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bass size

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Billdog, Sep 16, 2003.


  1. Billdog

    Billdog

    Feb 27, 2003
    Austin, Texas
    While I'm not in the market yet, my instructor said a 7/8ths size would suit me better. I have never heard anyone on this forum recommend a "larger" bass before. I was just wondering what you all think of this. I guess I am pretty big. (6'3",190lbs) What's the verdict?
     
  2. There's nothing wrong with a 3/4. Actually, what matters more is string length. If it's a bass you hope to resell, it'll be easier to move a 3/4.
    6'3" means you can handle a 7/8, but it's not imperative. Go for what sounds best.
     
  3. Billdog

    Billdog

    Feb 27, 2003
    Austin, Texas
    Thanks. Yeah, he was referring more to string lengths associated with 7/8ths rather than with actual 7/8ths.
     
  4. I've never had any problem selling a 7/8 size instrument. If an instrument plays good, it will sell weather it is a 5/8, 3/4, or 7/8 size. People come in different sizes just like basses;)
     
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I've noticed that orchestral players tend to go for much larger basses than Jazz players - so we have had the BBC Proms on for the last few months, with lots of top orchestras and I go along to my local Jazz club each week and it is very noticable.

    I also mentioned how I saw Dave Holland play with a small orchestra and how his bass looked like a Cello compared with size of the Orchestral DB.

    So - does size also relate to what style of music you want to play?
     
  6. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Man, don't ALL bass players know it's not how big it is, it's how you USE it?
     
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Well, somebody had to say it. Feel better now? :)


    WILLIAMUTT,

    Honestly, it doesn't matter. I'm 6'2" and 190 myself, and own one 3/4 size bass, and another bass (which I lovingly refer to as "the Blimp") which is more along the lines of a 7/8, especially regarding string length. Both play fine, and it's not a big deal either way. I use the 3/4 as my main bass because it sounds better. I say get a bass you like the sound of and focus on playing it no matter what size it is.

    Among our resident TBers, I know that TRUCKLLOAD is about 6'4" or 6'5", and he plays a 3/4 just fine. And doesn't everyone here want to be just like Nick?
     
  8. erik II

    erik II

    Jul 11, 2000
    Oslo, Norway
    I recently traded my 3/4 bass with 41,5" string length for a slightly larger bass (7/8?) with 42,5" string length. I liked the sound of the 3/4, but it always felt a bit small.

    The reason may be that I played my first bass, a 7/8 with 44" string length, for about ten years before buying the 3/4. I'm almost 6'3". The new one is more "my size", and the longer scale feels more familiar.

    The guy I traded with was looking for a smaller bass (yes, he is smaller than me), so we're both pleased with the switch.


    Now, who the hell is TRUCKLOAD :confused: :D
     
  9. I play a bass that's billed as a 7/8 because it has deeper ribs and a wider lower bout. But the string length is identical to the same maker's 3/4 model. I tried them both, and they felt essentially the same, but I chose the 7/8 because it indeed had the deeper, bigger, warmer sound I was looking for so that I could play small-club jazz gigs with out an amplifier.

    Now I'm starting to get into playing more arco solo literature, and kinda wishing I'd taken the 3/4 for its more focused tone.
     
  10. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I'm 6'2" and I play a 3/4, a smallish 3/4 at that. No problem.
     
  11. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    And on the other end, I'm 5'7" and play a HUGE 4/4, although it has a normal 41.5" SL, as well as an angled neck that makes it easier to play in the upper positions.

    As short as I am, I've only run across one bass that was too big for me, and it was a 7/8 with a 44.5" SL. My hands were just too small.

    BTW Bruce, your assertion that orchestral players go for the big basses while jazzers the smaller is not neccesarily the case. In fact, I've tended to notice that jazzers often fall into 2 camps. One relies a lot on electronics for their sound and can play smaller basses because they don't need to move a bunch of air. Then you've got guys who go for a more "acoustic" sound and want to move a lot of air. While size is not always a determining factor in the volume a bass puts out (one of the loudest I ever played was a small 3/4), it can make a difference, all else being equal. I've seen as many jazz guys in this camp playing 7/8's as I have 3/4.

    But of course I'm generalizing as well.

    Monte
     
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Ah. Well, TRUCKLLOAD (two L's) is our resident Doghouseabilly bassist and Cincy Lluthier Nick Lloyd. He was given this affectionate nickname because of his formidable stature, among other reasons.

    Here's a Ppic of Nnick:

    [​IMG]


    A while back, there was a small faction of extremely sophomoric DBers on the board who apparently were into the concept of penicular braggartry as a competitive sport. These juvenile and generally despicable elements tried to make claim that the above picture was proof that Nick's imposing stature was compensatory for a lack of endowments in other areas. This element disappeared quickly, however, when Nick threatened to open a 55-gallon drum of a highly toxic chemical agent known as AGENT WHOOPASS in the general vicinity of their personages.

    As impossible as it may be to bring this post even slightly back on topic, the point of my mentioning him is that Nick's a BIG GUY, and yet he chooses to play a 3/4. He could probably play any size bass he wanted, but he chose one whose sound and construction suited his needs. To sum up, I don't think being tall is any reason to choose a bigger bass than a 3/4 unless that bass is speaking to you for other reasons.
     
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Like - you are determined to be part of the Berlin Philharmonic!!?? ;)
     
  14. erik II

    erik II

    Jul 11, 2000
    Oslo, Norway
    Ah - didn't notice the doublle L... :)


    Anyway... guess I just like my bass to be large-ish for some reason.
     
  15. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    A point that needs to be brought up, for conservation reasons, is this: just as a large SUV uses more fuel than an econobox, large basses use more air than their smaller brethren...
     
  16. Billdog

    Billdog

    Feb 27, 2003
    Austin, Texas
    Thanks everybody! Yeah, I kinda figured this topic would be way too subjective to get a straight answer. :) If no one minds now I'm going to take this thread on a tangent it seems you were all getting on, and which I am sure has been covered many times before (please don't kill me.). Does size of bass or string length affect the sound of the bass? My instructor says materials, design, and building techniques and quality play a larger role by far, but, all things being equal (as I understand they rarely are with humongous wood constructs like the bass) do they make a difference? I would assume the larger size bodies would tend to accentuate the lower notes, maybe helping with 5 string basses and basses with lower tunings (a-la BEAD, CGDA, and such). I believe the basic laws of physics describing behavior of waves traveling on strings indicates that longer string lengths will produce lower notes at the same tension, with the same mass/unit length string. Since this is the case, I think longer string lengths would help with the production of lower notes. In my opinion, these things should both contribute to a "mellower", "warmer" sounding bass in all registers. Of course, I could be wrong entirely, so feel free to correct me. And thanks again for all the responses.