Kala’s unique ukulele-size bass has convincing amplified bass tones.
by Teja Gerken
February 03, 2015
Besides featuring a full line of standard ukuleles, Northern California’s Kala Brand has had incredible success with its unusual U-Bass concept, which brings surprisingly deep bass tones to a tiny instrument. Using a special set of thick, soft polyurethane strings, U-Basses (which are available in acoustic and solid-body electric versions) are extremely comfortable to play, and when amplified with piezo pickups, could easily pass for a full-size electric or even upright bass.
The U-BASS-SMHG-FS we checked out is an acoustic-electric instrument with an all-mahogany body, a 21-inch scale, and a custom electronics package that includes a piezo pickup mounted under the saddle, a preamp with controls for volume and tone, and an onboard tuner, built into the instrument’s side.
Played acoustically, the U-BASS-SMHG-FS is a relatively quiet instrument, but it has enough volume to be useful for practicing. But when played through an amp (we checked it out through an AER Compact 60 acoustic instrument amp), it has a low thump that belies its small size. Whether you’re looking for a simple and easy-to-play solution for adding bass sounds in a home studio setting or want to have a convenient bass to bring to a jam, the U-BASS-SMHG-FS is definitely worth investigating.
SPECS: U-Bass with polyurethane strings. Solid mahogany top, back, and sides. Mahogany neck. Rosewood fingerboard and bridge. 21-inch scale. Grover tuners. Kala electronics with built-in tuner. Made in China. $550 street. kalabrand.com
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