Kala’s U-Basses has proven that tiny instruments can produce big tones. But adding a 5th string to a 21"-scale bass? I was skeptical—until I tried the new 5-string SUB U-Bass.

Playing a U-Bass, with its thick, floppy polyurethane strings and tight fret spacing, takes getting used to. But after becoming acquainted and plugging in, I encountered warm, woody, upright-like tones via this little red monster’s passive piezo saddle pickup and 2-band active EQ (both manufactured by Shadow). Working the 5th string revealed no buzzing or muddiness, and I had fun across the ’board. (Yes, playing above the 12th fret requires thin and nimble fingers, but the money notes don’t live up there anyway.)

This bass works best when you keep your pick in your pocket, restrain your attack, and don’t slap or bend heavily. But its über-deep tones are astounding given the instrument’s size. This is no toy—it’s a great low-end tool that delivers spacious upright-esque sounds in a well-made and easy-to-tote package.

Test Gear: Gallien-Krueger 800RB head, TC Electronic RS410 cab

Ratings

Pros:
Big tones. Upright-like sounds from a tiny body.

Cons:
The feel takes some getting used to.

Street:
$499

Kala 5-String SUB U-Bass
ubass.com

Tones:

Playability:

Build/Design:

Value: