So I'm short. As a 5 foot 1ish female with stubby fingers, this has presented an issue.
I've not been playing very long, only about 1.5 years. I currently play a 1/2, but it's always been a topic of discussion that I'd move to a 5/8-small 3/4 once I sort of got a hold of things (I started with my school's 3/4, and my teacher and I quickly realized that at least for then, it was far too large).
A few days ago, I got the chance to try out a 5/8 for a few days. It's not truly a 5/8, the nut has been made longer (I think this was because of some mix up with the neck, but not positive). The sound is lovely, and now I'm having trouble determining if I can handle the size, or if I should really stay with the 1/2, despite the inferior sound.
So far, it hasn't presented a huge issue, just typical adjustments one would expect when playing a new instrument. But it is noticeably larger. I don't want to give up my 1/2 only to find a few weeks down the road I can't deal with the 5/8. (Luckily, they're rentals so I could get it back, but I don't think that much flip flopping can be good).
There's always the option of searching for a nicer 1/2, but alas, I don't really know where I'd start, especially given that I (parental decision in play here) can't really purchase one yet.
I know there really isn't a straightforward answer to this question, so I guess what I'm looking for is advice.
Sorry if I sounded like a newbie, which I guess, I suppose I am :P
I don't have much to offer regarding what size is appropriate for you, but would just comment that the longer nut may be a "false nut" which is a way of shortening the string length of a bass without doing major surgery.
Yes, I believe that is what they did.
You need to define the specific measurements of each bass to come to a conclusion about what is appropriate for you. These fractions are too general. So, measure the string length between nut and bridge, the body length and the top bout width. These are critical to know so you can accurately compare instruments. Then you can narrow your hunt for specific sizing that is comfortable for you.
There are manufacturers that make quality carved small basses, such as the Janovich line by Laborie and Vance. Check out www.quantumbasscenter.com for info.
So you may be short but are you growing? A 5/8ths will have between a 38"-39" string length. My advice is keep looking for a 5/8ths that has had no adjustments and was originally built to be that size.
I'd be most concerned about your hand span. That's the biggest factor in string length. I have a 9 inch span from thumb to pinkie when extended and I play comfortably on a 43 inch string length. It all depends on what you feel is most comfortable.
+1 to the hand size... what you can comfortably play is mostly determined by that, and since there is such a thing as a 4/4 bass with a 41.5" scale, you should be looking at the scale length above all else. I know some really quite small women that play bass professionally, so you shouldn't have too much issue in the long run.
Stubby fingers are a bit of an advantage... that shortens the levers and takes quite a bit of strain off your hand tendons. Your finger muscles, which are mostly in your forearm, can easily gain enough strength to do what's required.
My bass is listed as a 3/4, but the string length is 40.5, about the shortest you will find on a 3/4. I'm very comfortable with it. I'd love to play an American Standard or Mortone, but my hands just don't do well with the 43 " length. I have a friend whose teacher had her go from a
42" 3/4 bass to a 5/8. The new bass is very nice. I think the real thing, is check the string length on what you have and where you want to go. I agree, we do have to play the hand we're dealt.
Try to play a few different basses within your size range. It will give you some perspective on what's out there.
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