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How large is a 1/2 sized DB typically?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Gabu, Aug 22, 2003.

  1. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    I have not been able to find that after reading the newbie readings. My objective is to play with two acoustic guitars that tend to be hard strumming. I was thinking a DB would be cool, but I am not sure about the logistics of carting around such a large instrument. Are 1/2 basses much smaller than 3/4?

    Thanks for your information.
  2. Yes, a 1/2 size bass is much smaller than a 3/4. A 3/4 is considered the 'normal' size for a bass; 1/2 is usually for young kids or very small people. I can tell you from experience that you won't enjoy playing a 1/2 size bass, unless you plan on approching it as a completely different instrument. (i.e. tune it in fifths and play it like a giant cello)
  3. Try not to buy a bass on your transportation options. Most cars can handle a 3/4 size one way or another. I.e. putting seats down, backs down etc. Take your car to a music store and try to fit one in. Get a different car! As Toman said, you won't like a 1/2 size. End-pins are adjustable, but if your height is anywhere near normal, your in trouble. Good luck!
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Get an EUB - very portable and you can still get quite an acoustic sound !!
  5. I think I would beg to differ on each account! A 1/2 size bass isn't all that much smaller than a 3/4 size (example: the scale of a 3/4 is usually around 41.5"; I used to have a 1/2 size with a scale of 39.5"); I've seen large 1/2 size basses which could be mistaken for 3/4 size. I've seen 1/2 size basses being used in an orchestra. How the hell can you tell that they won't enjoy playing a 1/2 size bass? Well, I notice that from your profile you say you play a 7/8 size bass, so perhaps it would be appropriate to remind folks that it's not the size that matters, but what you do with it (the bass that is...) :)

    - Wil

    PS: I think although Bruce is right about an EUB being portable, the sound isn't the same (the feel certainly isn't)
  6. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Some EB players have been known to take a 1/4 size bass and put a long endpin in it, as a 1/4 size bass has the same scale as a long scale EB. (I tested this the other day in reverse, seeing if my nephew could play my P-Bass if I stood it vertically. He could, but the frets got in his way)

    Said nephew's 1/4 size bass is pretty loud fopr a small instrument, but played pizz it just doesn't have the projection and bottom of a 3/4 instrument. I'd agree with those who say get a 3/4 sized instrument.

    Or get a Tacoma acoustic bass guitar. Of all the acoustic bass guitars I've tried, this is the only one made today that really has enough bottom end and projection to be played purely acoustically.
  7. By the way - another reason for considering a 3/4 size bass is the resaleability when it comes time to upgrade/change. Not much of a market for 1/2 and 7/8 size basses...

    - Wil
  8. John Sprague

    John Sprague Sam Shen's US Distributor

    Mar 10, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Sales Manager, CSC Products Inc.
    Did anyone get a chance to play or hear that funky looking travel bass that David Gage brought to the ISB Convention? Any reports?
  9. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    Thanks all for your thoughts.

    Bruce, that's a cool idear, but I was thinking more along the lines of a purely acoustic setting.

    I've also listened to one of Bob's carved Bulgarian basses. Pretty cool stuff. :)

    I actually had thought of using a cello. I went to see Yoyoma last week. He was doing a gig with a bunch of Brazillian musicians. It was a great show. I was also impressed with the range of a cello too.

    On the other hand, Bobs DB sounded just wicked. Especially the bowed part... There are some notes that that just grab you, when bowed.
  10. I trust that the comment about 7/8 size was a typo. I get a lot of calls for 7/8 size basses.
  11. Well, my current luthier has two or perhaps three 7/8 size basses in stock at the moment - out of between fifty and sixty others (mostly 3/4, perhaps one 1/2). Maybe that's why you're getting all the inquiries (you know everything's bigger out west... ;) ) Seriously, though - do you find people buying them, or having them to trade, or just asking about them? I wonder if it's a regional thing?

    Another point is that there is quite a range of sizes within each "size". For instance, the 1/2 size I used to have was actually quite large for a 1/2, it was more like a 5/8. Of the two 3/4 size I currently own, one has a D neck, and the other has an Eb neck, but its body seems heavier, although it's smaller than the one with the D neck.

