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So, you’re interested in learning the bass.
But you’re not interested in buying a big bass. You want something a little easier to hold and play.
Or maybe you’re looking for a bass that’s more portable, and easier to carry around.
It could even be that you’re looking for a gift for a friend.
Whatever the situation, if a bass ukulele is the solution you’ve landed on, then you’re in the right place at the right time.
In this guide, we’ll look at the best bass ukuleles for beginners, and we also answer some of the most frequently asked questions about bass ukes. Let’s get into it!
Kala UBASS-EM-FS/LH Exotic Mahogany Left-Handed Acoustic-Electric U-Bass
The Kala UBASS-EM-FS/LH comes with an exotic maple top, back and sides, mahogany neck, walnut fingerboard, Shadow U-Bass NFX Electronics, GraphTech TUSQ with composite saddle, and gig bag.
Again, if this somehow escaped your attention, “LH” stands for “left-handed.” This is a left-handed instrument, intended for left-handed players. The strings are set for left-handed players, and the pickup controls are also made to be more accessible to lefties.
Left-handed players, however, should be thrilled with this highly rated instrument.
Item weight: 4.4 lbs.
Package dimensions: 31.89 x 32.28 x 11.81 inches
Kala UBASS-FM-FS Flame Maple Fretted U-Bass Acoustic-Electric
The Kala UBASS-FM-FS is a beautiful instrument overall, which is reflected in its price.
This bass ukulele features a wood grain with curled figuring, mid-century modern asymmetrical rosette made with mahogany and maple, and flame maple top, back and sides.
Additionally, it comes with Fishman U-BASS EQ electronics, mahogany binding, maple neck, satin finish, laurel fingerboard and bridge, Graph Tech TUSQ nut and saddle, and custom Hipshot Ultralite tuners.
You also get Toad Pahoehoe proprietary polyurethane strings, and a deluxe padded gig bag.
This is a highly rated bass ukulele. We couldn’t find any criticism for it, but it does cost more than any of the other products mentioned on this list.
Item weight: 5.89 lbs.
Package dimensions: 34 x 14 x 6 inches
Kala UBASS-EBY-FL Striped Ebony Fretless U-Bass Acoustic-Electric
The Kala UBASS-EBY-FL fretless U-Bass features an all-striped mahogany construction. It comes with Shadow U-Bass NFX electronics, custom Hipshot Ultralite tuners, and a deluxe padded gig bag.
Just in case this escaped your attention, it’s important that we underscore the fact that this is a fretless ukulele bass. It could still be a great instrument for beginners, and it even has fret markings on the fretboard, but there is a bit of a difference between having frets and not, with the sound of the instrument being the main difference.
Most customers were quite happy with this bass ukulele, and even thought it was a quality instrument. One reviewer, however, said they had a minor issue with the backplate.
Item weight: 4.4 lbs.
Package dimensions: 33 x 13 x 6 inches
Kala UBASS-JYMN-FS Journeyman Acoustic-Electric U-Bass With F-Holes
Here we have the stylish Kala UBASS-JYMN-FS Journeyman acoustic-electric U-bass with F-holes (giving it a bit of a classical look).
This instrument comes with a mahogany top, back and sides, cream binding, Venetian cutaway, maple neck, UK-500B piezo pickup, and a padded gig bag.
This could make for a great gigging bass because of the onboard electronics, not to mention the cutaway, which gives you easy access to higher notes.
Most users loved the bass, with some saying this is the best bass uke they’ve ever played. They liked its big sound, too.
Unhappy customers are those that seemed to have issues with shipping, but if you have any issues with shipping, be sure to reach out to the shipper and get an exchange or refund.
Item weight: 4.4 lbs.
Package dimensions: 8 x 12 x 35 inches
Kala U-Bass-WNDR-FS Wanderer Acoustic-Electric U-Bass Ukulele
The onslaught of Kala U-Bass products continues (they have some of the best bass ukes available), with the Kala U-Bass-WNDR-FS Wanderer.
This instrument comes with a mahogany top, body and neck, custom black die cast tuners, UK-500B piezo pickup, and a stain finish.
