I Love You, Man is one of my favorite movies. When I started writing this best bass ukulele buyers guide, I couldn’t stop thinking about the “Slappin Da Bass” scene! Anyways, I think I’ve gotten it out of me now, let’s begin…
You may hear the word ukulele and automatically find yourself on the sandy beaches of Hawaii, listening to its sweet melodies and drinking in the evening breeze while watching the setting sun disappear below the distant horizon line.
While this is accurate in some light, the ukulele actually didn’t originate on this beautiful island chain, as many like myself were shocked to discover.
While the name itself is of Hawaii origin, traditionally, the actual instrument was born in the Madeira Islands of Portugal and is what is known as a Machete de Braga.
Fast forward to today, It has a large appeal due to its versatile nature in terms of playing ability, and overall tone and sound it gives to the player’s ears. Through increased sales and renovations constructed over time, a number of different sizes and variations came to be, making it even more of an all-around liked instrument.
While the general sound of the ukulele remains relatively gentle and soft in nature, the options one can choose to play range from more high pitched tones to more lower-pitched tones.
Today, you can choose to master the super soprano, soprano, concert ukulele, tenor, baritone, and the most unique of them all, the bass ukulele!
Surprisingly enough, the instrument creates clear and pleasant low tones, similar to that of a standard bass but of course with limited playing capability in some aspects. However, it does offer super portability!
The bass ukulele is larger than most other ukuleles, but are still only a fraction in size when compared to a normal-sized bass or acoustic bass guitar. They still play the same notes and can be tuned to the same standard tuning or an octave above that, which is useful.
The neck is small in size and thus limits note range and playing capability in some aspects, but this doesn’t take away from its necessary addition in any instrument line up.
There are both acoustic and electric bass ukuleles on the market today, with varying different plug-in options.
If you’re looking into buying one of these unique, compact instruments (which I highly recommend you should), it’s worth looking at the different options you have to choose from, as the quality, price, and build range wildly.
10 Best Bass Ukuleles in 2020
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with your options, but this list will help you to narrow down your options!
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Table of Contents
Oh, and a heads up! There may be some products which I recommend for which I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. All recommendations are genuine and/or verified by myself!
Just to put it out there, this is the bass ukulele I own. I’m no bass player and I didn’t want to dish out loads of money for one, so I went with this well-priced option.
Without trying to be biassed, this is my honest review and I genuinely believe this is the best bass ukulele overall at its price point.
While other bass ukuleles may not have a standard look to them, as certain features may set them apart from other builds, the Caramel All Solid Mahogany Ukulele Bass is nothing short of traditional in terms of look and feel.
The standard tuning allows for easy adjustments for any conditioned player, or easy learning for a newer player as the smaller fretboard and body fit almost any hand, but is more fit for electric plug-in playing.
Metal tuner pegs allow for increased stability in maintaining an accurate sound while playing and an included tuner and bass/treble adjuster makes playing plugged in easy on you and the ears of the listeners.
All in all, there’s a reason why this bass ukulele sits at the top of my list. It’s classy looking, sounds great, and won’t put a hole in your wallet.
Pros: Excellent price for quality, great sound, comes with travel bag, strap, EQ cable, wall hanger, and a cleaning cloth.
Cons: E and G strings are a tiny bit weaker than the A and D strings.
A really close call in second place is the Donner Dub-1 Electric Bass Ukulele.
This is hands-down the best bass ukulele on a budget. So much so, that it’s hard to even call it the budget option! The Donner Dub-1 Electric Bass Ukulele really holds its own when compared with some of the bigger ukulele brands. The overall craftsmanship, Donner logo on the headstock, fret inlays, and the fretwork is close to perfection.
The body and neck are both made of mahogany, which produces a lively, rich sound and especially smooth in its low range. Doner actually claims to use AAA mahogany, which I truly believe.
It also features a built-in preamp with integrated tuner and 3-band EQ (Bass, Mid, Treble) which sounds really good and gives you plenty of tonal variety to play with.
I actually tested this model in store and had a lot of fun experimenting with pushing it to sound more like an electric bass or an upright bass.
My only criticism of the sound was that when it was unplugged it’s a bit small and quiet. Although if you’re just playing with other ukuleles it would still easily be heard.
It also comes with Aquila Nylgut strings, made in Italy, which are really high quality for this reasonably priced model. You’re really getting a great bang for your buck with this model.
Pros: High level of craftsmanship, affordable price.
Cons: Bit quiet when unplugged.
From one of the best selling ukulele brands on the market, Kala, this is a stunning looking bass ukulele.
Because acoustically it’s a bit weak, the Kala Journeyman received the title of the best electric bass ukulele. Once you plug it in, oh boy does it sound good!
Made of mahogany with an added white binding along the outer rim of the body, the Kala Journeyman comes equipped with tuners, a travel gig bag, and a fantastic sound.
