What is a Bass Ukulele?
A bass ukulele is a ukulele-sized stringed instrument that’s tuned like a bass guitar or traditional upright bass.
The bass ukulele has existed in some kind for some time, but Kala popularized it within the late 2000s with their U-Bass.
Most bass ukuleles are constructed around a baritone ukulele body, which is the biggest of the 4 common ukulele sizes.
A bass ukulele has very thick, rubbery strings. Playing it feels totally different from any other stringed instrument I’ve tried.
What to Know Before Buying Bass Uke
I cover these factors in more detail within the buyer’s guide beneath, however, right here are some things should know before buying a bass uke.
Afterward, we took into consideration numerous factors we were about to disclose. Notably, the construction of the bass ukulele is kind of important, because the builds are much more delicate and less mass-produced than solid-body bass guitars.
Bass Ukuleles Reviewed in This Article
Right here’s a quick rundown of all of the best bass ukuleles we cover in this article. Remember the fact that I’m not necessarily endorsing each of those models, so I recommend you read the person reviews for my opinion of every uke.
1. Kala U-Bass: The Original Bass Ukulele
So far as I know, Kala U-Bass was the primary mass-produced bass ukulele provided at a price the average person may afford.
Since Kala is the biggest name in bass ukes, I’m going to be spending quite a lot of time covering this brand and its numerous Kala U-Bass models.
About Kala U-Bass
Based mostly on a baritone ukulele body, the U-Bass is tuned precisely like a bass guitar. The shortened scale combined with fat, rubbery strings leads to a tone that’s surprisingly just like the warm, mellow voice of big, upright bass.
The U-Bass lineup has grown so much since Kala launched it in 2008. This model is now provided in a wide range of materials, finishes, and price ranges. I’m going to cover a few of their more widespread models below.
2. Kala Wanderer U-Bass
The Wanderer is Kala’s simplest and most affordable U-Bass model. It has a laminated mahogany body and minimal cosmetic options, which help maintain the price down.
When it comes to building quality, the UBASS-WNDR-FS is simply nearly as good as Kala’s fancier, more expensive U-Bass models. It’s an excellent choice for players who need a good high-quality ukulele bass but don’t need to spend an excessive amount of cash.
Laminated Wood Body
The Wanderer has a laminated body, which is one way Kala can provide this uke bass at such a low price.
The all-laminated body most likely won’t sound quite as warm and rich because the models I cover below that have solid wooden.
Nonetheless, I’ve played a ton of great-sounding laminated instruments over time, so don’t let this single factor scare you away.
The Wanderer’s Other Budget-Friendly Features
- The nut and saddle are plastic rather than bone or an artificial material like TUSQ
- It has generic tuners, versus brand-name Hipshot Ultralite on costlier models
- The UK-500B pickup is an easy off-the-shelf electronics system, versus the proprietary Shadow NFX pickup present in higher-end models
- The included gig bag isn’t as heavy-duty because the bag that comes with costlier models
3. Kala Solid Mahogany U-Bass
This model is at the moment the one all-solid wooden bass ukulele in Kala’s lineup, and it additionally happens to be the costliest.
Why Solid Wood?
As a basic rule, solid wooden produce a tone that’s warmer, richer, and sweeter than laminated wooden. Nevertheless, I’ve discovered that this “fact” isn’t all the time true, especially within the realm of entry-level instruments.
I’ve played laminated ukuleles that sounded better than solid wooden ukes from the same brand. Positive, solid wooden normally sound much better, however, you don’t have to purchase a solid wood instrument to get a good tone.
The UBASS-SMHG-FS has quite a few upgrades over the entry-level Wanderer and Rumbler collection.
- All-solid mahogany body
- TUSQ nut and composite saddle
- Hipshot Ultralight tuners
- Customized Shadow NFX U-Bass pickup w/ built-in tuner
- Tortoise body binding
- Beveled headstock edge
- Inlaid headstock with Kala logo and frog
- Deluxe Kala gig bag
Kala U-Bass All Solid Mahogany features
If you would like Kala’s top-of-the-line ukulele bass and budget isn’t a concern, this model is worth a look. In case you’re on a budget or simply wish to experiment with the bass uke, the other, more affordable models featured in this article are nice selections as well.