The convenient bundle also comes with a gig bag, clip-on chromatic tuner, Austin Bazaar polishing cloth, and instructional DVD.
Reviewers liked its playability, intonation, lack of buzzing, as well as its plugged-in sound.
Some buyers, however, said the bass uke didn’t sound like much when not plugged in.
Item weight: 5.24 lbs.
Package dimensions: 32 x 6 x 13 inches
Kala Zebrawood Acoustic-Electric U-BASS
The Kala Zebrawood acoustic-electric U-Bass comes with a Zebrawood body, rosewood binding, satin finish, mahogany neck, walnut fretboard active EQ electronics, walnut bridge, GraphTech NuBone nut, custom black die-cast tuners, and a deluxe padded gig bag.
This instrument gets its name from the alternating tan and dark brown zebra-like stripes of the wood grain. It certainly is sharp looking.
Overall, customers thought this instrument was great value, good quality, and found it fun to play too.
Item weight: 4.84 lbs.
Package dimensions: 31.89 x 32.28 x 11.81 inches
Alston Fretless Electric Acoustic Ukulele Bass
The Alston fretless electric acoustic ukulele bass features a satin polished butterfly wood body, rosewood fingerboard, bridge and saddle, abalone inlay rosette, geared black machine tuners, Aquila strings, electronics with built-in tuner, and two lithium batteries.
This feature-rich fretless bass uke was a hit among reviewers, who liked its sound, appearance, and playability.
Item weight: 2 lbs.
Package dimensions: 30 x 10.5 x 3.06 inches
AKLOT Solid Bamboo Electric Bass Ukulele
The AKLOT solid bamboo electric bass ukulele features a solid bamboo wood construction, preamp with tuner, 23:1 ratio tuning pegs and adjustable truss rod.
This bass uke gives you a big sound in a small package. Users report getting addicted to playing it and thought it was great value for the money too.
Some buyers didn’t think much of the uke, but apparently received the wrong order regardless. Be sure to exchange or refund wrong orders.
Item weight: 5.19 lbs.
Package dimensions: 31.75 x 13.5 x 5.51 inches
Kmise Electric Acoustic Bass Ukulele
The Kmise electric acoustic bass ukulele is a budget-friendly option for beginners.
This bass uke comes with built-in electronics and tuner and adjustable action. The bundle comes with the uke, gig bag, strap, Allen wrench, and five picks.
Users said they loved that this uke came with the full package and thought it had good build quality and great sound too.
Some buyers did have issues with the responsiveness (or lack thereof) of the strings though.
Item weight: 5.5 lbs.
Package dimensions: 31.81 x 13.35 x 5.87 inches
Donner DUB-1 Acoustic Electric Bass Ukulele Mahogany Body With Gig Bag
The Donner DUB-1 acoustic electric bass ukulele is a limited-edition instrument with electronics, mahogany top, body and neck, and Aquila Nylgut strings. It also comes with a quality gig bag.
Users report love playing this bass, and enjoyed its sound, which kind of resembles an upright bass.
Some had issues with fret buzz though.
Item weight: 5.33 lbs.
Package dimensions: 31.3 x 13.2 x 5.7 inches
Caramel CUB402 Electric All Solid Mahogany Ukulele Bass
The Caramel CUB402 electric ukulele bass comes with an all-solid mahogany body, Aquila ukulele bass strings, electronics, padded gig bag, strap, patch cable, wall hanger, and cleaning cloth.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one budget kit, then this is not a bad place to look.
Reviewers loved this little instrument. Some even said it was the best bass ukulele they tried.
Apparently, some customers had issues with the frets, but they were in the decided minority.
Item weight: 2.2 lbs.
Package dimensions: 30.91 x 10.43 x 3.19 inches
What Should I Look For In A Bass Ukulele?
You would think that choosing a bass uke would be easy… But there are just too many factors to consider!
To an extent, you can’t go wrong with any of the above instruments. They are all highly rated and users generally had a good experience with them.
But depending on how long you’ve been playing, what you’re looking for, how you intend to use the bass ukulele, and what your budget is, you’re probably going to be looking for different things.
