I am stoked with my new u-bass (but who isn't happy on NBD?)! Opinions on u-basses and u-bass strings vary widely. I think that has to do with expectations. If you're expecting a u-bass to be just like your bass but smaller, you'll probably be disappointed. The physics of creating low notes on such short strings is complicated. However, if you're expecting a super-portable instrument that is tuned like a bass, you'll be thrilled. I bought a u-bass so I can noodle while watching TV (e.g., mess around with scales, licks, ear-training, and such) and take with me when traveling. This u-bass fits those expectations perfectly. I bought the (pricier) Striped Ebony model because it is one of the few Kala models that comes with roundwound strings. I wanted Kala to deal with the nut, relief, and intonation of roundwounds rather than me replacing "rubber" strings.