Bass Ukulele: The Full Guide for Beginners

bass ukulele

What is a bass ukulele?

A bass ukulele is a mix of a bass guitar and a ukulele. It sounds crazy a little bit, but that’s true. Also, it can be called a miniature bass guitar. There are so many special features and differences in this ukulele that makes it so unique. Usually, a ukulele’s standard tuning is G C E A but in a bass ukulele, it tunes like a bass guitar. A bass ukulele’s standard tuning is E A D G.

However, you may like to know how does this bass ukulele origin. The idea for this miniature bass guitar was firstly brought by a small music instrument company called Road Toad. And the founder was Owen Holt. And after, they published this ukulele and name it as Road Toad Big Bufo Bass. But the sales didn’t go as they expected. Musicians didn’t pay much attention or they refused to buy this product because it’s the price. This bass ukulele was too expensive. By the way, later, the company understand this situation and made a solution, They hired a famous ukulele maker who’s name is Kala. Together they build an affordable bass ukulele in 2007 and it went sale on masses. And it became os popular among musicians.

So now, let’s talk about the features of the bass guitar.


Strings

When we are talking about the strings of the bass ukulele, it’s so special. You know, it’s plays bass. So, the strings should be sound bass too. There are 3 ways to make a strings frequencies low, they are making the strings longer, making the strings thicker or make it looser. But ukulele is a small instrument and none of this is not going to work. But there is a special way to make the note lower, adding more density to the string.

To have strings with more density, bass ukulele strings are made with polyurethane strings. Players say that it feels like a rubber band when playing with polyurethane strings. And also have a long break time so nothing to worry about changing the string often. By the way, these strings take up to a minimum of two weeks to stretch so you might have to tune your ukulele every day within two weeks. Below are the most two popular polyurethane strings you can buy online

And also, there is another type of bass strings that are made from nylon/silk strings. These strings are coated with silver or copper plating which is similar to standard bass guitar strings. But these are lesser-known because it’s 3 times more expensive than polyurethane strings. Below is the best nylon/silk string that you can buy online.


Size

There are 4 sizes of ukulele. They are ukuleles. Soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. Typically, bass ukuleles come with the same size as a baritone ukulele. The overall length is around 30-32″. Do also bass ukulele comes in other 3 sizes? Actually, the answer is no. Because of the sound bass ukulele has to be more bass, it is very likely to go for the largest size. If it is made of smaller sizes, it is very impossible to take the bass sound of it.


Body Type

There are two main types of body types of bass ukuleles. They are,

  • Solid-body
  • Hollow body

.But when you see those both types, a hollow body type is like a giant ukulele and a solid body is like a mini bass guitar. But wait! The body type is not only for the appearance but it plays a huge role when it comes to the sound. Usually, the hollow body type sounds like an upright bass while a solid body type sound more like an electric bass guitar. So, when you are considering the body type also you are considering the sound. This is the main factor you must focus on when you buying a bass ukulele.


Tuning

This is a very important topic. Let’s talk about this more deeply later. Although this is a ukulele, its tuning is not the standard as a normal ukulele. The standard tuning of a bass guitar is E A D G.

When talking about the octave range, there are two types of variations.

  • Bass Ukulele
  • ContraBass Ukulele

Bass ukuleles are usually similar to the bariton size which size is around 30″. The tuning is the same tuning as the standard bass guitar which is E A D G. But the octave is up from one. And contraBass is a little bit larger but on the same octave as the standard bass guitar.


Frets and Fretless

We all know bass guitars only comes in fretted. However, the bass ukulele comes in both fret and fretless. But many of the players choose the fretted one. But you should know there are two advantages of using a fretless ukulele.

  • Because the fretless board is not separated, the range of notes can be played is high. But takes longer to master this.
  • Since the polyurethane strings often suffer from unpredictable stretching, fretless boards allow you to compensate as necessary for flat tuning.

Playing a bass ukulele is somewhat complicated. So, if you are a beginner, I recommend you not to go for a fretless one.

bass ukulele
Credit: Pixabay

How Does A Bass Ukulele Differ from Bass Guitar and Ukulele

It seems like an acoustic guitar when you see a bass ukulele from outside. Usually, acoustic guitars have a hollow in the box, called soundbox, it’s to amplify the sound. So does bass ukulele has a soundbox but it is not an acoustic guitar. If you are buying a bass ukulele, you should purchase an amplifier with it. Although it has a soundbox, it is too small to produce a big sound.

If you have played the bass guitar, you might ever notice that they want to sound a lot unless you plugged it into an amp. As we talk earlier, bass instruments are somewhat quieter instruments due to the tension and density of its strings. But the sound might be enough if you play it in a quieter small room. If you are performing in front of a crowd, even a few people, plugging into an amp is a must.

If you are a bass guitar player and switching into a bass ukulele, you might take a bit of time to adjust your fingers into small spaced frets. Cause, bass ukulele frets are quite small.

How Does A Bass Ukulele Works and How to Play It

Actually, this is sort of a bass guitar in the body of a ukulele. It sounds like a bass guitar and looks like a ukulele. But if it the first time you watching someone playing the bass ukulele, it might be interesting to watch it.

So, let’s watch how Jim D’Ville plays the ukulele. While he plays it, you can clearly notice how the strings work and what it sound like. Watching this could tend you more to buying an u-bass.

Credit: Jim D’Ville


Best Bass Ukulele you can buy in 2020

Kala U-Bass

Kala U-bass is manufactured by one of the biggest ukuleles manufactures in the world. And this ukulele is known as the best ukulele you can buy in 2020 because of its affordable price.

This ukulele comes in polyurethane strings and also has an active EQ, so it is very easy to change your preferences from the ukulele itself. Octave range is in ContraBass. And also Kala U bass comes in both fret and fretless models.

Credit: Guitarras y Bajos Xclusivos

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Hadean Bass Ukulele UKB-23

This is the most affordable u-bass you can have. I highly recommend this if you are in a low budget. In other ways, Hadean bass ukulele can be also known as an alternative to the Kala u-bass. While a Kala U-bass cost around $400 to $500, Hadean only costs about $150.

For the features, it comes with a built-in equalizer and a built-in tuner, so you don’t have to rely on external tuners. Check what it sounds like in a Hadean bass.

Credit: Tony Lee Glenn

Luna BASS TAT

This U-bass is somewhat different from others. And Heres why. While all the other ukuleles need an amp, Luna Bass TAT doesn’t need an amp actually to sound better. It can be played acoustically as well as plugged. The reason for this is the flat wound strings that Luna bass tat have. Flat wound strings can produce more sound than polyurethane strings.

And the other reason for this is, this is the only real bass ukulele on the list, while all the others are contraBass. That means the tuning of the ukulele is one octave higher so, it doesn’t require an amp to amplify the sound. Check the video for more details.

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Credit: Luna Guitars

Kala U-Bass Solid Body

This is the only solid body ukulele on the list. If you are more into bass guitar and loves the sound of the bass guitars. This is the right ukulele for you. There are features that you will amaze. This comes with a battery-free equalizer. And also comes with charging support that only takes 60 seconds to charge for 8-hour playing.

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Credit: kalabrandmusic