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Thread: Range limitations on U-bass

  1. #1
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    Default Range limitations on U-bass

    I play bass in addition to uke and guitar, and I have been thinking off and on about getting a u-bass (I'm using that term generically, not specifically just Kala).

    Two things have kept me from getting one so far -- one is the fact that, it seems like you only have about an octave's worth of range on each string (only 12 frets before the neck hits the body). When I play bass, I often play above the octave on my bass guitars. Do any of you feel this has been a problem, or limitation, in using the u-bass for playouts or gigs?

    Second, they are all active basses (they require a battery). I'm wondering how long the battery lasts, if I should put in a new battery before I use it for any gig, etc.

    Your thoughts on both questions would be most helpful. Thanks in advance.
    Kala KA-TE tenor uke (currently tuned re-entrant gCEA)
    Kala APB-CTG baritone uke (currently tuned DGBE)
    Ohana BK-35CG baritone uke (currently tuned low-octave ADF#B)
    Various guitars, banjos, and basses

  2. #2
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    Probably true about the octave, but it's a bass, it's supposed to be low! Why do you play up the board? Because the frets aren't so far apart? No problem on a Ubass.

    Also, I have 2 early Kalas with no preamp, I think they're the best ones. I'd sell my EM...
    Just Play

    Sopranos: 1st uke, Lanikai soprano LU-11 - Aquilas | 30's Martin style 0 - Martins
    Concerts: Kanile'a K-2 CP - Living Water | Islander AC-4 - Living Water | Waverly Street banjolele - Worth Browns
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    UBass: Kala FS2 - Pahoehoe

  3. #3
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    Doing solos, it can’t all be low. There needs to be some lyricism, range, and clarity. In a crowded venue if you do your bass solo down low, the audience won’t even hear it (bars, restaurants etc.).

    Thanks for mentioning your early Kalas without preamp. I will be giving it some more thought. I appreciate your response.
    Kala KA-TE tenor uke (currently tuned re-entrant gCEA)
    Kala APB-CTG baritone uke (currently tuned DGBE)
    Ohana BK-35CG baritone uke (currently tuned low-octave ADF#B)
    Various guitars, banjos, and basses

  4. #4
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    My Hadean solid-body U-Bass has 15 frets to the body and 19 reachable via cutaway. That's mostly cosmetic though as it goes noticeably sharp by the 12th. I've been told by a couple of much-better players (with much better U-Basses) not to even bother playing above the 5th fret with rubber strings. One with real strings may intonate better. If you're planning to gig it up the neck I'd want to try out the specific instrument before buying.

    My battery's lasted months with light playing, but I'd probably replace it (or at least test it) before a gig. The cost of failure's much higher than the cost of replacing. That might be a good use for a rechargable.

  5. #5
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    Thanks very much, Arcy, that is helpful to know. I will definitely play before buying, if I think I want to buy one. A store near me stocks the acoustic U-basses, but I don't think they have any electrics in stock.
    Kala KA-TE tenor uke (currently tuned re-entrant gCEA)
    Kala APB-CTG baritone uke (currently tuned DGBE)
    Ohana BK-35CG baritone uke (currently tuned low-octave ADF#B)
    Various guitars, banjos, and basses

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by John boy View Post
    Thanks very much, Arcy, that is helpful to know. I will definitely play before buying, if I think I want to buy one. A store near me stocks the acoustic U-basses, but I don't think they have any electrics in stock.
    I think all the ubasses have electronics, they are pretty useless for everything except quietly practicing without it. One of the choices is solid body or acoustic. Maybe that's what you meant.
    there is no substitute for LOVE

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by strumsilly View Post
    I think all the ubasses have electronics, they are pretty useless for everything except quietly practicing...
    I wholeheartedly disagree. I started playing bass uke with my uke group five years ago only because I previously never wanted to be encumbered by a large electric bass, forget a double stand up bass. When I discovered the bass ukes and small basses available, I went for it. My first ones were with poly strings acoustic and solid body. I loved the sound and feel since I had no previous experience. Since then I've also added solid body mini electric basses with flat wound steel strings. I'm no soloist, but my group plays a great variety of music and my bass ukes and mini basses work perfectly fine.


    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, 9 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 34)

    • Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
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  8. #8
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    I think that Stumsilly's point was that all UBasses have pickups. Played purely acoustically UBasses (and ABGs in generally) don't have enough volume to cut through the group, so they're "pretty useless" without amplification. Plugged in they rock. Without amplification they just look good.

    In all of the acoustic-only, unamplified jams I've been to the UBasses have been an exception and played plugged in.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcy View Post
    I think that Stumsilly's point was that all UBasses have pickups. Played purely acoustically UBasses (and ABGs in generally) don't have enough volume to cut through the group, so they're "pretty useless" without amplification. Plugged in they rock. Without amplification they just look good. In all of the acoustic-only, unamplified jams I've been to the UBasses have been an exception and played plugged in.
    Yes, no doubt most all acoustic basses need to be amplified when performing, uke or standard. I guess I didn't decipher Stumsilly's comment properly.


    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, 9 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 34)

    • Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
    • Member The CC Strummers: YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by John boy View Post
    I play bass in addition to uke and guitar, and I have been thinking off and on about getting a u-bass (I'm using that term generically, not specifically just Kala).

    Two things have kept me from getting one so far -- one is the fact that, it seems like you only have about an octave's worth of range on each string (only 12 frets before the neck hits the body). When I play bass, I often play above the octave on my bass guitars. Do any of you feel this has been a problem, or limitation, in using the u-bass for playouts or gigs?

    Second, they are all active basses (they require a battery). I'm wondering how long the battery lasts, if I should put in a new battery before I use it for any gig, etc.

    Your thoughts on both questions would be most helpful. Thanks in advance.
    I used to own one and got rid of it due to the limitations. But for some really basic bass songs it is fine from Another One Bites the Dust to Stand By Me and etc. But then I too like to mess with Octives and for that I pull out my 24 fret bass.

    So in the end I just added to the pile for a trade in deal I did awhile back which I too sold. Seeing a pattern here.

    As for how long the battery lasts, I couldn't tell for all my instruments I take out the battery (except for my Fender P-Bass).

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