Kala releases U.Bass 2 fretted & fretless uke basses
(Dave Molter | Posted 2010-07-22)
If you're a bassist, no doubt you've heard the buzz over the last six months or so about the Kala U-Bass, a bass "guitar" built on a baritone ukulele body. I had a chance at Summer NAMM 2010 in Nashville to play several U-Bass models, including a new solid body that is set to premier in late 2010, and I was impressed. For less than $500, a bassist seeking an upright sound without lugging a doghouse around can get an upright tone with the tiny (20" scale) Kala U.Bass. If you search YouTube, you'll find plenty of videos illustrating that seeing and hearing IS believing.
Now Kala Brand Music has added two new models to its U-BASS line: the Kala U.BASS 2 fretted and fretless basses. Kala has been turning upright bass literally on its side with the 20” Scale U-BASS which bassist Dave Pomeroy has dubbed “portable and powerful”. The U.BASS 2 provides an affordable alternative to the original U.BASS while maintaining all the features and functionality. Kala has also shaved the price on the U.Bass 2 by about $100 over the standard U-Bass, bringing its street price to $399 including a specially made gig bag.
While the U-Bass may look ... well, like a toy ... the sound is anything but funny. In Nashville, played through a very small amp, this tiny powerhouse put out a ton of bottom end. The feel of the polyurethane strings may be a bit offputting to some players, but that shouldn't be enough to scare you away. Likewise the 20" scale -- I play a Dingwall Combustion with a 37" B string and a Lakland 55-94 with a 35" scale, and the short -- very short -- Kala scale presented no problem whatsoever. I'm hoping to grab one iof the new U.Bass 2's or a solidbody for a trial run later this year. Keep checking MGR for updates.
Each Kala U Bassbass is equipped with proprietary polyurethane strings, a passive pickup system with 4 individual piezo elements, rosewood fingerboard and bridge, and solid mahogany neck. The U.BASS 2 sports a solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides and comes with a heavily padded gig bag.
The compact size makes the U.BASS extremely portable and able to meet all carry on standards. Its deep bass tone makes the U.BASS ideal for live and studio applications. Noted U.BASS users include Jim Mayer (Jimmy Buffet), Bakithi Kumalo (Paul Simon) Hugh McDonald (Bon Jovi) and Hutch Hutchinson (Bonnie Raitt). Because of its size and ease of playing, dealers and teachers are discovering that the U.BASS makes an excellent bass for student bassists.
Kala Brand Music Co. offers over 120 models of ukuleles, the Kala U-BASS, and a complete line of Uke Crazy Ukulele accessories. Kala Brand Music Co. also distributes Aquila Strings. Check out the various models at www.ubass.com.
Dave Molter is Managing Editor and Bass Guitars Editor of MusicGearReview. He has played bass professionally for 45 years.