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7/8 & Full size bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by George Lenz, Sep 18, 2001.

  1. I have always wanted a full size bass but would like to know if it would be worth the effort? I have a 3/4 Englehart ES1 that I like very much. Does the 7/8 or full size bass give more volume or better tone than a 3/4? Assuming both were set up the same. It seems that 7/8's are more plentiful than full size and a lot of times they are called full size when they are not.
  2. All things being equal, a bass with a larger body will move more air and therefore be louder.
  3. Aroneng

    Aroneng Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2001
    Ft. Lauderdale, FL
    Instead of looking for a larger bass, look for one that sounds bigger, if that is what you want to have. Maybe you'll be surprised, finding one more to your liking in a smaller size than you expect!
  4. Thanks for the info guys. I have never played a big bass just my 3/4. I've just had this thing about wanting a big bass. I might not like it if I ever get one but more volume would be a plus because all of my playing is all acoustic and outside.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I must admit that I'm not really a DB player, but am an avid listener/watcher/concert-goer, with a keen interest in all things bassy.

    I've seen hundreds of Jazz players, talked to quite a few and they all seem to stick with the 3/4 despite saying that they are interested in big tone.

    The only big basses I have seen have been in the ranks of the big London Orchestras - but then maybe this is all to do with logistics and money. Having to carry the thing around everywhere and I presume the full-size bass is going to be more expensive to buy and maintain?

    For the orchestral concerts in the best concert halls, I presume they spare no expense and you will see vast arrays of exotic percussion wheeled on for a comparatively short stint - I always presumed that the full-size basses similarly represented a case of not compromising where the sound is concerned?
  6. George:

    I have a King Mortone and a 1949 Kay C-1. The King has a slightly narrower body width across the bouts than the Kay but it has a 43" scale length as opposed to the Kay which has a 42"scale. I think this technically makes the King a 7/8 even though the body looks smaller. The body on the King is also about an inch deeper between the top and the back.
    The Kay sounds great for pizz. Its set up with a top grade bridge and soundpost and carefully selected strings but the King greatly surpasses the bigger- bodied Kay in terms of sound. Way more volume and oomph.
    So outside dimensions don't always tell the tale.
    If you are staying with the plywoods, the Kings and American Standards in my experience seem to have the biggest sound next to a properly set up Kay.
    Carved basses are a different proposition. I have played some big bodied carved basses that have not done the job as well as my plywoods for pizz. For bowing though, its another story again.
  7. That's because, when it comes down to buying a bass, no one worries about the so-called size. Those fractional numbers are constantly referred to, but in reality they mean nothing because basses have no standard measurements. When selecting a bass, consideration is given to two things, how the bass sounds, and the comfort of playing it. The reason the basses in the 3/4 range are most common is because the bassists performing on them are most comfortable with that size bass; especially in jazz which is much more demanding than an orchestra gig cats want a bass they can get around easily. You might wonder than why don't they play even smaller basses, to which the reply is they don't want to sacrifice any more sound than they have to.

    And no, larger basses are not more expensive to maintain.
  8. The sound is everything. If it wasn't for the sound why else would anybody want to suffer so much just to play one. I think size is important to a point. Anything smaller than a 3/4 just doesn't sound like a bass to me. To get what I consider a good bass sound you have to move massive amounts of air and that means a big body. I don't know anybody that plays anything larger than a 3/4 in my area. I design my own bridges and sound post and set my bass up for quality of sound not volume so maintainance is not a problem. My bass suffers terrible abuse when it comes to temperature and humidity changes therefore I need to stay with a plywood bass. A carved one would give me nightmares waiting for it to split. Size can have a lot to do with being able to transport it and maybe the difference in sound isn't worth the extra hassle to most players. Since the 3/4 is the most prevalant size maybe most people don't know what a full one sounds like because they haven't heard one and don't have a reference to compare the 34 to.
  9. Hey George,

    Anyone ever tell you that it ain't the size that matters, it's what you do with it... (true with basses also ;> )

    - Wil
  10. You are correct Wil and I agree. Right now I'm looking for a sound and the part about what you do with it is whole different set of problems.
  11. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    I just read this from a speech Gary Karr gave to the Violin Society of America:
    "To my knowledge, no one has ever done an experiment in a hall - except me - to decide whether a large instrument actually projects more in terms of sound than a smaller one. All orchestras have assumed that you must have the big instruments for the warm double bass sound. But that is not true; in all of my experiments, it was not the small instruments but the larger instruments that seemed to project less and have a less clear sound!"
    However, my 7/8 French bass is a killer.
  12. Hey Don. Did your experiment give you any hints as to why some basses project better than others? What is it about the set up or the bass itself that affects projection? I have played basses that sounded good but twenty feet away you couldn't hear them. Mine doesn't sound that loud when I play it but you can hear it a block away.
  13. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Read the post again. I'm quoting Gary Karr; he conducted the experiment, not me. This will be the only time in my life I'm mistaken to be Gary Karr!
  14. Sorry about the attention deficet disorder on my part Don. Sometimes when you think you are paying attention your not. :oops:
  15. With all due respect to Gary Karr, I disagree with his idea of what is and isn't a clear focused sound. In all honesty, his sound almost grates on my nerves. I don't enjoy it at all. I also disagree with his notion that anything other than that sound is not clear and focused. I read the same article as Don and I took it all with a grain of salt.

    Don, what did you think of Gary's suggestion that hence forth all basses be modelled after his bass by Hamm?
  16. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Frankly, I like the individuality of basses without using standard dimensions.
    Karr has not convinced any orchestra players to go small, near as I can see.
  17. Yeah, I cringed when I read that. The individuality and uniqueness of every bass I've always taken pleasure in.
  18. I too have had this problem, both acoustically and through the amp. Times when I have thought my tone (or volume) was crappy, I've gotten compliments. But there is just no way to big along a friend who plays DB to every gig to play it while I stand out front and tweak the tone.

    Can you ever get an acurate picture of your sound standing next to the instrument?
  19. Limezone, I play all accoustic and outdoors. The only way I can get any feed back on what I sound like is to have 3 or 4 more players in a circle to bounce the sound off. One or two isn't enough and I might as well be standing in an open field by myself. I can hardly hear myself unless I have something to reflect the sound back.

  20. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    This seems to be true for all acoustic instruments. In my bluegrass band, we tend to begin playing in a loose grouping, but will move closer and closer together as we play. Now, we're 4 pretty ugly guys so it's definitely not because we wanna get close to each other :D Just sounds betta...

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