Gold Tone Micro Bass
Bass Micro Acoustic Guitar with Built-in Pickup, Preamp, and Onboard Electronic Tuner
We've had "micro" basses for a while now; miniaturized basses with synthetic strings are not new. It was back in the 1980's that Guild offered up the Ashbory bass - it was a very short scale fretless bass that used low-tension silicon strings to order to create a huge, almost "upright-like" tonal character. The Ashbory was quirky - the strings were sticky, the short scale was difficult to play in tune, the body was uncomfortable to play on your lap - but it was neat. Bob still owns one of the original Guild models, and Mark had one of the Fender-made reissue models (branded as a DeArmond) for a while.
There's been a resurgence of these big-sounding, short-scaled instruments thanks to the efforts of Kala, who brought out the U-Bass a few years ago. With a slightly longer (21") scale, an acoustic body fashioned on their baritone Uke platform, and reformulated (polyurethane) strings, they certainly turned heads and perked up ears when they hit the scene. We've been a dealer of Kala instruments for several years now.
But, while it deservedly has many fans, Kala's U-Bass isn't for everyone - some folks find the 21" scale a bit too short for comfortable play (especially if you have "sausage-fingers" like I do), and the diminutive bass can feel a bit too "toy-like." There's almost no acoustic output, since the bass is small and the strings are pretty slack.
Here, thanks to Gold Tone, is yet another evolution of the concept. They've added two (or four!) crucial inches to the scale length, which - while it doesn't sound like much - really takes the instrument into a whole new level of playability. And it makes it seem more like a legitimate instrument and less "gimmicky." (The size of the 23" scale instrument is comparable to a "Baby Taylor" ¾ scale acoustic guitar, upon which it is "based", and the 25" scale gets quite close to the scale of a typical acoustic guitar.) The instruments are also finely crafted with the player in mind, with a top arm bevel and a rounded back - making for more comfortable play and a bigger acoustic sound (though you're still gonna need an amp for most every ensemble situation).
A built-in piezo pickup makes for a big, warm and woody amplified tone - and you can dial in a variety of timbres, from round and fat, to something with sharper definition, thanks to the onboard active preamp with bass and treble controls. And the built-in preamp also features an electronic tuner!
Both versions of the Microbass are available with either a fretted neck or a lined fretless. Both are quite easily played, with a short learning curve for the scale length. And the Aquila strings have a distinctively "thumpy" tone but have a nice firm feel so they don't get overly "floppy." And you can actually dial in some brighter detail with the onboard preamp.
But yes, while the M-Bass is designed as an "acoustic" instrument with a big sound when you plug in, its compact body means the unamplified sound is not generally loud enough to compete with other, full-sized instruments — it is not really designed for unplugged performance. You'll need to use, at minimum, a small, portable amp for ensemble play. It is definitely loud enough to privately "noodle around" on without an amp, though. And that's FUN!
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.
- Lined Fretless or Fretted available
- 23" or 25" Scale (depending on model chosen)
- Recommended Tuning: EADG (like standard electric or upright bass)
- 19 Frets with Cutaway
- Arched Back
- Lower Strap Pin Output Jack, and Upper Strap Pin on Neck
- Custom-Made Synthetic Strings by Aquila (other string options available)
- Mahogany Neck
- Mahogany Back and Sides
- "Ergo-Glide" Top
- Rosewood Fingerboard and Bridge
- Bone Nut (1-11/16")
- Custom die-cast tuners
- Built-in Piezo Transducer w/ Electronic Tuner and Slide Control for Volume and EQ
- 23" scale model specifics:
- 36" Total length (modeled after "Baby Taylor" Acoustic Guitar Dimensions)
- 2.8 lbs
- 25" scale model specifics:
- Both Models INCLUDE Deluxe, Heavily Padded, Embroidered Gig Bag