukulele, uBass and, of course, Kala.

The company says the blog is scheduled for launch on Friday October 13. Friday the 13th. Hmmm. They’ll initially post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Daily posts may come eventually.

Kala says: “The blog will feature news and updates on everything Kala, including Ukulele, U•Bass, and Artists. There will also be how to’s, tips, demonstrations, behind the scenes going-ons, and much more.”

So mark your calendars folks. The new Kala Blog on October 13.

Kala Affected by Rosewood Restrictions



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:

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.

The Mike and Ukulenny Show

Kala's Mike Upton and Ukulenny jamming on Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On"

Kala’s Mike Upton and Ukulenny jamming on Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”


Mike Upton of Kala Brand Music Co. not only talks the talk, but he also walks the walk.

Here’s Mike accompanying Uke player Ukulenny on the uBass to Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”

Check out the VIDEO  HERE.

Is it a Bass or a Ukulele?

Ohana Ukuleles OBU-22 Uke Bass

Ohana Ukuleles OBU-22 Uke Bass


It looks like Kala has created a monster. These days uBass clones are popping up everywhere. And that’s a good thing. Competition is good for the industry and for the consumer.

There also seems to be a trend to make Ukulele basses that use traditional metal bass strings, instead of the polyurethane Pahoehoe string the uBass uses. Manufacturers do this to distinguish their instruments from all the others out there.

At Winter NAMM this year, Ohana Ukuleles debuted their OBU-22 Ukulele Bass. It features a 25″ scale and metal strings. Like the beloved uBass, it’s tuned like a regular bass (EADG). According to Ken Middleton of Ohana, it shouldn’t even be called a Ukulele.

“I suppose strictly speaking, like most basses, it’s not really a Uke,” Middleton told Aldrine Guerrero of Ukulele Underground.

And he’s correct. It really isn’t a Uke. It’s a bass. A small bass, but a bass nonetheless. Anything larger than a baritone Uke body takes it out of the Ukulele range and into the short scale bass range.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the Ohana bass. I’ve been a bass player for more than 30 years and prefer short scale basses (that’s why the uBass is right up my alley). And the Ohana OBU-22 looks really nice and sounds great. But we don’t need to call it a Ukulele. It isn’t. We should just call it a bass and leave it at that.

Ken Middleton told Aldrine at NAMM that the reason Ohana went with metal bass strings, rather than Pahoehoe strings, is because the market “seems to be a little bit saturated” with uBass instruments. He stopped himself short of saying the market is already over the sound of the uBass (probably because he knows that’s not true). It’s that upright bass sound that makes the uBass what it is. If it sounded like a regular bass (which the OBU-22 does) it would just be another small acoustic bass.

You can watch Middleton and Aldrine discuss the Ohana’s ukes here. The OBU-22 discussion starts at 5:20 in the video.

Ben’s A Star. You Read it Here First.

Ben Rouse and his Ukulele.

Ben Rouse and his Ukulele.


Ukulele player Ben Rouse and his uBass are getting some well-deserved press these days. The YouTube video of Ben playing Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1-Prelude on his uBass is making the rounds.

The bass blog No Treble noticed his video and wrote about it today.

Of course, we told you about Ben a full five days ago! Still, it’s nice to see the uBass getting noticed by other outlets, even if they are a bit late to the party.

By the way, Ben’s only got 528 views (as of this writing) on his YouTube video. I think he needs a bunch more than that. Tell everyone you know to check him out. Let’s get those views up people.