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Top 5 Best Fretless Bass Ukuleles

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Part of the classic upright bass sound comes from the fact that they don’t have frets. And now, it’s easier than ever to get that classic tone on a bass ukulele. Free from the stepwise constraints that frets put on, you’ll be capable of a wide range of expressive techniques, including sliding up and down, adding vibrato, and more. From jazz to bluegrass and beyond, you don’t have to worry about lugging a massive upright bass around. Instead, pick up one of these great fretless bass ukuleles, and start jamming!

Kala UBASS-SMHG-FL


Kala UBASS-SMHG-FL U-Bass Solid Mahogany Fretless (Electronics)

List Price:$466.44
New From:$466.44 In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock
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This is the one that started it all. Kala took a baritone ukulele, modified it a bit, and added some bass strings back in 2008. The result was the UBass, a revolutionary new model that packed the deep resonance of a bass into a very small body. While they’ve since come out with a wide variety of bass ukuleles in their UBass line, the fretless solid mahogany model is still one of their best and most popular.

With that solid mahogany body, the UBass is remarkably resonant. Even the loudest bass ukuleles don’t have the volume to compete with a lot of other instruments, and they’ll get drowned out acoustically quickly. But for playing at home or with another ukulele, this has plenty of volume. Even against an acoustic guitar you’ll hold your own.

The real magic of this bass ukulele comes when it’s plugged in. If you close your eyes, you’ll think you’re hearing a thundering upright or fretless bass guitar. The Shadowflex active preamp system puts out a remarkably powerful signal, with very little noise. There’s a deep rumble to the tone that seems at odds with its small size.

The electronics panel features two knobs, one each for volume and tone. While you don’t get a lot of fine control over EQ like some of the other bass ukuleles on this list, the tone control has a pretty good range from round/bassier to edgy/more trebly. There’s also a built-in tuner, which works very well even in noisy situations.

Like most bass ukuleles, there’s a removable panel in the back that helps with changing the strings. Unlike most bass ukuleles, however, that panel is not held in by screws. Instead, it is held on by magnets. This makes it much easier to remove and put back, since you don’t need to worry about losing a screw or over-tightening. Plus, you don’t need to have a screwdriver handy. The panel is very secure when held on, yet still quick and simple to remove.

Pros

  • Easily removable back panel
  • Deep rumbling tone

Cons

  • Only one tone knob
  • Plainer looks

Look up the price and more reviews of the Kala UBASS-SMHG-FL Fretless Bass Ukulele on Amazon.com

Luna Fretless Bari-Bass Ukulele


Luna Bari-Bass Ukulele with Preamp Fretless-Koa, (UKE BBASS FL) (Electronics)

List Price:$229.00
New From:$229.00 In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock
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Luna is known for creating good-looking ukuleles and guitars, and their fretless bass ukulele is no different. It’s made out of koa, a tonewood native to Hawaii that is prized in ukulele circles. There’s also an abalone inlay around the soundhole that pops against the dark grain of the koa. It’s not necessarily flashy, but this is definitely a looker of a bass uke.

Luna calls it a “bari-bass” because it’s the same proportions as their baritone ukulele. This means that its scale length of 20 1/4″ is on the shorter side for bass ukuleles. It’s a great choice for anyone who wants a bass uke with a little easier reach, especially for smaller hands or fast-moving bass lines.

When played acoustically, there’s plenty of thump in the sound. It doesn’t have the same sustain as some of the other ukuleles on this list, but it makes up for that with a lot of punch. It’s one of the loudest out of the group, especially if you use a pick. It will still get overpowered in anything but a small jam, but it can still be heard with an acoustic guitar pretty well.

The active pickup system in the Luna bari-bass ukulele is made by one of the best in the business, Fishman. The pickup does a great job of reproducing the natural acoustic sound of the instrument, keeping that thumping attack when plugged in. While its tone not as naturally round and deep as some of the others, it’s fairly easy to get any kind of tone you want by tweaking the EQ knobs. The signal is the strongest and least noisy out of this group, which is saying something (they’re all quite good!). Three EQ knobs for treble, mid, and bass are joined by a volume knob and a built-in tuner.

Pros

  • Beautiful looks
  • Best pickup system on the list
  • Good volume for a bass ukulele

Cons

  • Not as much sustain as other bass ukuleles

Look up the price and more reviews of the Luna Fretless Bari-Bass Ukulele on Amazon.com

Hadean UKB-22FL


Hadean Acoustic Electric Bass Ukulele UKB-22 FL NM Fretless Uke UBass

List Price:
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Used from: Out of Stock
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The first thing you’ll notice about the UKB-22FL is the zebrawood it’s made out of. With a high contrast dark/light striped grain, it is very visually striking. This is a bass ukulele that you could just as well hang up on a wall. But you shouldn’t because it also sounds great!

