String Review of the Aquila Thunderblack

Aquila Thunderblack

There are now quite a few options for Ubassists when it comes to choose the right string for your preferred sound and playing style. Owen Holt invented the Road Toad Pahoehoe strings (made from polyurethane) to make the super short scale length of the ubass work. These are of course still the original ukulele bass string reference that many use and love.

The Italian string company Aquila Corde now offers three different ukulele bass strings.
Besides the Thundergut string that has been around since 2012 and the Thunder Reds since 2014 they also offer the Thunderblack.

The Thunderblack string has, in my opinion, more similarities to the original Thundergut than the Thunder Reds. I think they feel a bit less sticky then the original Thunderguts but the sound is pretty similar.

If you prefer the look of black strings but want a sound and feel similar to the Thundergut there’s now an alternative available.

In the video below I decided to record some of the same musical exemples used in the Thunder Reds review. This makes it easier to compare the different strings.

Past Reviews
Pahoehoe vs. Aquila Thundergut Part 1 | Part 2
Aquila Thunder Reds Review

Tech specs
Aquila Thunderblack strings
Kala spruce top fretless (2010)
RMI Basswitch IQ/DI in the 10 mOhm setting
Aguilar Tone hammer 500
Aguilar SL-112 cab
AKG C-414 mic
Universal Audio Apollo (upgraded with Thunderbolt card)
iMac with Logic X

 

Annonser

Ubassists of the World – Abraham Laboriel

Abraham Laborial and me before the Open Hands concert in Sweden this past July
Abraham Laborial and me before the Open Hands concert in Sweden this past July

Hi,

One day in July I got the news that one of my bass heroes would come to Sweden for one gig. We are both Kala Ubass Endorsees (which is pretty amazing to start with) so I managed to hook up with him through the company. 

The meeting/concert was in the southern parts of Sweden and I traveled there with two of my Kala solid body ubasses. 

Who is Abraham Laboriel?

Some of you may know about him and some don’t so I’ll give you a brief background here.

Let’s start with some of the artists he has worked with as a session musician in Los Angeles:

Al JarreauGeorge BensonAlan SilvestriAlvaro Lopez and Res-Q BandAlvin SlaughterDon FelderAndraé CrouchAndy PrattAndy SummersBarbra StreisandBilly Cobham, Carlos Skinfill, Chris IsaakChristopher CrossCrystal LewisDave GrusinDjavanDolly PartonDon MoenDonald FagenElton JohnEngelbert HumperdinckFreddie HubbardHansonHerb AlpertHerbie HancockJohnny HallydayKeith GreenKelly WillardLalo SchifrinLarry CarltonLee RitenourLeo SayerLisa LoebMadonnaMichael JacksonNathan DavisPaul Jackson Jr.Paul SimonQuincy JonesRay CharlesRon KenolyRuss TaffStevie Wonder, and Umberto Tozzi.

Abraham Laboriel Sr. (born July 17, 1947) is a Mexican bassist who has played on over 4,000 recordings and soundtracks.[1] Guitar Player Magazine described him as ”the most widely used session bassist of our time”.[2][3] Laboriel is the father of drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. and of producer, songwriter, and film composer Mateo Laboriel.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Laboriel

Abraham trying out my Solid Body fretted 5-string tuned EADGC
Abraham trying out my Solid Body fretted 5-string tuned EADGC

 

Meeting Abraham was such a joy. He’s a wonderful, warm human being with such a big heart. Hearing/seeing him play live has knocked me every time. He is an ”all in” performer that really speaks to you from heart to heart. He has been in my musical life for quite some time. I told him about hearing/seeing him at concert in the mid 80’s and even in the town where I work now on a gig probably more then 10 years ago. 

We started talking and I showed him what I have done on my blog, video lessons and recordings. What was supposed to be an interview became a nice chat about music and life, almost as we had known each other since the mid 80’s…

I really hope we can meet again soon and continue of talk and I might even get around to ask him my prepared questions! 🙂

As I wrote earlier my two solid body’s were on the trip with me and I wanted to show Abraham these. You might have picked up that I have experimented with ”new” strings on these two 5-strings. (I will do a proper blog post about these tests soon!) Anyway, Abraham started playing on the fretted one, unamplified, and after a while I grabbed the fretless one and join in on the quiet jam. It sure was nice to get to play with one of my bass heroes!

Here’s a little snippet of that jam…

All the best to all ubassists out there,

Magnus

Some youtube videos featuring Abraham:

Build your own solid body Ubass – all you need to know | Phase 2 – Body Setup 1

DIY UBassKIT Video 2-upload-teaser

Hi,

It’s time for Phase 2!
It will focus on the setup of the body and first up is strap buttons and thumb wheels for the bridge.

