Double Bass Sizes

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Norman Earl, Oct 29, 2004.

  1. Norman Earl

    Norman Earl

    Oct 28, 2004
    Nashville, TN
    I am considering buying a double bass and would like to know about the different sizes of the double bass, along with some of the advantages and disadvanteges of the different sizes.
  2. Hi Norman,

    Welcome to the DB forum. The matter you bring up has been pretty well discussed ad infinitum here and you might find a great deal more by using the search tool and putting in stuff like sizes, mensur, 4/4, 7/8, 3/4, 1/2, and some would include 5/8.

    But more to the chase;- generally the most common size is 3/4 and that is usually considered "full size". 4/4 basses are rare, 7/8 somewhat more common.

    Confusion or controversy often arise because there are no standards for where clear break points in size occur. String length (mensur) is a common indicator of the size with 1/2 size being somewhere around 39 inches and 4/4 at somewhere around 43.5+ inches. 3/4 is usually 41.5ish.

    The body length usually is usually a couple inches longer than the string. The bouts can be considerably varied in size and shape and the depth of the ribs also.

    Advantages and disadvantages will vary greatly depending on who you ask but generally bigger basses are louder, everything else being equal, and may require a more dynamic (moving) playing technique. It is not always true that bigger is better in terms of tone. Quality of construction and materials are very important.

    In terms of playing comfort it is important that the bass "fit". There are all kinds of shapes and sizes of this instrument. My advice would be to play as many different ones as you can and don't buy one until you've played several. Get a good teacher and don't expect it to be anything like electric bass guitar. I hope that helps and with some luck, you should be able to get going. :)