As I’ve mentioned, one of the benefits of the fretless bass ukulele is the upright bass-like sound you can get. The Hadean UKB-22FL has that in spade. It’s nice and thumpy, with a good amount of sustain. The smaller body of the bass ukulele can’t compete with an upright on volume. But there’s still enough in the Hadean for practicing bass lines solo or with another ukulele. And once you plug it in, you’ll get a lot more volume than you’d expect out of such a tiny package.

The active pickup system produces a strong signal, and keeps that upright bass-like tone. Three EQ knobs for treble, mid, and bass give you lots of tonal range to play around with, along with a volume knob. There’s also the standard built-in tuner.

Another thing you’ll notice about the UKB-22FL is the price. It’s a remarkable bargain, less than half of what similar bass ukuleles cost. If you’re just looking to try out a bass ukulele, this is a great first instrument before taking a more expensive plunge. It’s also a perfect instrument for those who already have a bass ukulele, but want to try out going fretless.

Even with that low price, Hadean hasn’t cut many corners on the UKB-22FL. The fit and finish is as good or better than its competitors, and the electronics are solid and reliable. The one issue is with the back panel, which is screwed in with very small screws. These can be a little fiddly when you’re removing and replacing the panel. But most players don’t change strings more than once every few months, so this is at worst an occasional inconvenience.

Pros

  • Great value
  • Beautiful looks

Cons

  • Back panel harder to remove and replace

Look up the price and more reviews of the Hadean UKB-22FL Fretless Bass Ukulele on Amazon.com

Kala UBASS-EBY-FL

The Kala Ebony fretless UBass is yet another bass ukulele that knocks it out of the park in the looks department. It has a striking look thanks to the striped ebony wood used to make it. The effect is much like a marbled cake, with a very dark base and lighter streaks.

Acoustically, it sounds very much like the solid mahogany version, but with a bit more clarity. There’s a little more treble in the tone that cuts through and make it sound a bit more guitar-like. It’s still very resonant, and the tone is plenty deep. With the same basic construction as its mahogany cousin, the main difference in sound is down to the tonewoods used.

It has the same electronics, too, which sound great when plugged in. It’s a rumbling sound that is really surprising coming out of such a small instrument. The only quibble I have is with the single tone knob. Most other bass ukuleles have dedicated bass, mid, and treble knobs, giving the player much more control over the tone. Generally, though, amps and PA systems have EQ controls as well, so you can always try playing around with the tone further up the signal chain.

Like its mahogany cousin, the back panel of this ukulele is held securely on by magnets. This makes changing strings fairly easy, and means that you don’t need any special equipment to do it. Kala originated the bass ukulele, and the Ebony UBass shows that they’re still at the top of the game.

Pros

  • Easily removable back panel
  • Deep rumbling tone
  • Beautiful looks

Cons

  • Only one tone knob

Look up the price and more reviews of the Kala UBASS-EBY-FL Fretless Bass Ukulele on Amazon.com

Sound Smith Fretless Bass Ukulele

Sound Smith is a relative newcomer to the ukulele scene, but they’ve quickly built a reputation for high-quality instruments and great value. Their fretless bass ukulele is no different. Made from sapele wood with a mahogany neck, it has an understated look.

Bass ukuleles tend to be quiet, and the Sound Smith is particularly so. It won’t be loud enough to cut through in any kind of jamming situation, but it has enough volume for solo practice or playing with another quieter instrument. The tone is nice and mellow, not too harsh or buzzy.

When plugged in, the Sound Smith fretless bass ukulele retains that mellow tone, without the growl that some other bass ukuleles have. This is a more mellow-sounding bass uke overall, which works great for certain genres. The control panel has three EQ knobs for treble, mid, and bass alongside a volume knob and a built-in tuner.

While Sound Smith’s instruments are made in Asia like many others in their price range, they are checked out by a master luthier in the US before being shipped out. This makes for a big difference in the finished product. Inexpensive instruments can vary widely in quality, even among two of the same model. Having an expert check them out and set them up properly can even out those quality differences.

Because of the great set-up and low price, this is an excellent choice for a beginner bass ukulele. While intermediate and expert players can quickly spot something wrong with a particular instrument, beginners might end up playing with a lemon for a while before noticing. Getting a bass ukulele that has been checked out beforehand by and expert makes sure that you have the best instrument you can get. Believe me, that can make a huge difference!

Pros

  • Excellent setup and quality control
  • Mellow tone

Cons

  • Quieter than other bass ukuleles
  • Plain looks

Look up the price and more reviews of the Sound Smith Fretless Bass Ukulele on Amazon.com

Published in Acoustic Electric Ukulele Bass Ukulele Electric Ukulele

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