The PDF instructions I compiled from info at kalabrand.com (no longer available) can be downloaded on this link: U-Bass Kit Assembly Instructions compiled by playubass-SMALL

Next up: EQ/Pre-amp, output jack, volume/tone knobs and back plate!

I have also done a video that shows you how to change the EQ/Pre-amp in a solid body ubass!

Read more about previous steps in this DIY project in posts that can be found on the DIY-page!

Until next tine: Have fun – play Music!

/Magnus

Kala Solid Body Ubass Kit | New DIY series at playubass.com

Hi,
New year, new project, new Instagram…lets go!

I have wanted to write about this for quite some time now. I got this kit last year and my plan was to start the project early August…this wasn’t possible because of my hand injury…
But now I’m back on track and will get started with the Kala Solid Body Ubass Kit!

EDIT: This kit is no longer available, you have to add all the parts to the shopping cart in the Kala Web Shop! See more here!

I will build the 5-string fretless based on the US made California series.

I will do this in a couple of phases. First phase has just started, working on the body finish. The goal is to mimic the espresso finish of my Kala Bakithi Kumalo Solid Body.
You will be able to follow each and every step/phase of me putting together the Ubass. Every phase will be a separate blog post, but they can all be easily found on my DIY page. I will update that page as the new blog posts rolls out.

Stay tuned here and on the DIY page!

I wish you all a great New Ubass Year!

/Magnus

Model comparison chart – Kala Ubass acoustic/electric models 2015

model-comparison-chart

Hi everyone!

I get a lot of question about different Kala Ubass models so I decided to make a little chart. In this first chart the focus is the acoustic/electric models.

If you download this pdf The-Kala-Ubass-acoustic-electric-models-2015 you can also click on different model names to get to the corresponding details page of that model at kalabrand.com

All the best, Magnus

NEW DIY Video! How to change the preamp in a solid body UBass

How to change the preamp in a Kala Solid Body Ubass

 

The second video in my DIY series is finally done!!! It sure took a while to get it done. Mainly because the lack of time.

This spring have been extremely busy. Besides my work as a music teacher and IT-pedagogy I have toured Sweden and just got back from a trip to Brazil…

Anyway, now it’s done! I hope it will be informative and could work as a guide if you want to perform this DIY!

If you have any questions please drop me a line at: ubasslessons@gmail.com

To help out even more please feel free to use this guide in PDF-format!

The next DIY video will be the first in a series of post. This is quite a big project in probably ten parts. More about this soon!

/Magnus

Finally! The World Premiere of The Ubass Ambassadors and their first song ”Mr Z” is here!

the-ubass-ambassadors
The Ubass Ambassadors!

Welcome to a world premiere!

The collaboration. I’m very happy to announce the first song by The Ubass Ambassadors, ”Mr Z”. A collaboration with fellow Kala Ubass Artist, Armin Alic!
I met Armin for the first time at the 2013 Frankfurt Musikmesse in Germany. He worked for Kala at the UBass booth. We quickly became friends and during his first visit to Sweden and my hometown in October 2014 we had really nice ”hangs”, talks and even managed to play/make some music together 🙂

My 2014 trip to the Musikmesse is documented in one of my Playubass newsletters!

The Song. It all started with a drum loop, a chord progression and then a little, if I may say so, catchy melody. We arranged the song together adding keyboard, synths, FXs and a guitar part. The melody was then recorded on UBass (two octaves) and synth. We also overdubbed the melody with our voices!

When Armin got back home to Germany he got a great idea! He said: -”Why not replace the drum loops with a real drummer!” What a great idea! Getting more real musicians adding their craft and colors is always a real plus. Armin’s drummer friend, Felix Engel, recorded a great drum part in his studio. We wanted even more and decided to add percussion too. Max Klaas, the percussionist of Armins band Royal Street Orchestra, was kind to lend us his great skills. This made the song even more alive and colorful!

This past fall I have done a short tour in Sweden. (Four shows celebrating the music of the great Gardestad brothers. Famous for writing lovely swedish pop music. I have a lesson on one of their songs on the video lessons page! Read more about this and my use of a solid body ubass in that show on my Facebook page.) In the band is my long time friend Fredrik Kjellgren on keyboards. We wanted to breath even more live into the song and Fredrik added really nice Rhodes and organ parts.

Now the song was ready! We started mixing and continued to collaborate through the internet. As well as audio we also filmed all the different musicians! To round it of Armin’s friend and the oud player for Royal Street Orchestra, Nikolaos Rondelis us with the audio mastering!

What you’re about to see and hear is the first song from…

…The Ubass Ambassadors…

Armin+Magnus-MrZ
Armin Alic and me during the recording of ”Mr Z”

The song is a tribute to my labrador Zorro – Mr Z 🙂