Kala UBass

The Kala UBass is the size of a baritone ukulele but has the range of a bass guitar i.e. it is tuned EADG in the same octave as a standard bass guitar. It achieves this through polyurethane strings.

The original bass ukulele was the Road Toad. The downside is that it was very expensive - out of the range of most ukulele players who might be curious about it. Then they hooked up with Kala who used Road Toad's technology and adapted a standard baritone ukulele to produce a cheaper bass ukulele. The Kala U-bass is in a range that makes it affordable to someone who wants to include bass in their ukulele group but wants to keep the aesthetic.

One thing to keep in mind if you do buy a Kala UBass is that you need to get an amp at the same time. Polyurethane strings don't produce much volume on their own and need to be amplified.

It comes in two versions: fretted and fretless. If you're used to playing fretted instruments, it takes some getting used to a fretless instrument. But it does give you that distinctive sound of a stand-up bass.

On Video

The folks from RISA demonstrate the UBass.

On eBay US

On eBay UK

Specifications

Size: Baritone
Construction: Solid mahogany top, back and sides.
Fretboard: Rosewood. 16 frets (12 to body)
Bridge: Rosewood
Neck: Mahogany
Tuners: Custom Hipshot
Pickups: Piezo

18 Comments

  1. Nic November 15th, 2009 11:27 pm

    I’ve just bought the fretless Kala ubass model a couple of days ago. Having only played regular fretted bass before I’m finding pitching notes a little challenging so far, but worth persevering with because I want that upright sound which this little guy almost captures.
    It is possible to play unamplified when practicing at home (nobody hears my bum notes then!) but once plugged in it really has an astonishing bottom end. The polyurethane strings have a great feel although I’m also finding using vibrato difficult in these early learning days. The ADG strings are tending to go flat often so far and I’m hoping this is just due to the strings stretching while settling in? There’s way too much wrapped around the tuners which might not be helping either.
    The fit and finish is pretty good, with a nice grained mahogany. The edge of the fretboard could have been rounded off a little more, feels a bit sharp.
    Well done Kala, a great bass with a huge sound!

  2. Woodshed November 21st, 2009 7:15 am

    Nic: Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m really tempted to get one. But I’d probably go for the fretted version.

  3. Skidbass December 4th, 2009 3:21 am

    Just bought one and have played on it only a few days (bought the fretted version) and find it very easy to play and works well with my amp. As with earlier comment, strings are still stretching and have too much around pegs and I may have to trim them up a bit to increase accurate intonation. My impression is that the instrument will blend much better with the two ukuleles I play with than did my fender bass, which was too strident. I’ll find out tomorrow at our next rehearsal!

  4. Woodshed December 7th, 2009 8:44 pm

    Thanks for the review Skidbass. Hope it worked well with the ukes.

  5. Frans June 15th, 2010 6:28 pm

    I’m a bass player 1st and when my buddies do kanakapila with ukes, my big acoustic electric bass just don’t fit in.I heard about the Ubass,found one,bought it and love it.It’s perfect for me,loud enough to practice with and ampped up,sounds more like an upright than my acoustic electric!Props to Road Toad and Kala!

  6. Larry June 16th, 2010 3:07 am

    I love my new fretted bass. I am brand new to music so have a lot to learn.Each time I tune I have to stretch the strings ALOT. Will this reduce with time? I too will need to trim the strings on the tuners. How long should these strings last? Thanks I do truley love it.

  7. cb June 23rd, 2010 3:20 am

    The feel of the instrument takes some getting used to but it sounds great. Also there is a youtube video about the strings and how to stretch them while putting them on. This will keep you from having too many windings on the tuner post.

  8. dwight uecker June 9th, 2011 8:18 am

    a dream come for me.

    thank you Kala

  9. Artifex August 13th, 2011 2:08 am

    I just purchased the fretted Kala U-Bass from a ukulele friend of mine. I love this little guy. The polyurethane strings are a minor issue for me. Especially in re to the E & A strings. I am getting too much vibrato ‘noise’ no matter how i apply my fingers to the frets. The rubbery feel is another story. Is it possible to put different type of strings on, and if so what is available? I do love this Kala U-Bass.

  10. Seamus October 31st, 2011 6:32 am

    I’ve played my Kala Ubass for just a couple of weeks. Like almost everyone, I love it.

    But I have found that the D & G strings tend to play flat by approx 30 cents at the 10th fret and higher. This amounts to about a third of a semi-tone in pitch. No matter whether I use an electronic tuner (used three in fact)—or not: The higher the fret played then the flatter the note sounds *relative* to the open D or open G-string. The G-string is worse than the D. I’m going to ask store manager where I bought it for a remedy.

    Anyone else experiencing this?

  11. Dave November 7th, 2011 4:32 am

    Seamus, I am experiencing the same thing, especially on the G string. Let me know what your store people say. I hate to send this back, as I waited several months to get my hands on one.

  12. Dougal December 12th, 2011 4:54 am

    I have had a Ubass for about 4 months (fretted mahogany) which was supplied with a hard foam case. I love the Ubass but the hard foam case did not stand up to the rigors of travel with the screws for the handle and straps pulling out of the foam and the zips separating from the material.

    I had to purchase a replacement padded 3/4 Rockbag in Hong Kong to continue my travels, but this is a little large around the body. Has anyone else had problems with the hard foam case and what is a recommended replacement?

    I could go back to the retailer/supplier but the problem is that they are in Scotland, I am in Australia and the damaged hard foam bag is in a rubbish dump in Hong Kong!

  13. Timwatson December 12th, 2011 7:40 pm

    I now have a mahogany fretless, a solid fretted, and a solid 5-string fretless. They are all great but I am a fretless guy. I find it much easier to play in tune when I can control the pitch of every note. And it sounds more like an upright. I use it weekly on gigs and I put some vids on YouTube. You gotta know how to play it and how to tweak your rig to get the best sound.

  14. The Groove. August 9th, 2012 3:28 pm

    Hello, I’ve been a bassist for around ten years and a uke player for about a year now. I really liked the idea of this bass, but I’m having trouble finding one to test out before I buy it. Acoustic basses for me have always been really strange in that they cannot produce a loud enough sound to complete with acoustic guitars in a mixing sense. I was just wondering how this Uke holds up unplugged and how well it mixes with the likes of guitars, and other ukes without an amp.

    Much appreicated

  15. Hal August 29th, 2012 6:45 pm

    I’d love to try out an electric Kala bass but don’t know how to find a dealer near me. Kala website just shows me a blank screen when I ask about dealers.

  16. Lee January 2nd, 2013 1:29 am

    Could i buy a nice baritone ukulele, change the tuners, put the special strings on, and have the same effect as th U-Bass?

  17. Dale January 25th, 2013 9:08 pm

    I just got my U Bass early this week. It is awesome and the sound it produces is incredible. I do wish it had a bit more acoustic volume, but that may change the big warm sound it has when amped. The strings are holding very well on mine. Only minor retunes when going from cold to warmer conditions. Thanks Kala and of course Road Toad for this great sounding and affordable bass!

  18. Terry Zimmerman October 17th, 2013 9:00 pm

    Just got my Kala Rumbler UBass this week and it is fantastic. I’d like to have a case that is a bit sturdier than the supplied gig bag, but they want $100 for one built specifically for the UBass. Anybody know of a regular baritone uke case that would fit?

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