4. Kala Exotic Mahogany U-Bass
The defining characteristic of this Kala ukulele bass is the “Exotic Mahogany” body. This wooden is a kind of figured mahogany with a gold stain that mimics the look of koa or flame maple.
Based on Kala’s website, the Exotic Mahogany U-Bass is their finest selling bass uke. I’ve seen these before in person and can see why. They’re stunning instruments and the wood they use is often really nice-looking.
This U-Bass has many of the upgraded components found on Kala’s higher-end instruments. The laminated wooden body helps hold the price down, however it could not sound quite as warm because of the models with solid wood.
- GraphTech TUSQ saddle
- Shadow U-Bass custom pickup
- Shadow U-Bass NFX electronics
- Strings: Road Toad Pahoehoe proprietary polyurethane
- Custom Hipshot Ultralite machine heads
- Silk-matte finish
5. Kala Rumbler U-Bass
The Rumbler design integrates a specially designed Kala electronic system with a piezo pickup and is supplied with an active EQ with a built-in tuner and gig bag. Every bass is strung with Kala Silver Rumbler Strings, manufactured exclusively for Kala Brand Music by Aquila Strings of Italy.
In case you’re a bassist on the go, don’t leave your music at home… Take the Rumbler U-Bass with you. And when do you happen to get a gig alongside the way? Use the built-in piezo pickup system with active EQ, plugin, and play!
The Rumbler is basically an upgraded model of the Wanderer. It has the identical laminated mahogany body as the Wanderer, but it surely has a couple of options usually only found on Kala’s higher-end models.
- TUSQ nut and composite saddle
- Custom Shadow NFX electronics with built-in tuner
- Bound body
- Deluxe gig bag
6. Kala U-Bass Striped Ebony
The Solid Striped Ebony U-Bass strikes a balance between the reasonably priced all-laminated models and the costlier all-mahogany model.
Through the use of a solid Striped Ebony with laminate back and sides, this model combines the tonal benefits of solid wood with the affordability of laminated wood. It is a common building technique that many acoustic instrument producers use.
- Striped Ebony
- Back and sides: Striped Ebony (Ebony)
- Body binding: Maple
- Neck: Mahogany
- Rosewood fretboard
7.Lanikai Bass Ukulele FB-EBU
Whether you are playing in a ukulele ensemble or any acoustic-electric arrangement, you will love the full, rich low end offered by the Lanikai FB-EBU Figured Bocote Bass acoustic-electric ukulele.
Its 23.4-inch scale length maintains the familiar ukulele playability you are familiar with, however in a lower octave that pairs perfectly with soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone ukuleles. The neck is wider than traditional ukes, for an extra comfy bass playing experience. And the FB-EBU Figured Bocote Bass is supplied with a Fishman Clasica II preamp with a built-in tuner for superior plugged-in tone.
Whether you are recording your next track, or just having fun around a campfire, you may be impressed with the Lanikai FB-EBU Figured Bocote Bass acoustic-electric ukulele.
- Body: Flamed Bocote
- Neck: Mahogany
- Fretboard and bridge: Walnut
- Scale: 595 mm
- Nut width: 38.1 mm
8. Harley Benton Kahuna CLU-Bass Ukulele FL
In case you’re at the house on guitar but need an acoustic bass to check out some bass riffs, look no further than the Kahuna CLU Bass FL. Given its scale length of a mere 21 inches, this attractive instrument produces some astounding bass sounds.
It features special strings made by Aquila as well as a Fishman pickup. The top is made from spruce, and the body, and the neck from mahogany. Its selected hard blackwood for the fretless bass fingerboard. This bass conjures sounds much like that of a double bass, an instrument that’s an essential component in lots of genres.
- Fretless bass
- Top: Spruce
- Body: Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla – Origin: India/ Indonesia)
- Neck: Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla – Origin: India/ Indonesia)
- Neck profile: C
- Fretboard: Blackwood
9. Kala U-Bass Journeyman BLK
This can be a nice bass to add just a bit (pun intended) more bass in your life from your gigs and recordings to traveling with it, as this can be very simple to travel with. The Journeyman additionally comes with a padded gig bag.
