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View Full Version : What is it about uke basses make them ukuleles?



bborzell
05-26-2014, 02:51 PM
Nothing, in my mind. I guess one might think that the scale length is one factor, but uke scale lengths are all over the map so that does't seem to make sense.

Tuning is certainly not the basis for the uke bass bassness. They all seem to be strung with the typical EADG setup.

There seems to be alot of talk about when different scale lengths and body sizes trans morph one person's super tenor or baritone uke into a tenor guitar and various other philosophical permutations, but is nobody the least confused by the marketing approach that appears to have very short scale basses suddenly called bass ukuleles (or ukulele basses)?

Jon Moody
05-26-2014, 03:01 PM
Kala states it's a baritone ukulele body with the tuning/register of a bass guitar. The marketing aspect of this one seems fairly solid.

That said, I don't consider it a uke either.

UkerDanno
05-26-2014, 03:42 PM
Kala calls it a U-Bass...don't think they ever call it a ukulele. It's just a ukulele sized bass.

kissing
05-26-2014, 04:12 PM
It is what it is..names are arbitrary. A "bass" that is the size, shape and appearance of an ukulele can be called UBASS.

A Ubass by any other name would sound just as sweet

Jim Hanks
05-26-2014, 04:21 PM
The marketing aspect of this one seems fairly solid..
This. Think about it. The main demographic of people who would be interested in a bass of this size are ukulele players so marketing it with "uke" somewhere in the packaging makes good sense.

Katz-in-Boots
05-26-2014, 04:53 PM
I think it is the ukulele 'scale' of it. Compared to a UBass, a bass guitar is enormous.

I play in a ukulele group, playing a ukulele bass is acceptable in a way that a bass guitar wouldn't be.

Dane
05-26-2014, 05:01 PM
Looks like a uke, smells like a uke.

bborzell
05-26-2014, 07:45 PM
Ohana has 4 different models that they clearly call ukulele basses. The newest one looks even less like a uke and more like a short scale bass. I own a Ric 4001 as well as a resonator bass. One is considered a long scale bass and the other a not as long (Ric is 34.25" and the reso is 30"). Some short scale basses are 26-27".

The new Ohana with steel strings that is advertised as a bass uke has a scale listed at 24.5-25.5" depending on which listing is accurate.

http://elderly.com/new_instruments/items/OBU22.htm

That is a short scale bass; it ain't a ukulele unless market speak means more to people than the English language does.

The Big Kahuna
05-26-2014, 07:55 PM
Soprano Didgeridoo

http://www.apm-supplies.co.uk/images/products/LUE308.jpg

OldePhart
05-27-2014, 02:20 AM
Soprano Didgeridoo

http://www.apm-supplies.co.uk/images/products/LUE308.jpg

Bwaaaa-haaa! Somebody hand me some paper towels please, so I can wipe this coffee off my monitor...

John

Jon Moody
05-27-2014, 02:33 AM
It ain't a ukulele unless market speak means more to people than the English language does.

We live in a society where they place more emphasis and clout on commercials and print ads over actual facts, so of course market-speak is going to mean more.

67142

OldePhart
05-27-2014, 06:16 AM
We live in a society where they place more emphasis and clout on commercials and print ads over actual facts, so of course market-speak is going to mean more.

67142

Heh, heh. Gotta love Dilbert...though my real hero in that strip is Wally...

John

KnowsPickin
05-27-2014, 06:47 AM
I think it is a ukulele bass if it is shaped like a uke (acoustic guitar shaped) with nylon strings, although I think the Ohana has steel strings.

I play a Guild B-50 acoustic bass guitar. Although I play it with our uke group I don't consider it a ukulele bass because it has phosphor bronze steel strings. However it would work OK in a concert situation because it does not clash visually with the more proper ukuleles. I like mine because it is large enough to have an acoustic presence without an amplifier.

telebob
05-27-2014, 09:19 AM
Looks like a uke, smells like a uke.


I love playing my Kala U-bass.... +1

The Big Kahuna
05-27-2014, 09:24 AM
[If it]


Looks like a uke [and]


smells like a uke,

it probably comes from a non-smoking household with no large pets or clumsy children.

iamesperambient
05-27-2014, 09:54 PM
Nothing, in my mind. I guess one might think that the scale length is one factor, but uke scale lengths are all over the map so that does't seem to make sense.

