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If you’re looking for a UBASS, you’ve obviously got a special taste in instruments.
These are fun little basses that are highly portable, and easy to bring with you anywhere you go.
If you like playing rhythmically and adding harmony to songs, or if you aspire to play like Davie504 or Charles Berthoud one day, I admit, the UBASS is a unique and fun way to start!
In this guide, we’ll be looking at the best Kala UBASS ukuleles.
Kala UBASS-EM-FS Exotic Mahogany
Kicking off this list is this beautiful entry, the Kala UBASS-EM-FS exotic mahogany model.
If the amazing, naturally finished exotic mahogany top doesn’t catch your attention, the other features might – exotic mahogany back and sides, mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard, Graph Tech TUSQ nut, custom die-cast tuners, composite saddle, Custom Hipshot Ultralite tuners, and Kala electronics with active EQ and tuner.
This axe also comes with a custom U-BASS embroidered logo gig bag (which apparently meets most airline carry-on requirements).
This axe offers a nice, warm tone you wouldn’t necessarily expect from an instrument so small. As Kala says, it could almost stand in for a standup bass and shares with it some tonal characteristics.
The U-BASS family tends to work best when plugged in, so be sure to prepare a booming bass amp when ordering a U-BASS. That said, they do sound okay unplugged too.
Reviewers loved the sound of the exotic mahogany bass, the setup of the neck, built-in tuner, and more. They even found it easy on the fingers.
What some didn’t like was that the instrument needed setup work out of the box. They also didn’t think the strings were balanced in terms of output.
Item wight: 2.49 lbs.
Package dimensions: 31.89 x 32.28 x 11.81 inches
Kala UBASS-EBY-FSRW Striped Ebony Acoustic-Electric U-Bass With Round Wounds
Second on our list is a UBASS that might be just as good as the last. The Kala UBASS-EBY-FSRW again features a beautiful, dark finish that speaks to its luxurious quality.
The uke comes with a striped ebony body, walnut fingerboard, maple binding, round wound strings, and a gig bag!
This one doesn’t necessarily feature a thick, full tone, but it’s still a convincing bass. It seems to accentuate the attack, which depending on what you like, is either a good thing or bad thing! Of course, you can still tweak the tone, to a lesser degree, with the EQ.
The bass itself is lightweight, easy to carry, and a ton of fun to play with.
These thoughts are echoed among customers, who liked the deep sound of the bass. Plus, they found it fun to play.
Less happy customers apparently had issues with quality control, so that might be something to look out for. Of course, in most cases, you should be able to send your bass back and have it replaced.
Item weight: 4.4 lbs.
Package dimensions: 34 x 14 x 5.2 inches
Kala U-Bass-JYMN-FS Journeyman Acoustic-Electric U-Bass
Here’s a rather unique entry, complete with F holes. The Kala U-Bass-JYMN-FS Journeyman comes with a mahogany body and neck, Venetian cutaway (just in case you need easier access to the higher frets), and the UK-500B piezo pickup.
It also comes with a gig bag, tuner, Austin Bazaar instructional DVD, and polishing cloth, just in case you’d like the whole meal deal.
As with other models introduced, this uke offers a rather convincing bass sound, with a bit of an accent on the attack. Again, whether you like that is basically a matter of personal preference.
But this is a highly usable bass, and it could totally work at gigs or recording sessions in a pinch.
Overall, reviewers thought it played great, with perfect intonation and no buzz.
Apparently, some found the strings a little too slack though.
Item weight: 5.24 lbs.
Package dimensions: 33 x 6 x 13 inches
Kala Spalted Maple Acoustic-Electric U-Bass
Another highly attractive option, the Kala spalted maple acoustic-electric U-BASS is striking in its bold, high contrast appearance.
This bass features a spalted maple top, back, and sides, mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard, black binding, and satin finish. It also comes with a gig bag.
