In addition to being a private violin teacher, Alecia started writing music-related articles 3 years ago and has been enjoying this experience greatly. Loves quilting and scrapbooking in her free time.
Marcus has a vast experience in digital audio and sound design. Thanks to his knowledge, he actively helps musicians with technical problems, improving their audio quality and even promoting their tracks so that thousands of listeners could enjoy some really good music.
Last updated: February 20, 2021
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Bass ukuleles are relatively new and it’s surprising how they’ve catapulted onto the mainstream market. Many musicians appreciate bass ukuleles for their light weight making traveling with them a breeze. This ukulele is far more rhythmic than the other types. Thanks to its unique percussive sound, this ukulele is certainly a must have—especially if you already have bass playing experience. Are you in need of one?
We’ve reviewed six products on the market and found the Donner DUB-1 to be the best bass ukulele. Aside from its stunning aesthetics, you’ll find it extremely comfortable to handle. Plus, it produces remarkable sound. Sure, we’ve voted it as our Editor’s choice but there may be others you will like too; you do have the option to make up your own mind. Simply review the other models to pick the best bass ukulele for your needs.
To make the right decision there are a few factors that you must consider such as the type; is it acoustic or acoustic-electric? The type will determine the sound the unit produces. You’ll also need to compare the materials used in the products’ construction as well as the weight. All these features and more are clearly outlined in the comparison table with reviews below. Find out how each product works by going through the detailed reviews. Your final step to aid in your selection process is to go through the buying guide. Here we’ll tell you all you need to know about bass ukuleles in general. After reading this article, we’re certain you’ll know exactly which model to pick. Are you ready to get started?
As stated earlier, we’ve rated this Donner DUB-1 ukulele as our favorite model. If you’re looking for a high quality acoustic-electric guitar, this is the model to pick.
Other than the fact that this model is a limited edition, you’ll appreciate how the bass includes an equalizer. You’re guaranteed a unique and remarkable sound. There’ll be no buzzing sounds coming from this.
The unit features a pre-amp which is designed to amplify the bass, volume and treble control.
Not only will you find this ukulele easy to operate but also comfortable to handle. You can play your favorite instrument for hours on end without experiencing any hand fatigue.
The body is made of Mahogany which not only makes this instrument visually appealing but durable too.
It features 18 bass frets so you can pick your preferred sound.
The manufacturer incorporated Aquila strings on this instrument. If you know anything about this type of strings, then you’re aware how they allow for better tuning stability. The same strings also guarantee greater accuracy of fret-intonation.
But probably the icing on the cake is that to enjoy these features, you don’t have to pay much money because it’s reasonably priced.
This instrument comes with a cover to protect it during storage or transportation. The bag is easy to sling over your shoulder so traveling around with the u-bass will be hassle free.
Unfortunately this model is ideally suited for right handed people only. Also, bear in mind that the strings take a little time to get used to. But over time you’ll play perfectly well.
If you’ve budgeted a little more for your u-bass then consider picking this unit. Like the model reviewed above, the body is also made of Mahogany. You’ll be definitely playing in style if you pick this instrument. Plus it’ll last you a long time thanks to the solid construction. The fingerboard is made of walnut which also contributes to the unit’s aesthetics.
The instrument features a built in tuner which makes it easy to operate. Novice players will find this unit easy to learn on.
Also, it comes with an active EQ to help enhance the sound quality.
The manufacturer also included a padded gig bag which will protect the instrument from premature damage. Thanks to the bag, you’ll also find it easy to carry around. Weighing around 4lb, it’s clear how light this instrument is which also contributes to easy transportation.
Though it’s somewhat small, it produces a surprisingly powerful bass which you’ll appreciate. But note that you’ll have to plug it in first because it’s not as loud when it’s not plugged in.
You’ll find the strings relatively loose compared to other models. But not to worry because they are tight enough to play so they won’t affect performance. Some people feel the original polyurethane strings made the instrument produce a buzz sound during play. But the problem can be solved by simply replacing them with wound strings.
This model has many features that are similar to a standard bass guitar, starting with the sound. It’s designed to play the same notes as the latter. Secondly, you can set it up using the same notes as those of a standard bass guitar.
However what’s unique about this model is its extremely portable bass which makes it enjoyable to use.
Not only does it produce impressive sound but it allows for exceptional play ability too. The Aquilla strings on this instrument make it produce an excellent low-end tone. Professional players will definitely appreciate this unit.
This model is also made using mahogany which makes it aesthetically pleasing.
The Caramel bass ukulele features a preamp designed to amplify sounds. In addition, the unit also comes with an integrated tuner to help enhance the sound quality of your play.
