Bass ukuleles are growing in popularity. Lower basses need a longer string length and large body to achieve that deep, robust sound and make it loud enough. But, is bigger really better? Our bass ukulele review will tell us whether bass ukes can be replacements for bass guitars and whether they are worth the investment.
What is a bass ukulele?
A bass ukulele is a cross between a tiger and a lion, oops wait that would be a liger. It's actually a hybrid of a bass guitar and a ukulele. You may be saying - How is this possible?
They are still tuned in the standard guitar bass tuning of E-A-D-G. The bass ukes run about 21 inches long and have 16 frets. Essentially, a large ukulele, or a mini bass guitar!
How does a bass ukulele work?
The bass ukuleles are equipped to get the sound of a bass guitar. This is through a slightly bigger body than your average uke size, and with polyurethane strings.
In Jim D'Ville's video below, you can see how the strings roll off the pads of your fingers. This creates a different sound compared to pulling the string with your fingernail. I really enjoy the deep, rich sound the Kala UBass makes.
I enjoyed Jim D'Ville's video on bass ukuleles. In the video, you can really see the difference in the strings. Plus, he does a great job of showing you how he plays it and comparing to ukes and guitars.
The polyurethane strings are a little different, especially if you are a regular ukulele player. These strings are thicker and more rubbery. They also take a little bit longer to settle into tune. If you don't like the polyurethane strings, there are other options out there, but a bit harder to find.
How is a bass ukulele different than a bass guitar or a standard uke?
If you're considering purchasing a bass ukulele, I would highly recommend also buying an amp. Bass ukes aren't technically an acoustic guitar, even though it's hollow. Due to the smaller body, the sound doesn't have as much room to bounce around and project.
The low string tension and short scale make for a slightly quieter instrument. If you're a bass guitarist, you know that unplugged, they don't produce a lot of sound. I think it's fine when playing by myself in a small room, but for performances, you'll need an amp!
If you are used to playing a bass guitar, it'll take some time to adjust to the smaller fret spaces. You may even need to do some finger exercises to get used to the tightness.
I would also suggest getting a good strap for your instrument. When I play a soprano uke, I have no problem supporting the weight between my fretting hand and my chest. Due to the extra size of the bass ukulele, you'll need a strap to support the added weight.
What kind of bass ukulele should I buy?
Bass ukes aren't as main stream as your regular bass or ukulele. Unfortunately, we don't have unlimited options to choose from, but we've got our preferred Kala U Bass Ukulele Review below.
The Kala U Bass is the same bass ukulele in Jim D'Ville's video. The Kala brand is my favorite, because they create a budget-friendly product that doesn't skimp on quality. The sound and tones are strong and clear.
The U Bass has a the neck and body of a baritone ukulele. The neck is made of mahogany and a rosewood fingerboard and bridge, with custom designed polyurethane strings. You still have a uke sized fretboard, so get those fingers warmed up.
The U Bass and the custom strings create a good, slappy bass sound that's great for funk music. You can even play it upright if you prefer.
The price is significantly steeper than what you would pay for a normal ukulele, but you are also getting an instrument outside of what I'll call "main stream." If you're looking to create a unique sound to your music, look no further than the Kala U Bass.
Still not sold on the bass ukes? Take a look at this awesome video by Cranbourne Music and feast your ears on the wonderful playings of the Kala Mahogany U-Bass,