4/4 vs. 3/4 which sounds better?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by chasyboy, Jan 5, 2009.

  1. chasyboy

    chasyboy Guest

    Mar 7, 2004
    Is there a big different merely because of size? What are the pros and cons?

    I play a 3/4 now but have a chance to buy a 4/4 at a good price. What can I expect to be different, or the same?

    Thanks in advance
  2. mjt0229

    mjt0229 Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2007
    Bellingham, WA
    Every bass is different, so it's impossible to predict. Of course, a larger instrument has the potential to move more air, and a longer string length has the potentially to sound bigger. But an inferior full-size instrument will pale next to a decent three-quarters.

    If you think a full-size sounds better, though, consider also how well you can move around an instrument that large. Can you easily reach above the break? What about quick transitions from higher positions to lower ones? Can you play it in tune? Can you play it in tune for hours on end without giving yourself a repetitive-stress illness?

    Has your teacher seen either of these instruments? An experienced professional will be able to better compare the instruments and see in person whether you'd be well fitted for a larger instrument.
  3. relacey


    Sep 18, 2004
    I would think it would sound about 25% better :D
  4. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    Keep in mind that, as discussed here numerous times, there is no real standardization in terms of what's referred to as 3/4 or 4/4. String length is probably the measure to focus on. Sometimes what are called 4/4 basses have string lengths no greater than typical 3/4 basses but may have slightly larger bodies-- sometimes not even that! These size specifications are, in some cases, nothing other than advertising rhetoric.
  5. AngryJason

    AngryJason Guest

    Feb 23, 2006
    Sacramento CA
    Having played both, the 3/4 is my choice....not much different in tone, and easier to move around :)

    Good luck!
  6. chasyboy

    chasyboy Guest

    Mar 7, 2004
    Thanks, all....it's what I figured but being a newbie, I just wanted some confirmation.
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    It's not about size, the thing I've noticed is that good sounding basses sound good and bad sounding basses don't. Play the bass and assess how it sounds before you look at anything else - maker, condition, old/new etc.
  8. dchan


    Nov 19, 2005
    Bethlehem, PA
    Shouldn't it actually be 33% better? :)
  9. Nagrom


    Mar 21, 2004
    Western Canada
    Mathematics aside, one bass should sound better than the other, unless it's a tie.
  10. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Which you should only be wearing if it's a club date (GB)...
  11. relacey


    Sep 18, 2004
    You're right, the 3/4 would sound 25% worse but the 4/4 33% better. Stupid mathematics.
  12. wouldn't x(.75) make it 25% less than x?
  13. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    I remember playing an old King Moretone over at Bill Merchant's a few years ago, and that thing had a BIG sound.
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    did it sound better than the Queen Moretone or the King Lesstone?
  15. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    I'll have to consult the Duke of Moreorlessfordshire on that one.
  16. relacey


    Sep 18, 2004
    I was figuring it this way:

    Stepping down to a 3/4 from a 4/4: 100% * (4-3) / 4 = 75%
    Said another way, if you have $4 and I take $1 from you, I reduced your net worth by 25% over what you had.

    Stepping up to a 4/4 from a 3/4: 100% * (4-3) / 3 = 33.3%
    But, if you had $3 and I gave you $1 that would be an increase of 33% over what you initially had.

    But either way it's still $1 and my initial comment wasn't all that funny anyway. The Duke of Moreorlessfordshire, now that's funny. This is why I shouldn't try to be a smartass and go off-topic. I'm too much of a nerd. Sorry for the derailment. -- Ron
  17. larry


    Apr 11, 2004
    When I was last shopping for a bass I played an older Tyrolean bass that was a very small 3/4 size. Sounded massive. It was beautiful, but it was beyond my price range. I played 10 basses in that room and it was the loudest (and the smallest).
  18. uprightben

    uprightben Guest

    Nov 3, 2006
    Boone, NC
    I think the only reliable, constant, and scientific answer to which sounds better, a 3/4 or 4/4 db is.... which ever one I happen to be playing at the time!:eek:

    I'm just kidding, I'm only half that arrogant. My real opinion is that the form of the db is much to maleable to use 3/4 or 4/4 to categorize the timbre. Which dimensions of a bass really matters in terms of sound? Is it the width of the upper bout? the total area of the table? the depth of the ribs? I have a feeling that if you asked the ten best bass luthiers in the world this question, you'd get ten different answers. I know a luthier who refuses to regraduate tops because he feels that the arching is the main thing that matters and messing around with thickness is a waste of time. I told this to another luthier I know, and his responce was, "popycock, arching is important, but thickness is just as important." (I'm paraphrasing).

    I guess the only thing for it is to get out there and play as many different basses as possible and form your own opinions.
  19. ynie92992

    ynie92992 Guest

    Jul 27, 2007
    North Carolina
    I'm new to DB, but shouldn't you ALWAYS check out feel,and then sound? So you don't hurt yourself? :confused:
  20. does size really matter? LOL. There are so many variables... I think that size matters less than we think it does. Larger basses do tend to have more bass though but not always. I guess it's personal taste. I worked with a bassist from germany who felt that anything smaller than a large 7/8 size or 42 inch string length was too small to be used in orchestra.