1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Big string lengths

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Adrian Cho, Aug 22, 2004.

  1. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Of course "big" depends on how big your hands are and how thick the neck is, etc. In any case:

    I am looking at a new (old) bass at the moment. It's attractive to me for many reasons but I am a little concerned about the string length. It was 44" but with a false nut it is now 43". Also, the body length (I believe measured on the back excluding the button) is 45.5. At 5'6" I know that I would probably have to have the endpin on the first notch or even less (if that was possible). My other basses are 41.5" and 41" string lengths with 43.75" and 43" back lengths. Usually I have endpin on the first or second notch. One of the previous owners I e-mailed says that he gave it up because the original string length of 44" was too much to deal with. I am quite sure that at 43" I will not be able to double-stop an F octave in half position for example.

    I'd be interested to hear any comments on playing big string lengths and also on false nuts. I assume in this that the bridge is in the "correct" position and that there isn't usually a lot of room for moving it anyway.


  2. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Doesn't sound like a match to me. What are the other reasons why you are interested in this one? I am 6' and have a 43' mensure bass which is a bit much for me. Remember, EVERY time you play, you'll be dealing with that length. . . Scale length isn't the most important factor in good sound. I've heard many 41" basses that still have lots of oomph.

    If I were you I'd keep looking.
  3. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Well yes I agree totally that string length is not the most important factor in good sound. Absolutely not. In my view it's just something that is related to the body length and other factors and it will be whatever it is. I know small guys and people with small hands that play bigger string lengths but I am not sure it's for me. The only way to know of course is to try it. There are so many factors including the neck thickness, etc. The body length doesn't worry me too much - I know guys that play big basses and have to have the endpin all the way in, but the string length is definitely more of a concern.

    As for why I am interested in this bass, well the size is definitely one factor. I agree that there are many smaller basses with lots of sound though. The trick is to find something that can move a lot of air but that still has a reasonable mensur.
  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Sounds like it's too big (likely) in my opinon as well. The best way to tell is borrow the thing for a week of heavy gigging and see if you survive...
  5. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Oh man, that sounds long. I have long fingers and my 42 1/4" length is perfect. Any longer would be uncomfortable, I think. But I guess it's like Ray says, how does it feel playing a night? Maybe you can get used to it.
  6. azflyman


    Apr 24, 2004
    Astoria, OR
    I never cared much unless it is just too much to play. I have a 36" scale six string electric bass. There are few who would touch it due to the extra 2" but it plays fine for me. Everyone who knew the scale length would not even give it a try, too bad for them, it sounds like god! The B string is as clear and articulate as I have ever heard, beter than 99% of the B strings out there. :D
    If this full sized bass sounds like what you want and is not too painful then go for it. If you just want to try it to play a full sized bass then let it go. It has to have the sound, the extra something, for me to go the extra mile. There are cannons in all sizes, not just XXL.

  7. I have a client who plays a 7/8 bass with a (believe it or not) 45" string length. He will not even consider the possibility of either a neck graft or a false nut. He has been playing that bass in orchestras for over 20 years. The kicker is that the guy also owns and plays a 3/4 bass with a 42" SL.
  8. I'm throwing this out because I currently play a 41.5 string and am considering moving up to something 42.5ish. A 44" string just looks a whole lot longer, but even if it is, how much of the difference do you experience at any one time? The worst case is half position and I worked out something that anyone with a 41.5 string can try out to see what a 44" half position feels like (on your current 41.5 mensur bass). Put your index finger on the nut and see if you can double stop the E on the D string. Move around a bit as if this were half position in F minor and see if you can play in tune on the notes stopped with your 4th finger.

