Best U-Bass for Intonation?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bassgirls, May 26, 2019.

  1. bassgirls


    May 24, 2014
    Hey all.
    What is the best u-bass out there in terms of intonation and tone? Nice hardware that stays in tune would be another perk.
  2. KohanMike

    KohanMike Gold Supporting Member

    Acoustic is difficult because none that I know of have adjustable bridges, and the shorter the scale, the more problematic the intonation. A compensated bridge that's angled to a degree will help, my new Kala Journeyman has one. For solid body, I like the Rondo Hadean with partially adjustable bridge, and the Gold Tone ME with better adjustments.

    My Journeyman 900.jpg
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  3. Ian McLaughlin

    Ian McLaughlin

    Aug 11, 2018
  4. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    I would suggest going fret-less, because the intonation is never going to be spot-on with a fretted acoustic.
    It's still easy to play, considering how small they are.
  5. bassgirls


    May 24, 2014
    Yes I should have specified I'm looking for an acoustic. I want to try to get that upright bass tone.
    How do you like the Journeyman? How is the intonation on it?
  6. bassgirls


    May 24, 2014
    That's a good idea. I've never played a fretless instrument. How difficult is it to train your ear? I have a pretty good ear now, but I'm not sure it's good enough to play fretless straight away. Is the learning curve steep?
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  7. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    Ear training is all up to the individual & just how good your pitch-perception is.
    I played a Hadean fret-less for a bit & I thought I sounded fine.
    However, any listener might have disagreed, LOL!

    My pitch-perception is awful.
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  8. seilerbird


    Apr 12, 2012
    I switched to playing a Ubass a few years ago and never looked back. I have sold my Beatle bass and now my Hadean is the only bass I own and need. I have zero problems with intonation and I only need to tune it about every third or fourth time I play it. Stays in tune rock solid. Of course with all new ukuleles you need to tune it many times the first month to get the strings stretched out, then it will stay in tune. It only weighs a few pounds. Hadeans are less than half the price of a Kala ubass and just as good, if not better. Sounds just like an upright.
    Last edited: May 26, 2019
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  9. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    I owned a Hadean & have tried the Kalas at Sam Ash & the local dealer.
    A Hadean isn't bad, but it's not as good as a Kala, IME.

    The bridge on my Hadean pulled up over the Winter & Kala users have commented on here that they've not had that issue.
    I also had to re-tune often & that's when I realized the bridge issue.
    If you're having to tune up often, something is giving way.

    Buy a pre-owned Kala is my advice. I've seen $400 Kalas on for $200.
    unless you're going fret-less, then you might need to buy new
  10. bassgirls


    May 24, 2014
    Can I buy a fretted one and pull out the frets?
  11. KohanMike

    KohanMike Gold Supporting Member

    I like it, but I had to have Kala fix the A string that rattled. The G and D string intonation is right on, the A and E are sharp.
    I wouldn't recommend that unless you're an experienced builder. I had that done by a person less than experienced and the edge of the fretboard came back with splinters sticking up. Even when I filed them down, it was still rough. I ended up shelving the uke and bought a Hadean walnut acoustic that I like a lot.

    Rondo Hadean my Walnut 800.jpg
  12. Pirate Captain

    Pirate Captain Elitist Jazz Snob ********

    Dec 22, 2016
    agreed...fretless is the way to go...just don't expect to sound like Esperanza on it.
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  13. Pirate Captain

    Pirate Captain Elitist Jazz Snob ********

    Dec 22, 2016's easy...just make sure you buy one that's used and cheap
  14. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    For intonation—- fretless, and a great set of ears.
    For tone— it’s subjective
    bassgirls likes this.
  15. Tim Skaggs

    Tim Skaggs

    Sep 28, 2002
    I had Kala fretless for a while. Finger placement is extremely critical on that short a scale. Being slightly off position on a 34" scale might have you a few cents off pitch. The same distance off position on a 21" scale will have you much further off pitch. It's not too bad if you are playing only, but trying to play, sing, and interact with an audience put me playing more off pitch than on, and I've been playing fretless over two decades.

    A GT micro bass in 25" scale might be a little more forgiving, but still easy to play.
  16. BAG


    May 5, 2014
    New Zealand
    The rubber strings can be problematic in very high temps. A friend was playing his fretted UBass at a festival 7 years ago. The day was 48degC (118 degF for you Americans) and even more in the tent. He kept tuning up, and up, and up and the strings were like licorice....... no matter how much he turned those tuning pegs the strings just kept stretching and were flat.
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  17. Fun Size Nick

    Fun Size Nick

    Feb 21, 2006
    London, UK
    I'll add my vote for fretless. On the fretted U-Bass, I find it very hard to play light enough that it doesn't go sharp.
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  18. I've got the fretted GT Microbass in 25" scale. The intonation was not good up the neck with the original rubber strings. I had much better results with the LaBella Silverbacks. They intonate well and don't stretch nearly as much but the tone is less similar to an upright.
  19. Tim Skaggs

    Tim Skaggs

    Sep 28, 2002
    I found the same issue with the GT in the 23" version & also switched to Silverbacks. I also had the same outcome; better stability & intonation, but less upright tone. It was still a great improvement in overall playability compared to the Thunder-stickies.
    TL23NC likes this.
  20. MVE


    Aug 8, 2010
    I can’t speak to fretless Kala, I’ve only played a fretted. (Kala, that is; I play 34” fretless all the time)
    Anyway, I can speak about the Journeyman, as I have one. It’s pretty cool. I love the shape but the build quality isn’t great. It seems to be made out of some fake foamcore wood. The preamp screws had popped out and I had to CA them back in and noticed the white foam core within the sides, not sure if the top is also.
    Regarding intonation, I think the rubbery strings do often sound a little off pitch. If you slide into the fret, the string stretches from the nut and causes the string between your finger and bridge to slacken, dropping pitch. If you slide from like 3 to 10, you can drop it almost a half tone.
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