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Info on 7/8 and 4/4 basses

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by truckplayer, Sep 20, 2008.

  1. I like to learn about two different size basses: 7/8 and 4/4. What are the pluses and minues on each one? Any particular venue they are used for? Are they still being made?


  2. dave79

    dave79 Rest well Fish

    Wait till Ken Smith sees this one...
  3. EggyToast


    Jan 21, 2006
    they're typically too big to be comfortably played by most people's hands.
  4. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Indeed, the problem is that there is no consistent definition for 3/4, 7/8, or 4/4. Some people equate these "sizes" with string length. Others use the size of the body of the bass! One person's or dealers' "large 3/4" is another's 7/8. I think it makes far more sense to pay attention to string length and body size than to be concerned with the 3/4, 7/8, 4/4 specifications.
  5. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    Possibly, but like most things in life, there is a tradeoff.
    My bass (what most people would call a 7/8) has a 43" string length, is 21" across the upper bout and over 28" on the lower. I'm 5'10 with fairly small hands, but have very little trouble either getting around the bass or playing it in tune. Half position is a stretch, but I can do it.
    I bought it solely based on the way it sounded when I played it. All other things being equal, a bigger bass can have a bigger sound.
    There is a cost, however. It is 'a bit' harder to play, takes up more room on a tight bandstand, and is heavier and harder to carry around.

    People should choose an instrument after carefully considering all factors.
  6. EggyToast


    Jan 21, 2006
    I agree, although most people who seem confused by the sizing thing are coming here after seeing a bunch of 7/8 and 4/4 basses on eBay for cheap, assuming "oh these are the REAL uprights!"
  7. chroma601


    Feb 16, 2007
    Sylva, NC
    4/4 basses are good for rock and roll, but 7/8 basses are best for those Don Sebesky Jazz type signatures.

    Oh, you meant size...

    Never mind.

    (Must get my 5/4 bass to play some Brubeck)
  8. I use a big one. The maker says it's 4/4, but what do they know. They were trained in Markneukirchen. Ken says it's more like a 7/8. I maintain that this is kind of like asking how big is a medium shirt in terms of a specification.

    Measure the bass and that is what size it is.
  9. Buying basses by size is like buying clothes at Wal Mart, except Wal Mart is more consistently huge. (Seriously folks, at 5'11 and ~225, I should NOT wear a medium size T-shirt.

    I play a 7/8 as my main bass, but the size has nothing to do with it. There are zillions of better basses that are smaller and weigh half as much as my beast and if I could afford one I'd buy it. For me it just ends up being a trade-off, and my back comes out on the bad end of the deal both from reaching around big shoulders and deep ribs, and from lugging the pig around town. Plus I'm convinced that big, heavy basses get damaged more often and have more issues; I think gravity and inertia are hard on them.

    If I were a luthier making new basses, I think I'd pick a good, pretty standard model, and start building smaller and smaller versions, tweaking all the way to see just how small and light a bass I could get before sound was actually compromised to where it couldn't be adjusted for, and then start working back the other way with that small bass to make it as good as possible. Then maybe consider enlarging it again in order to actually gain something.

    My opinion is that aside from cool factor or ego, there's just no realistic call for making big basses these days, much as we love the big old monsters. A lot of times I even speak out against cutting impractical old basses just because, when a new bass can almost always do the job and leave the old guy in peace. Two sides to that coin, I know, and not for discussing in this thread. :p

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