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3/4, 4/4, etc.

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by tommy154578, Oct 27, 2003.

  1. tommy154578


    Jul 14, 2003
    3/4, 4/4, 5/8, Where does this come from?? I guess it's a kinda' ratio or sth but what is it exactly??

  2. The smaller instruments of the violin family have be standardized for quite a long time. However, basses have not and there are a lot of grey areas as far as what size a particular instrument is. Although basses are not standardized as far as sizes go, here are some typical string lengths and body lengths for a given size (from the George Boran book Making a Bass Viol).

    Size ----- String Length ------ Body Length
    4/4........1100mm (43.3")......1200mm
    7/8........1075mm (42.3")......1133mm
    3/4........1050mm (41.3")......1100mm
    1/2.........965mm (38.0")......1020mm
    1/4.........900mm (35.4").......935mm
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Doh - I read that and immediately thought he was asking about time signatures!! :oops:
  4. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Hot diggity! I just realized that my main bass for the last four years is a 7/8 -- it has a 42.3" scale brought-down to 42.0" by a "cheater" nut engineered by Mark Carlsen.

    So THAT must explain why I've been playing out-of-tune for the last 20 years!
  5. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    New Mexico. USA
    Juzek made lots of 3/4 size basses with 43" string length. Kings were also 43". I build 7/8 basses with 41 1/2" to 42", as do many other makers. I recently worked on a Pollmann 4/4 that was only 40 1/4"! String lengths are all over the place in relation to body size. Of course if things get too out of whack the notes end up in weird places and playability (and sound) suffer. That Pollmann, though beautifully made and finished, was positively strange to play on, with a short little neck attached to a wide, long body.
  6. Lots of grey area for sure! And then.... there is the MENC standards. LOL
  7. Arnold has brought up a good point. On average, the scale (string length) on newly made basses (and old basses with shortened neck grafts) has decreased considerably over the past 20 years or so. For many years, probably because of the abundance of Kay basses, the defacto standard for the 3/4 bass was 42". The 7/8 bass that Arnold makes would likely have been described as a 7/8 bass with a 3/4 scale in earlier years. The first one I remember seeing of this type was a bass by Ham Ashley in the late 80's. Today, a lot of makers are using shorter scales with varying degrees of success. You could probably make a 4/4 bass with a 39" scale, but I'm sure it would be a very strange instrument to play, especially if you were used to playing another more conventional length bass.
  8. tommy154578


    Jul 14, 2003
    I forgot to thank you for the info Bob!

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