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Kala California 4 or 5 Fretted or Fretless

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by fingerguy, Aug 12, 2017.


  1. fingerguy

    fingerguy

    Aug 2, 2016
    CT
    Hi Everyone,

    Before you read this let me put it out there I have no idea when or even if I do this but assuming I would I need some outside input. First I yet to see a solid body Kala in any store I been to, but always see a U-Bass acoustic and even own one: Fretted 4 string.

    Now, as someone that learns/plays/practice primarily on a Fender P-Bass (4-string) Elite and a Fender Kingman that is also 4 I am iffy about going 5.

    Here's the deal, the main thing I don't like about my U-Bass is the lack of room from the 12th fret and on. I watched videos and did close-up looks of the neck and like how there is a lot of room after the 12th fret.

    So knowing that, and knowing I love Koa (if I do this Koa would be my choice) I am on the fence about 4 or 5 and fretted vs fretless.

    My thoughts are this. First this is just going be a cool travel and couch bass. Whether it's the woman sleeping, or going on the plane to visit my sister, it's strictly that. I am buying this thing not going to worry about cosmetic damage and etc. But still I want it playable and not so limiting which is why I am considering 5 string. First thought, okay it's a putz around bass, and I am 100% a 4 string player, but would it be so bad if I just got this bass with 5 strings? Then I look at the neck and it's wide. Then I think fretted or fretless. The reason I am finding fretless appealing is the whole lack of fret noise. That really is the main reason.

    So again, this is all thoughts and debates in my head. Ideally I would like to find a store in the CT area that stocks these, and if they do I would make a trip to at least hold them which will probably get me into trouble for not sure if I could leave without it. But that is neither here nor there...well for now.

    So thoughts?
     
  2. Gorn

    Gorn

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    The intonation tends to stink higher up.
     
  3. fingerguy

    fingerguy

    Aug 2, 2016
    CT
    On either one?
     
  4. mrufino1

    mrufino1 Supporting Member

    Aug 2, 2005
    Nutley, NJ
    The 5 string is a 23" scale and was my main gigging bass for about a year, definitely super comfortable to play. I really loved the neck shape on it. When you get really really high is tight on the fingers but no way to make that not true with the 23" scale.

    As for intonation, if you look at my youtube videos you'll see that I had replaced the bridge with an adjustable fender style bridge, so intonation was perfect. At that point I had gone to the round wounds, which were more versatile for wedding and cover band gigs. The sound definitely changed with those changes.

    When I got my marleaux however, in the same scale length, I realized how much I prefer the sound of a magnetic pickup to a piezo for the type of gigs I do, and although I still used the ubass for some things I everyday sold it to fund a necessary amp purchase.

    Now, I built a 25" scale bass from guitar parts and the marleaux has taken a back seat, I think the 25" scale is perfect for me at this time (psoriatic arthritis is leaving me with very little choice if I want to continue to gig).

    So, now that you know my life story....get the 5 string if you want the longer scale, or get the one from rondo that has the 23/24" scale (called the 32-33 I think? Strange name but that's the longer scale one). The preamp and eq in the rondo are not as good but are fine for noodling at home. When I had my hadean I put the lr baggs electronics in it and it improved tremendously, identical in sound to the kala.

    Hope that helps....
     
  5. mrufino1

    mrufino1 Supporting Member

    Aug 2, 2005
    Nutley, NJ
    Oh, also, check out smallguitars.com, you may like what your see there in the 25" scale bass, or if the $80 25" scale p basses pop up on ebay/amazon again that might be to your liking.
     
  6. I read your post carefully and discovered that what you want is a case of opposites. You sound a lot like I did when you explained your reasoning for one or the other. After thinking about it I will try to to give you some of my conclusions:
    1. Cali 4 vs 5 string: Both are kind of expensive to be used just as a couch/travel bass. They scream to be used in live playing and recording. As much as they cost I would be not want them as a beater bass. The 5 string is a 23 inch scale and does open up the tone and playability over the 4 string model somewhat. It does have a cutaway where you can play higher up the neck. Must be ordered direct now but you can might still find a few online from individual stores. My Cali is a 5 string that sounds more like an upright than the acoustic UBasses do. Neck is as wide as an electric bass neck.
    Another alternative is the Kala Sub bass, which are less expensive, come in the short 21 inch scale for both 4 and 5 strings. Both have cutaways for higher register playing. The electronics are not quite as expensive or versatile as the American made Cali's, but cost a lot less.
    Two other alternate choices would be Goldtone solid body Microbass which can be bought as fretted or fretless and only come as a 4 string. Rondomusic.com also has their own version of a Sub bass in either 21 or 2speci3 inch scales but is available in fretted only.
    Fretted or fretless thoughts: I prefer fretless because those big strings will buzz easily especially at the first fret.
    Good luck with whichever you choose, and have fun p!l
     
  7. mrufino1

    mrufino1 Supporting Member

    Aug 2, 2005
    Nutley, NJ
    One of the things that made me decide to sell the ubass is that the neck has no truss rod. When I had my hadean, an adjustment to the neck relief made a huge difference in playability. The kala basses are not actually constructed that well to be honest - when I got my marleaux that became even more obvious. But the neck shape did feel awesome, wish it was adjustable.
     
    el_Bajo_Verde likes this.
  8. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    I had a California fretless 5 for a bit, but the combination of the short scale and no frets was too much for me. Plus, the preamp in mine was unimpressive.

    I may try a SUB fretted 5 at some point.
     
  9. fingerguy

    fingerguy

    Aug 2, 2016
    CT
    What do you mean on the 1st part?
     
  10. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    The short scale part? Not sure what you mean.
     
  11. Gorn

    Gorn

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    The upper frets or fret lines are really really close.
     
  12. If you want that upright sound from a u-bass, go fretless:

    IMG_20170324_145719361.
    not a Kala, but it is fretless
     

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