Tuning is certainly not the basis for the uke bass bassness. They all seem to be strung with the typical EADG setup.

There seems to be alot of talk about when different scale lengths and body sizes trans morph one person's super tenor or baritone uke into a tenor guitar and various other philosophical permutations, but is nobody the least confused by the marketing approach that appears to have very short scale basses suddenly called bass ukuleles (or ukulele basses)?

The U-Bass is a baritone uke body/design but string and tuned like a bass guitar.
I think they call it uke bass because it's a smaller bass marketed to ukulele players
who are used to small instruments rather than the gigantic bass guitar (that thing is miles long looking up on that neck
for a 5"5 guy like me) so they made a bass for uke players to feel more comfortable playing. Also I would imagine it may
be fun for a bassist who wants a travel sized bass as well. I as a uker would feel more comfortable playing a U-bass over a normal
bass or one of those giant sized stand up basses I'd need a step ladder for.

It's just a great marketing idea, why shouldn't a uker be able to add bass into their set up
with out having to adapt to a giant sized instrument?

I think the uke is an ever growing instrument now theirs steel string electrics, now U-basses
pocket sized ukes etc etc I personally consider it a uke or at least ukifed bass.

And remember the uke is already an adaptation of another instrument....it's just adapting more over the years
as it's becoming more mainstream (again).

bborzell
05-28-2014, 06:11 AM
It's just a great marketing idea, why shouldn't a uker be able to add bass into their set up
with out having to adapt to a giant sized instrument?


Ukers who want to play bass, but do not want to play a long scale, can simply play a short scale bass. The steel string Ohana Uke Bass is about 1.5" shorter than most short scale basses that have been available to folks, including uke players, for decades. The fact that a ukulele manufacturer makes a short scale bass does not make that instrument a ukulele bass or bass ukulele. It's simply a short scale bass made by folks who also make ukuleles.

The U-bass is an even shorter scale, but, to their credit, Kala calls it a short scale bass not a bass uke or uke bass as does Ohana. The "U-Bass" name is an understandable reference to Kala's uke making background, but they don't seem to be trying to create another class of ukulele. They know that they make a very short scale bass.

In my view, language is important enough that marketing brainstorms should rank rather low when it comes to defining instrument classes. Others are apparently fine with having our points of reference being defined by ad writers; I am not.

iamesperambient
05-28-2014, 07:43 AM
Ukers who want to play bass, but do not want to play a long scale, can simply play a short scale bass. The steel string Ohana Uke Bass is about 1.5" shorter than most short scale basses that have been available to folks, including uke players, for decades. The fact that a ukulele manufacturer makes a short scale bass does not make that instrument a ukulele bass or bass ukulele. It's simply a short scale bass made by folks who also make ukuleles.

The U-bass is an even shorter scale, but, to their credit, Kala calls it a short scale bass not a bass uke or uke bass as does Ohana. The "U-Bass" name is an understandable reference to Kala's uke making background, but they don't seem to be trying to create another class of ukulele. They know that they make a very short scale bass.

In my view, language is important enough that marketing brainstorms should rank rather low when it comes to defining instrument classes. Others are apparently fine with having our points of reference being defined by ad writers; I am not.

I think the fact that the U-Bass has rubber strings is very important. I took up bass after guitar when i was younger and ended up with giant blisters from those massive metal strings. I assume the ohana ones have thinner strings, but regardless i think the idea of a bass voiced instrument designed to many uke players specs. I would much rather play bass with rubber strings than metal the technique of bass playing would kill my fingers on metal strings. JUst my opinion.

bborzell
05-28-2014, 08:07 AM
I think the fact that the U-Bass has rubber strings is very important. I took up bass after guitar when i was younger and ended up with giant blisters from those massive metal strings. I assume the ohana ones have thinner strings, but regardless i think the idea of a bass voiced instrument designed to many uke players specs. I would much rather play bass with rubber strings than metal the technique of bass playing would kill my fingers on metal strings. JUst my opinion.