Provided in a sleek matte black finish, the Journeyman is the grandest U BASS of all of them, made from Mahogany with white binding, F-Holes, and a cutaway. The Journeyman is nice for gigging, has the unique U BASS tone, and won’t break the bank! Hone your skills and excellent your craft the Journeyman will set you on your way to turning into a master. Additionally accessible in a Traditional Mahogany Fretted model.
- Electro-acoustic U-Bass
- Top: Mahogany
- Sides and back: Mahogany
- Venetian Cutaway
- Neck: Mahogany
- Fingerboard: Rosewood
10. Harley Benton Kahuna CLU-Bass Mahogany Uke
For those who’re at the house on guitar but need an acoustic bass to check out some bass riffs, look no further than the Kahuna CLU Bass Mahogany. Given its scale length of a mere 21 inches, this attractive instrument produces some astounding bass sounds.
The body, top, and neck are made completely of mahogany, Selected hard blackwood for the 20-fret fretboard. Strings by acclaimed manufacturer Aquila and a Fishman pickup system form the basis of its powerful sound.
You’ll be amazed how a lot of basses this little instrument can produce!
- Custom Line Kahuna Series
- Size: Traveler
- Body: Mahogany
- Arched back
- Mahogany neck
The bass uke will feel very different
Whether or not you’re a bass player or a uke player, a bass uke might be unlike anything you’ve ever performed. The fat, rubbery strings are sort of weird at first, so prepare to spend some time working on your approach if you’d like an excellent tone.
You’ll probably need an amp
You can definitely play a ukulele bass acoustically (without an amp), however, it’s hardly going to make any sound. In case you actually wish to hear your bass uke, you’ll have to spend money on an amp–preferably a bass amp.
It’ll take a long, very long time to get your bass uke in tune
That is normal because of the stretchiness of the strings. It’s not a problem with the bass ukulele instrument or tuners. You’ll need to tune your bass uke a lot, especially when you first get it.
Bass Ukulele Size
Most bass ukuleles have a baritone ukulele body. That is the biggest of the 4 standard ukulele body sizes, which makes it perfect for the low notes of a bass ukulele instrument.
The majority of bass ukuleles I’ve seen have been about 30″ long from end to end.
Bass ukuleles have a scale length of around 20″. That is slightly shorter than the 19″ scale length found on a baritone ukulele.
Bass Ukulele Strings
Bass ukes need to have very fat, rubbery strings to hit such low notes on their short 20″ scale. These strings are normally made from polyurethane or similarly stretchy materials.
Have you seen how the lowest-pitched strings on a regular uke are additionally the thickest? A bass ukulele takes this concept to an extreme level.
Types of Bass Ukulele Strings
With the rise in recognition of the bass uke, there’s now a wider range of bass strings choices out there. The different materials will each have a unique tension, play feel, and tone.
For example, Kala makes a set of metal round wound strings that feel slightly more like traditional bass guitar strings. Many customers report that they’re louder acoustically and produce a bright, punchy tone.
It’s not a bad concept to experiment with different strings, however, it may get expensive since most bass uke strings price over $25.
Bass Ukulele Tuning
Most bass ukuleles are tuned exactly like a regular bass guitar: E-A-D-G.
These are also the first 4 notes of a regular guitar, except one octave lower.
Tuning bass ukuleles can take a very long time. You’ll probably also discover it goes out of tune quite a bit. That is normal on a brand new bass uke, but it may also happen after you put on a brand new set of strings.
Bass Ukulele Tuning Vs. Baritone and Standard Ukulele
A baritone ukulele is tuned D-G-B-E. That is precisely just like the 4 highest strings of a bass guitar.
A standard-tuned ukulele (soprano, concert, or tenor) is tuned G-C-E-A. That is just like the 4 highest strings of a guitar at the fifth fret.
Most bass ukes have the same body dimension as a baritone ukulele. Standard ukuleles are all smaller than a bass uke.
- Bass ukulele: E-A-D-B
- Baritone ukulele: D-G-B-E
- Standard ukulele: G-C-E-A
Most ukuleles are tuned the way you see below. There are alternate tunings, however, these aren’t very common.
Different Scale Lengths
- Bass ukuleles: 20″
- Baritone ukulele: 19″
- Soprano, concert, and tenor ukulele: Between 13.5″ and 17″
These scale length figures apply to most ukuleles, however, they aren’t common.
