Vampire Weekend Bass Guitar That Looks Like a Ukulele?

The band, Vampire Weekend, appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on Sep 11th, 2019. As we watched, we were immediately drawn to a strange looking bass guitar being played by bassist, Chris Baio. This bass was not only tiny, but looked like a ukulele!

At first I was convinced it couldn’t be a bass, since it was so small. I mean, bass guitars are longer than standard guitars for a reason – longer, thicker strings for deeper notes. But he was playing this ute-looking instrument like a bass – hand on top with fingers plucking individual strings. Plus the head stock had 4 large keys on it like a bass. But that didn’t solve the riddle, because ukuleles have 4 strings also!

My wife and I were confused and immediately started into Google research mode. Chris Baio’s Wikipedia page talked about basses he plays, but they all were pretty standard bass guitars. There was also an article on Chris at which had a gear list. But again, nothing that looked at all like a ukulele.

At last I found an article referring to Vampire Weekend’s appearance on Colbert playing the song “Sympathy,” with almost all acoustic instruments. And that article confirmed Chris was indeed playing “a guitar that looked like a ukulele.”

So What Was It?

I dug a little deeper and found out what this strange “bass guitar that looks like a ukulele is. It is called a Kala Wanderer U-Bass. It is described as a “short-scale” travel bass, which accounts for how small it was. But listening to their performance, it sure sounded like a standard bass guitar to me.

This seems like a pretty cool idea for someone who is looking for a light weight bass guitar that is also super small. Clearly it is ideal as a travel instrument (hence the name “Wanderer”). But also having something this small could make things more convenient for you in any circumstance. Maybe you have a small recording space in your home studio, for instance.

If you’d like to find out more details about the Kala Wanderer or buy one for yourself, click here to see it on Amazon.

2 comments on “Vampire Weekend Bass Guitar That Looks Like a Ukulele?”

  1. A UBass is a great way to get that upright bass tone on a budget. Like you said in a small recording/practice space they are great…I sit in a chair and rest the Bass on my knee and play standup style. My peers are all amazed by the sound…they may look toy like, but that’s nowhere near the case. They are truly great instruments.

    1. Wow, that’s fascinating! Thanks for the tip. I really had no idea you could get that kind of sound from something so small.

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