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Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by smperry, Nov 15, 2012.
Continued from http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f8/kala-ubass-megathread-part-4-a-893171
In! and First!
In with the hog...
I think that's just cuz of the angle of the picture. That's an awesome strap, btw. I need some straps that aren't plain black nylon.
Very soon after getting my acacia UBass (that in the current offerings implies fretted) some months ago I knew I would want a fretless one also just trying out whether I at all could learn playing it.
As I wanted one with an adjustable truss rod, I had to go for one in mahogany, as I prefer solid wood. Sadly, I have a very mixed relationship with mahogany. It was the standard furniture wood of my grandparents generation, so I have been in many dark and heavily furnitured homes while I was a kid.
I have avoided mahogany in my ukes, but it sneaked in unavoidably with one of my other crazes, the Martin Backpackers, where it works very well.
A former student and partner in arranging local music festivals helped me with a lot of practical matters when I had bad health a few years ago. Now he turns 40 traveling the world as an executive for a major corporation, but also working with his local recording studio and as a sound operator for touring bands when time permits. As he studied bass guitar among other instruments, the obvious gift would be a UBass.
Mark of BassDirect in the UK suggested the SUB over the hollow ones, when he heard about the sound studio element. So Wednesday saw the arrival of my fretless hog and the black SUB intended for my friend.
My new hog happened to be very similar to my acacia in grain patterns, only a bit more reddish. The SUB is black like a grand piano.
All strings had to be rewound. To me it looks like the Pahoehoes are all the same on the 3 UBasses, but maybe the SUB has a slightly different gauge string due to the longer neck.
The fretless so far plays quite similarly to the fretted, only I experienced something I hadnt expected: The fingers shall be placed differently relative to the lines depending on which string I play. The E string needs the fingers closer to the headstock than does the G string. I very soon realised the reason for that difference: The stiffer thick strings need a longer distance from the edge of the finger before they oscillate freely. The thin G string starts oscillating right at the edge of the finger. Had the bridge been individually adjustable for each string, I would have compensated the thicker strings some more. I guess the compensating is set for the fretted models, where the raised frets allow the thicker string to oscillate closer to the frets than to a finger holding it down on the fingerboard of a fretless.
To my surprise the output of the passive piezos of the hollow bodies is stronger than the output from the active SUB. The two variants also need very different external equalization. With the settings working for the hollows only taken down at the master level, then the SUB sounds like its G string is barely picked up. I feared having gotten a faulty SUB until I found out managing the pre-amp settings.
There still are a few weeks to the said birthday, so I play the SUB with the very legitimate pretext of making the strings settle. I like the extended upper range and the much easier access to the upper frets, yet I better like the less lacquered feel of the near raw mahogany necks of the hollowbodies.
An odd difference between the acacia and mahogany bodies made them feel differently when placed in similar Cooperstands (the uke model). I measured the depth of the body near the end-pin, and the hog was 2 millimeters deeper. To avoid wear from the stand, the hog now sits in a larger stand.
(Sorry, you must have been creating your post while I was deleting mine.)
For the benefit of others, my question that 3234718 replied to was to do with the orientation of the saddle on GBassNorth's U-Bass. To me it looks like it's parallel to the top edge of the bridge, whereas the one on mine is at an angle:
Going by a lot of U-Bass images on the internet, it seems to me that some time after I bought mine back in January 2010 Kala decided to dump the 'overcompensation' and the intonation issues it was causing (on my U-Bass, at least) by straightening the saddle up.
Wish I hadn't been such an 'early adopter' now.
Thanks for the strap comment, what could be better on a uke than a tiki strap! As for the bridge angle, I think mine is straighter than the early ones. I'll take a look at it tonight and post some measurements to confirm.
I see the tiki strap, but where's the uke?
Yeah, and what does the "U" in "U-bass" mean?
This forum software is messed up.
I have made significant contributions to this megathread, and I almost got left behind. I'm discovering part 5 - totally by chance.
So, the very last message post by the admin wasn't obvious enough?
No. Because, it didn't appear for me.
Why - do you have him on ignore?
Dunno. I've searched and searched, but I couldn't find a definition of that pesky "U" anywhere on Kala's site, and nowhere does Kala refer to the U-Bass as a ukulele.
What I really can't understand, though, is why, if the darn thing's just a ukulele, Kala insists on including questions in their F.A.Q.s such as: "Where can I buy a Kala Ukulele or U-Bass?" and "Why is it that Kala ukuleles & Acoustic-Electric model U-Basses do not come with strap buttons?" I mean, why the distinction?
Hmmm. You may want to submit a bug report then - that's odd behavior.
I see it all the time.
Well I think U-bass is a trademark as fender, so that´s why they want to separate u-basses from ukeleles and other ukelele basses out there in my opinion.
A little history about the instrument (and its name) from the original builder here:
I can't find any reference to a "ukulele bass" or "bass ukulele" on that page. Can you?
The U-Bass and similar instruments are just very short-scale bass guitars. The main things some of them have in common with the ukulele family of instruments is that they have four strings and their bodies are similar to those of baritone ukuleles.
If it looks like a ukulele, is played like a ukulele, and sounds like a ukulele, then it's most likely a ukulele. Oh, wait...
Ok, let´s talk about the evolution of the u-bass. I might be wrong, but according to the info in Road toad´s web page, and all the web information I found in the past, I understand the next order of facts to be true:
1- Road Toad was a luthier specialized in ukeleles.
2- He decided to make an octave bass, an instrument tuned an octave above standar bass tuning, with nylon strings, and the size and form of a baritone ukulele:
"""The original Big Bufo Bass was built around
the use of nylon strings. The nylon string
version is tuned E-A-D-G and has a very
natural tone. It is one octave higher than an
upright double bass."""
"""The Road Toad Big Bufo Bass is based on the baritone 'ukulele body
3- Then he had the brilliant idea of using polyuretane strings for this octave bass (the ones used in weed wackers). Due to the materials nature, it was possible to tune it to standar bass tuning. Voilá, the u-bass was born!
But in the begining it was an ukelele luthier, making a bari ukelele body, with the scale of a bari uke, wasn´t it? I think the only non uke thing in it was the strings and tuning used, and probably the width of the neck.
Anyway, I might be wrong, I´m not a native english speaker, and that web page isn´t specially clear...