Another of its unique features includes the LED backlight screen which can enhance your performance at night on an aesthetic level.
For such a high performance instrument, you’ll appreciate how it’s designed for low battery consumption.
You have the option to play it either acoustically or amplified. Be sure to plug it in to enjoy the latter. You won’t even have to purchase the cable because it comes with one. Also, the manufacturer included a few additional items that you’ll appreciate. It comes with the wall hanger, so you can store your instrument with convenience. The uke also comes with a 30” gig bag for safe traveling. It’s relatively lightweight and easy to carry around.
Some users feel that it has cheap tuners. But overall it’s a solid instrument worth buying.
This is one of the lightest bass ukuleles on our list.
Moving on to the sound, you’ll appreciate the deep tone this instrument produces. The lows don’t sound muddy and give good definition.
Like most models reviewed above, this instrument also features a built in preamp to give you just the right amount of tone shaping. Simply plug it in to enjoy an amplified sound.
The overall construction of this instrument is very solid and it’s made according to industry standards. Its entire back, top and sides are made of koa while the neck is constructed using mahogany. On the other hand, the fingerboard is made up of walnut. All the materials used in the instrument’s construction will guarantee the product’s durability.
The overall finish is black which enhances the instrument’s visual appeal—if that’s your favorite color.
This bass ukulele features four large die-cast tuning machines which are designed to offer greater precision when playing the instrument. Chances of your bass dropping out of key with this model are highly unlikely.
This is one of the few models that doesn’t come with a built-in tuner but of course this doesn’t compromise the sound produced.
The instrument features Aquila Thundergut strings that make it a joy to play.
It’s considerably more expensive compared to the other models. But it’s one of the better sounding options compared to other models in the same price range.
If you’re looking for a high performance electric bass ukulele, then this is the model for you. Weighing just over 5lb, you can tell that it’s a lightweight unit. You won’t have any trouble moving it to your gig location.
It’s generally small compared to other brands but despite the size, the instrument produces a gigantic sound.
What caught our attention is the light natural color of the instrument which makes it very attractive. You do have the option of picking this instrument in blue if you’re not a fan of natural colors.
The top, back and sides are made using nut & swamp ash while the fingerboard is made of Rosewood. It’s clear how solid the design of this instrument is so you’ll be able to use it for a long time.
The strings are of extremely high quality and are imported from Italy. Running your fingers through them will be very easy. The fact that the strings are made of nylon enhances the sound quality of the instrument.
You’ll appreciate how the neck features adjustable truss rods. As a result you can adjust them depending on your desired action.
Many musicians who don’t like traveling with a full set of instruments prefer this model. It’s designed to save a lot of space thanks to the compact design so storing it won’t be an issue.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a gig bag so you’ll have to purchase one separately.
You’ll find the instrument easy to operate and tune depending on the sound you want. Some users do feel that it produces too much reverb but that’s entirely a matter of preference.
You’ll appreciate how it’s reasonably priced so you don’t have to pay much money to own an excellent ukulele.
And now for our budget pick. This is the instrument to buy if you want a considerably high performance bass ukulele under $200.
It’s an acoustic-electric instrument so you can decide to plug it or play it acoustically.
The instrument weighs only 4lb which makes it very lightweight.
Like all the models reviewed above, the construction is pretty solid. For such an inexpensive unit, the instrument is made up of high quality materials. The top, neck and sides are made of Walnut while the fingerboard is constructed using Rosewood. Overall, it’s an attractive instrument that’ll have you playing in style.
The unit features a preamp that’s designed to amplify the volume, bass and treble control depending on the sound you want to hear.
The neck is also adjustable so you can adjust it according to your preferred action. You’ll appreciate that this model also features Aquila strings which are relatively easy to operate. Thanks to these strings, tuning the instrument will be easy plus they guarantee increased accuracy. You won’t be going off key easily. This makes it the ideal instrument to pick for novice musicians looking for an entry level bass ukulele.
The overall design and setup of this unit are similar to those found in a standard bass guitar. Some models however may come with untrimmed fret ends that you’ll need to file down.
It’s extremely portable.
While this model is ideally suited for right-handed musicians, you’ll find other models from the same manufacturer that are designed for left-handed people.
What we liked:
Easy to operate
High quality materials
What could be better:
Not for left-handed people
Untrimmed fret ends
Things to Consider
Have you decided which u bass you’re going to buy? If not, maybe this buying guide will help put things into perspective for you. We’ll talk you through the major factors to consider before finalizing your purchase. After this, we’ll answer a few questions that you might have regarding bass ukuleles. Hopefully this will aid in your decision making process.
Why choose a bass ukulele?
