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View Full Version : Kala U Bass Solid Spruce Top Questions



martinfan
08-31-2015, 03:46 AM
I am looking at the U bass from Kala and note the price difference between mahogany laminate and solid spruce top.

This may appear like a redundant question, but is the solid spruce top...

solid spruce top?

Is is combined with laminates?

I see that some advertise the mahogany laminate as a positive, indicating that it is not subject to the same level of care (humidity) as solid wood, but I am not sure if "solid spruce top" is exclusively solid spruce top...

you know how advertisers are!

Also, must this be purchased (the bass) through one who does a set up? Is this as an important factor as it is in getting a ukulele tenor set up, for example?

Lastly,

I have little experience playing the bass, as a guitarist, and have fiddled with one.

Is fretless less inclined to buzz on the u bass? I think the margin of error would be reduced due to the small size but would prefer to hear an opinion of one experienced, rather than my own speculation.

I intend on practicing on the u bass and becoming decent at it. Thus far, I have used a large acoustic-electric Dean bass for multi track recording and do a plodding simple bass. The recordings are better with it, but I intend on doing some you tube or DVD lessons and actually learning.

Mahogany laminate versus solid spruce top u bass?
Fret versus Fretless?
Set up versus a purchase from Amazon? (no u bass available local)

Thank you!

pbagley
08-31-2015, 04:04 AM
I own a Kala Hutch Hutchinson U-Bass. The top is solid spruce. So far no weather related issues and we have some very wide swings in relative humidity here in Minnesota.

I was lucky enough to be able to play this U-Bass side by side with an all mahogany laminate Rumbler. The difference in tone was slight. I liked the solid spruce topped bass better, but it was not $150 better. What I liked about the bass I bought was the little cut-away, allowing easier access to the upper frets for the intro to Sweet Child 'o Mine and the solo section of The Waiting - two songs the old rock band used to do. Otherwise the Rumber was every bit as capable and sounded pretty nice.

My U-bass is fretted. I find that if I fret a string like it is a bass guitar I will get buzz. Fretting nearer the center between frets sounds cleaner than fretting right behind the fret.

About 4 months after I bought my bass I had an opportunity to try a fretless Rumbler, and it was much easier to play cleanly (no fret buzz). The short scale is a bit of an intonation challenge compared to the 34" scale of an electric bass. That said, the rubber strings are very easy to push or pull out of tune if you slide into a note. A slight adjustment in technique fixed this (slide, release tension on the left hand while keeping the string muted, fret the desired note).

I hope that helps.

katysax
08-31-2015, 06:29 AM
I have and have had a few different U-Basses. There is no difference in sound between the laminates and the solid tops. Some of the less expensive ones have no access door on the back for changing the strings or battery. Those are a bear to do maintenance on. My favorite of the acoustics is an older Kala Mahogany with a passive pickup - no battery bothers - no cheap preamp in the way. Of the current models I'd say the laminated Mahogany is the best choice.

My favorite U-Basses are the Kala solid body California models - pricier but better electronics and overall better quality. I have a lot fewer problems with nasty noises and fret buzz. I like the smaller size and feel of the solid bodies and no feedback problems.

The strings on the Rumbler feel good in the store but awful when you've played them an hour or so. They are sticky. Most players come to prefer the Paoehoe black strings. I find the Rondo Music Hadean and less than half the Price of the Rumbler to be pretty decent and about equal to the Rumbler (which means it has the Rumblers negatives - bad strings that are hard to change).

I have both fretted and fretless. On the acoustic I definitely prefer the fretted. On the solid body I generally play the fretless but I'm not sure that it offers much advantage over the fretted. I don't get the Mwah sound of fretless because of the strings. I am more likely to hit an off note with the fretless. Fretless seems easier at home but I find in an actual live playing situation I'm more in tune and have fewer problems if I use fretted.
Intonation is harder on short scale and fretless is also. You have a smaller margin of error.

Setup matters but I'm not sure I'd count on a music store to do it right. I've messed with mine and learned quite a bit. The strings are kind of different and from what I've seen music store techs don't know the right way to set them up. Most of them have adjustable bridges. You'll need to unwind the strings, cut them and rewind them. You get big problems when you have too much overlap on the post. I suggest you look for a used one on Ebay or one of the forums. The Rondo is a good way to try one for a while and see if it is for you.

kohanmike
08-31-2015, 07:13 AM
I have a custom made fretless bass uke with the new Kala metal wound strings (like Pyramids) and if I'm not careful with technique, I get a little buzz. The fretless requires me to be pretty much on the fret line, with my Gold Tone fretted, I will do like mentioned above, be in the middle of the fret space.

The newer Rondos acoustic basses now have an access panel on the back, but I suggest changing the strings to Road Toad Pahoehoe.

martinfan
08-31-2015, 07:57 AM
I own a Kala Hutch Hutchinson U-Bass. The top is solid spruce. So far no weather related issues and we have some very wide swings in relative humidity here in Minnesota.

I was lucky enough to be able to play this U-Bass side by side with an all mahogany laminate Rumbler. The difference in tone was slight. I liked the solid spruce topped bass better, but it was not $150 better. What I liked about the bass I bought was the little cut-away, allowing easier access to the upper frets for the intro to Sweet Child 'o Mine and the solo section of The Waiting - two songs the old rock band used to do. Otherwise the Rumber was every bit as capable and sounded pretty nice.

My U-bass is fretted. I find that if I fret a string like it is a bass guitar I will get buzz. Fretting nearer the center between frets sounds cleaner than fretting right behind the fret.

About 4 months after I bought my bass I had an opportunity to try a fretless Rumbler, and it was much easier to play cleanly (no fret buzz). The short scale is a bit of an intonation challenge compared to the 34" scale of an electric bass. That said, the rubber strings are very easy to push or pull out of tune if you slide into a note. A slight adjustment in technique fixed this (slide, release tension on the left hand while keeping the string muted, fret the desired note).

I hope that helps.


Very much so.

thank you.

PhilUSAFRet
09-03-2015, 05:12 AM
Except for cosmetics, top is irrelevant where tone/volume is concerned on a bass uke unless it a larger, steel strung acoustic bass like the Goldtone microbass.

martinfan
09-04-2015, 11:24 AM
What amps do you Kala u bass players use?

I settled for the fretted.

kohanmike
09-04-2015, 11:45 AM
I already had a USA made Crate Limo 10" 50 watt 38 lb. amp ($350) for my guitars, which worked well for my basses, but I wanted more so I recently bought a Phil Jones Bass Double Four 70 watt, 2x4.5" mini amp ($500). Both work on battery, but neither are powerful enough for outside larger space gigs with 40 of us playing and our leader plugged into the PA, so I just ordered a custom built Carvin MB15 250 watt, 15" 4 ohm, 29 lb amp for $493.

mrufino1
09-04-2015, 02:13 PM
What amps do you Kala u bass players use?

I settled for the fretted.

TC bh250 head, self built 1-10 cabinet when I have to use an amp, direct to PA through a tech 21 TV bass pedal, mixer, and modified DI box with in-ears on gigs when I can.

katysax
09-04-2015, 07:55 PM
The amp I use most is a Phil Jones Double Four. I have also got a Phil Jones Bass Cub that I can run in parallel if needed but mostly I prefer a PA if more power is necessary.