I've played bass about twice in my life and so I'm really not someone with an informed opinion about what would make a good travel bass. But, I must admit, the Kala U-Bass looks pretty cool. Or at least it looks pretty cool when Tal Wilkenfield played it at this year's NAMM.
If you've never heard of the Kala U-Bass, don't feel bad. Kala was just announcing some new models this year and it's definitely not a conventional bass. Kala is best known for their range of Ukeleles (get it?) and has made acoustic Ukelele basses for quite some time. But what they've come up with here is pretty interesting. It's a 21" scale solid body electric bass, with unique polyurethane strings that give it a surprising amount of bottom. Components look to be high quality with custom HipShot tuners and a Shadow active pickup system.
Because if it's compact size, the Kala U-Bass weighs in around 4 pounds. That makes it smaller and lighter than even a traditional 30" short scale bass like the Hofner violin "Beatle bass". And even though this is an unconventional bass, it's not quite as an extreme departure as the Ashbory Bass which has an 18" scale and is strictly fretless.
You can get the "made in California" U-Bass, with all kinds of ameneties, for around $1,200. You can choose the finish, 4 or 5 string, fretted, non-fretted, and presumably half-caf-decaf. The Asian made SUB U-Bass series is somewhat more modestly outfitted and ranges from $450 - $550 street price depending on the finish. All prices include a nicely padded custom gig bag, suitable for carry-on travel.
Take a look at this video from Bassix for a sample of what the Kala U-Bass sounds like. And if anyone has used this bass, please add your comments below.