Kala UBass

3.98/5 (18)

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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


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


  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?

  19. Arlo June 6th, 2014 11:02 pm

    I bought a Kala Uke Bass about 2 years ago. I like the sound of the instrument but I have had an array of problems.
    The bass came with polyurethane strings which are very hard to keep in tune. Aside from this, I did not realize it but found out that the bass goes WAY out of tune if you are playing in a warm climate. I found this out the hard way when I did an outdoor gig. It was a total disaster. It would have helped if Kala would have mentioned that in their instrument literature.
    Also, I switched to steel strings which were great initally. However, the strings were quite costly ($60). I had the strings about two months and was playing a gig when the e string broke during the first song of the set. Again, this was a disaster. I am not an aggresive player and do not understand why this happened.
    I contacted the store where I purchased the strings & the instrument. They told me I had to speak to Kala; I was given a contact person. I received a phone message telling me to call another person. Thus far, I have left several messages with NO response. What is up with that?
    Kala needs to get their act together to provide support after they have made the sale. I am very unhappy and disappointed in Kala. I would not buy another instrument from them.

  20. William June 17th, 2014 9:44 am


    I got my Ubass with the black Kala strings on it but had all sorts of trouble tuning them.

    I have put Worth strings on my other ukuleles and found them great to play with, especially on my 8 string.

    I would suggest getting a set and trying them. There is a small issue. I had to increase the size for the E string to fit.

    Oh and by the way, they come in red/orange only. Quite striking really.



  21. Sam Soltan August 15th, 2014 4:09 pm

    I got an Exotic Mahogany acoustic UBass about a month ago. the original intonation was so far off that I sent it back to MFI and had them send me another. . . much better. Last week I changed the strings to the Silver Rumblers and it has made a world of difference for the better.
    A hint to others- go to a decent hardware store and get nylon washers ( about 1/2″ diameter,) you will have to file/drill out the center hole to accomodate the strings. Put the washers on before threading through the back of the soundboard / top.

  22. evis August 17th, 2014 7:10 pm

    Dear kala stay in tune.At least from now on.Other than this, i love u.

  23. Murray Goldberg October 13th, 2014 4:19 am

    I’ve had my Kala u bass for several weeks. mahogany with p/u system built in tuner. fretted , but plated upright and fretless, and EUB. the Kala has the best tone ever. Close your eyes and you’ll swear it’s an upright. However I cannot figure out why the intonation is not good . Right from the 2 nd fret on the d string . I DON’T KNOW WGAT TO DO. If switch to the Italian Aguire strings I that might help. , but the treble is much higher, which is not what I want. Any suggestions .Could it be a truss rod adjustment might help.? I’m really frustrated. I just love playing that bass.

  24. Terry October 22nd, 2014 2:12 pm

    Hi, tried out a friends Ubass and am very impressed with the strings, does anyone know if these polyurethane strings can be used on an acoustic base? thanks

  25. Sally December 27th, 2014 10:50 pm

    Can anyone suggest a good starter bass amp to go with the Kala U-Bass Rumbler? I have a budget of up to £100.

  26. Scott Melick January 28th, 2015 5:24 am

    I have purchased a Kala UBass. After playing an upright double bass for 30 years the arthritis in my hands and back got so bad I could not play well or very long any more. The UBass has been a life saver for me. I love it. So easy on my hands to play and I can sit down stand up or any thing I want. With the Polymer strings and short distance between frets this is a dream to play. I have a gk amp. which with the two combined sounds almost like the old upright and definitely sounds better with me playing as I could not drive the old upright hard enough any more. I love this thing and would recommend it to any other old fart whose body is fighting him.

  27. Mal June 16th, 2015 6:47 am

    I’m a sax player who just got a fretless rumbler.

    Wow what a lot of FUN. Beautiful upright bass like sounds from a tiny little ukulele! Might need a (fair?) bit of practice to play in tune all the time but it IS easy enough to play in tune. I haven’t played anything fretless before but it’s almost like your fingers can feel where the note should be.

    My partner wanted to try playing ukulele (we got a concert and tenor) and an Eddy Finn u bass copy caught my eye, earlier this year I had dreamed about playing a small bass too! After a bit of research I asked my local shop to get me a rumbler.

    I was impressed with the finish, ok the polarity on the battery cover is incorrect and the output jack is a bit loose, but I was happy with the quality of the body, tuners and especially the sound. The rumbler doesn’t have a hatch for string access so I hope they are not too difficult to change but I do like the sound and feel of the rumbler strings compared to the thunderguts I tried.

    The Rumbler is a very nice addition as an acoustic with another uke. My partner wants to play it too!
    I’ve got a zoom b1on on order and have some amps I can use. Looking forward to seeing how the rumbler goes over time 🙂

  28. Maggie June 21st, 2015 2:31 am

    I purchased an exotic mahogany Kala U-Bass and have had a similar problem to Murray Goldberg with the strings being gradually more and more out of tune as you play up the fretboard – all four strings! Did anyone come up with a solution? I am going to take it back to the retailer and hope for a resolution.

  29. RICK IDE December 28th, 2015 8:03 am

    glad to hear other persons are having internation problems.. mine was so far out it could not have been checked at construction .I LIKE MY SOLID BODY U-BASS … but i will say that the kala quality control people needs some serious lessons on what there job is..! I now have some holes which have been filled ……..would love another body but they come pre drilled… HOW do we know it”s right..??

  30. Lynn Owens April 30th, 2016 12:00 pm

    I’ve been a professional bassist for many years and bought the Hutch Hutchinson Signature model about 6 months ago. It took some time to get used to, but I’m beginning to prefer this bass over my high end electric basses or upright for classic country and some jazz. Recently, I got brave on a fast swing/jazz tune and went up to the 12th fret position in G. Came off great.
    I work with a sound tech who’s also a great bassist, using high end front of house gear. He’s got this little guy sounding better out front than my upright.
    If your looking for that easily managed upright sound, give this bass a try. I like it a lot, as do my band mates.

  31. Ken July 20th, 2016 7:46 pm

    I have had 4 Klala Ubass in last 5 years. Everyone of them had a problem with intonation getting flatter as you went up the neck. Most of them all 4 strings. Sent 3 of them back to Kala. Suppose to been new strings. Set up…still the same. No change. I went from the $700 -$400 one. No change. I now have the Hutch Hutchinson…no change. I think it is a Kala factory problem they cant fix? Anyone found a fix I’d like to know.

  32. Jim D January 4th, 2017 11:08 pm

    Hi. I’m a fiddle player that also plays bass and guitar.

    I just picked up a a used Mahogany “Rumbler” Kala U-Bass in good condition, well cared for.

    I noticed intonation problems right away. The strings that were on it were grey in color. Not sure of manufacturer. I replaced them with the pahoehoe’s that are original equipment, figuring that was the best idea I had.

    The grey strings were hopeless, especially the G string.

    The pahoehoe G string is almost perfect and the D is very good. The E very useable. The A is a problem.

    This does not seem to correspond to other’s experiences. I also noticed that with the grey strings that came on it, the E and A were different diameters. With the pahoehoes, they are the same diameter. Since the A is higher pitched, it seems wrong that the E and A are the same diameter One thing I thought of is that since the E and A are the same diameter before they are strung, and since, the A has to be under a lot more tension, that stretching will decreas the diameter and this will eventually make it closer ? Maybe the A will ‘settle in’ ? I measured the diameter of the A at .156in and the E at .184in now that they are strung.

    Does anyone else have this problem with the A string? I see most people seem to have problems with the D and G strings and not the A.


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