I just got a new Ubass! It’s the Bakithi Kumalo signature model of the Kala California solid body series. This is a fretless only model. If you’re interested in a fretted California US made solid body Ubass there are several options too. Please check out the California page at kalabrand.com for more info.
The Bakithi Ubass is really a great instrument! It is very well built and feels really solid when you pick it up. The black original Pahoehoe string that it comes with feels really good on this Ubass.
A new addition to the 2014 solid body models (and some of the acoustic/electric models) is a new preamp. I have written about it before. It’s a collaboration between Kala and LR Baggs. The Cali models used to have a MiSi preamp. It was a great battery-less invention that you charged for 60 seconds and got about 8 hours of playing time. The LR Baggs preamp is ”old-school” when it comes to how power is supplied, it uses a 9 volt battery. Although it’s not as ”cool” as the MiSi solution I know it might be easier to use. I have heard of Ubassists that prefer battery operation over the charge-before-play MiSi.
I will do a test and DIY series of posts here at playubass.com regarding these preamps soon!
I got the new Ubass this past Friday and used it on about 90% of the songs on a gig I did the day after! Wow, it sounded wonderful through my Basswitch IQ/DI and Aguilar amp setup. Punchy with a great focused low end and enough mids and top to cut through. A lot of different styles were covered in that concert as the theme was musicals. From jazz to funk to ballads to…
The Bakithi Ubass sounded great throughout all those styles and I was able to get the different sounds I wanted to just by changing my playing style to suit the songs.
To honor Bakithi Kumalo, who has played with Paul Simon since the mid 80’s and plays bass on the iconic Graceland recording, my first jammin’ video with the new Ubass is dedicated to him!
He also happened to have his birthday at the time when I got my UBass! 🙂
I think there will be a lot more Music made and many more videos with this new and wonderful Ubass. Stay tuned!
Some thoughts about the UBass that may help you decide what version to try/buy!
I’m doing this post as a response to a couple of emails I got!
Thanks Stefan and Aron!
About the difference between the fretted and fretless UBass:
I haven’t played the fretted version more than once in a music store. So my experience with that bass is very limited. Since I’m used to play the fretless bass I opted for the fretless because I wanted to come as close as possible to the sound and feel of the upright bass. The construction of the UBass and the string material (solid polyurethane) is the biggest part of it’s sound and the ”tone-sculpturing” is very limited. It’s a fast attack and not that much of a ”mwah” (that’s more easily achieved on a regular electric fretless and an upright bass) so having frets is more of a” feel thing”. Of cause doing long ”glissandos” (slides) will benefit from a fretless board. Using a fretted will obviously render more fret noise.
In conclusion I would say that choosing version is more about what you’re used to play (fretless, fretted or upright) and the feeling you’re after sound vise. BUT as I said I haven’t played the fretted version much at all…yet 🙂
I have (as you’ve probably seen!?) the spruce version. The fretted UBass I tried was with the mahogany top. And if I remembered right the all mahogany version sounds a little bit darker and woodier…But deciding what the sound color is of the different models is really up to everyone to explore and make up by themselves!
One final thing and it’s quite important as well. Since the scale is 20 inch compared to 34-35 on a electric bass and about 42 on a upright you RELLY have to adept to the substantially shorter scale. At first it feels strange and really, really tiny. But after awhile it’s quite comfortably and the benefits (the biggest of them size – not having to lug a heavy bass or a big space consuming upright) is rewarding!
…And watching people go from…haha that’s not gonna work to…that tiny thing really sounds huge…You know you play a great instrument and not some toy store junk!
Hope this will help you a bit on deciding what version to buy!