Bass ukuleles are a new trend picking up steam and we’re here to talk all about them. While the sweet and high pitched music of the ukulele is great for many people, some may prefer a deeper, funkier sound. That’s where the bass ukulele comes in!
The first time you hear a bass ukulele, you’ll be shocked by the sound coming from such a small instrument. Take a look below –
Let’s go over some of the different options and varieties of these instruments, and then we’ll show you some of the best bass ukulele you can buy.
What is a Bass Ukulele?
A bass ukulele is basically a miniature bass guitar that looks like a ukulele. There are some key differences that makes a bass ukulele unique. Here are the basic components –
- Strings – Bass ukulele’s typically use polyurethane strings which are much more dense and thick than your traditional ukulele strings. The increased density makes up for the shorter length of the string, which allows it to have such a surprisingly deep bass sound. Aquila Thundergut are a popular variety of such strings, which you can find here.
- Tuning – A bass ukulele is tuned the same as a standard bass guitar, making the transition between the two instruments very easy. The strings are tuned to EADG.
- Size – Bass ukuleles are about the same size as baritone ukuleles, which are the largest of the ukulele family.
- Body Type – The two main types of bass ukuleles are hollow body vs solid body. A solid body bass looks and sounds similar to an electric bass guitar. A hollow body bass looks more like a miniature acoustic guitar and may sound more like an upright bass than a guitar.
- Frets vs Fretless – Some bass ukuleles are available in a fretless version, which as you probably guessed means there are no frets on the fretboard! This is another way a bass ukulele can be more like an upright bass than a bass guitar. Fretless can allow for a wider variety of notes, but may take longer to master.
Playing the Bass Ukulele
Unlike the standard ukulele, a bass ukulele is going to require an amplifier if you want anyone other than yourself to hear it.
This could be an advantage when you’re first starting out and learning to play your bass, but when it comes time to put on a performance or really hear how those notes sound, you need to plug your bass into an amplifier. We covered ukulele amps in our electric ukulele post.
Getting Used to Polyurethane Strings
Many people find getting used to polyurethane strings a bit of a challenge at first. They feel much more like rubber bands than the strings you’re used to on either guitar or ukulele.
It will also take several weeks for them to fully break in, and during that time you’ll find yourself having to tighten your tuning gear quite often which is normal.
Unlike the standard ukulele, you won’t be strummed a bass ukulele often. You’ll be relying on finger picking specific notes to create a bass line instead.
The Best Bass Ukuleles
Now that you’ve got some background on the different features of a bass ukulele, here are the best ones available on the market today.
The Kala U-Bass is made by the well known Kala Brand, one of the biggest ukulele brands there is. The Kala U-Bass is the first bass ukulele that was mass-produced at a price affordable enough for the movement to gain traction.
The U-Bass comes in a variety of wood options as well as fretted and fretless varieties, so there should be a U-Bass for anyone. Every U-Bass comes with a gig bag, and Kala uses their own custom polyurethane strings.
Hadean Bass Ukulele UKB-23
Our next instrument is the most affordable on the list, making it the best for beginners. It’s the Hadean UKB-23, which comes with premium Aquila Thundergut strings.
The built-in active equalizer allows you to adjust the volume, bass, mid, and treble directly from the uke. There’s also a built-in tuner, so you don’t need to rely on external devices to stay in tune.
The amazing thing about the UKB-23 is despite being nearly half the cost of other instruments on this list, it still sounds phenomenal. See for yourself below –
Oscar Schmidt Bass Ukulele OUB800
Oscar Schmidt is another well known ukulele brand, and they have created their own bass ukulele. Similar to the Hadean, this uke comes with Aquila strings and an active equalizer. It also comes with a very nice gig bag for easy transportation.
This bass is priced between the Kala U-Bass and the UKB-23, but still low enough that it should fit most musicians budgets.
Kala U-Bass Solid Body
If you’re really after that bass guitar sound and feeling, then look no further than the Kala U-Bass’ Solid Body variety.
One interesting feature of this bass is that it’s a battery-free active EQ. It comes with a charging cable which only needs to be plugged in for 1 minute, and then allows you to play for up to 8 hours without having to charge again! This uke also comes with a gig bag.