Friendly Fred

Hi, I'm FriendlyFred and running this blog. I play 'em all from soprano to baritone, acoustic and electric. Yes, big hands can handle small instruments. Enjoy strumming around and have a good day !

5 Facts About Bass Ukuleles

A few years ago a new ukulele-like instrument was on the market: the  bass ukulele . Or ukulele bass as some like to call it. It's a mini version of an electro-acoustic bass guitar. There are models from different luthiers available now. They all have in common the size ( which is pretty much like a baritone ukulele), polyurethane strings and a piezo pick up. If you never saw or heard one, here's a video from Kala where they show some bass players with their U Bass. You also can see some really good ukulele artists:

Here're my 5 cents on bass ukuleles:


1. Not a bass, not a ukulele

They produced a hybrid of bass and uke. For me this unification wasn't really necessary. Like the liger.  

2. Not an acoustic instrument

Well a bass ukulele has a hollow body. But because of the low string tension, the short scale and the small body you won't hear a lot without an amp. The sound comes from the piezo pickup when the signal is amplified.  

3. Polyurethane strings and piezo pick ups: not the best choice

I played a Kala U Bass. It was manufactured well. But I didn't like the polyurethane strings. It's like pulling a rubber band. Another option are the Pyramid bass ukulele strings with nylon/silk core, wound in silver-plated copper. You find an overview of the strings you can choose from here. And a piezo pick up always produces this " plop " sound when you play a tone.  

4. They actually can sound quite good

As you can see in the linked youtube video above a bass ukulele ( or in this vid a U Bass ) can produce a nice sound. Played with skilled hands and with a good amp it sometimes sounds a bit like a double bass. Of course not for every music style. If you play in a Slayer cover band or you're into punkrock you might cinsider to play a real electric bass.  

5. They're quite expensive

Nowadays you can choose between bass ukuleles from different brands like: And these instruments are pricy. The cheapest I know is the Kahuna bass ukulele from Thomann ( Germany ) which is sold out at the moment.   In the end it's up to you if bass ukuleles are hot or not. I'm old school. When I want to play base, I take my Fender Jazz bass. What's your opinion about bass ukuleles ? Ever played one or even made a video ?

Just let me know and leave a comment.

Yours sincerely FriendlyFred


  1. Tim


    I’m a bass uke enthusiast and i’m developing prototypes.
    Just read your post and i do agree relatively with your opinion.

    1: if it’s not a uke, it’s a bass (a very little one).

    2: it’s not a acoustic instrument and that why i make

    3: i do prefer Thunderguts to Pahoehoes and
    Piezo is the only way to amplify plastic strings.
    But if you don’t like those feel, i can understand it.

    4: oh yes, they can sound quite good !

    5: if the Korala and the Kahuna are relatively affordable,
    IMHO, the Kala and the Stevens are abusively expensive.

    In the end, i’m an old school guy too considering many things,
    but i like to imagine that bass uke could be a real new kind
    of instrument.

    Nice day


    • Friendly Fred

      Thank you so much for your extensive comment.
      I’m glad we agree with most of the points.
      With the blog post I just wanted to express that a bass ukulele is just not my cup of tea.
      But if other people are happy with this instrument, that’s fine.
      If you produce a new bass ukulele please let me know, I’ll make a blog post.
      You said you prefer solid-body, so you might consider short scale basses.

    • Yvette

      I’m new to the Uke [ bought mine yeeratdsy ] but your lessons and scores made everything much easier! I play bass and guitar for some time, and i instantly got along with my new Uke. Thanks for the website!PS: Do you ship your books to Brazil? I would be very happy if so.

      • Friendly Fred

        At the moment we’re only offering our apps ( for iOS and Android devices ) and a DVD in german language. But we’re planning to make some e-books in the future.

        Best wishes

  2. To be fair

    to be quite honest these are less “five facts” as “five opinions” – to which you are ENTIRELY entitled – of course 😉
    50 years on the planet (very much old school in most things),
    35 years on ukes, 6 months on UBass
    and LOVING it.

