My sister plays base, and I heard through the grape-vine that she would really like one of my instruments. There is a company called “Kala” which makes what they call a U-Base. This is based on a baritone ukulele sized body, with special strings so that it is tuned like a standard string base. I had the opportunity to play around with a Kala instrument, look inside with my inspection mirror, etc. Basically I was not impressed with the acoustic sound. You really had to plug it in and use an amplified sound. I did note that the construction was what I consider quite heavy, and this would surely have an effect on both the volume and tone. Of course, as a commercial manufacturer, Kala has to build things more heavily so they don’t get returns, etc. I, on the other hand, could build things lighter, and use materials which I think would suit a ‘base’ sound.
So, this is the result. The redwood top is great for a rounder, richer, low-end response, the bracing and bridge are much lighter than the Kala, and I used metal wound strings, rather than the funny silicone rubber strings that are standard for the Kala U-Base. The result is, I think, a much better acoustic instrument. Of course, I did put in a MiSi pickup so it plugs into amplification too.
Really lovely amber sycamore back and sides, redwood top, three part Alaskan yellow cedar neck (walnut center spline for additional stiffness), radiused Richlite fingerboard, koa binding, black-white-red-white-black purfling, and a new experimental “Picasso” headplate.