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5/8 DB-----Piccolo DB

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by mikejdexter, Feb 4, 2019.

  1. mikejdexter


    Jul 9, 2009
    Has anybody tried a 5/8 DB? How does it compare in sound to 3/4 DB? Noticeable difference?

    Anybody tried a Piccolo DB? Is it tuned EADG? I have read where the sound of the Piccolo is an octive up from the 3/4 DB--Is there a device to bring the sound down an octive to sound like a 3/4 DB?
  2. Piccolo Double Bass is tuned ADGC. If I remember right that’s what Ron Carter used for his piccolo bass and that’s the tuning Bozo Paradzik uses. The debate about whether to tune a double bass an octave higher came a few months ago, so need to really open that can of worms again. If you really want to try standard double bass tuning an octave higher, it’s best to try it on a cello using Dadario’a 4ths cello set. Now there is a guy I learned about through that previously mentioned thread who does do a piccolo electric bass style tuning on double bass, but you better be ready to pay a lot of money so string maker could make them.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
    PauFerro likes this.
  3. Reiska


    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    Hi, I don`t know about piccolo DB`s, but a smaller bass with ADGC, or even GDAE tuning is called nowadays bassetto.
    Sean Riddle likes this.
  4. Anne Millington

    Anne Millington

    Dec 16, 2017
    Wow! I would like to try a bassetto with GDAE tuning! I am too old to learn to play with strings tuned in 4ths, I think, but in 5ths like that would be a gas. Where do you get...or how do you make...such a beast?
  5. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    5/8s basses can be very close in size to 3/4 basses or might be noticeably smaller. They are not different instruments, though. There is no standard set of dimensions for basses.
  6. Reiska


    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    Contrabassetto from the ground up
  7. mikejdexter


    Jul 9, 2009
    Thank you for all your replies to my post--very helpful.
    Reiska likes this.
  8. Co.


    Sep 10, 2006
    The most famous bassist, playing a 5/8 instrument is probably Edgar Meyer.
    There are a couple of other factors, that contribute to his sound, but the choice of a smaller instrument in (almost) solo tuning certainly plays a role.
  9. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    A busseto is a not the same thing as a 5/8 bass, piccolo bass or chamber bass. It is slightly different. Silvio Dalla Torre made this great album on the busseto tuned GDAE:

    Barry Guy made this album on a small John Lott chamber bass tuned ADGC

    Here is Ron Carter with his piccolo bass tuned ADGC:

    Finally here is Wilbert DeJoode with one of Barry's Lot chamber basses tuned EADG:
    olliebass and VictorW126 like this.
  10. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    I’ve played a carved gamba 5/8th bass since ‘74.

    It is louder than many larger basses and has a much stronger top end than my 7/8th bass. My 5/8th bass has a lighter low end than a good larger bass. This makes it a natural for a chamber group or solo playing. I do play with a chamber orchestra but I prefer the deeper sound of the 7/8th with them.

    I use the 5/8th for jazz, and is usually amplified. That’s it in my avatar.
    marcox likes this.
  11. Ludwig


    Aug 17, 2006
    I think, there is no standard in double basses. If you call a smaller double bass a 1/2, a 5/8, a bussetto or a picollo is up to you. All of them and the bigger basses like 3/4, 7/8 or 4/4 can be tuned in fourths (BEAD, EADG, ADGC,F#BEA,...) or fithts (CDGA, GDAE,...),any mixture of that or even with a third in between. Main problem is getting useable strings, if you intend to use anything other then the fourth bass tuning most common today.
    Double basses have been build with 3 strings,4 strings and 5 strings, with more gamba or more violin features and names like violone and others. In baroque time even frets have been used with double bass.
    Most bigger basses have a better low end more suited to orchestra use, most smaller basses have a better high end more suited to solo use. It is easier to play a smaller bass with four finger technique, but that can be done with a big bass, too. Pick one you like the sound of and tune it any way you like and then play it in any technique like Simandl, Rabath, four finger,... ==> you can still call yourself a double bass player.
  12. Kristian


    Dec 5, 2008
    In my experience, you need a shorter string length if you want a string higher than c. I'm using a 1/4 bass tuned from low c to high e(5 strings). The high e didn't sound very good on my normal 3/4 bass.
  13. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    It's true that there are no standards for body size, but when we say 5/8 we're not talking about the body, it's the scale. 5/8 scale is 39-40"; compare that with 41-42" for 3/4.
    MCK_BASS likes this.
  14. Nathan Levine

    Nathan Levine Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2008
    Anchorage, AK
    I have a pretty decent 1/2 sized Juzek at the high school where I teach in GDAE tuning. It’s a gas to play. Bass students don’t quite know what to make of it. Violinists think it’s fun!
    Kristian likes this.
  15. Kristian


    Dec 5, 2008
    Hi Nathan! What du you use as a high e on that bass? I've tried a few different options but I'm not super happy with any of them... So 1/2 also works good with a high e? That's good to know, I'm playing a 1/4 size now but a bigger body would be great!
  16. mikejdexter


    Jul 9, 2009
    What is the scale length of Chamber bass?--I can find no info regarding this question--anybody know?

    Nathan: What make of string do you use on your 1/2 size Juzek bass? Normal strings as used on a 3/4 bass?
    Do you 'mix &match' strings to get the correct tension?
  17. It's cool that Alaska has 1/2 size basses, but no nudists I expect. Nobody likes to be in Kodiak bare.
  18. wathaet


    May 27, 2007
    That would make my Hill a 5/8.
    At 119 back length and 73 cm lower bouts, that is maybe not quite the right designation.
    VictorW126 likes this.
  19. Steven Ayres

    Steven Ayres Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2007
    Northern Arizona
    Again, the dimensions of the body don't set the scale, rather it's the distance from nut to bridge.
    JeffKissell likes this.

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