With many musical instruments to select from, why pick a bass ukulele rather than the other types?
As the name suggests, this instrument specializes in producing bass sounds. So if you’re a fan of low end tones, then this is the instrument to pick.
Not only do they cover a much lower register compared to other ukuleles but they’re certainly attractive. The materials and finishes used in most bass ukuleles make them stunning musical instruments to look at; and it makes them durable.
From the reviews above, it’s clear how bass ukuleles are extremely small and lightweight. You won’t face any challenges moving your instrument around. But despite being small, they produce an incredibly loud sound.
Features to consider before buying a bass ukulele
For the ordinary man, these instruments look almost identical. But we’ll outline the key features you need to inspect on each model before making your final pick.
The first thing you’ll probably need to consider before buying a bass ukulele is the type. This is because the type significantly influences the body of the instrument which affects sound quality. But generally the type you pick is entirely a matter of preference as it depends on your style of music. There are basically three types to pick from:
Electric: With electric bass ukuleles such as the MiNi 4 u-bass, the body is solid. But the disadvantage of a solid body is that it can’t be heard without the amp for ukulele. Generally, electric bass ukuleles produce sounds that are reminiscent of electric bass guitars.
Acoustic: When it comes to the acoustic bass ukuleles, they feature hollow bodies. And they give you the flexibility to play the instrument with or without amplification. This type produces a sound that more or less resembles an upright bass.
Acoustic-electric: Most items reviewed on or list are acoustic electric ukuleles such as the Donner DUB-1. These are very versatile and allow you to play both acoustically or after plugging in.
Materials used for body
The materials used in the construction of the ukulele will determine durability and how the overall instrument looks. In some cases, the materials on the body also affect the sound, tone and quality of the instrument.
From our reviews it’s clear how all our products are made up of variations of wood—with the most common being mahogany and walnut. Mahogany is classified under soft wood and ukuleles made of this material produce warm mellow tones. The Caramel CUB402 is an example of an instrument made using mahogany.
In actual fact mahogany is known to produce even better sound as it ages. Wood generally makes the instrument attractive plus it guarantees its durability. The wood is usually treated with lacquers to increase the product’s lifespan.
Other types of wood used on a bass ukulele’s body include koa, maple and rosewood.
Some materials used are steel and plastic although these aren’t very common in this niche of the industry.
Fretboard and neck materials
The material used on the fretboard and neck of the ukulele also influences the sound it produces as well as the aesthetics. With most ukuleles, the materials used on the body are usually the same as those found on the neck. We’ll list a few examples:
Rosewood: This material can contribute to the quality of high tones and give depth & warmth to the overall sound.
Ebony: Most high end guitars have necks made of ebony. It’s an extremely hard and dense wood that improves the sound clarity.
Pau Ferro: Like ebony, Pao Ferro is also dense and hard but has only started gaining popularity recently. Plus it’s extremely attractive and immediately enhances the ukulele’s aesthetics.
Maple: Maple also improves the tone of the guitar by enhancing clarity, crispness and definition.
The finish on the ukuleles largely influences the overall look of the instrument. In addition, depending on the finish used, it can protect the ukulele from premature damage. Common finishes used on bass ukuleles include gloss, satin, vanish and lacquer:
Satin: Those with a satin finish usually have a soft and matte appearance. This is the finish you want if you prefer a natural looking instrument.
Gloss: Ukuleles with a gloss finish give off an attractive shiny appearance which resembles a mirror-like look.
Painted: Some manufacturers paint the ukes with bright bold colors. But these seldom look very attractive compared to the other types.
Lacquer: Lacquer is a hard protective coating that protects the wood on the instrument from damage.
Do you want a bass ukulele that’s fretted or fretless? Generally most experienced players prefer fretted instruments to fretless. Why?
With fretless boards you can play the instrument high up on the neck which is something you can’t do with the fretted bass ukuleles. This is necessary since these instruments are notorious for bad intonation so playing high up significantly improves the sound.
Also, fretless instruments allow for better flat tuning especially if the strings become loose.
But we’ll point out that only experienced players can play the fretless ukuleles. Beginners? Not so much.
We’ve concluded that most of these bass ukuleles are pretty light compared to the other types. But each product varies in weight and this ultimately determines how easy the instrument is to carry around. After all, you will be traveling with this instrument from one gig to another.
The weight will also affect handling of the instrument. Heavier ukuleles may not be very comfortable to handle so you may not be able to play the instrument for long.
On the other hand, a lighter ukulele is much easier to handle and play.
There are a few extra features you need to consider before buying your instrument. You just need to determine if you really need them. We’ll highlight a few features worth considering.