Thete are a wide variety of bass strings including flat wound, ground (half) wound and taped. Any of these strings can be easy on the fingers. I have a fretless Rickenbaker that has never seen the abrasive bass strings that you experienced. They are not particularly fun unless you play very regularly and condition your fingers

Dane
05-28-2014, 08:30 AM
I played an acoustic bass guitar once, it was horrible. It made me never want to play a bass guitar again..... now a uke sized bass on the other hand.... hmmmmmm

peaceweaver3
05-28-2014, 08:39 AM
I had a U-bass for a while and didn't like it. But the only reason I didn't like it, was that I'm not a bass player. Thought I could/would learn to be, but it just wasn't for me. I wasn't disappointed in the name or the instrument itself. What any company calls their instruments doesn't bother me. However, if they asked my opinion, I'd offer it! The real question is whether it (U-bass or anything) suits my personality and purposes. In this case it didn't, but that wasn't the instrument's fault.

iamesperambient
05-28-2014, 08:46 AM
I had a U-bass for a while and didn't like it. But the only reason I didn't like it, was that I'm not a bass player. Thought I could/would learn to be, but it just wasn't for me. I wasn't disappointed in the name or the instrument itself. What any company calls their instruments doesn't bother me. However, if they asked my opinion, I'd offer it! The real question is whether it (U-bass or anything) suits my personality and purposes. In this case it didn't, but that wasn't the instrument's fault.

I'm not very good at bass the whole technique of playing is very difficult to me you have to be able to think more as a percussionist than stringed instrument player. I still think the u-bass is a cool idea though.

Jon Moody
05-28-2014, 09:21 AM
I think the fact that the U-Bass has rubber strings is very important.

Well, I know a lot of the reasoning with the rubber strings was to get that thump and immediate decay that upright basses are known for, and you need that really loose set of strings. I tried the Thunderguts when they came out, and as soon as a buddy said "Hey, that little bass sounds more like Noel Redding than an upright," I put the OEM ones back on. So I would agree that the rubber strings MAKE the instrument what it is.



I'm not very good at bass the whole technique of playing is very difficult to me you have to be able to think more as a percussionist than stringed instrument player. I still think the u-bass is a cool idea though.

This comment alone proves that you're a much more experienced bassist than half of the people out there that play bass.

iamesperambient
05-28-2014, 12:03 PM
Well, I know a lot of the reasoning with the rubber strings was to get that thump and immediate decay that upright basses are known for, and you need that really loose set of strings. I tried the Thunderguts when they came out, and as soon as a buddy said "Hey, that little bass sounds more like Noel Redding than an upright," I put the OEM ones back on. So I would agree that the rubber strings MAKE the instrument what it is.




This comment alone proves that you're a much more experienced bassist than half of the people out there that play bass.


I'm not sure if you are being sarcastic, but believe me I'm a horrible bassist. I'm not the greatest at guitar I can fake guitar i can play basic root note jamming on bass but playing like a true bassist i can not do. I'm a uker, who happens to be able to play a little of guitar, bass and mandolin and banjo and all not very well. But I do recognize the technique of playing bass is much different than playing ukulele or guitar its a totally different mindset. Point being the U-bass is just a shortscale bass marketed to ukulele players. I think its a cool idea.

Jon Moody
05-28-2014, 01:27 PM
I'm not sure if you are being sarcastic, but believe me I'm a horrible bassist. I'm not the greatest at guitar I can fake guitar i can play basic root note jamming on bass but playing like a true bassist i can not do. I'm a uker, who happens to be able to play a little of guitar, bass and mandolin and banjo and all not very well. But I do recognize the technique of playing bass is much different than playing ukulele or guitar its a totally different mindset. Point being the U-bass is just a shortscale bass marketed to ukulele players. I think its a cool idea.

I was being dead serious. So many guitarists pick up bass and think "It's just the bottom four strings of a guitar, this will be a piece of cake" and while mechanically it IS easier to play than guitar, it's a helluva lot harder to navigate both the rhythmic and harmonic foundations of a group and keep everyone grounded. So my comment was meant as a compliment, as I find a lot of "bassists" have not fully grasped that mindset that you were quick to point out.