Its sound is much like the other basses we’ve already looked at. You could say that your choice might come down to price and/or appearance.
When not plugged in, the U-BASS doesn’t go overly loud, but it’s still usable, especially for practice. And you can get more output out of it depending on your technique (more volume if you slap).
Users thought the bass had a big sound and enjoyed its tone too. They also thought it was great for travel.
Others took issue with the ukulele’s workmanship, citing issues with the finish, frets, and string buzz.
Item weight: 1 lbs.
Package dimensions: 31.89 x 32.28 x 11.81 inches
Kala Burled Tamo Ash Fretted Acoustic Electric U-BASS
The Kala Burled Tamo Ash acoustic electric U-BASS, like its counterparts, sports a pleasing look, with a burled tamo ash body, walnut fingerboard, mahogany neck, Aquila Thunderblack strings, and of course, built-in electronics.
It might be small, but it still offers a big sound, and its size makes it perfect for travelling, or just hauling around to different locations as you entertain various audiences. It could even be great for street performing.
Naturally, its most striking feature is its burled tamo ash body, which also happens to offer a balanced tone with good projection.
Of course, its plugged-in sound is no slouch, and it’s honestly where it shines the brightest.
Reviewers were not disappointed with the bass, and thought it had a great sound with minimal string buzz.
Item weight: 4.94 lbs.
Package dimensions: 31.89 x 32.28 x 11.81 inches
Kala Scout Acoustic-Electric U-BASS
The Kala Scout acoustic-electric U-BASS is one of the more affordable ukes on this list.
That said, it doesn’t look as though a lot of compromise was made. Its appearance is still beautiful, if a little more conventional, and all the essential features are still there.
The Scout U-BASS comes with a mahogany body, cream binding, Venetian cutaway, and Aquila Thunderblack strings. A deluxe gig bag is included, and of course, electronics are onboard.
The axe is loud enough for basic practicing needs unplugged, and as you can imagine, it’s highly portable too. Perfect for band practice.
It does tend to come alive when plugged in, though, as seems to be the case with all ukulele basses.
Reviewers thought the bass had a great sound plugged in and found it a lot of fun to play with.
Evidently, some had issues with quality control, though, so that might be something to look out for.
Item weight: 0.074 ounces
Package dimensions: 29.31 x 10.31 x 3.13 inches
Kala UBASS-PSGR-FS Passenger Acoustic-Electric U-Bass
Last but certainly not least, we have the Kala UBASS_PSGR-FS Passenger. It is basic in appearance and feature set but should still prove more than enough for the beginner, and even the intermediate player.
As with the Scout, the Passenger comes with a mahogany body, white binding and rosette, built-in electronics, and Aqulia Thundergut strings. Whether you’re gigging or just stating out, the Passenger should prove highly usable in a variety of musical scenarios.
Even though it’s certainly in the more affordable price range of U-Basses, the Passenger still gives you everything you need – a beautiful finish and thumping sound.
Buyers thought the bass had a phenomenal sound and found it fun and easy to play.
Some found the quality assurance a little lacking though, and that seems to be a bit of a running theme with Kala.
Item weight: 4.4 lbs.
Package dimensions: 11 x 15 x 27 inches
What Should I Look For In A U Bass?
We’re not going to beat around the bush here.
Although Kala U-Basses differ somewhat in appearance, finish, and materials, ultimately, they are all based on a quality template.
Sure, some of their basses have F holes, some have cutaways, some have fancier ornamentation. But the guts of the instrument remains relatively similar across their product range.
Which basically means most of your buying decision is going to come down to the instrument’s appearance (your preference), how playable it is, and budget.
Nevertheless, we’ve accounted for all contingencies and outcomes. So, we’re going to be looking at all the criteria we can think of that will make a difference to your purchasing decision, including:
- The perfect tone
- A highly playable instrument
- Beautiful esthetics
- The right price
Let’s dig in, shall we?
