Need another fretless U bass for back up in performances?

Sharpshin

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A friend of mine has professional gigs with bass ukulele several nights a week. One Kala (fretless) performs ok, but there are problems with the piezo pick up on the back up instrument. No one seems to be able to adjust it so that there is good output across all four strings. I believe that issue with the piezo has been discussed here previously. The back up instrument has been replaced by Kala several times. Requirements are hollowbody acoustic (no solidbody) and fretless with pick up. What would be a step up instrument or are there any higher end Bass Ukulele makers? Thanks in advance for some pointers!
 

KohanMike

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My experience with any acoustic bass ukulele with piezo pickup is pretty much the same with any model. I don't believe it's going to matter which you use, expensive (Kala) or reasonable price (Rondo Hadean). I've fixed that issue on my bass ukes a few different ways; replaced the pickup assembly with ones I received from Rondo, also cut apart the plastic saddle so each string puts independent pressure on the individual sensor element below, and changed strings. I also saw sources for the pickup assembly (no bridge) online from China via eBay.

I say buy one of the Rondo Hadean for under $190 (they seem to be out-of-stock at the moment) and keep handy a couple pickup assemblies and set of strings.


This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
9 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 11 solid body bass ukes, 14 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 39)

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
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Arcy

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The problems all seem to be with under saddle pickups (USPs). Has anybody tried a transducer disk like the K&K Aloha pickups on a bass? Or a MEMS microphone like the iRig Acoustic Stage?

My experience matches Mike’s for cheap USPs: both were uneven when I got them. I was able to fix the solid body Rondo Haden by reseating the strings and applying pressure to the saddle. That didn’t work on the Aklot acoustic and I returned it rather than performing surgery on the bridge assembly.
 

KohanMike

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Let me add that the majority of my piezo bass ukes work perfectly fine, I have three acoustic and eleven solid bodies.
 

Sharpshin

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Thank you Mike, I appreciate your sharing your All things Bass information!
 

Sharpshin

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Arcy, Thank you for the reply. It does seem like there should be some pickup choices.
 
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KohanMike

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The problems all seem to be with under saddle pickups (USPs). Has anybody tried a transducer disk like the K&K Aloha pickups on a bass? Or a MEMS microphone like the iRig Acoustic Stage?

I also have a Yamaha guitar that I had converted to a bass with a transducer pickup attached to the underside of the top. It tends to give feedback and amplifies the slightest touch of the top. I'm planning to change it to piezo under saddle.
 

UkerDanno

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I've had 2 of the older Kalas without preamp, they seem to work better than the new ones. I had an exotic mahogany fretted and now have a solid spruce top fretless, no problems with the pickup or anything else. I did have some issues with my Rumbler, the sound of the lower strings were quieter.
 

ampeep

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Sharpshin, you mentioned that your friend's Kala fretless performs ok. Was wondering why he has a similar instrument as a back up? Does he typically have problems with his main bass?

It would really bug me to have an instrument that I couldn't count on. My Peavey bass has never had a problem since I bought it in 1986.
 

Sharpshin

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Sharpshin, you mentioned that your friend's Kala fretless performs ok. Was wondering why he has a similar instrument as a back up? Does he typically have problems with his main bass?

It would really bug me to have an instrument that I couldn't count on. My Peavey bass has never had a problem since I bought it in 1986.

As I recall there was a one time issue with the first U-Bass and that sent my friend on a search for a second one as back up but the second one has issues with the pre-amp and piezo. When two of the four strings will not sound out evenly, it is frustrating. Kala replaced the bass twice but they each had the same issue. She also plays a full-size acoustic bass in several jazz groups around town.
 

ampeep

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Wow, she really had some bad luck with the U-basses. Hope these issues can be resolved.

I have an iRig Acoustic Stage. It sounds really good, easy to mount & the feedback killer button works really well. However, the wire connecting the mic to the preamp unit is very delicate & may not hold up with heavy use.
 
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Sharpshin

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The first generation Kala U-Bass was repaired and has works fine. It is the later models that she has had trouble with the uneven tone and had to return, until she could pick the " least worse". That might just be bad luck. An electric bass is not a option for several reasons. So it is Standup bass or U-bass. I will investigate the IRig. I have no tinkering expertise, I just offered to start a thread on this forum. It might be the first thread I have ever started! Thanks for all the responses. It appears that some bad luck is involved along with the physics.
 

KohanMike

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An electric bass is not a option for several reasons.

I'm curious why, I have a 24" scale 31" long, way over priced at $389 (I bought mine 5 years ago for $150), and a 25" scale 34" long for $150 (love his one) that both play very well.

Small P-bass done 800.jpg


My Glenn Burton 850.jpg
 
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Sharpshin

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Mike, thanks, but I can't be sure I could answer completely correctly which is why I didn't get specific. People like what they like? especially musicians??? I will show her these lovely short-scale ones you have, Just in case the situation has changed, maybe they are a option now.
I'm curious why, I have a 24" scale 31" long, way over priced at $389 (I bought mine 5 years ago for $150), and a 25" scale 34" long for $150 (love his one) that both play very well.

Small P-bass done 800.jpg


My Glenn Burton 850.jpg
 

KohanMike

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Mike, thanks, but I can't be sure I could answer completely correctly which is why I didn't get specific. People like what they like? especially musicians??? I will show her these lovely short-scale ones you have, Just in case the situation has changed, maybe they are a option now.

I neglected to add that I had the SmallGuitars P-bass painted sea foam green including the truss rod cover, I added the fret markers and chrome color knobs, plus faltwound strings.
 

Arcy

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Mike, thanks, but I can't be sure I could answer completely correctly which is why I didn't get specific. People like what they like? especially musicians??? I will show her these lovely short-scale ones you have, Just in case the situation has changed, maybe they are a option now.
This sounds like a pretty common distinction. Electric bass and upright bass look and sound very different, and some types of music really demand one or another. Mike’s lovely seafoam green electric would look very out of place at a classic bluegrass or old-time session (I got a lot of friendly ribbing when I brought a seafoam green acoustic guitar to an old-time jam). A synth-rubber stringed u-bass is as close to the upright sound as you’ll get without an upright, and in a conservative acoustic package won’t look too out of place.

If she’s looking for fretless & rubber strings and is done with Kala then check out the GoldTone Micro Bass. Those are a bit longer scale (23” or 25”) and are available fretless with Aquila ThunderGuts.