And for a shortscale bass that's marketed toward uke players, they have a pretty sizeable artist roster of legendary bassists that use it, a couple regularly on the road.

iamesperambient
05-28-2014, 01:31 PM
I was being dead serious. So many guitarists pick up bass and think "It's just the bottom four strings of a guitar, this will be a piece of cake" and while mechanically it IS easier to play than guitar, it's a helluva lot harder to navigate both the rhythmic and harmonic foundations of a group and keep everyone grounded. So my comment was meant as a compliment, as I find a lot of "bassists" have not fully grasped that mindset that you were quick to point out.

And for a shortscale bass that's marketed toward uke players, they have a pretty sizeable artist roster of legendary bassists that use it, a couple regularly on the road.


Thanks ya i get the concept and picked up on it well, which is why coming from a guitar/uke background i realized how
hard playing bass is, and how different it is, that i kind of gave up it, it has strings but i see it more as a percussive instrument
than a typical stringed melody instrument like uke or guitar. If i was to get a bass ukulele I would def go for the kala u-bass it seems cool although since im not very good, it probably would not be worth the investment hahah.

gvelasco
05-28-2016, 07:21 PM
I know this is an ancient thread but I'm resurrecting it because I have to put in my vote. I have a very nice solid top Breedlove acoustic bass which I use sometimes in uke jam sessions, but I'm still feeling like I need to get a Ubass. My small group doesn't call foul. They're just happy that someone's willing to fill the niche, but I think if I play with the larger group in town many people in the audience would call foul even if I pointed out that it's acoustic and has four strings.

To me, a ukulele bass should be acoustic, use "nylon" or simulated "gut" strings rather than steel strings, designed to be played with the fingers not a pick, and it should be in a scale that progresses naturally from soprano to concert to tenor to baritone to bass. I have all of those from tenor to baritone, but the Breedlove acoustic quickly jumps out of that scale. A Ubass does not. The Breedlove also has a pick guard in case you'll be using a pick. That's kind of breaking the "fingers only" rule.

The rubber strings, or even the Thundergut strings, compliment the tones of the "nylon" strings on the other ukes I play with much better than the steel strings on my Breedlove, even though I will probably have to amplify the Ubass, but I can play the Breedlove acoustically in a small uke group setting.

So TO ME, that's what makes a bass uke - "Gut" strings, acoustic, designed for play with fingers, and ukulele scale.

kohanmike
05-28-2016, 08:30 PM
I've been playing ukulele for over three years with a group of about 50. Over a year ago our leader asked for volunteers to take up the bass to fill in our sound. I played guitar for almost 50 years and often I was told I should take up the bass, but I didn't want to be encumbered by a large electric bass, forget a stand up bass. But after our leader's request, I discovered all the short basses being made and I thought I would try it. Turned out to be right up my ally, I have good rhythm (my younger brother is a very accomplished drummer), I play with fingers (I always played guitar with a pick, but switching to uke, I only use fingers) and the size of the bass uke is perfect for me.

I fully accept that they fit in the uke category, I didn't like the configuration of the Kala U-bass, so my first was a mahogany Gold Tone GT MicroBass which I immediately changed to pahoehoe black strings, then I had a custom fretless acacia koa made a little smaller to look even more like a ukulele and added the new Kala steel wound nylon core u-bass strings. Then I found Rondo and the solid body bass ukes they import and went nuts modifying them to look like well known models. I have a few that are actually mini electric basses, a Les Paul guitar I converted to bass, a custom made Telecaster style, and a "child" bass that's as good as any standard bass. No one in my group has said anything negative about the style of my basses, in fact, they look forward to my next modification, but when we do gigs, I usually play the acoustic ones to "fit in" with the ukuleles.

I've been getting better and better at playing bass, learned more about music in the last year than I ever did playing guitar, working out the bass arrangements for all our songs (about 100 so far) and bought two bass amps, a very small Phil Jones that I use for rehearsal and small indoor gigs, and a Carvin MB15 to which I just added a battery and inverter in case there's no AC available.

