I’m finally done with phase 1 of my ”Build your own ubass” series. In this series I will build a Kala Solid Body Ubass. All the parts are from the Kala web shop!
In the first phase 1 worked with the finish of the body. As you might have seen on my instagram or facebook page I wanted to get close to the finish of my Bakithi Kumalo signature solid body 4-string fretless. I’m quite happy with the result and learned a lot in the process!
All associated blog posts regarding this project will be accessible on the DIY page!
I will go into the details about the first phase, but first, let’s check what you need to build your own ubass.
Step 1 – Buy the parts
You need to decide what model you want to build. There are four options:
5-string fretless (the one I’m putting together!)
When I got the parts to my UBass there was a kit option with all the parts included. This is not available anymore so you need to add all the parts yourself at the Kala Web Shop.
Step 2 – Decide on the body finish
I choose to mimic the look of my Bakithi Kumalo signature ubass and went for a so called ”tar” finish. I will not go into detail of the different products I used since these will differ from country to country. It is of course possible to do whatever you want with the body finish!
Please send me pictures of YOUR custom UBass finish so we can show them to the world! 🙂
Step 3 – Put the ubass together
I have compiled a guide from the instructions you could find on the previous version of the kalabrand.com web page.
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!
UPDATE: I’m working on a couple of different new blog posts right now. It’s Part 2 of my ”Miking the UBass” test and a new lesson.
In the meantime please check out this video from the Ubass Day at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles on May 30.
As you can see it’s pure joy to play the UBass. Just look and listen to Abe and Bakithi!
For the first time I’m playing a Kala S.U.B. solid body UBass! The video is from last Sunday’s annual gig at Svampen. (A water tower with a ”roof top” restaurant in Örebro, Sweden).
I will make more videos and a review/test about the solid body UBass version soon. Until then here is a song from the gig. It’s a song by Bobby Gentry called Ode to Billy Joe. There is also a version with Swedish lyrics called Jon Andreas Visa. Here is a link to a great version by my second cousin Rebecka Thörnqvist and pianist Anders Widmark.
More UBass S.U.B. videos, reviews and lessons soon!