Bass Ukulele utilizing Ashbory strings

Crossbreed a Ukulele with an Ashbory and you get a Bass Ukulele. This is the first known instrument of its kind.

Contributed by Kim Sweeney -- April 30, 2003

David Gomes is a friend of mine, and he wanted to give the "Bass Ukulele" a try. But, he wanted a patron. So, I commissioned the "first and only". After about six months, he called and said it was ready! I fell in love with it in a minute. It is made from curly koa, from a fallen tree, right here in our neck of the woods. When you plug it into an amp, it has a really fine, DEEP, rich woody tone.

Last year we had a Ukulele Concert at the Kahilu Theater, and the Uke Masters Gave a group of us Ukulele Aficionados Lessons on stage, during the afternoon before the concert. I brought the Bass Uke to show to Byron Yasui, as I had a feeling he would like the instrument, I had seen him play upright bass with a jazz combo at another concert. He fell in love the moment he saw it! He played it a while, and asked if he could play it in tonight's concert. Well his fellow Uke Masters all started saying, "This a ukulele tour! NO Guitars, NO Basses!" and he answered back, "But, this IS a Ukulele!" They all agreed, and that evening, I got to see a Master do a jazz duet on stage at the Kahilu Theater!

Then the following year, all the Ukulele makers of Hawaii were going to have a convention on Oahu, and Byron asked David if he could bring my Uke to that show. Now, this uke is getting inter-island gigs, and I stay at home!


» View a larger image of the Bass Ukulele


Ukulele Guild of Hawaii

Here are photos of Byron Yasui performing on the Bass Uke. The Bass Ukulele is in the last 4 or 5 images in the series.


Byron Yasui is the artistic director of the Hawaii Guitar Festival and also performs in concert with Festival artists as double bassist. He has been known to join in festival performances with the guitar and the ukulele as well. A member of the music faculty at University of Hawaii at Manoa since 1972, Yasui performs as a double bassist with the Honolulu Symphony and has performed with such jazz artists as Freddie Hubbard, Billy Eckstine, Anita O'Day, Chris Connors, Barney Kessel, Tal Farlow, Charlie Byrd, Mel Torme, and many others. His original compositions have been performed nationally and have been the subject of a National Public Radio feature. Since 1985, he has annually received ASCAP awards for his compositions.

David Gomes is a luthier in Kohala, Hawaii, that hand constructs fine guitars and ukuleles from Koa and other exotic woods. He also performs as a classical guitarist in the Big Island Resorts.

Here is a great on-line article about David Gomes:

Click on the images below for larger views
bass uke
uke bass body
uke bass head
uke bass tuners

Five questions about the Ukulele Bass with owner Kim Sweeney

  1. Is it fretted? How is the intonation?
    KS: Actually, it is fretless! Those are inlaid fretlines. Anybody who has played this bass, plays just fine, and they think they are using the frets!
  2. What is the scale length?
    KS: I am not sure, I will measure it for you and get back to you. Maybe you could look up a "Concert" Ukulele scale length.
  3. Who's in the picture?
    KS: The photo is of me, Kim Sweeney just enjoying my new bass.on the Big Island of Hawaii.
  4. How do the strings attach to the bridge?
    KS: They are apparently just tied in a knot, behind a hole in the bridge.
  5. How does the size compare to a regular ukulele?
    KS: This is what they call a "Concert" uke. The body is just a little larger than a standard Uke, so it is pretty small. The next size up is a Tenor Uke, it is not that big!
Bass Uke Ashbory
Kim Sweeney and his Bass Uke. Photo by Tom Gregory