The Perfect Tone
Much has been said about tonewood and electronics and their impact on the tone of the instrument, and all we can say is… tonewood generally makes a smaller difference, while the electronics make a bigger one.
All Kala U-Basses come equipped with electronics. It’s not even optional, but it makes a lot of sense based on the nature of the instrument. It requires amplification to be heard while jamming or performing.
There is a bit of a difference between pickups at different price points, and the same can be said for tonewoods too. More expensive instruments tend to feature “exotic” or “rare” woods, while more affordable axes come with relatively standard and readily available materials like mahogany and spruce.
But why is tone important? Well, it matters quite a bit in professional situations. It’s easier to play with confidence when you know your instrument is reliable and helps you sound your best.
That said, few things are more personal than tone, and that doesn’t just apply to the instrument itself. It also applies to the player, their skill and experience level, playing style, and so much more.
Anyway, while there might be a subtle difference with Kala basses, it’s not terribly noticeable. So, while I’m repeating myself a bit, your buying decision will probably still come down to one of the following factors. Tone is a smaller piece of the puzzle.
If you do want to do a deep dive into tone, though, you can always find additional reviews and demos.
A Highly Playable Instrument
An instrument is generally nicer to play when it’s properly set up. To an extent, this is a matter of preference, but let’s just say that action is usually a significant factor for most players, and usually, lower settings are preferred.
There might be pros out there like Jack White who like to struggle and wrestle with their instrument, but they’re a bit of a rarity.
Overall, Kala has done an excellent job of making their instruments highly playable, and in some cases, they might even be a little too easy to play.
Now, do keep in mind that the strings make a big difference. If you’re not happy with your U-BASS, the first thing I would test out is difference strings, because that will certainly affect playability.
Anyway, we don’t think you can go wrong with any of the above ukuleles.
Kala gives you a lot of choice in this regard, from exotic mahogany and striped ebony to burled tamo ash and mahogany.
And their product range is decidedly pleasing esthetically. Their finishes are quite striking and intentionally designed.
Buying based purely on esthetics might land you with a more expensive instrument, though, so If your budget doesn’t allow for it, then it might not be worth jumping into the purchase without forethought (more on that in a moment).
But in terms of creating options for customers, Kala has certainly done their job, and they’ve obviously got an eye for detail too.
So, esthetics will probably factor into your purchase to a lesser or greater degree, but in most cases, it’s not a factor to fuss over compared to playability and budget.
The Right Price
Finally, we do recommend choosing an instrument that’s well within your budget so as to avoid going into debt.
The instruments featured here range from about $260 to $400 – not a huge difference, but your bank account will probably feel it if you don’t choose well.
As far as we’re concerned, though, unless you somehow end up with a defective model, all the above U-Basses are highly capable and good bang for buck.
Kala or Kala Brand Music Co. is based in Petaluma, CA, where a unique mix of artists, farmers, breweries, and tech companies reside.
Kala artists include the likes of Vance Joy, Tyler Joseph, Walk Off The Earth, Mandy Harvey, Rob Scallon, and others.
Their product range includes ukuleles, U-Basses, guitars (a unique mix, including travel guitars, guitarleles, classical student guitars, tenor guitars, parlor guitars, orchestra mini guitars, and thinline guitars), percussion, accessories, apparel, parts, and more.
Top Kala UBASS Ukuleles, Final Thoughts
In this guide, we looked at a select range of Kala UBASS instruments, which are highly attractive, nicely designed, fun to play, and sound quite impressive (especially plugged in!) given their smaller stature. Of course, that’s what makes them perfect for travel, jamming, gigging, and hauling around from place to place. With a U-BASS, you’d never need to miss a day of practice either!
Kala U-Basses vary a little in terms of price range, but all instruments featured here are quite capable, and are good options for those seeking a ukulele bass they can practice, jam, perform, and record with.
With that, it’s time to crank up that bass and hammer out some grooves. Have fun!