Problems Tuning a Bass Ukulele
I discussed this before however, it bears repeating: Bass ukuleles can take a very long time to get in tune, and they’ll go out of tune often. That is especially true for brand new strings.
I came across a couple of complaints about tuning difficulties. After reading the reviews, it was clear these people simply weren’t aware of how much stretching new bass uke strings will do.
This tuning quirk is because of the uncommon nature of bass uke strings. In comparison with metal-strung instruments like bass guitars, bass ukulele strings are far more flexible and stretchy. Think about a rubber band in comparison with a paper clip and you’ll see what I mean.
Pyramid Bass Ukulele Strings features
Pyramid 509.200 Bass Ukulele Set features
Kala Ukulele Bass String Set features
How to Play a Bass Ukulele
The bass ukulele is closer to bass than a ukulele. In case you already know how you can play bass, the bass uke will probably be a natural second instrument for you. However, the playing technique is quite a bit different as a result of the bass uke’s short scale, low tension, and unique strings.
The Fat Strings Require a Totally different Technique
As I’ve talked about earlier, the thick, stretchy strings on a bass ukulele will really feel very foreign at first and might take a while to get used to.
Along with their unusually large diameter, bass uke strings feel sort of loose or “floppy” in comparison with other stringed instruments. This may feel strange at first since many bass and uke players expect more resistance from their strings.
The technique required to get a good tone out of a bass uke is a bit different than a standard bass or ukulele. For instance, when playing a bass uke, you’ll have to pluck the strings closer to the bridge. In case you play up by the neck joint like on a normal ukulele, you’ll be much more likely to get buzzing and slapping sounds.
Something else I’ve seen: Because the strings are so loose and grippy, they will feel like they need to “roll” under your fingers if you pluck them. That is one more reason why perfecting your technique and touch are essential.
Why are bass ukes so quiet?
A bass uke’s strings are fat, flexible, and have very low tension. Not like the tight metal strings on a steel guitar, a bass uke’s strings don’t do a very good job of “driving” the instrument and causing it to vibrate. That is simply the trade-off that’s required to get such low notes out of a small instrument with a short scale.
Should you purchase a bass uke in case you don’t have an amp?
Even in case, you don’t have an amp, a bass uke might still be an enjoyable instrument for practicing at home or playing with some other person in a quiet atmosphere.
If you wish to play with a bigger group or perform at any type of venue, you’ll undoubtedly want an amp.
Do You Need an Amp?
The Bass ukulele is a naturally very quiet instrument. All of the bass ukes I’ve tried have had minimal volume and projection when performed acoustically (with no amp).
I extremely suggest using an amp with a bass ukulele, however, it’s not a requirement. Simply ensure you have reasonable expectations before you purchase something.
What Kind of Amp Should You Use With a Bass Ukulele?
A bass amplifier will sound finest, however, in case you have a guitar amp laying around it should work too.
Guitar amps aren’t designed for the ultra-low frequencies of a bass instrument, so the output will not be as clean or clear sounding. Additionally, I’ve read it may be dangerous to play a bass through a guitar amp at very high volumes, but I haven’t verified that.
In case you’re simply beginning out with the bass uke but already have a guitar amp, my suggestion would be to make use of the guitar amp for some time before investing in additional gear. After all, in case you plan to begin gigging together with your bass uke immediately, you might have considered trying a dedicated bass amp.
Harley Benton TableAmp V2 BlueTooth features
Blackstar Acoustic:Core 30 features
Maybe the most important factor to think about is the bass’ construction. It determines both its aesthetic appeal as well as its sound. Moreover, it also determines its use, whether skilled or enthusiast,
Keep in mind bass ukuleles might produce big sounds, even though they’re tiny in dimension. The bigger models have a 30-32’’ scale length, making them a lot smaller and lighter than their electric counterparts.
Keep in mind there’re various manufacturers in the bass ukulele branch, most of which you most likely wouldn’t recognize. Nevertheless, bass ukuleles are pretty new instruments, so there’s not a big difference between brands presently.
Have you decided which u bass you’re going to purchase? If not, perhaps this buying guide will assist put things into perspective for you. We’ll discuss the most important factors to think about before finalizing your purchase.
After this, we’ll answer a few questions that you may need regarding bass ukuleles. Hopefully, it will help in your choice-making process.