Types of Strings
In our reviews, we made a lot of reference to the strings found on the instruments. The strings will to a large extent determine how easy—or difficult—it’ll be for users to play the instrument. We list the common types:
Polyurethane: The general consensus according to most musicians is that strings made of polyurethane have a “rubber band feel”. They are both dense and thick. As a result such strings have a long “break-in’’ time as you give them room to stretch. Only after they have stretched will you find it easier to run your fingers through. And this usually takes at least two weeks. The Kala Wanderers U-Bass is an example of an instrument with polyurethane strings.
Aquila Thunderguts: Most ukuleles are made using these strings for example the Luna Bari Bass ukulele. And the reason for their popularity is that they are easy to operate.
Nylon: Some ukuleles such as the MiNi 4 string model have nylon strings which feel similar to standard bass strings. If you’ve ever had any experience playing a standard bass guitar, you can pick a guitar which has these strings. The only downside to this type is that they’re rather expensive.
Who said you can’t play your instrument in style? While functionality and performance is important, you don’t have to sacrifice aesthetics. Why not pick an instrument that plays well and looks attractive?
We’ve reached the conclusion that bass ukuleles made of Mahogany are visually pleasing. But of course this is entirely a matter of preference.
It’s not uncommon for these instruments to malfunction or get damaged. The least you can do to protect your investment is to purchase an ukulele that comes with a manufacturer warranty on all defects.
Some manufacturers include a bag with their product. You’ll agree that a protective bag will certainly keep your instrument safe from damage when it’s not in use. In addition, this bag will also make it easy to transport your ukulele.
Some bags are even padded to allow for comfortable carrying of your instrument with minimal shoulder fatigue.
How to tune your bass ukulele
Tuning your bass ukulele can be tricky initially, but once you figure it out, it’ll be a walk in the park. Hopefully the following tips will make it easy for you if it’s your first time.
If you’ve ever tuned a bass or upright bass guitar, then you’re in luck because the process is almost the same.
As you might be aware, a standard bass ukulele is tuned to the notes E, A, D to G. Just keep the following three easy steps in mind.
Change the Strings
If you purchase a bass ukulele and it has subpar strings, the first thing you want to do is to change them. This is because not only are they difficult to tune but they don’t produce a good sound.
If you want, you could give them some time to break in but if they don’t change, then consider purchasing a new set. This will certainly save you a great deal of frustration.
You must also change the set regularly. The frequency at which you decide to change them is entirely up to you but just make sure it’s often enough. Changing them is important because over time, these strings tend to get brittle. Plus, they’re also likely to get damaged because of the constant pressing on the frets. Both situations will definitely make it difficult to tune your instrument. Besides, a new set will significantly enhance the sound quality.
Pull the Slack Out
After changing the strings, you must pull the slack out. Because most bass ukulele strings are both thick and dense, they tend to stick to the nut more than they do to the other strings. Unfortunately, this will cause tension along the nut causing the strings to miss a tune.
But not to worry, by simply taking each string and gently pulling it away from the body, this immediately solves the problem. By doing this you’re stretching the strings to prevent them from sticking to the nut. As a result, the tension is minimized and the strings will play properly.
We’ll reiterate that the pulling must be as gentle as possible to avoid damaging the strings altogether.
Tune Upwards not Downwards
The direction in which you tune is extremely important. As a general rule of thumb, each time you’re tuning your instrument always make sure that you tune from below the note you’re attempting to reach. This basically means if you’re above the note, tune downwards first before tuning up.
The reason for this is that this process prevents the strings from sticking to the nut. As a result, the strings will hold a tune for a much longer period.
Alternatively you can tune your instrument using an ukulele tuning app and the most common types are the:
Android Fine Chromatic Tuner: This app uses the built-in mic located on your phone to help you tune the instrument.
iPhone Free Chromatic Tuner: This app can be downloaded from iTunes.
Chord: This app works on both Apple and Android devices.
You can either plug it into a socket or play it without plugging in.
In your opinion, which product is the best bass ukulele from our list? If you’re still unsure, have a look at our top three picks. We’ll start with the Donner DUB-1 which is an exceptionally high quality material made of Mahogany. It’s not only attractive but very easy to use. Plus it produces a rich sound.
In second place is the Kala Wanderer U-Bass which weighs only 4lb making it super lightweight. It’s also constructed using high quality materials and you’ll find it easy to operate.
Lastly we have the Caramel CUB402 which produces impressive low end tones. You can plug it in or play it acoustically which makes it a versatile instrument. It helps that it’s also constructed using high quality material so you’ll have it for a long time.
But those are just our recommendations, which bass ukulele impressed you more?