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Upright Basses & EUB's:
Electric Upright Basses
U-Bass Electric-Acoustic Bass Ukelele from Kala
There are several product options to choose from, with prices starting at $399.00 (click dropdown for options)
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Kala U-BASS - Current, Up-to-date models with great features!
Bass Ukelele with Built-in Pickup, Preamp, and Onboard Electronic Tuner
It would be easy to classify this unique, somewhat tiny instrument as a "toy" -- and for many of you, that may be what you resign the Kala U-Bass to be. However, this is a very well-made, very BIG sounding little instrument, and while other musicians may scoff when you first pull it out of its case, they'll quickly change their tune when you plug it in and start shaking the walls!
My ears perked up at the NAMM show a couple years ago when I first heard the Kala U-Bass, a 21" scale-length instrument which is based on a wooden Ukelele hollow body. When I edged up close to Kala's booth and got a closer look, I immediately drew a comparison to my Guild Ashbory Bass (see sidebar, below). However, when I got my hands on one, I could see that it was a vast improvement over the Ashbory, namely...
- the Strings are polyurethane and are easy to play. (The silicone strings on the Ashbory got sticky and often required talc for comfortable play.)
- String Choices abound, however - the original equipment "Pahoehoe" poly strings are available in plain black and colored versions; plus there are Aquila Thunderguts (offering an altered feel and different tone), Pyramid metal-based strings (which have a more "Acoustic-Electric Bass Guitar" sort of tone) and the Rumbler strings. Lots of options! (See our "related items," below, for details!)
- FRETS!! Ok, if you know me from reading our site, you know I'm a fretless sort of guy. However, playing in tune is enough of a challenge on a 34 inch (bass guitar) or 42 inch (upright bass) scale instrument, and if you've ever played the fretless Ashbory you know how tough it is to be in tune on a much shorter scale! The U-Bass comes in fretted or fretless forms, and having the option to have frets is pretty cool, since...
That said, the (lined) fretless is also eminently playable, and for some, the ability to "gliss" (slide into notes) is worth the extra focus on intonation - and some players have reported being able to get a classical vibrato out of it.
- You (mostly) can't hear the frets -- which is to say that fingers on synthetic strings against frets sound fretless. It's a warm and organic sound, but with clean intonation!
- I found that getting "mwah" on the U-Bass fretless model was rather difficult. I don't know why, but rolling your finger, such as you'd do on a fretless electric bass, did not produce the expected sound. Perhaps with practice...
- It looks like an acoustic instrument, a small acoustic guitar. Ukelele is not what comes to mind, and the finishes of each instrument look very sharp - which includes both the "stock" and optional upgraded finishes!
- High-quality custom UltraLite tuning keys by Hipshot (Mahogany and Acacia models) are geared and quite precise. (All of the other models use custom die-cast tuners that are based on the Hipshot.)
- Four individual piezo elements by Shadow provide balanced, full sound.
- Shadow electronic preamp system with a volume control and active EQ and...
- Built in electronic tuner!
- The amplified* sound is round and fat, but with definition and with a good and full frequency range. The more complex tones from these polyurethane strings (compared to the Ashbory's silicone strings) are more satisfying to my ear.
Note: You need an amp! Yes, this is an "acoustic" instrument with a big sound, but its compact body means the unamplified sound is not loud enough to compete with other, full-sized instruments — it is not designed for unplugged use. You'll need to use, at minimum, a small, portable amp for ensemble play. It is loud enough to privately "noodle around" on without an amp, though.
Does it sound like an upright bass? Not really, but it's a lot closer to the URB "vibe" than your typical electrical bass. It's got a big, round, warm sound thanks to the unusual strings. Check out the Bass Frontiers Magazine Review of the prototype U-Bass.
The U-Bass comes in Fretted and Fretless (only on select models) versions, as I mention above. The Spruce Top Fretted model is available left-handed. It also comes in your choice of several finishes:
|You may or may not be familiar with the Guild Ashbory Bass, a very short -- 18 inch! -- scale fretless electric bass with silicone rubber strings. This diminuative, odd-looking bass instrument was later reissued as the DeArmond Ashbory Bass, through Fender. Bob owns one of the originals, and Mark has one of the reissues -- and they are kind of fun! Nobody expects such big blooming bass notes to come out of an instrument not much more than two feet long. But they've always been a little clumsy to play, and intonation is tricky on a small instrument with fat, mushy strings, even with the visible fret lines (which are printed on a sticker!)
- Solid Mahogany
- Solid Acacia
- Spruce Top with Mahogany Back and Sides
- Spruce Top with Spalted Maple Back and Sides
- Exotic Mahogany
- Hutch Hutchinson Model (Spruce Top, Mahogany Back/Sides w/cutaway)
- Recommended Tuning: EADG (like standard electric or upright bass)
- Body Depth:
- Lower Bout: 80mm
- Upper Bout: 67mm
- Top Across:
- Lower Bout: 257mm
- Upper Bout: 190mm
- Waist: 165mm
- Body Length (Back): 356mm
- Neck (Nut to Body): 254mm
- Fretboard Width (nut): 45mm
- Fretboard Width (12th fret): 56mm
- Fretboard Length: 318mm
- Body Connects at 12th Fret
- Custom Hipshot Tuners on Solid Acacia and Solid Mahogany models (die-cast tuners on all other models)
- Shadow Pickup System w/4 Individual Elements and Angled Saddle
- Shadow Onboard Active electronics with volume, tone, and onboard digital tuner
- Rosewood Fingerboard and Bridge
- Graph-Tech TUSQ self-lubricating nut
- INCLUDES Deluxe Custom Padded Gig Bag (Most Models) or Padded Lightweight Hardfoam Case with Cordura-type outer shell (Solid Acacia or Solid Mahogany U-Bass only)
- Limited Lifetime Warranty against defects and materials, 1 year on electronics and tuning machines.