    Why is it that whenever bass players get together, the discussion invariably turns to size? :meh:

    - Wil
  12. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    Wil, your posts have gotten me to thinking that I should be looking at scale more than 1/2 or 3/4, due to the lack of a standard.

    Would it be a better question to ask what are the common scales and what trade off is there in smaller scales?

    I am unlikely to play in an orchistra. Also, this project will probably not include a drummer. Most likely just me and two acoustic guitarists.
  13. I find people buying or asking about them. I've never had one come in on trade, but I hope I do. I know I could sell it.
  14. Although basses are not truely standardized as far as sizes go, here are typical string length and body length for a given size (from the George Boran book Making a Bass Viol).

    Size - Str. Length - Body Length
    4/4 1100mm (43.3") 1200mm
    7/8 1075mm (42.3") 1133mm
    3/4 1050mm (41.3") 1100mm
    1/2 965mm (38.0") 1020mm
    1/4 900mm (35.4") 935mm
  15. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    Hmm... So roughly converting to American, a 1/2 may be roughly 3 to 4 inches shorter than a 3/4.

    The more that I read, however, the more inclined I am to stick with what's tried, true, and standard. Which seems to be 3/4.

    Decent playability and tone are paramount. Price may be an issue, I am planning to save up around $2,000. Portability and volume matter, but not not to the extent that I would have sacrifice the first two.
  16. Hey Wil, I wasn't trying to hurt anybodys feelings or tell him what he'll enjoy really, I was just offering my opinion, based on the experiences I've had with tiny basses. I personally think there is no reason for him to get a 1/2 bass, unless he is specificly looking to do something out of the ordinary with it. If he's just looking for a bass to play various types of standard music on, with other musicians, I don't think a 1/2 bass is going to be very practical for a full grown man to play. Just my two cents.. :rolleyes:
  17. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    Gabu-I'm a fellow Plank Spanker but i am also a relative newbie on the dark side :D [in my 3rd year of DB, played cello for 3yrs before making the switch over]. It is more than worth it to get the regular 3/4. For your price range, a nicely setup Ply bass would be great. It also, just happens to be the same range i am looking in. The Newbie Links has plenty of info in them about different plys. Once i get the money [read as approximately $2k in cash] my dad and i are going to take a road trip to get me a DB. For reference on size/portability. My car has a solid bench seat in front [84 Impala-yeah old boat car], and i can still fit a 3/4 Kay in side with room to spare and to take my BG stuff. As what others have said: If your bass won't fit in your car, you need to rework the idea or get a new car. That's all-older, wiser members of DB land, feel free to correct me [i know you didn't need an inviation]
  18. No problem - I've a fairly thick skin (comes with being a Curmudgeon). FYI (and the original poster) here's a couple of pictures of my 1/2 size (and me - I'm around 5'6"):



    One thing I noticed with the 1/2 size was the size (thickness) of the neck - my hands are not really small, but neither are they very large. I found a bass with a neck that I found to be really comfortable (well, it took a bit of work by my luthier), and then when I bought my second bass, I had my luthier work on the neck of the new one to make it similar to the first. Sounds like a lot of work, but believe me it's worth it! I got rid of my 1/2 size when I found a 3/4 with a neck which I could handle, and with a sound which I fell in love with - and yes, mje is right - the smaller basses don't have the bottom end, although with a good set-up and decent strings (I use Obligatos) I was pretty happy with my 1/2 (until I found something better... :meh: )

    - Wil
  19. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Going back a bit (and off to one side), Bob, you mentioned a book: George Boran, Making a Bass Viol. Do you have any publishing info on that? By whom, when... I'd like to track it down if possible.
  20. The book was published by the author and I don't know if it is still available. You might try the Southern California Association of Violin Makers Web Site for his address.

    I know Dr. Boran is a past officer, a contributing member and at least one of his articles (Bending and Heating wood with Silicone Heating Blankets) is available on the site.

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