View Full Version : Electronics upgrade for early Hadean UKBE-20

06-27-2017, 10:09 AM
Howdy : )

I came searching for an answer to this and while I didn't quite find what I was looking for was very enlightened (and entertained) so much by posts from Booli, mrufino1, kohanmike and others that I knew this is a place worth asking : )

I have an early run UKBE-20 lefty, purchased in mid 2015. The output is insanely over-hot (even with its over-the-top tone controls nearly off) and the only way to use it is at volume 10%. Otherwise it sounds like Jack Bruce through a Marshall, but even dialed nearly all the way down it still isn't a workable tone.

Some perspective: my main basses for the past 15 years have been Ashborys (I now have a trio of them from three different eras, all red :) all giggable). Got a first run lefty Kala fretted UBass (passive pickup, terrible intonation) which had me get a Hadean lefty fretted UKB-23 (not perfect but much more useful than the Kala). I like playing the hollow body Uke basses but neither will give me the R&B/Rock/Funk the Ashborys can deliver, so for those times when I'm not the designated driver and am being paid mostly in drink sought out a cheap fretted solid body to be a more Ashbory-like fretted option. Which is to say I'm deep in this tiny bass wonderland too.

So, these electronics in the UKBE...It's not that they don't sound good, which they don't, but they're not usable due to the 20db hotter output than the standard active bass output and overloaded tone at anywhere but nearly completely off. I have communicated with Agile (very fine folks, terrific service. I have bought a slew of cheap lefty guitars and basses from them over the years, always felt I got my money's worth and then some). Turns out the early run of these did indeed have a preamp or pickup issue that they had to change, so at least I know I'm not crazy : ) But since I put it in the closet for two years and only recently decided to deal with it, I don't expect Rondo to send over their revised electronics. Anyway, I don't really want it. What I want is a much better system I can install and be thrilled with. Very little at the pickup/preamp companies about solid body use basses specifically. I noticed that some of you, notably mrufino1, put an LR Baggs in theirs (I use a mute often too, but mine's a custom made rubber band and sponge design. Had to wait for the broccoli bunches to all get finished before I could have the rubber bands). You took yours out of a Kala, correct? Kala sells the Baggs "EQ", which seems like it would be the whole of the electronics, including preamp, but not a pickup (?) Biggs shows no product on their site that looks like an upgrade for a UKBE. I would LOVE to try a Mi-Si pickup, having heard them in a Kala California solid body, but no luck with that research either. Seems like Kala stopped using Mi-Si and went to custom designed Baggs in those. Perhaps that's why I'm having such fits finding a Baggs for the Hadean, because they only make one solid Uke bass system and won't offer a version to fit in anything but a Cal Bass? Fittingly, the Mi-Si site has plenty of products but none that look like what I need, as in what they used to put in Cal UBasses.

Anyway, what can anyone recommend as an upgrade as an onboard replacement swap for the UKBE? Thanks for your time! I appreciate any wisdom offered !



06-28-2017, 04:31 AM
My Kala has been in the shop, so last week, I played a friends Hadean and noticed what you describe as "hot" I didn't know how to describe it but that's it and it's a new one!

Also played another friends Ohana OBU-22...that thing is HUGE! Don't like the strings either, you have to pluck down by the bridge or it buzzes, it's also maybe a little hot and the volume control on the body is really touchy.

Played both through my Orange Crush 25, plenty of volume for a large room with 12-20 people at half volume.

Can't wait to get my Rumbler back, should be here today, they put a new jack in it, I guess. It just has a nice mellow tone to it, guess I like the upright bass sound...:shaka:

06-28-2017, 07:27 AM
My Kala has been in the shop, so last week, I played a friends Hadean and noticed what you describe as "hot" I didn't know how to describe it but that's it and it's a new one!

Thanks for your note, UkerDanno! Yeah, it's crazy hot and not in a good way, like something's not right. I finally made some comparison snippets with my two main Ashborys and the hollow body UKB-23 with a Metric Halo ULN2 interface and at mid volume on it I couldn't even record at absolute minimum input setting going line in without easily pinning. I had to engage 20db of input pad to not do so which is insane. I only have to do that with the loudest snares and then not even at -20. But it enabled me to see how far beyond over 0db it was going under normal circumstances, and at master volume half, compared to either Ashbury, volume maxed and tone at center detente, it's a full 23db hotter!. The only useful range is, as I mentioned, when it's barely up from the pot being completely off. But while the sound there is missing the completely overloaded sound of setting it anywhere else it's still not a usable bass sound.

I've been considering taking the electronics out and leaving the pickup, wiring it straight to jack and getting a strap/belt preamp/eq. A floor pedal wouldn't work for this because I'm always adjusting the tone and master volume depending on what I'm playing at the moment, finding that sweet spot depending on the room, and then still moving a knob a tiny bit every once in a while. Not what acoustic bassists would do but pretty common for an electric bassist. My attempts at using floor preamps (with my passive Kala UBass) weren't a success for that reason.

Agile has been very good about responding to my inquiries on solutions, but their best, which was to try going from the stock 50k pots to 100k for more resistance and also putting a 50k resistor across the pots for additional, I have a hunch is going to lower the internal level somewhat but not clean up the crunchy sound. I figure it's either upgrading to a great sound or moving it out.

06-30-2017, 04:12 AM
Contact stephanie at kalabrandmusic.com for info, maybe they can sell you the Baggs setup...