Ukulele Bass

Ashbory Dog Bone Bass
Ashbory Bass
Roadtoad Big Buffo Acoustic Baritone Bass Ukulele
Road Toad Big Buffo
Kala UBass Bass Ukulele
Kala U-Bass
Ortega Lizard Electro-Acoustic Bass Baritone Ukulele Corner
My Ortega Lizard
Kala USA SUB Bass at Lardy's Ukulele Database
Kala SUB
Aquila Shortbass One at Lardy's Ukulele Database
Aquila Long Scale
David Gomez tadpole Concert Bass at Lardys Ukulele Database
David Gomez made Tadpole
Mark Fletcher Butser Mountain Music Mando-Bass at Lardy's Ukulele Database
Mark Fletcher made Solid Body
Technically not a Ukulele, this is a hybrid instrument. It is tuned E~A~D~G, often fretless and played 1 string at a time like a Bass Guitar, all of which take it away from being a Ukulele, however it has a Baritone Ukulele firmly in its heritage, is usually produced by people who make Ukuleles, and is usually lumped in with Ukuleles by resellers, hence its inclusion here.

Its story started off with the Ashbory Bass, originally developed in 1986 as a portable travel Bass / Double bass by Alun Ashworth-Jones and Nigel Thornbory (hence the name) and was marketed by Guild. It wasn't very successful at the time and was dropped from Guilds catalogue in 1988, but being innovative it was remembered and after Fenders takeover of of Guild they reintroduced it in 1999 under their DeArmond brand name. (Fender have sold Guild and DeArmond on, but have kept the Ashbory Bass)

The Ashbory Bass was the inspiration for luthier Owen Holt, (Road Toad), to invent the Ukulele Bass. He noticed that the scale length for the Ashbory and the scale length for his Baritones were roughly the same, and wondered what would happen if he made an acoustic Baritone Ukulele that could take the Ashbory strings and tuning; so he made one. Whilst it did work acoustically, it worked better amplified so he put piezo pickups in the saddle, and as he was experimenting he started looking for better strings than the Ashbory ones, (one of the reasons the Ashbory wasn't more popular was because everyone hated the strings), and went on to develop his PaHoeHoe strings. With everything in place and a few more prototypes produced, (he called them "Big Buffo's"), he took the idea to Kala who liked the idea enough to licence it and started producing the Kala U-Bass, (U-Bass or UBass is a term now that is becoming synonymous as a name for Ukulele Basses, like Hoover is for Vacuum Cleaners, but is is a registered Kala brand and should only be used to describe Kala instruments). With nicer strings that the Ashbory, and the Ashbory again being out of production, the Kala U-Bass took off enough for other Ukulele manufacturers to take notice and start to produce their own versions, (not under licence from Road Toad), and other string makers started to look at making strings to fit them, thus getting the ball rolling and making the Ukulele Bass far more popular than the Ashbory ever was.

Now the instrument was firmly established there were a number of subsequent developments. Owen Holt continued to experiment producing Ukulele Tenor size Basses he called "Baby Buffo's" and even Ukulele Concert size Basses he called "Tadpoles". He also developed strings for these in his PaHoeHoe range and a few other Luthiers have had a go at making them but the idea of an even smaller Ukulele Bass hasn't really caught on.

The string maker Aquila, having developed their own set of Ukulele Bass strings, decided to look at the deficiencies of the Ukulele Bass with acoustic volume and intonation and went on to develop some longer scaled alternatives, (up to 660mm - 26in), which they say improve both volume and intonation whilst still keeping to the spirit and portability of the Ukulele Bass. At time of writing some other manufacturers are experimenting with this idea and it generally gets described as a Long Scale Ukulele Bass 

Kala have taken on the fact that the Ukulele Bass has acoustic limitation by moving firmly into Ashbory territory and producing a number of solid body instruments they call S.U.B (Solid Ukulele Bass), that have no pretentions of being Electric-Acoustic, and have brought Owen Holt back on board to help develop them, (he also played with the idea a few times in the past). Other luthiers are producing solid body Ukulele Basses and other manufacturers are looking to produce them, but at time of writing Fender have not announced any reissue of the Ashbory bass, (there are rumours; but there are always rumours?)

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