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U-bass -- wood vs laminate?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bassgirls, Nov 4, 2017.


  1. bassgirls

    bassgirls

    May 24, 2014
    California
    Hey guys. I'd like to get into fretless/upright on the cheap, so I was looking at a Ubass.

    Can you tell me if I should buy the laminate or all wood? I played a fretted laminate in a local shop and liked it, but they didn't have a fretless or all wood model.

    What's the main differences in tone between the $340 laminate model and the $550 wood models? Is it worth the 200?
     
  2. JES

    JES Supporting Member

    Yes and no. I have the all mahogany and love it. Before CITES I flew it all over. I like it better than the laminates I’ve played. Is it worth $200 to you? I can’t answer that. I’m sure audiences can’t tell the difference so it’s more about your tastes as a player. For me, amortized over the number of hours I’ve played the ubass, $200 is well worth it.
     
    bassgirls likes this.
  3. JES

    JES Supporting Member

    PS— play a bunch of different ones if you’re getting a fretted. Intonation varies.
     
    bassgirls likes this.
  4. Gorn

    Gorn

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    The cheaper rumbler is the only one to avoid. The laminate one is fine.
     
    bassgirls likes this.
  5. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    I have a Rumbler. A friend has a Spruce/Mahogany. Mine is better. My friend is ticked.

    To be fair, the Rumbler didn't start better. I had to rework the bridge, saddle and transducer. But now it sounds darn good for a teeny bass. Would not thank you for the gift of a fretless U-Bass though. Playing in tune on them is a serious challenge. At least on the fretted version you will be consistently off tune. :D
     
    charlie monroe likes this.
  6. bassgirls

    bassgirls

    May 24, 2014
    California
    Thanks for that! Wouldn't the fretless one be easier to play in tune since you can just move the finger to pitch? That's why I was thinking of getting it since I heard the fretted ones have intonation problems.
     
  7. JES

    JES Supporting Member

    You’ll get varying opinions. The fretted ones are inconsistent bass to bass. They don’t all have intonation problems. I have done two records with my fretted one, no problems. But I played several in the store and pick the one with the best intonation. And the fretless ones are good too, of course.
     
  8. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    The shorter the scale of the fretless instrument, the more critical the exact placement of your finger becomes. Imagine a big double bass. It has a scale of around 42 inches. If you place your finger on a note and you are off by 1/16th of an inch, it's only 0.15% off. If you are off by 1/16" on a a U-bass it's more than twice as much error since the scale is less than half that of the standup. That would be seriously out of tune on the U-bass.
     
    bassgirls likes this.
  9. bassgirls

    bassgirls

    May 24, 2014
    California
    I played one in the shop yesterday. I had no problem with the rubber strings. I liked them actually. The only weird thing is when I played with the fingers I kept reaching for a pickup to rest the thumb on, and it wasn't there. I didn't like floating in the air or resting on the body. I'm sure that would sort out as I played it more, though. This one was like $550 so it must have been the wood version. It sounded louder acoustically than the last one I played at the shop (It was around $350 so probably the laminate).
     
  10. Gorn

    Gorn

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    The one example of each isn't really a good indicator of which will tend to be louder. I've owned almost every type of ubass and the only meaningful differences between the cheaper and more expensive models are in the hardware, particularly the tuners. Any bass strung with rubber strings is gonna essentially sound the same, IMO/IME.
     
    RustyAxe likes this.
  11. Jim C

    Jim C Is that what you meant to play or is this jazz? Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    Does anyone make something similar to the U-Bass with a longer scale?
    Love the tone but the extremely short scale is a drag (for me).
     
    berman3313 likes this.
  12. Gorn

    Gorn

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    Gold tone makes something similar with a 25" scale. For years I've wanted a full scale acoustic strung with ubass strings.
     

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