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3/4 or 4/4?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by cerokilik, Sep 27, 2013.

  1. cerokilik


    Aug 22, 2013
    Clinton, MI
    I've been saving up for a decent double bass for a while now and it has come time to order/buy it. Only one problem though, which size should i go with a 3/4 or a 4/4? I'm 5' 11" bare foot, or is height irrelevant and it's more a factor of comparability?

    thanks in advance
  2. Steve Swan

    Steve Swan

    Oct 12, 2004
    Burlingame, California
    Retailer: Shen, Sun, older European
    It's gotten a little confusing in the last two decades as many bass makers are now calling "4/4" what used to be "7/8". With the trend toward shorter string lengths (often well under 42"), there is often little difference in the string length between these "4/4" and the often only slightly smaller "3/4" instruments. At 5'11", you should be able to handle many of these modern larger instruments, but if you can have a teacher or an experienced bassist help you, that might give you more confidence in your choice.

    Happy hunting. Let us know how it turns out!
  3. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    Your "size" is not really that relevant. I know a couple guys that are probably 5'8" - 5'9". One plays a 5/8, the other a 4/4.

    DON'T buy anything without playing it for a while - like several days - weeks.

    I'd find a RELIABLE bass shop and try out as many as you can. Hopefully you have a qualified teacher, too.

    I'm 5'10" and play on a 1/2 and 3/4 - depending on the situation.

    The 4/4's are HUGE. Do you plan on moving it to gigs/rehearsals/lessons?
  4. MostlyBass

    MostlyBass Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Oak Park, IL
  5. cerokilik


    Aug 22, 2013
    Clinton, MI
    i probably will be moving it around a lot from gigs and rehearsals.

    also is a Franz Hoffman prelude a decent beginner bass?

    unfortunately for me I live no where near a bass shop (an hour, hour and a half at least)
  6. It's well worth that kind of travel to play some basses. I bought mine 1500 km from home. Sizes are so not standard that it's really all about the particular bass.
  7. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    +1! I'd like to amplify that:

    Welcome, cerokilik-- you've been given good advice. It's really a good idea to read all the newbie links. Yours is a question that has been asked many, many times here. The newbie links are likely to answer many other common questions you might have. Those links are your quickest route to comprehensive answers. That's why they were created. After you go through them, c'mon back with any unanswered questions. We're here to help. :)

    By the way, bass "sizes" are not at all standardized.
  8. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    I discourage buying a bass over the internet. Although it might work out well, it's better to spend time with the instrument to get the right one. Better bass shops will adjust the setup and probably change strings to suit the buyer's needs and wants.

    Regarding size, I'd recommend a 3/4. Larger basses MAY have a bigger sound but then again, it isn't a guarantee. A well setup 3/4 bass can sound spectacular and is much easier to transport and possibly play. I'm one of the many players who owned a bigger bass and downsized. I'm 5'8"" so take it FWIW.
  9. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I've had excellent experiences with Shar on fractional size violins, bows, etc., and I've gone there a few times because they're close to where my parents live. But my impression is that they just aren't as serious about their bass offerings.
  10. cerokilik


    Aug 22, 2013
    Clinton, MI
    I probably would not order a bass online(I'm paranoid that something will/might happen and I'll be up a creek without a paddle so to speak) which is why my original plan was to shop at Shar, southern michigan is terrible for finding string instruments(Shar is about the localist violin shop near where I live and Detroit, Flint, and Lansing being second most local) Ohio doesn't even have anything close with shops in Cincinatti and Columbus. As well as the shops have convenient hours for workers but terrible for customers. yes I've searched lists of shops that do bass work/sell basses) so i suppose right now its either a 2 hour drive for a used bass that apparently "VGC+ except needs work (replace poorly fitting bridge, setup, etc.)" or a 5 hour drive for a nicer bass. probably it would be cheaper just to drive the 5 hours and get the nicer bass rather then messing with the used one that needs a new bridge and whatever else.

  11. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    I think if you tell us more precisely where you're located (Fill out your profile, maybe? We don't meant to nag here, just trying to help) a TB member might be able to point you towards someone.
  12. cerokilik


    Aug 22, 2013
    Clinton, MI
    probably should have mentioned the 5 hour drive would be for a kay m-1 and the 2 hour drive or so would be for a Engelhardt m-1. the kay is probably more worth it right? 3,000 including cost of gas, the bass plus a case and bow, another bow or 3 and rosins while the engelhardt would be 1200 just for the bass, a case, a bow, gas, and rosin plus who knows what in repair and set up.
  13. MostlyBass

    MostlyBass Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Oak Park, IL
    Michigan has the Guarneri House ( run by bassist and bass maker Steven Reiley) as well as a shop by his son (also a bass maker / luthier), Aaron's Instruments.
  14. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I personally think $3k would be a lot for a Kay in the Midwest, and they have their issues resulting in folks either loving or hating them.

    I'm from Trenton. From Clinton, you could reach Chicago in 5 hours. Grand Rapids would be a worthy trek.
  15. LowA


    May 15, 2013
    South Germany
    I'm 1,73 m / 5' 8" and have two 4/4 basses with a string length of 1,08 m / 42 1/2". I don't have big hands and I pull out the endpin 15 cm / 6". And it works perfectly - for me. So if You "fall in love" with a 4/4 get it. Otherwise a 3/4 would be better. And don't forget: It's much harder to transport a 4/4, that's the biggest disadvantage of a 4/4 in my eyes.

    Best, Thomas
  16. Federighi


    Jun 19, 2011
    Burlingame, CA
    +1 on the find a shop and play a few.

    I'm 6' & play on what I consider to be a 7/8th's bass with a 43.5" string length; although I'm sure there's room to argue it being a 4/4.

    There are many factors in deciding what you need/ find comfortable in a bass & the best way is to just get your hands on one or a few.

    Good Luck!
  17. MostlyBass

    MostlyBass Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Oak Park, IL
    I wouldn't drive a half hour for those instruments. Where are you located? I know many dealers in the U.S., especially the Midwest. You can great a personally setup Shen with case and decent starter bow for $1700ish.
  18. Adam Attard

    Adam Attard

    Feb 9, 2009

    I'm originally from the southeast michigan near Detroit- it's always been a running joke among area bass players how laughably bad Shar's basses are. They're unplayable slabs of wood with strings on them. I had my instruments in high school taken care of by Aaron Riley- he and his dad are the only really great options in MI I know of, and they're worth the trip to check out what they have. If you live near Ann Arbor (making shar your closest shop), the ~2 hour drive to Grand Rapids is definitely worth it to get something worth the investment.

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