The F-hole additives make for a beautiful design, which I can attest, will catch the eyes of both you and your audience. If the crowd is big, the input is located on the bottom right side of the bass for added amplification.
Overall, this is a great choice for any experience level and perfect for vintage/classic design fanatics.
Pros: Sounds superb when plugged-in, looks amazing, clean finish, f-holes and a cutaway, travel bag included.
Cons: The design is not of a traditional ukulele build.
The winner of the Best Non-Guitar Fretted Instrument of 2018 by Music & Sound Retailer, you really can’t go wrong this model. If you have a bit more money to spend than the first few options, this is the ultimate all-rounder.
While there are no major differences between this model and the Kala Journeyman, upon first glance, the Kala Wanderer U-Bass has a more traditional ukulele look to it and may appeal to a greater number of people, if you’re more into a classic looking appearance.
When taking a closer look into the details of the U-Bass though, the Kala Wanderer comes equipped with thick, Aquila Thundergut strings that are custom made for the instrument and deliver a rich-sounding, resonating bass tone.
The included pickup allows for fantastic sound in any live environment. The treble and bass tones can be adjusted easily along with added tuners so the player can remain in precise tuning throughout performances or jamming sessions.
With a 16-fret fingerboard, specifically designed bass ukulele strings for compact bass playing, and satin mahogany finish on all sides of the U-Bass, this is a no-brainer if you’re looking for a build of more traditional nature but with advanced sound.
Please note, on Amazon, it’s listed as the Kala U-Bass Satin/Mahogany Fretted w/Bag, this is the same as the Kala Wanderer Acoustic-Electric U-Bass, and has the same item model number UBASS-WNDR-FS. Just to clear up any potential confusion!
Pros: Aquila Thundergut strings, acoustic and electric pick-up, sleek natural wood look.
Cons: Pricier than other options.
This one really stands out in terms of acoustic playing capability, design, and tuning. Each string is tuned an octave higher than standard bass tuning which allows for more sound to be produced through the smaller build and neck.
The strings are made of flat wound metal and are much thinner than other bass ukulele strings, hence the increased volume while playing unplugged.
A lot of people are drawn to this U-Bass because of the tattoo design option, but I personally take a liking to the sleek black finished option as it looks most similar to a standard electric bass guitar.
If you’re looking for a U-Bass that can be played at cord-less jam sessions, maybe on the beach or around a campfire on a summer night that just gives off tropical vibes, then the Luna Bari-Bass is an outstanding option.
Pros: Great for acoustic playing, different design options, and affordable price.
Cons: Not the most beginner-friendly.
This is definitely a more budget-friendly option but one that still gives you a high-quality playing experience, and with some notable unique features.
Hadean has more recently come out with a fretless version, the UKB-23 Fretless Ubass which makes it somewhat less beginner-friendly than the UKB-23, but gives the player a more unique playing experience. If that kind of thing floats your boat, the Hadean UKB-23 Fretless Ubass is the best fretless ukulele bass on the market.
Apart from that, both Hadean models are the same and very highly regarded!
Like most, the Hadean Ubass is both capable of being played electrically and acoustically and comes with a built-in tuner for accurate tones while playing and adjustable treble and bass dials for playing plugged in.
Apart from some fret buzz that is controllable, these classic looking bass ukuleles are worth considering and are highly spoken of in the music world!
Pros: Clean sound, a built-in tuner, and treble/bass adjusters, Trus-Rod adjustable neck.
Cons: Some fret buzz, fretless fingerboard model not suitable for beginners.
Although this Hadean acoustic-electric bass ukulele is almost exactly the same as the Hadean listed above, the difference lies in the cutaway feature and overall design and color of the bass.
The cutaway feature in the UKB-23C, and in any electric or acoustic guitar for that matter, allows for the player to reach the higher frets with greater ease, without having to sacrifice the tone to reach the higher notes on the neck.
The dark wood finish and dark strings compliment each other beautifully, and at a very affordable price, it is a great option for beginner players, or bassists looking to shred a little on the upper portion of the neck.
Pros: Cutaway feature allows for better tone when playing on higher frets, sleek finish.
Cons: Some fret buzz which is controllable.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive ukulele base, the Carlo Robelli UKB 325 Acoustic-Electric Ukulele Bass is also worth mentioning.
The sound it is able to produce is impressive for its short, 20″ size, and is tuned to a standard bass tuning able to be played plugged in or without a chord.
This bass carries a balanced sound with treble and bass adjusters and an onboard tuner and pick-up for clean tones and amplified playing ability.
Pros: Inexpensive, great for beginners, smaller.
Cons: Can be too small for some people.
Ok I know, this isn’t a bass ukulele! BUT, I thought I would give one alternative option as maybe you’re just looking for a more portable bass guitar.
The Traveler Guitar TB-4 P-Bass is 22% shorter and 25% lighter when compared to a precision bass guitar.
