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Baritone and Bass Ukuleles

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For a ukulele player looking to expand his or her repertoire, baritone and bass ukuleles are a fantastic way to broaden your horizons. These instruments take the design of a traditional uke and turn it on its head with their own unique sounds that clearly set them apart from the smaller, more traditional ukulele sizes. Not only are they a fresh sound for an experienced player, these also make good gateway instruments for guitar or bass players looking to give the ukulele a try. The baritone ukulele is the largest of the four classic sizes for the instrument, and is different in its tuning. Unlike the traditional GCEA of a concert ukulele, the baritone is tuned DGBE. If you're also into guitar, this tuning probably sounds familiar: it's the same as the top four strings of a six-string guitar. In some ways, this makes the baritone ukulele a sort of miniature guitar. The bass range of a baritone ukulele is considerably broader than other ukes, and its bigger body gives it greater volume and tonal depth.

Bass ukuleles are in a class all their own. Represented almost exclusively by the Kala U-Bass line, these instruments are a relative newcomer to the scene. Generally built on a baritone body, the bass is fitted with special polyurethane strings that sound completely different from any traditional ukulele you've ever heard before. While you can play them acoustically, bass ukuleles are at their best when partnered with your amp. The amplified bass uke puts out a sound that easily rivals a full-sized bass guitar or upright bass, but packs all of that power into a size small enough to travel with you as carry-on luggage.

Since they rely on amplification to produce their full strength of sound, all of the U-Bass models are either electric or acoustic-electric. Baritone ukes, on the other hand, can be acoustic-electric or straight acoustic. If you want to use effects or if you play the ukulele in a band where you need amplification to be heard, an acoustic-electric instrument is a must. If you prefer a simple, classic instrument and have no need to plug in, a traditional acoustic ukulele will be right up your alley.

It's not at all out of the ordinary for a ukulele player to own one of each traditional size, which includes baritone. The U-Bass is a more exotic choice, but one that is fun to play and will allow you to produce notes that you never thought you'd hear from a ukulele. Whether you opt for baritone or bass (or both), these instruments are great-sounding ukes that you'll be proud to own.