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Looking for a DB - 3/4 or 4/4?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by neckdive, Jan 12, 2016.

  1. neckdive


    Oct 11, 2013
    Firstly, please forgive my complete ignorance on the matter of DB. I am currently a fretess bass guitar only player looking to buy an upright sometime this year. I will be playing rockabilly, bluegrass, etc.

    My question is about choosing the right size. I have found a 4/4 for sale for a decent price. I am 6'4" barefoot and have fairly long fingers. Would 4/4 be more appropriate for me or should I stick with the 'standard' 3/4 size? I know condition and playability matter most but I need advice from others strictly on size at this early stage of investigating DB.

    I have plenty of space and a big enough vehicle to haul it so that's not really a concern. What are some pros and cons of each size?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    No firsthand experience here, just relaying "conventional wisdom," but the consensus is that the sonic advantages of the larger size instrument over the 3/4 rarely are enough to offset the physical challenges of playing it. But then you are 6' 4" with long fingers. I'm sure more knowledgeable folks will weigh in before too long.
  3. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    Welcome! :) Your question and other fundamental ones are answered right HERE. I suggest that you pull up a chair and start reading. That will be your fastest route to the most comprehensive information. A couple of direct answers and tips. The sizes "3/4" and "4/4" are not standardized. See here and take the measures with more than a grain of salt in terms of their reliability across builders. What one person calls a 4/4 bass may be another person's 3/4 with a large body. It's actually more about the vibrating string length, or mensure. What has historically and typically been called a "4/4" bass is probably not what you want. There are many "3/4" basses that should fit you just fine. You'd do well to pretty much forget about those designations. Read, read, read.
    neckdive likes this.
  4. Roger Davis

    Roger Davis

    May 24, 2006
    If you're young, fit, 6'4" and have a decent sized vehicle there's probably nothing wrong with a 4/4. And the string length is not a lot longer in many cases. But most of us play 3/4 basses and perhaps it may not be too easy when you come to sell.
  5. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2012
    Estero, Florida; USA
    I also play a lot of bluegrass and traditional country. I have two basses - a 3/4 hybrid, and most recently a "small" 7/8ths plywood. I had the small 7/8ths built specifically for my acoustic bluegrass gigs. I wanted something with a bigger bottom end that could compete acoustically with a banjo or dobro, and still have a low string height with steel strings. I'm only 5' 10", but the 7/8ths is all I would want. It is enough bigger in all dimensions and heavier that I would not want a 4/4.
  6. drurb

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

    Apr 17, 2004
    Just as an example, what's the string length on that 7/8, Bob?
  7. Jay Corwin

    Jay Corwin Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    You don't need a 4/4 based on height. The end pins are adjustable on basses for a reason.

    I'm 6'-5" in bare feet with huge hands (just ask the ladies), and I play a 3/4. The end pin still has plenty of adjustment left on it once I set it for my height. No problems.

    If you have large hands, then I would be more concerned with thickness of the neck. IME, I prefer a larger neck - both on bass guitars and upright basses because of my hand size.
    drurb and neckdive like this.
  8. BobKay

    BobKay Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2012
    Estero, Florida; USA
    42" on the 7/8ths. 41.5" on the hybrid. Really no noticeable difference for my pizz playing. I switch easily, and my intonation is no worse; unfortunately no better, either.
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