Not to worry, though. We’ve done a relatively comprehensive analysis of the main factors you should consider when buying below. They are:
- Right- or left-handed
Let’s dive right in.
Sound is at the top of the list, since how an instrument sounds will play a big role in how you feel about it. A nice sounding instrument begs to be played more, while an inferior instrument can discourage continued use.
Generally, a higher priced, higher quality instrument tends to sound better than those that don’t cost as much and are made of lesser materials. So, you usually get what you pay for.
But the best way to know whether a specific bass uke sounds good to you is to check online demos and reviews. There are plenty of videos out there, and you should be able to find one that features the instrument you’re thinking about buying.
As we’ve found out for ourselves, each bass uke does sound a little different than the other, so it’s worth setting aside a little time to do your homework before buying.
Playability is another major factor that will affect your enjoyment of the instrument.
Some bass ukes will come ready to play straight out of the box, and others may require some fiddling and adjustment before they are ready.
Don’t forget that strings and frets do play a big part in the playability of your instrument. If you have already adjusted the truss rod, then the next thing to look at would be strings and frets.
The strings your uke comes with may or may not be to your liking, but always remember that you can find other strings at the store or online.
In terms of frets, if you’re handy, you may be able to file them down, replace them, or adjust them yourself. If not, it would be worth taking your instrument to a qualified tech. You will pay a fee to have your instrument looked at, but it’s usually worth it.
Do you need a bass uke with electronics or not? Most bass ukes come with them, so this isn’t much of a decision. Having said that, it would probably best to get an instrument with built-in electronics than one without.
Some bass ukes sound okay “unplugged,” but keep in mind that bass frequencies seem to like larger enclosed spaces. They’re in a frequency you “feel” rather than “hear.”
Bass ukes have small bodies. That’s what makes them portable and fun, but obviously it can affect the amount of bass you can squeeze out of them.
If you’re able to plug in your bass uke, its tone and volume will still be affected by the body of the instrument itself, but you can have a lot more control over it with an amp or PA system.
By the way, those with a discerning ear will certainly want to invest in an instrument with quality electronics, as it does make a big difference in recording or performance.
You’ve got a lot to choose from when it comes to looks, from solid mahogany body ukes to Zebrawood tops.
Some of the nicer ones usually cost a little more, though that’s not always the case. Generally, the better the materials and production methods, the more the instrument costs.
Esthetics are probably a lesser consideration overall, especially compared to ones already mentioned – sound, playability, and electronics. But for some people, this is important because of their image or brand.
Either way, we thought we’d include it in the list of criteria to consider.
Most bass ukuleles come with a gig bag. Others come with strings, a strap, a tuner, picks, and so forth.
Bass is often played with fingers rather than a pick, although that’s not to say some bass players don’t use picks at times. Picks can be nice to have around.
A strap can come in handy too, if you want to play standing up, and an extra pack of strings never hurt anyone.
But it’s good to know that all-in-one bundles generally come with lesser quality instruments overall.
If accessories are important to you, there’s nothing wrong with springing for the bundles. Otherwise, you might enjoy a better-quality instrument.
Most ukulele basses are fretted. Others are fretless. It’s quite amazing that a fretless ukulele bass even exists, but it’s certainly a cool idea.
In most cases, you should probably buy a fretted instrument. This is what’s “standard,” and most people learn to play on a fretted instrument first.
If you’re looking for something a little different to add to your collection, you might enjoy the fretless. But generally, only if you have a fretted instrument already.
A fretless instrument, compared to a fretted instrument, allows for more sliding and “in-between” notes compared to fretted instruments. Some might say they are a little harder to play, too.
The choice is ultimately yours, but it’s good to be aware of the differences.
Right- Or Left-Handed
This should be a relatively straightforward decision based on which of your hands you consider dominant.
That said, pay careful attention to the list of instruments reviewed above, because there are a couple of left-handed bass ukes in there. They should be clearly marked, but just in case.
If there’s any confusion, then let me clarify:
A right-handed player generally plucks with their right hand and frets with their left hand.
A left-handed player usually plucks with their left hand and frets with their right hand.
