Bass Ukulele

It seems unbelievable, but you can actually get the pitch of a bass guitar out of a ukulele. This is thanks to the polyurethane strings. The first people to release a bass ukulele were Road Toad. However, it was expensive. More recently, Road Toad have hooked up with Kala to produce the much more affordable Kala UBass. This is a standard baritone Kala ukulele adapted to be able to handle the much thicker strings.

I haven't tried one of these ukuleles but I'm dying to give them a go.

One thing to note, if you're buying one get a bass amp at the same time. The acoustic volume of them isn't, apparently, sufficient.

On Video

A Kala U-Bass demonstrated by RISA ukuleles.

On eBay US

On eBay UK

4 Comments

  1. Nic November 15th, 2009 11:26 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. Mark December 8th, 2013 6:16 pm

    This may be a really stupid question, but just about all the uke music I buy or download hasn’t got a bass part for the obvious reason that it’s produced for ukes. I really like the idea of adding bass to our ukes, but where would a non-bass playing uker start? Is a ubass the answer? It sounds great on YouTube, but do I just have to work through “Bass for Dummies” or equivalent, and is the ubass tuned as any other bass? Where would I then find music for our uke group that includes both base and standard GCEA ukes?

  3. karl December 10th, 2013 2:39 pm

    Hi Mark,

    It is played like a bass guitar, not a ukulele. It’s only a ‘ukulele’ in size and shape.

    So:
    - single (or double) string plucking instead of fast strums on chords,
    - the tuning and thus the playing of scales is a bit different (all in perfect and logical fourths EADG instead of the ukuleles fourths with a third-bump between C and E)
    - no re-entrant tuning, simply low-to-high

    As to how to play it, I learn new instruments by testing rather than by reading, and through familiar songs rather than by beginner lessons.

    Just have a go at ‘Seven nation army’, ‘Another Brick Pt II’, ‘A Forest’ or even a jazzy ‘Fever’ (you can find bass tabs easily, or figure them out by ear). From those songs, you’ll understand that it’s basically playing the root note of the chord, and embellishing it with a fifth above, a third below, being flashy by playing it an octave higher or passing with stepping stones from one root note to the next.

    As a solo instrument or single accompniment for voice it works, but it’s a lot harder to pull off than a regular ukulele. When playing with others, the low notes will mean everyone will try to anchor their timing on yours, unless there’s a drummer as well. And Al’s right about needing an amplifier; without, it’s only good for very quiet practice, but then again most acoustic bass guitars are fairly quiet unamplified as well.

  4. Bobby B. January 21st, 2014 6:22 pm

    Would appreciate anyone’s comments concerning a question I have had for a long time.

    ( Question )

    Would it be possible to tune a 4 string bass guitar in order to play Ukulele cords on the Bass guitar ?

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