KALA U-Bass Acacia & U-Bass 2
Ukuleles are so cool nowadays, there’s even a Uke Bass, or U-Bass for short. KALA’s 20" short-scale models come in fretted or fretless versions, with polyurethane strings, four individual piezo elements, rosewood fingerboard and bridge, and a solid mahogany neck. The new U-Bass 2 features a solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides, while the upscale model is made of solid acacia and comes with a hardshell case. It even meets airline carry-on standards for go-anywhere fun.
Price $580 (Acacia), $399 (U-Bass 2)
Sadowsky Will Lee Model
Will Lee has been playing Sadowsky basses forever, and finally there’s an official Sadowsky Will Lee signature model. Will’s wants included a chambered lightweight swamp-ash body, 22 frets, Sadowsky single-coil pickups, and most crucially, a custom Will Lee onboard preamp with controls for master volume, pickup blend, treble rolloff, bass boost, treble boost, preamp bypass, and a switchable midrange boost. There’s even rear trim pots for adjusting the preamp gain and midrange function. Tone geek alert: Dig deep enough on Sadowsky’s website and you’ll find Will’s favorite midrange EQ and “Q” setting.
GNI Bass Shaper
Try a word-association exercise on Brazil: Rainforest, samba, soccer … high-end bass overdrive pedal? Newcomer GNI looks to make it so, with its highly versatile, all-analog Bass Shaper. It’s loaded with a custom preamp, 3- band active EQ, independent pre/post drive controls (with a “super” button for, you know, super distortion), noise gate, headphone amp, balanced XLR out with ground-lift switch, and a variety of audio output options—serious stuff, even if it’s not appropriate for a bossa nova.
Demeter COM-2 Compulator Pro
When Demeter Amplification releases something it says is “perfect” for bass guitar, we’re curious. Demeter’s handmade- in-the-U.S.A. Compulator Pro compressor puts studio- rack features like adjustable attack and release into a user-friendly pedal configuration. A GAIN BOOST switch allows for easy flipping between more and less squeeze, or two instruments with different output levels. It’s like Demeter’s award-winning Opto-Compulator on steroids. Stick it at the end of your pedalboard—after you lose that bit of gain from all those effects—and you won’t be sorry.
DR DDT Bass Strings
DDT actually stands for “Drop Down Tuning,” so you know exactly what you’re getting from DR: heavy-gauge strings specially designed to hold their intonation and tone amidst heavy, detuned music. They don’t even come in “light” gauge; they start at a .045–.105 medium and progress to an “extra heavy” set (.065, .085, .102, .125). The low B goes up to .135 at its heaviest, and probably tunes down to F# if necessary. That’s brutal.
Ashdown BTA Heads
You want big, you got it: Ashdown’s BTA series combines its classic ABM preamp—with its simple rotary tone controls, four EQ sliders, variable tube/solid-state input stages, onboard compressor, sub-harmonic generator, balanced DI out with pre/post-EQ switching, effect loop, tuner out, and yes, the VU meter— with your choice of tube power amps, either 200 watts (loud), 300 watts (louder), or 400 watts (OMG). That’s bloody loud, innit?
EBS Classic Session 60
High-end Swedish rig-maker EBS has a new affordable combo amp, the 60- watt tilt-back Classic Session 60. Loaded with a pre-shaped EQ for user-friendly tone, simple controls (gain, bass, treble, volume), one 10" speaker plus a tweeter, and EBS’s trademark “character” and “enhance” filters, it’s ideal for rehearsals, club gigs, and even upright bass and acoustic guitar. It also comes with an aux input and a headphone jack for practicing, as well as an xlr balanced out for larger stages.