Make sure to check the product specs before purchase.
Most bass ukuleles fit comfortably in the $100 to $500 range. There’s nothing overly cheap, and nothing exorbitant. Everything tends to fit nicely in that beginner to beginner-intermediate level of pricing.
That said, we know that $500 could be a lot for some. We always advise thinking about your budget before the purchase, as it can help you narrow your options and avoid overspending.
We don’t recommend going into debt to purchase musical gear. So, bear that in mind as you’re shopping around.
If the uke you’re thinking about buying costs more than you’re willing to spend right now, then take your time, and save up for it!
What Is The Best Bass Ukulele For A Beginner?
It doesn’t matter too much whether you’re a beginner or someone with more experience.
The main difference between instruments featured here is that some sound and play better than others. And in large part this is determined by the materials used and the manufacturing process.
It can take a while for a beginner to notice the difference between a cheaper and more expensive instrument, but in due time, all musicians tend to notice – they can see, hear, and feel the difference.
And this certainly isn’t to say a beginner won’t enjoy playing on a higher quality instrument.
At the end of the day, your budget will probably end up being the biggest factor. If you can afford a more expensive instrument, that might be the right way to go.
But if you aren’t sure whether you’re going to be playing ukulele long-term, then it makes sense to go with a more affordable instrument – you’re less likely to regret the purchase.
The best instrument is the one that’s right for you, at the risk of sounding like a cop-out.
Is A Bass Ukulele Exactly Like A Bass?
Not exactly, no.
The main difference, of course, is the size of the instrument. A bass uke is quite a bit smaller than an acoustic, electric, or upright bass. That makes it considerably more portable too, though.
The size of the instrument will obviously affect tone. Basses are generally bigger than guitars for a reason. You can get more bass out of them.
I’m not saying bass ukes sound bad, though. You can find plenty of demos and reviews on YouTube, and some of these instruments sound quite good all on their own!
Bass ukes are usually tuned the same as standard basses (E-A-D-G), so that makes them easy to use in a variety of practicing, rehearsal, or performance scenarios.
Bass ukuleles don’t always come equipped with standard steel strings, so that might take some getting used to, if you’re used to playing standard electric basses. That said, you can always find string replacements online based on your preferences.
The fact that most bass ukes come with electronics certainly makes them versatile. You’d want a high-quality instrument for performance or recording situations, but you can get away with a lot less for general practice and jamming situations.
Playing on a bass uke will probably feel a little different than playing on a standard bass as well. But to that extent, you could say there are a little friendlier to those with small hands.
There are similarities and differences, but fundamentally whatever you learn on a bass uke is transferable to standard bass as well.
What Are The Best Bass Ukulele Brands?
Here are some of the top bass ukulele brands on the market:
- Kala. Kala makes quality instruments that are great for players of any level, and their artist roster includes the likes of Vance Joy, Walk Off The Earth, Mandy Harvey, Rob Scallon, Emily Arrow, and others.
- Aklot. Aklot makes banjoleles, ukuleles, and violins, in addition to clarinets, saxophones, harmonicas, kalimbas, djembes, and more. For the most part, they sell affordable bundles for starter musicians.
- Kmise. Kmise makes affordable beginner ukuleles, banjos, guitar necks, guitar accessories, kalimbas, and more.
- Donner. Donner is mostly known as a bargain brand. That said, many of their products are better than you’d expect for the price.
- Caramel. Caramel makes solid beginner to intermediate level instruments with beautiful designs. They charge a little more than bargain brands, but for some, it will be worth it!
Top Bass Ukuleles For Beginners, Final Thoughts
Bass ukuleles can be a ton of fun to play. They are small and portable, which means you can take them just about anywhere you go to practice and perform.
Most come with electronics, which means you can plug them into your favorite amps, or the PA system at an open mic or music venue.
These babies allow you to practice while you’re away from home, and even join in on spontaneous jam sessions.
There’s a lot to consider if you’re thinking about buying one, but so long as your expectations are reasonable, you will probably enjoy having one in your collection.
With all the information shared above, you should easily be able to find a bass uke you’ll be happy with. As always, have fun shopping!