The mini electrics I actually don't consider ukes, but the others with the poly strings and nylon core strings, I certainly do. I've also noticed at various uke festivals that the professional groups, even from Hawaii, have a bass player with a standard electric bass, even Jake.

http://www.kohanmike.com/uploads/Bass 10 wide.jpg

Pier
05-29-2016, 02:20 AM
Ukers who want to play bass, but do not want to play a long scale, can simply play a short scale bass.

actually, short scale basses rarely go under a 30" scale, and when they do it, they are called "micro" basses, like the Ibanez Mikro bass.

there is a lot of confusion over scale lenghts and names, because, for example, Fender produces since the 60's a bass called Fender Bass VI, which is a 30" bass guitar with 6 string, strung EADGbe an octave lower than a guitar.
so it has the range of the bass, the scale of the bass, the gauge (on the lower strings) of a bass, but 6 strings with the guitar intervals.

Robert Smith of The Cure uses the Bass VI as a "guitar", for melodic lines since the 80's, when he left his Jazzmaster for the Bass VI, but Simon Gallup used it in the same band as a bass guitar.
George Harrison and John Lennon used it as a bass in many tracks from the White Album and Abbey Road, and so did a lot of country players since the 60's.

however, when a bass player sees the Bass VI not knowing it, it calls it a guitar, and says it's not a bass... but it's in the same octave of a bass, shares the scale and the gauge with the bass...
what is it that doesn't make it a bass?

it's simply in the design: it looks like a guitar, with a narrow string spacing, small tuners on the headstock and a smaller size compared to a 34" Fender bass.

how many people think that the ukulele it's just a small guitar with 4 strings? you just pick the first 4 strings of the guitar, like if there's a capo at the 5th fret, and there you go. right? with a linear tuning there's no doubt about it ;)

the Ukulele Bass is just a Bass with the size and look of an ukulele. the steel strings Ohana are a bit different, larger, but still less than half an acoustic bass...

PhilUSAFRet
05-29-2016, 04:38 AM
I put them in the same category as Guitalele's....neither are ukuleles, but ukulele sized basses and guitars. The rest is just marketing.

gvelasco
05-29-2016, 10:26 AM
...Robert Smith of The Cure uses the Bass VI as a "guitar"...

That Bass VI is a great "guitar". Fender re-released it as both a Fender VI and a Squire VI. The Fender is closer to the original, but the Squire makes some very cool changes that I would actually prefer. I've seen many side-by-side blind tests of Fenders vs. Squires, and usually the testers can't tell the difference blind folded. Gibson vs. Epiphone however, they can usually tell almost immediately. If I can ever justify getting a Bass VI, I think it will be the Squire rather than the Fender.

gvelasco
05-29-2016, 10:41 AM
I put them in the same category as Guitalele's....neither are ukuleles, but ukulele sized basses and guitars. The rest is just marketing.

The Guitaleles I've seen are tuned up a fourth higher than a guitar, just like a standard soprano ukulele. The mini guitars I've seen are tuned to an E. Also, all of the Guitaleles I've seen use nylon strings. I've seen the mini guitars in steel and nylon. Really a Guitalele is more a type of requinto than a guitar. Requinto players who can't afford to get a real requinto will buy a cheap 1/2 classical guitar and just tune it up a fifth, but the bridge almost always pulls up, both because of the cheapness of the guitar and because it wasn't designed for the extra tension. Requintos are designed to withstand the higher tension, especially when using real requinto strings. They are designed to provide a very bright sound that can cut through a mariachi band.

Guitaleles use ukulele style bracing, ukulele tone woods, softer strings at a lower tension to blend better with other ukulele players. A requinto would be to loud and bright to play nicely with ukes. A guitalele would be too quiet to play well in a mariachi band.

Nickie
05-29-2016, 10:51 AM
Q: How many bass players does it take to change a light bulb?


A: We don't know, it's never happened.

Now that I have made fun of half of you, I'd say that whatever Kala and Ohana wanna call it, that's what it is.
And if we spend our hard earned dollars to buy it, it's whatever the heck we wanna call it.