Is this product returnable? Click here for our return policy.
Is there a Factory Warranty? Click here to find Warranty Information for all of our manufacturers.
International customer? Click here for important information about ordering from outside the USA, and what to expect concerning taxes, VAT, delivery times, and more.
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Check Out the FAQ Resources That Apply to This Product:
KALA U-BASS - Stringing Tips Video
NXT Electric Upright Bass by NS Design - 4/5 String, Full Size Bass
The NXT Series instruments are the same design as the popular WAV4 Bass, but are made in NS Design's top notch Czech factory. Nothing even comes close in this price range...
Gold Tone Micro Bass - Short-Scale Acoustic/Electric Bass Guitar
My new favorite "mini-bass" - the 23" scale of the Gold Tone Micro Bass is much easier to play, and the larger, round-back design provides a bit more acoustic sound than the common "uke bass" models...
U-Bass RUMBLER by Kala - Electric-Acoustic Bass Ukelele
Kala hit one out of the park with its U-Bass, a ukelele-like bass instrument with a quick short scale and booming response that will make anyone do a triple take when hearing it...
Kala S-U-B Solidbody U-Bass Electric Mini-Bass (UBass SUB)
The new S-U-B U-Bass from Kala is a solid-body version of their popular electric-acoustic U-Bass; with its special poly strings, it has a huge, blooming sound that belies its small size...
U-Bass CALIFORNIA Solidbody by Kala - Electric Mini-Bass
The California U-Bass from Kala is the USA-Made, Pro-level version of the solid-body U-Bass; with a battery-free active preamp, impeccable craftsmanship, and great looks, it's the top of the line...
String Sets: String Options for KALA U-Basses
We've got options for your U-Bass! The Original Equipment black poly strings, also available in a multi-colored 'Dreads' set - as well as the Aquila Silver Rumbler and Thundergut sets, and the Pyramid metal-wound strings for a more traditional "EBG-like" tone...
Feedback Freezer for KALA U-Bass (Feedback Buster)
The Feedback Freezer is designed specifically for acoustic U-Basses with 3" soundholes. The Feedback Freezer fits into the soundhole and suppresses feedback on amplified U-Basses. Simple and effective...
Folding Stand for KALA U-Bass and S-U-B Bass
You probably won't want to, but you've gotta put the Kala U-Bass down eventually. It might as well be securely in this lightweight, portable folding stand...
Mahogany Deluxe Stand for KALA U-Bass and S-U-B Bass
A classy looking stand, finished in mahogany and padded to protect your U-Bass, this stand comes quickly apart for travel with no tools. Attractive, effective... what more could you ask for?
Some of our customers have told us what they think about this product.
Check out what they had to say!
Tiny thing with surprising thump. Did fine into passive high impedance input of my SWR Redhead. I presume as piezo pickups are high impedance one ought to plug into something that handles that or cheat with something like a Fishman Platinum bass preamp pedal. You were right about the strings being a bit stretchy, but given the material they are not bad and settle down fairly quickly.
Added June 2010: Further bass uke adventures. Took it to rehearsal and found myself playing the entire set with it. People at the mix board love it, something rather shocking as they are tone divas. The Fishman preamp and that bass are shockingly usefull for all sorts of material. The whole band was in the "That sound is coming from that!?" mode.
The Fishman Platinum II bass preamp really does wonders for the Bass Uke. Makes it tighter and more defined. Also allows you some tone tweaking. Both items are wonderful.
—Tom Bramhall (May/June 2010)
Thanks for the fast delivery on the UBass. I don't think I put it down for 4 hours after reciveing it. I love everything about the sound. I will take it to practice tonight. I Think some eyes will pop out when they hear this little thing come alive!!!!!! Thanks...
—T.D. (June 2010)
The Kala U-Bass remains a delight for me. People see it and then freak when the sound comes out the amp. Pretty easy to dial in a satisfying "whumph" that sounds similar to some recorded upright I have heard. Obviously, no arco action. Seriously though, many people gig acoustically and never use a bow (How sad!).
—Tom Bramhall 4/3/11
Just wanted to say thanks guys. My Kala Ubass arrived in perfect condition this morning, much faster than I expected. I received the "Order Shipped" email on the 18th and today is the 24th. Not bad for a journey to the other side of the planet. It is a miserable rainy day here in Sydney, but it feels like my birthday.
Thanks for your prompt communication with regards to changing the order and your concise replies to my queries. When my friends look at me with envy and suffer the disappointment of my refusals to let them have a go of my new bass, I will not hesitate to tell them to contact you.
I read the entire Ubass mega thread and had some doubts, but this instrument can be played acoustically with other instruments and the intonation is fine. I put the Pyramid strings on and it sounds quite sharp, however I really like the warm Pahoehoe sound. I think I may need to save up for a second Ubass so I can have both string sets available at all times.
—Jay F (July 2012)