Countryman UB U-Bass

Lalz

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Good news! If you're in the UK, there's a couple of online shops that sell the new Countryman U-Bass! It's a pretty nice quality one, similar to Kala ones I've tried, and only costs about 150 quid at Southern Ukulele Store and Omega Music, which is much much cheaper than other similar ubasses. So affordable! I just couldn't resist.

It has a nice classic binding, a rope rosette, built-in tuner and pick-up. Comes with Thungergut Aquila strings, which I like so far but I haven't tried that many other strings so I can't really tell the difference. The sound is good (baaasssss!), it's easy to play and has good intonation. Good to go.

Only downsides are that there isn't a fretless version afaik (I would have preferred it personally), and that it doesn't come with a gig bag, but it will fit in some baritone ones (check with the seller). Otherwise, a total steal.

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KohanMike

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I've been using that exact same preamp/tuner on my ukuleles, and added it to a custom fretless u-bass made for me in Vietnam, works very well. I originally had Aquila Thunderguts on my Gold Tone GT MicroBass and the custom u-bass, but very soon found that those strings were too sticky for me, and I didn't like the idea suggested to use powder on my fingers, so I switched to Road Toad Pahoehoe, very smooth and sound really good. The intonation with them on my GT is excellent.
 
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Lalz

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Ooh, good tip! I might try Road Toad Pahoehoe strings at some point then. Are these strings easy to change like on regular ukes or does it require a lot of fiddling? I don't mind sticky too much, but there's always room for improvement ;)
 

KohanMike

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On your Countryman u-bass with the back panel and the big spool tuners, the strings should be very easy to change. The Pahoehoe strings do take longer to stretch.
 

GinnyT11

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You are going to rock this town tonight, for sure. Multi-track videos, coming up!

That's a very nice-looking instrument.
 

Lalz

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Uh oh... pressure! lol ;)

Thanks Ginny. I'm actually surprised how good it is for the price. I thought ubasses were supposed to be expensive? Even the Rumbler is twice the price. This one has the construction quality feel of a mid-range Kala standard uke, and the price lap too. I'm quite confused about it. It can't just be the absence/presence of a gig bag that justifies the jump on price between different models. Maybe this one will fall apart in a week, or maybe other ubasses are just overpriced. I just hope everyone in the production line got paid a fair wage, now that I come to think of it :-S But Countryman is a brand that's been around for a while and that has good reputation (they make good banjo ukes), so I assume they are alright.
 

mikef

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Thanks for the hands on opinion... I've been waiting to hear what they're like as they just seem too good to be true. They're out of stock already at Omega, I suspect they will sell by the lorry load at that price.

There's a wee YouTube video and it sounds good to me!

 

Lalz

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Thanks for the video Mike! Hadn't seen it before.

Oops, that's right I forgot to mention the three band EQ. I haven't actually tried it, completely forgot about it.

Hm, funny I don't get the finger noises and buzz the guy is getting on the video, at all. I must be doing something right :) Or maybe Omega did a set-up on it before sending it, I don't remember if they usually do that or not. First instrument I've bought from them.
 

KohanMike

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On my u-basses I noticed the finger noise is much more prevalent when the treble and mid are high, keep them low, then adjust the bass control to what you like.
 

Lalz

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On my u-basses I noticed the finger noise is much more prevalent when the treble and mid are high, keep them low, then adjust the bass control to what you like.

Makes sense. Great advice, thanks!
 

bnolsen

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You have to dial down the treble to get rid of aggregious finger noise on the thunderguts. So far I'm pleased with the results of my hadean omega defretting. I did a Q&D on the defret so it doesn't look so great. After the fact I saw soeone who used maple veneer business cards for the fret slots. That would definitely be the way to do a defret.

Knowing how electric basses typically need a full setup every time you do a string change it really makes sense to buy fretless versions of these ubasses. There's huge variation between ubass string brands and in some cases very obvious differences in ubass string intonation as well. (labella mini tapewounds and pyramid tapewounds compared to pahoehoe for example).
 
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Lalz

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You have to dial down the treble to get rid of aggregious finger noise on the thunderguts. So far I'm pleased with the results of my hadean omega defretting. I did a Q&D on the defret so it doesn't look so great. After the fact I saw soeone who used maple veneer business cards for the fret slots. That would definitely be the way to do a defret.

What's a Q&D?

Knowing how electric basses typically need a full setup every time you do a string change it really makes sense to buy fretless versions of these ubasses. There's huge variation between ubass string brands and in some cases very obvious differences in ubass string intonation as well. (labella mini tapewounds and pyramid tapewounds compared to pahoehoe for example).

Interesting. Which ones would you recommend? Thanks!