Win the One That Started it All

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To celebrate 100,000 Facebook followers, Kala is giving away an acoustic Mahogany uBass.               Photo: Kala Brand Music Co.

 

In celebration if it’s gaining 100,000 followers on Facebook, Kala is giving away a Fretted Solid Mahogany Acoustic uBass. The one that started it all.

Begin your Father’s Day weekend with the boom of the U•Bass. The Original U•Bass model—the thundering Solid Mahogany U•Bass—is where it all started. With the sound of an upright bass in a compact package, what better way to celebrate dads!

For a chance to win, check out Kala’s Facebook page. There’ll be a post there with all the details on how to enter.

Good Luck!

Need an Amp for Those Busking Sessions?

 

 

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The new Vox Adio Air BS bass amp. Photo: Vox Amplification

 

If you’re looking for a small, portable, lightweight, yet powerful amp for your subway busking sessions, or just to practice your uBass at home, you may be interested in the new offering from Vox Amplification Ltd.

Vox, well know for their guitar and bass amps, in July plans to release their Adio Air series of modeling amps in both bass and guitar versions. The bass version, curiously named the Adio Air BS, features 50 watts, two 3″ speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, battery or AC power and it weighs just over 6 pounds without batteries. It can be powered by eight AA batteries, or the included AC adapter.

The Adio series of amps feature 11 amp models built in, or 17 models with the company’s Tone Room software. They also have a built-in tuner.

The company notes that:

The unique slanted design of the Adio allows you to position it with the speakers pointing diagonally upward so that the output reaches your ears directly even at short distances. This means that you can enjoy always performing or listening in the sweet spot. The chassis is designed to minimize parallel surfaces, delivering a smooth sound that suppresses any internal resonances.

Check out Vox’s video of the Adio Series amps in action HERE.

The amps should be available in July, and retail for $299.99.

 

 

Gettin’ in Tune

Korg AW-LT100B Tuner

The new Korg AW-LT100B Clip-On Tuner is said to easily tune bass frequencies. Photo: Korg Inc.

 

If you use a clip-on tuner with your uBass, you know what a pain it can be to get your strings in tune, particularly the E string. Most clip-on tuners have a hard time handling low frequencies, so trying to tune a bass is usually an act of frustration. And forget trying to tune a bass with more than four strings.

Well, those days may be over. Korg comes to the rescue with the AW-LT100B Tuner, which it says is specifically made for tuning bass frequencies.

As the company notes on its web site:

The AW-LT100B is designed specifically for bass. It uses a chromatic mode with dedicated circuitry that boosts the detection sensitivity in the ultra-low range below 100 Hz. The capability of this tuner is particularly apparent when tuning the 5-string or 6-string basses for which stable tuning has been difficult until now.

The Specs for the tuner are as follows:

  • Scale: 12 note equal temperament
  • Range (sine wave): E0 (20.60 Hz)─C5 (523.3 Hz)
  • Precision: ± 0.1 cent (Strobe mode)
  • Reference Pitch: A4 = 436─445 Hz (1 Hz steps)
  • Display Modes: Regular, Strobe, Half-strobe
  • Power Supply: AAA battery x 1
  • Battery Life: Approximately 100 hours (tuner continuously operating, A4 input, when using alkaline battery)
  • Dimensions (W x D x H): 60 mm x 60 mm x 55 mm/2.36″ x 2.36″ x 2.17″
  • Weight: 32 g/1.13 oz. (including battery)
  • Included Items: One AAA battery for checking operation

It remains to be seen if the tuner actually performs as Korg says it does. It may not be the best looking tuner out there, but if it does the job, then why complain.

The AW-LT100B tuner should be available in July and will cost $24.99.

There’s Good News. And Bad News.

 

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Mike Upton says Kala is working on a Ubass newsletter. Photo: Kala

 

The good news that now there’s a new source of uBass information you can sign up for.

The newest entry is from none other than Kala themselves. They’ve been sending out an Ukulele-centric newsletter for years. Now they’ve decided to do a uBass-centric newsletter as well.

Really, Kala?

Just kidding. We welcome the company.

Besides, what could be better than getting the info from the horse’s mouth, as it were.

According to Mike Upton:

We received feedback requesting a separate newsletter solely focused on the U-Bass. We took your advice, and you can now sign up to receive our brand new U-Bass newsletter.

You can sign up for just the uBass newsletter, just the Ukulele newsletter, or for both. At the bottom of every page on the Kala web site there’s a sign-up box. Just put your email in and you’re good to go.

If you’re already a subscriber to Kala’s Ukulele newsletter, you can update your preferences to include the new newsletter on their web site.

We can’t wit for the first issue to hit our mailbox.

And now the bad news: Kala says they are discontinuing the acoustic California Series uBasses, in order to make room for new and improved models.

In a note on the Kala Facebook page, the company had this to say:

The Kala Acoustic California UBasses will be discontinued and production on these beautiful basses will cease to exist as we put our heads down and start work on the development of our next generation of Kala California Acoustic UBasses over these next six months.

The company notes it has two fretless and one fretted Koa model available for purchase. Get them while you still can. Once they are gone, that’s it for the current Acoustic California uBasses.

I’m Ringo and I Play Drums

 

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Ringo Starr and Nathan East with his Kala 5-string uBass.

 

Now how’s this for a rhythm section? Ringo Starr (you know who he is–the one on the left) and Kala endorsing artist Nathan East.

I swiped this photo from Kala’s Instagram. Hopefully they won’t mind.

Kala uBass on Display at MIM

 

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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.