View Full Version : Five String U-Bass

06-20-2015, 12:38 PM
New Content:

Well I took the 5 string uBass to my ukulele group. So far the attempt was a fail. I was able to get the strings to even out quite a bit by using a new higher quality compression pedal than I had before, but even though I had been able to play the 5 string practicing by myself, when I got with the group my instincts started taking over - and they were wrong.

However, the big thing was that my fantasy that I'd like the lower notes was kind of a bust. I really didn't care for the sound that much with that mix of instruments. I ended up switching back to the four string which was oh so much more comfortable. I'm still going to experiment with the five string a bit. But I guess there is no harm in preferring to play four strings.
On its way to me is a Kala California Five String U-Bass. I'm very excited; I've been playing the U-Bass for a couple of years with various ukulele groups. After about a year with the Sub U-Bass I got the California model because I was frustrated with the cheap construction of the Sub U-Bass but enjoyed playing the solid body more than the acoustic.

I have loved dearly the California U-Bass. Quality is excellent. Sound is great, feel is fantastic. Looks beautiful. Weight and balance are perfect. And I've never been attracted to extra strings on a bass. In the past I've experimented with things like 12 string guitar and generally I'm a believer that fewer strings are better. But lately I've been "hearing" possibilities of adding the low G and I've been wanting to try it.

Kala just came out with a new 5 string Sub-U-Bass and I was considering it, but ever since I got my California U-Bass I haven't wanted to play the Asian made one. I found a used five string California and it is on its way to me. I'm really looking forward to trying it with some ukulele players.

The advantage of the lower B string is that I can use more open strings and get more really low tones. I think that the way that I've developed my personal style of playing the bass, that this lower string can really add a lot.

Since I've had zero replies I'll amend this to add that I received the bass today. It's a bit different than my four string. With the longer neck the balance is not as comfortable. It doesn't seem quite as elegant as the four string. It's a newer model that no longer uses the Misi but a Baggs pickup with a battery. I've played it a bit unplugged and tuned it but have not plugged it in yet. Work has been very busy this week.

06-30-2015, 04:07 PM
I'm dying to get one of those, I have seen a few used for sale. The slightly longer scale will be perfect for me I think, I love the smaller scale of the 4 string uke basses, but sometimes it gets just a little bit too cramped. Still better than the 9 lb 35" scale bass I used to play, which sounded amazing but hurt like a you know what on long gigs. I guess that's the difference between being 30 and being 40, and arthritis causing issues!

07-01-2015, 09:26 AM
I'm looking forward to hearing how the 5 string California Five sounds. I've been eying a SUB-5 for a while now, and I love my Hutch Hutchinson U-Bass. Not sure why I need two U-basses, but I don't need all the electric basses, guitars, ukuleles, or amps I own either. Just toys/tools for when there is an opportunity to play.

07-01-2015, 01:33 PM
For some reason I strongly prefer the solid body models to the acoustic. I find it much easier to play them cleanly and more comfortable to hold. I only ever play my acoustic to practice without plugging in.

I bought the Sub-U Bass a couple of years ago when they first came out and loved it. However, the jack pin was horrible and kept moving. It finally shorted out. While I was waiting for the repair I got the California model. There is a very big difference in sound and feel. The sound of the Sub U Bass is much boomier. Not bad but very different from the California which is refined. I've only had the five string a few days. My four string has a MiSi and the new one has an LR Baggs that was supposedly designed for the U-Bass. I don't think they sound much different. However, the five string has a problem in that the volume on the fifth string is weak. This is a common problem on five string U-Basses. I think the length of the string has something to do with it. It's really hard to get enough tension on the fifth string on a bass this short. The B string is very thick and still quite floppy.

I'm trying to use compression to even out the volume across the strings but my compressor - which is very cheap - is not up to the job. I'm going to try a better compressor. The longer thicker neck is not as comfortable for me. While I'm intrigued by the possibility of the sound of a low B, I'm not at all sure it's going to work out. Fortunately for me I bought this U-Bass used at a very fair price so if I decide it's not for me it should not be a problem to sell it.

I've had a few basses over the years and a few U-Basses and U-Bass type instruments. I can't say enough how much I love the California Solid Body U-Bass/

07-01-2015, 03:05 PM
Please let me know if you decide to sell it in a few months. I stopped at a nice bass store today in between work appointments and they had a spruce top acoustic and a California 4 string. The acoustic, which was passive, sounded huge! I was very surprised. The Cali felt fantastic. Unfortunately it has the misi pre and he didn't have the charger on hand, so I couldn't hear the sound. There were also about 10 wraps on each tuning post, I could only tune the G. Awesome store but I don't think the quirks of the u bass are understood.

In any event, I am digging my hadean with the lr baggs but I definitely see and feel the difference with the California bass. Looking forward to being able to save for one after the summer.

Jon Moody
07-02-2015, 04:51 AM
However, the five string has a problem in that the volume on the fifth string is weak. This is a common problem on five string U-Basses. I think the length of the string has something to do with it. It's really hard to get enough tension on the fifth string on a bass this short. The B string is very thick and still quite floppy.

Scale length of the instrument does play a critical part in how strings feel and sound, as does the material used. I was really leery when the 5 string version came out, specifically for this reason. I wonder if Aquila has a version of their Thunderguts or Reds that would have a better sounding B, as both of those seem to be a denser material.