Just How Heavy Can a U-Bass Get?

I've had this cool Kala U-Bass for a few years. (I did a video on it back when I got it.) I've used it on a few things, especially when I want a sort of Latin-flavored Ampeg Baby Bass sound. (That solidbody upright from the 1960s is largely forgotten, except in Latin dance bands, where it's considered the classic bass.)

But I've recently started rehearsing with a new band featuring my pals Jane Wiedlin, Pietro Straccia, and Dawn Richardson. And for perversity's sake, I decided to try using this little uke bass as the sole bass in band. (And Dawn hits those drums pretty hard!)

The above video demos some sounds I concocted using Fractal's AX8, the "light" pedalboard version of Axe-FX II, the company's flagship amp/effect modeler. I'm quite encouraged by the results! AX8 has no power amp, so I've been plugging into one or both of the Fishman LoudBoxes I use for my solo looping gigs. And if we play somewhere with good monitoring, I can just bring the uke bass and a small shoulder bag. Total lazy old guy gig!

The sonic missions were pretty simple: Amp up the lows. Nix as much of the ugly piezo pickup quack as possible. Concoct enough patches to make a nice, interesting palette for a set. There's still more to do, especially in terms of modifying my technique for the instrument. I'm still not quite comfy to the super-short scale. Also, I'm too accustomed to resting my picking hand on the body or bridge, and the piezo loves to amplify those thumping and scraping sounds.

But overall, I'm encouraged. Plus it's just sick fun. :)

8 comments to Just How Heavy Can a U-Bass Get?

  • Oinkus

    That is just crazy and coming from me that is saying something ! Pretty neat though not sure how to wrap my head around the idea but it doesn’t matter. Need a live soundbyte with the rest of the band playing maybe ?

    • joe

      I will as soon as I can! It’s been working GREAT live. It’s all lows โ€” you don’t get much “click” from it. Which I love, ’cause it sits so neatly under the guitars. (I confess: my ideal bass tone is pretty much a sine wave.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • earwaxpaper

    I got one of these basses last summer. Very fun. I have only used the stock strings. Do you think it is worth trying other strings? I agree with you about the piezo sound. I always run the tone completely off. I have found that the U-bass sounds really cool with an octave pedal. (I use a Boss MO-2,)

  • steve

    I heartily recommend the Aquila Thunder Reds! on the acoustic uBass
    different density per string = better playability and tone but should have new nut. had mine done by Geoff at SF Guitarworks

    on my solid uBass the Pyramid metal on copper core are my choice. i think they’re lower tension than the other metal strings so easier to play which as a guitar player i like.

    great recent article in Premier Guitar.

    Steve in Santa Rosa

  • Aubrey Stewart

    Hay Joe , where ya goin , with that base in you’re hand ?

  • Shoveleaner

    Very cool. I have been running my Kala with the rubber strings through a channel busser and then through an old 4track that i don’t use to record with just mix my Kala richer sounding. Basically does the same thing but looking forward to you getting the funding to go further with your ideas.

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