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Kona Walkingstick Bass review

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by drivenmore, Feb 6, 2004.


  1. Well, my curiosity was piqued when I saw mention of this bass on this site. I had just sold my EUB, mainly because I could never get used to the upright scale, but I was just hired to play with an acoustic folk/country artist, so I wanted something that might be able to be played in its stead. So, I gave Bob from www.konaweb.com a call, and decided to give one a try.

    As it turned out, I ordered the last 4-string that he had, or that he planned to make for a while (he's currently making 40 or so of his 3-string "slack key" basses). It's made of koa, with an endpin made from extremely flamed koa. I ordered the gigbag, and an extra set of strings.

    When it arrived, I took it out and found out that the bridge had broken off from the piezo transducer (no big deal, some glue and it was immediately fixed). I was immediately disappointed to find that the "A" string had way less tension than the others, so it was considerably more floppy. My extra set of strings had not yet arrived, so before I truly tried her out, I was going to wait to see if maybe it was just a bad string.

    ***side note: the strings are made from different gauges of nylon, somewhat akin to fishing wire, or what you'd see on an ukelele***

    I got the strings in a couple of days, and switched the "A" string out. Seems it was a bad string, after all. So, the true test was plugging it in to the amp (I used an Ampeg BA-115HP combo). Well, as could be expected due to it being a simple piezo transducer with no active electronics or EQ, it lost all low end (the "E" string was almost inaudible), and had a tremendous amount of contact noise). Granted, Bob states on his website that you're going to need an outboard EQ. So, I plugged her in to a K&K mini preamp, and WOW!!! Suddenly I had a very warm sounding faux upright! Much easier to play than the EUB I had, primarily because of the scale length and the nylon strings. The fingerboard is not curved like an upright, so the feel is very much like playing a fretless bass guitar. It does cry out for a light touch though, as the piezo does tend to pick up any harsh attack upon the strings.

    So, was it worth the price ($550 for bass, gigbag, strings, shipping)? I would definitely say, "yes". It's a beautiful piece of handmade art, with a unique playability and rich sound. My first thought at seeing it was that it was kind of like an upright Ashbory. It's probably better looked upon as an upright ukelele. I would recommend to Bob that he introduce active electronics at some point, with possibly seperate piezo elements for each string--however, that would jack up the price accordingly.

    Bottom line: I love it!
     
  2. Konabob

    Konabob Konaweb LLC

    Jan 9, 2004
    Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
    As this forum is frequented by bass players who are used to playing on 4 strings instead of three, I thought I would add that those of you who are interested in the idea of playing in open tunings might want to look at some of the information on playing 'slack key' bass posted on www.konawalkingstick.com

    It really is a great way to stretch your understanding of music theory.

    -Konabob
     
  3. wow, thanks for the review drivenmore...
    man, i sure do like these... i was the one who wrote the first thread about it.
    As an ukulele player first and a bassist second, this EUUB (electric upright ukulele bass ;)) is pretty attractive.
    Just gotta remember to add on the EQ pedal when i order it.
    (probly gonna be a while before i get 500 bucks together for one thing tho.)
     
  4. Took it to the acoustic gig at a coffee house tonight, and it was a huge hit. I got more comments on it than the artist I was backing up (oops!). There was only one hiccup in the evening: I was told not to bring an amp, so I just plugged straight into the PA (through the K&K preamp), and I had a rough time keeping an even volume among the strings (the "D" and "G" strings were noticeably louder, requiring a much lighter touch when using them). Not a big problem, but I'm probably going to invest in a compression/limiter pedal to level things out easier.

    Man, it was SO fun to play!
     
  5. Konabob

    Konabob Konaweb LLC

    Jan 9, 2004
    Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
    I don't know if you live in the part of Louisiana is near where the hurricane hit. If you are OK, please let us know!
    Aloha,
    -Konabob
     
  6. Konabob

    Konabob Konaweb LLC

    Jan 9, 2004
    Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
    [​IMG]

    I just replaced the Quicktime videos on the Kona Walkingstick web site with Windows Media Player files (wmv) for those of you who are interested in hearing what the 'Stick sounds like in action but do not have Quicktime.

    There are clips with Ledward Kaapana, George Kahumoku, Kimo Hussey, and Walter Keale - all great Hawaiian Musicians who have allowed me to back them up on bass.

    I also got this review of the 3 string Kona Walkingstick:

    Aloha kakou,

    I'd like to share some impressions of my newly acquired Kona Walkingstick.

    I am a `ukulele player living in NYC and was curious to check out this instrument at last week's New York Uke Fest.

    I first met up with Konabob and Shirley on Thursday in the vendor's area and was impressed with the Walkingstick's construction, looks, and sound--but in the crowded area I couldn't really make a valued judgement.

    Then on Friday night following an evening concert by Hawaiian performers a kanikapila erupted and I made sure to get myself and my `ukulele right next to Konabob.

    Bob's playing was superb and the Walkingstick sounded great, but more importantly to me it seemed as if Bob wasn't working very hard to get such great playing done.

    My decision was almost made to buy a Walkingstick, but it wasn't until the next day when after a brief lesson I realized that I could play the thing. So I took the plunge and bought one.

    I spent the next afternoon at home watching Konabob's instructional DVD and fooling around playing to a recording of `ukulele that I had made. I was having fun, but did I dare leave my `ukulele at home and take the Walkingstick to our weekly NYC kanikapila after only a few hours of practice?

    I decided to "live in fame or die in flame" and packed up the Walkingstick in it's nifty gig bag and my Fender Amp Can and EQ and cables in a backpack and headed out to jam.

    My friends were curious. I suggested we start off with the songs I'd just practiced at home, which went well, but then we ventured to new songs and I was still jamming along a Gotham sized grin broke out on my face. I was playing bass after only 4 hours on the instrument, and our `ukulele only group had a richness that was always missing.

    The Walkingstick is very easy to learn to play. There is great joy in the immediate satisfaction that it provides to someone new to it, and I trust that it will continue to please as my playing skills advance.

    Mahalo nui loa to Konabob and Shirley for their graciousness, and for introducing me to the Walkingstick. I reccomend it to anyone looking to spice up their musical life.

    Tommy Cheng, NYC


    Aloha,
    -Konabob