Pier
05-30-2016, 02:39 AM
Gibson vs. Epiphone however, they can usually tell almost immediately.

yes, except for some models, like the new Thunderbird Classic IV, which has the neck-through body and Gibson pickups, and it's really a great bass. they made it because in 2015 Gibson decided to change some features on the Tbird, so the new Epiphone became the one with the "classic features".

the Squier Bass VI is wonderful. I wanted to buy it when they realeased it, for "just" 225 euros new, but in less than an year it started raising, and now it's over 400 euros... damn Fender... they had a huge raise in prices in the last years, almost 100 euros per year on the Fenders, and 50 on the Squier... I remember buying a Classic Vibe guitar for 250 euros, and not they sell for 450...

Rllink
05-30-2016, 04:02 AM
I've yet gotten a consensus on what makes a ukulele a ukulele, let alone what makes a bass a ukulele.

TheCraftedCow
05-30-2016, 03:53 PM
I am surprised that no one mentioned the British made ASHBORY bass.It has fret marks, but is fretless. The Aquila bass strings are wonderful on it It is a solid body, so it can only be heard when amplified. It has a very short duration and a deep tone. I was told to play the director's bass guitar. What a cheap tinny sound, AND if you did not keep a hand over the strings it would begin to make its own disharmonic tone.

Ukejenny
05-30-2016, 03:59 PM
Looks like a uBass, sounds like a uBass, walks like a uBass, talks like a uBass, smells like a uBass, pays like a uBass.... must be a uBass!

bborzell
06-04-2016, 03:38 AM
Who started this bassless thread?

Mivo
06-04-2016, 04:00 AM
As for marketing, I think as long as it says bass, all names are fine. "Ukulele bass" isn't really different from "micro bass" insofar that neither is misleading, and both are descriptive. "Ukulele", on the other hand, is tricker. It doesn't have "guitar" anywhere in the name. ;)

photoshooter
06-04-2016, 04:07 AM
I'm patiently waiting for the release of the fiddle bass...

Pier
06-04-2016, 10:54 PM
"Ukulele", on the other hand, is tricker. It doesn't have "guitar" anywhere in the name. ;)

Not "guitar", but the range name.

Soprano, tenor baritone, bass...

Think about the saxophone: you have the soprano (looking like a clarinet), the alto/contralto, the tenor, the baritone and the bass (which is bigger than an average person).

Those names were born with singers, because nature made six ranges: soprano, mezzo and contralto for women, tenor, baritone and bass for men.
All those ranges can be also divided in more specific sections based on the voice "colour" and not just the notes range.

The "average" guitar is actually an Alto Guitar, followed by the tenor and baritone (with longer diapason and lower tuning) until you reach the range of the bass guitar, an octave lower.

And so on, with most instruments in the world.

Booli
06-05-2016, 01:01 PM
I am surprised that no one mentioned the British made ASHBORY bass.It has fret marks, but is fretless. The Aquila bass strings are wonderful on it It is a solid body, so it can only be heard when amplified. It has a very short duration and a deep tone. I was told to play the director's bass guitar. What a cheap tinny sound, AND if you did not keep a hand over the strings it would begin to make its own disharmonic tone.

YES - I was going to mention the Ashbory bass, which pre-dates all current uke-bass instruments by at least 20 yrs. Originally made by DeArmond, then Guild and lastly by Fender.

18" scale length. for more info and history lessons, you should all see http://www.largesound.com/

CeeJay
06-05-2016, 01:48 PM
I'm patiently waiting for the release of the fiddle bass...

Get an electric fiddle and a pedal called an "Octaver ". Why wait ? ...yes I know you were joking ...uhoh....I hope that I knew that you were ...

As for Uke basses ...what's with those "jelly" strings ?....like jelly monsters from the 70's .....ugggh.

Nickie
06-05-2016, 04:24 PM
I'm patiently waiting for the release of the fiddle bass...

What about the double bass?

kohanmike
06-05-2016, 08:47 PM
I believe that my various bass ukes (and mini bass guitars) do provide a valuable element to our uke group, along with the other bass uke player, at least that's what many of the members say at times. I know that I've learned more about music in the last year than I had in almost the full 50 years I played guitar, and I'm enjoying it immensely, not only the playing, but modifying the instruments too.