Quick Hit: Kala 5-String SUB U-Bass Review

A 5-string bass whose big sound belies its small size.

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:

It’s ok for a guitar to not sound like a guitar.

As much as we all love juicy, organic guitar tones, it can be just as inspiring to go the opposite way. Combining various modulation effects, envelope filters, oscillators, and more can result in sounds that owe more to Kraftwerk than Led Zeppelin.

Read More Show less

While Monolord has no shortage of the dark and heavy, guitarist and vocalist Thomas V Jäger comes at it from a perspective more common to pop songsmiths.

Photo by Chad Kelco

Melodies, hooks, clean tones, and no guitar solos. Are we sure this Elliott Smith fan fronts a doom-metal band? (We’re sure!)

Legend has it the name Monolord refers to a friend of the band with the same moniker who lost hearing in his left ear, and later said it didn’t matter if the band recorded anything in stereo, because he could not hear it anyway. It’s a funny, though slightly tragic, bit of backstory, but that handle is befitting in yet another, perhaps even more profound, way. Doom and stoner metal are arguably the torch-bearing subgenres for hard rock guitar players, and if any band seems to hold the keys to the castle at this moment, it’s Monolord.

Read More Show less
x