With the idea and build being of general similarity to a bass ukulele, this TB-4 P-Bass is perfect for on the road playing and when taking a normal-sized bass is not an option due to space limitations.
With both an aux plug-in and headphone plug-in feature, you can jam without bothering your family or car mates. Not to mention, this mini bass has extensive versatility and has a fantastic, bass tone.
With all of the same features as a standard electric bass guitar, it’s definitely worth considering.
Pros: Perfect for on-the-road playing, great tone, multiple plug-in options, and tone adjustments.
Cons: Can’t be played acoustically.
With a striped ebony body, walnut fingerboard, and maple binding, this U-Bass is the perfect note to end on, no pun intended!
For those looking for a beautiful sound and design, this is the bass ukulele to turn your eyes to, as the playing capability is versatile and is great for all levels of bass players.
The dark-colored body and light hue of the fingerboard contrast will entice the eyes of your audience and yourself!
Pros: Great design and sound quality.
Choosing the best Bass Ukulele – The Ultimate Buying Guide
While it’s easy to get online or head over to a local guitar shop and pick out the first bass ukulele you see, take some time to really consider your options.
Determine if this is just something you’re doing for fun and simply wanting to try something new. If this is the case, then I’d definitely recommend considering one of the less expensive options.
I personally think the Caramel CUB402 Solid Mahogany Ukulele Bass is overall the most well-priced U-bass for all levels but someone that doesn’t want to spend a big amount of money. The Donner Dub-1 in a close second.
Don’t get me wrong, the more expensive options are of slightly higher build quality, but the sound on this little thing is stunning and loud. The perfect deep bass tone you’d expect. This is the first bass ukulele I’ve owned and can safely say I haven’t even considered upgrading anytime soon.
My only slight criticism with it is that the output from the E and G strings are a bit weaker than the A and D strings, but it wouldn’t put me off buying another one!
The only slight benefit of the similar Hadean Acoustic Electric Bass Ukulele UKB-23 is that it comes with an adjustable Trus-Rod, which means you can adjust neck tension. Although for now, this hasn’t been a problem as the action and intonation are good.
If you’re a more seasoned player of either the bass guitar or the bass ukulele and are willing to spend a bit more money, then there’s really some beautiful options out there…
The Kala U-BASS-EBY-FS Striped Ebony Fretless U-Bass is something dreams are made of and truly an amazing instrument. The overall craftsmanship is impeccable and sound quality (plugged and unplugged) is simply unbeatable.
However, if you want something a bit more professional, without the cost of the Ebony Fretless, the award-winning Kala Wanderer U-Bass is a superb all-around option and an industry standard.
The Best Bass Ukulele – Frequently Asked Questions
What is the tuning for a bass ukulele?
Bass ukulele tuning is identical to that of a standard bass guitar or upright bass, E-A-D-G. Compared to a standard ukulele (g-c-e-a), it’s two and a half octaves lower. Compared to a standard guitar, it one full octave lower than the first four strings.
What are the best bass ukulele strings?
Bass ukulele strings are much denser than normal, this is so they are able to create the deep bass notes typically associated with a standard bass on a much smaller instrument. Depending on the sound you are trying to achieve, Aquila Thunderguts and Kala Silver Rumblers are some of the more popular choices. If you want a similar feel to a normal bass string, the Kala Metal Round and Pyramid Strings are top-notch bass ukulele strings, however, with that comes a high price!
What’s the difference between hollow body vs solid body?
Apart from looks, different body types create different sounds. A solid body bass ukulele will generally sound similar to that of an electric bass guitar. Remember also that these need plugging in. In contrast, a hollow body bass ukulele will sound similar to an upright bass.
Is bass ukulele a difficult instrument to learn?
This answer depends on your current musical skill level. For a complete beginner, the bass is generally slightly easier to get started on. However, to play the bass well it’s all about rhythm and timing which will take time and effort to develop.
What are some good bass ukulele songs?
Some fun bass ukulele songs I’ve been learning recently are, “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King, “My Best Friend’s Girl” by The Cars, and George Harrison’s “Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea.” Remember, most songs will work, you just need to work the arrangement.
Final Thoughts on the Bass Ukulele
When searching, always consider what is actually included. Whether that be tuners, if the treble and bass can be adjusted, if the acoustic sound is just as strong as when it is plugged in, if it is a contrabass or not, etc.
It may seem like there is a lot to consider at first glance, and while this is somewhat true, it’s all about narrowing your sights and determining what your current or future needs are or will be.
Is it just for fun or are you looking for a serious investment? Is it a gift or for yourself? There is no shortage of questions you can ask yourself, and it’s important to ask yourself and answer as many as you can, for this will help you pick out the best bass ukulele for your needs.
As always, any other questions you may have, feel free to post in the comments or send me an email!
Happy slappin da bass! – Will