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Newbie question: What about 1/2 sized basses?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by hdiddy, Mar 23, 2004.

  1. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Hey fellas,

    I'm thinking of making the plunge after playing jazz guitar for a couple years and fretless electric for a several months and going into playing upright. Yes, I've checked the newbie links, however I still have newbie-ish question:

    What's the difference between 1/2 sized basses vs. 3/4? Are they made simply for children or something?

    The reason why I'm even asking this is that I have a size restriction (small car) and more importantly I have a loudness restriction at home. The new apt. I'm moving into has a rule about noise (you get fined after your first warning) and I'm afraid and playing a loud 3/4 that booms through the floor down to the resident below.

    I'm looking at 1/2 sized basses as maybe a way to get something that isn't so loud (yes I know I would have to really mike it in a performance) and yet it's still smaller. I also have my eye on Azola's Euro-coustic Baby Bass for the same reasons even tho it's sorta an EUB. I don't mind having to amplify it (especially when i like practicing at 1am w/ headphones), since I'd like to try messing around with effects boxes too.

    So is a 1/2 sized bass silly? BTW: I like playing jazz mostly but I don't want to stick to just straight ahead stuff. Thanks for the help.

  2. MartinT


    Apr 16, 2003
    San Mateo CA

    I don't know how severe your noise restrictions are, but I'd be hard pressed to believe that playing acoustic, unamplified pizz bass would be much louder than playing your stereo at a civilized level. Personally, I would not sacrifice sound by getting a really small bass. Maybe some options are to practice playing softly (you might hear the intonations better that way) or putting a mute on the bass. FWIW.

  3. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Sorry, I tried using the search a couple of days ago and it wasn't working for me.

    Hrm.... muting a bass? Does this entail stuffing the f-holes or plugging them up? I'm assuming this doesn't mean muting with your hands or putting some kind of rubberband on the strings.
  4. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    BTW: I don't know about the noise restrictions yet because I'm moving in at the end of the week. I was just wary of a 3/4 bass since I was trying one last week at a music store and I could hear it booming throughout the store. I believe was a Lumina - I've never heard of that brand but it seemed to be ok and not too expensive ($1300). I played an Eastman a couple of weeks ago and that wasn't too loud.
  5. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    There is a product out there specifically designed to mute a string bass. It is simply a heavy rubber thing sloted to slip over the bridge and dampen the strings. It just slips on or off in seconds. They are only about $10.

    As for the car and size thing, I can't imagine there are too many cars out there that will accomodate a 1/2 bass but not a 3/4. The size difference simply isn't that significant when it comes to packing and hauling the thing around. Either is big and clunky.
  6. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    We DB players refer to this as "good."

    Review the posts about checking out basses. In brief, if you're not comfortable evaluating the instrument by yourself, bring a pal or better yet bring it to a luthier. But the essence of those posts is to do exactly what you have done, which is play and compare in person.

    Good going and good luck.
  7. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Well I do have a Subaru Impreza wagon and I think I've found in other web forums that a 3/4 will fit easy, so probably size is not too much of an issue (since others have reported being able to fit them in a Honda Civic Hatchback).

    I should know better than to say that a acoustically loud bass isn't something I want. I've just been a little paranoid about the noise rule so I'll get myself one of those mutes for sure. I also grew up playing classical on piano so I'd really appreciate being able to develop a light touch.

    I guess I'll just have to suck up and be a real man and just buy a 3/4. :p
  8. spots


    Feb 7, 2004
    boston, MA
    Wil Davis can fit his 3/4 in a toyota corolla
    Toyota Corolla:
    so i think your vehicle can accomodate ;)
  9. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    In case anyone was following this thread,

    I went to the Acoustic Bass Shop in South SF and found a Christopher Hybrid (Model 304) with a Busetto body. Alex, the shop owner, has set up the bass already and it's plays even better than my electric fretless. Man it's fast. Tone is clear although volume isn't as loud as a fully carved, but it sounds good anyway. I'm pretty happy and I plan on practicing alot so it opens up even more. Bass gave me a good vibe. :)

    I ran away with a package that includes a bridge piezo pickup (I forget which one) for $2500 before tax. I'll have to follow MartinT's advice and play softly to develop a better touch. That's going to take alot of work, but i'll be happy to do it.

    Thanks for the tips y'all.

    p.s. I also mistook the loudness of that Lumina bass to be good. It boom alot but there wasn't a whole lot of definition to the tone compared to what I tried out yesterday. I did an A/B test with a Cremona plywood (which also played great because of Alex's setup on it) and that Lumina sounds alot like that. Boomy, but not alot of definition. It was just kinda muddy. I could totally tell the difference playing that and a $7000 old German bass. The more $$$ you fork out, the prettier the sound you can get. But i think it's not as drastic of a tonal difference once you pass something like a certain price point-anything about $2500 starts to sound good in general. Wouldn't you say that to newbie buyers?
  10. Congrats on the Christopher hybrid. I have the same model in a 7/8, bought about 2 years ago, and the sound continues to open up and become "prettier."

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