    The reasoning here is that 41.5 multiplied by the half step ratio (equal temperament) of 1.059 is 43.96 or about 44". You could look at it as 44" string is about one half step longer than 41.5" string. To find the actual increased distance your claw must cover:
    Divide 41.5 by the same ratio (getting 39.19). We are now one whole step above the 43.96 nut. Once more (39.19/1.059 = 37) gets you to 1.5 steps above the nut where your fourth finger would be in half position on the 43.96 string. Once more (37/1.059=34.94) to get you to the same point on the 41.5 string. So your claw covers from 41.5 to 37, or 4.5 inches in half position on the 44" string. On the 41.5 inch string it covers from 39.19 to 34.94, about 4.25. So the biggest difference you experience between the 44" and the 41.5" is a 1/4" in half position. Depending on the span of your hand, it may not be too much. Going up the fingerboard it gets less and less. At thumb position (octave), it is about 1/8" and barely noticeable. If your hand span is more than 9 inches, say 9.5, you could probably get used to it pretty easily. On the other hand (the one that's less than 9 inches in span) it might be uncomfortable.

    Something we might be missing is whether or not your bow hand still falls in the proper bowing position with that endpin all the way in. Something to consider if you bow very often. A good fit has to fit everywhere. A bad fit can make your right arm sore too.
  9. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    The thing about long scale lengths, for me, isn't so much the hand span as the nut height. If I set my bass where I need it to be for bowing, the nut ends up being really high.

    I am looking forward to getting a reasonable mensure, so that I won't have to comprimise my bow placement for a more comfortable left hand.

  10. I sort of took the long way to get to it but that is what I'm talking about above;- that it has to fit everywhere, sort of like a good pair of shoes, or a tailored suit coat. Both hands and arms should feel comfortable in playing position, as well as fingers.
  11. trocadero


    Jun 12, 2005
    Gamleby, Sweden
    oh, I just happen to stumble across this thread and now I'm really concerned about my bass. I hope it is ok if I borrow your thread.

    I'm a beginner and I'm playing without a teacher until september. My bass has 110 cm mensur(43.3") and my hand span is just 9 ". I'm 187 cm(6 foot 2 ") tall but I guess my hands a relativly small for my height.

    The reason why I have such a big bass is because I got it practicly for free and because it is a carved cechz bass. How should I deal with this? Should I play it for like a year before I consider selling it or should I deal with it right now?
  12. When you start with your teacher, ask them if the strings are too long for your hands. Some people can manage, and some people can't.

    I have very large hands, and stand 6'4". Even then, I decided I wanted my bass to have a "D" neck and a shorter string length, just for ease of play. To that end, I had an extended nut installed. You can see here (sorry for the other pictures, I used it elsewhere on here):


    However, this was after a full year of playing it with a 43.5 inch string length. It took me that long to decide I wanted it shorter (it's now 41.6"). Since you're a beginner, you learning to deal with it now, which is fine. You shouldn't have to do something dramatic like this nut extension unless you have a very difficult time playing it in its current state.
  13. trocadero


    Jun 12, 2005
    Gamleby, Sweden
    excuse me for being a newbe but what is that thing that the E-strings lays on, and what is it for?
  14. It's a C-extention. It allows me to play a few notes lower than a typical bass. It's mainly used in orchestral playing, since many composers want the bass to double the cello parts an octave lower. The lowest string on a cello is a C, thus the C-extention.
  15. G-force


    Jul 1, 2004
    oslo Norway
    nice bass Paul , what is it?
  16. It's a Paul Toenniges. I had a big fat post on it a while ago.
  17. I have since changed from a 4 string at 41.5" (two years) to a 5-string 43" (3 months). It was also a change from E-flat to D neck. This doesn't bother me much, but took some getting used to. The D neck switch seems to be worse for me than the string length. I wouldn't want it any longer, I don't think. I am about 5'11" with long arms and comparatively long fingers, so everything matches up pretty well. If you have the instrument "practically free" and you are just starting out, unless the teacher thinks it is a bad fit, I would try to give it a go. You can learn on it while you try some more basses.
  18. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    If you want a full sound, go for a full size bass with a 42" mensure. Extra string length won't give you too much more oomph.

    I would pass on any instrument with more than 43" string length.