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HELP: Kala U-bass gift for boyfriend

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MsBasicBassist, Oct 20, 2012.

  1. MsBasicBassist

    MsBasicBassist

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    Hello everyone. So, here's the story. I don't play bass, but my boyfriend does. He's absolutely addicted to it - spends every waking moment talking about bass, playing bass, talking about playing bass... you get the idea. In fact, I'm pretty certain you're all the reason that he's as addicted to it as he is. I've learned to love him anyway, since I'm just as passionate about piano :) Right now he's in basic training for the Army and he'll be going into the army band. He's going to be away for his birthday in November, and won't be coming home until Christmas. He'll be leaving the day after our 5 year anniversary, which is on Jan. 1. So you see, we have to get in all of our celebrating in one big shot. That's why I wanted to get him something special.

    He has always talked about the Kala U-bass but he'd never buy it for himself. I, myself, am a poor med student, but I'd really like to buy this for him. He plays both upright and electric. He LOVES jazz, funk, motown, and indie music, however, he plays many different genres (basically anything but classical). I was thinking that since he already has an upright, fretless may not be the way to go since I've heard that they sound just like an upright. Then again, it might be more convenient? I don't know. :help: So my dilemmas are fretless or fretted, what type of wood, what kind of strings, and most importantly, where do I buy it from? Any suggestions and help are greatly appreciated. Thanks guys!
  2. mccartneyman

    mccartneyman Supporting Member

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    Disclosures:
    Managing Editor, Bass Guitars Editor, MusicGearReview.com
    Most of the online superstores sell the fretted or fretless U Bass for around $450 with bag for the cheapest model, the spruce top. I bought my fretted model two years ago when they were hard to find from from Road Toad Music, and they still sell them for $414 + shipping with the padded bag, which is nice. I have played the solid mahogany models, but not long enough to confirm that they sound better than the spruce top, which other have said. Mahogany runs around $100 more. Among the superstores, Sweetwater Music offers good prices and excellent service, but I've had good dealings with Musiciansfriend also.

    Fretted or fretless? I've played both and found not much difference in tone. Both sound more like an upright than a fretless solid body electric bass, but not exactly like an upright. If he's into doing a lot of slides with his "fretting hand", he may appreciate the fretless. Otherwise, tone is pretty close.

    The basses come with Kala's proprietary rubber strings, and they take some getting used to. Getting the bass to maintain tuning can be rough the first few days until the strings stretch, and they stretch a lot -- much more than metal bass strings, either electric or upright. And it take some adaptation both in feel on the fretting hand and technique and attack on the plucking hand. The stock strings roll under your fingers when fretted, and I've found that I have to play very lightly with my plucking hand. Kala now offers a different replacement string that players have said maintains tuning better and sounds better, but I have no experience with them. There are a few other replacement strings offered too.

    Also bear in mind that the bass is not loud enough to play unamplified with others, even with unamplified acoustic guitars or other ukes. It's fine if he's just hanging out in a quiet room to practice, but he'll need something for jamming with others.

    All that said, they are killer little basses. never fail to turn heads on live gigs and they sound amazing when recorded. Good luck!
  3. 3234718

    3234718 Supporting Member

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    Get a spruce top fretless and let him worry about strings. Dealing with those strings till they're stretched is like raising a child.
  4. MsBasicBassist

    MsBasicBassist

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    Thanks for the info! He has ordered from sweetwater before and I know that they're good, butI checked out the Road Toad Music and their prices are much lower, so I think I'm leaning towards ordering from there. I have read a lot that the wood doesn't necessarily make a noticeable difference in sound. So I guess the question I'm left with is: Is there enough of a difference to justify the extra money for the Mahogany, or is it simply for the purposes of aesthetics?

    For the most part, he plays very cleanly and reserves the slides for the occasional embellishment. That being said, perhaps fretted is the way to go? All of the Kala U-basses I have seen have been acoustic-electric (I don't think they make one that is purely acoustic) and he definitely has the gear for gigging (Mesa walkabout and Low Down Sound cabs and a GK MB200 head, among other things).

    I've read that Aquila Thundergut strings are better for stability of the tuning and ease of playing, so I was thinking that I would get his go-to repair guy to put them on and handle the issues with stretching so that the u bass is ready to be played when he gets back. When he gets his things shipped to his permanent duty station then he can have fun trying to handle the stretching on his own. :D


    Is there any reason why you prefer fretless?
  5. mccartneyman

    mccartneyman Supporting Member

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  6. 3234718

    3234718 Supporting Member

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    He already plays fretless and proper intonation is a breeze on the fretless ubass. From what I've heard and read on the ubass mega threads, fretless seems to be the more popular choice, and what I prefer.
  7. Shakin-Slim

    Shakin-Slim

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  8. MsBasicBassist

    MsBasicBassist

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    Thanks for the help :)

    I found a potential seller who I'm ironing out the details with right now. Definitely going to go check out that megathread.
  9. Downunderwonder

    Downunderwonder

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    All the cool kids are defretting their fretted ones at the moment. Your boy plays upright so he is used to intonating himself anyway. Apparently the frets don't make any difference to tone.

    I bought a "factory 2nd" fretless from ebay for cheap.
  10. BassExpert

    BassExpert

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    Came across this pretty funky twisted metal guitar hanging artwork for a wall, I think it looks really cool. Would make a great gift for boyfriend that plays bass or any guitar if you're looking for something. Cheers!
  11. Pitter_Patterns

    Pitter_Patterns

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    I was actually listening to Youtube videos last night of the Kala U Basses. Personally, I prefer the sound of the fretless version. It freaks me out how much that tiny thing sounds like an upright bass. I bet your boyfriend would love it :)

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