    • Friendly Fred

      You’re right this is my subjective opinion about bass ukuleles. If you like playing it that’s fine. I know many people have fun with bass ukuleles.
      And this is good. Just not my cup of tea.
      Have a good day.

  3. William Hard

    I have been researching for lighter alternatived to a full bass for my wife and new uke bass seems to be a good fit
    We found Luna is now manufacturing bass ukuleles. The tattoo model is popular but sounds poor. The black model is slightly more and has a good video review. She likes the high tide model and it seems to be made the best. The flat wound strings are a great alternative to the rubber band feel. I would like to see your review of this model.

    • Friendly Fred

      Hi William,

      thanks for your interesting report. Well, as I pointed out in the blog post, bass ukes aren’t my cup of tea. But I’m shure you’ll find some informations on the web.

      Best wishes

  4. Rob Swindol

    I think that a U Bass is very much a bass guitar. What defines a guitar as being a “bass” is the notes which it is able to play, not the size of the instrument.

    Having said that, I do find a few shortcomings with the U Basses that I’ve played, like the texture of the strings and finding something to properly amplify it with, as I’ve noticed that many electric bass amps aren’t a good match for their tone. But the Roland KB amps do sound pretty good.

    While having played a few, I’ve not yet taken the leap toward buying one yet. So far there have just been too many other musical items I’ve wanted or needed any time that I’ve had the money. But I am highly considering buying or building on (from a cheaper baritone Ukulele, for convenience. I am partial to the sound of an upright bass, and these little devils do come close to the double bass sound without breaking the bank or requiring a large vehicle to haul the contraption around in. Another thing that I think I would enjoy, as a person who rarely plays bass, is the scale length. I have relatively short, stubby fingers, and quite often my fret jumping can get rather sloppy on a full scale bass. So the shorter frets are appealing to me.

    • Friendly Fred

      Hi Rob,

      thanks for your interesting comment.
      I think with a Roland amp you can’t do anything wrong. As I wrote in the blog post I don’t like the rubber like strings too.
      If it’s only the length of the neck that bothers you with normal basses than you might take a look at shortscale bass guitars. They have normal pickups and steel strings.

      Cheers FriendlyFred.

  5. Amy

    I am looking to buy a bass uke. I used to play upright bass but, like many people, love the sound, struggled with the size and price of the instrument. I think the u-bass might be perfect for me. Can anyone recommend a good make or model? I am looking for decent sound without breaking the bank. Thanks A

    • Friendly Fred

      If you live in Europe, you might have a look at They offer some cheaper models. For the classic brands like Kala You have to pay much more ( too much imho ).


  6. Arlo Zoos

    I have a Kala uke bass. Bought it about 4 years ago. The polyurethane strings have been a nightmare. They go out of tune constantly and are incredibly hard to tune. The company said to reduce the # of winds on the tuning pegs. My husband cut down the strings and made this adjustment. Still problematic. Can’t gig with it. Also, when I was playing an outdoor festival, it was very sunny and the whole bass went completely out of tune before the end of the set. After this debacle, I switched to the steel strings ($60 per set) which initially were great. However, I was playing another festival, did not get through one song and the E string broke! I bought a new set which lasted a while but again the E string broke down by the bridge. I really love the sound, the weight, the look . I wish I could get some help. I find that Kala folks are very hard to get hold of and are not too helpful. I am really in a quandary. I really like the bass and wish I could get a resolution so I may start gigging with confidence. Maybe I just got a lemon. Any idea, anyone?

    • admin

      Hi Arlo,
      thanks for sharing your impressions. As bass ukes got more popular in the recent years, there are new strings on the market. I guess you just have to try different brands till you find a sufficient one.
      Some strings can’t be shortened due to the fibers on the inside. Maybe a little bit of pre-stretching the strings before tuning might help.


  7. Ken

    Intonation problems on these Kala Ubass are a nightmare and their customer service stinks if you can even get them. (I have owned four)

    • admin

      Thanks for the info Ken.
      Four are quitw a few.

      Best wishes


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *