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Opinion: 1/2 or 3/4 size?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by arizonabass, May 27, 2004.

  1. arizonabass


    Feb 6, 2002
    Tucson, AZ
    Would I really be cheating myself if I got a 1/2 size rather than the standard 3/4? I ask this because it seems the 3/4 is rather unwieldy for me (I'm borrowing one, though the fellow who owns it says it's full size. Physical measurements of "vibrating string length" indicate it's closer to 3/4.) I've played slab for some 39 years, though just 'screwing around at home.' I love the sound of an upright and the overall feel of it... but I don't want to knock myself out and get discouraged. Thus, the idea of a 1/2 size with its shorter string length (shorter scale?), and apparently easier to play. (I believe it was a 1/2 I once played at a fellow's house years ago, and it felt pretty good. I have small hands.) Southwest Strings here in Tucson sells a Klaus Mueller Prelude bass for $830; 3/4 and 1/2 are the same price. I have been told that a 1/2 size *can* produce fine tone, and again I probably never will gig with it (I never have with the electric bass!), so... Be ruthless with your opinions, just don't hurt me. :crying: I don't want to get a 3/4 -- the "correct" size -- if I'm going to wind up not wanting to even play it because it's too big. No, EUB is out of the question.
  2. rscconrad


    Apr 26, 2004
    Seems to me to be a no brainer.

    Your doing this for fun, you don't like hte feel of a 3/4 or full size.

    You like the feel of a 1/2 size. Get yourself one. If you do get serious you would want to upgrade sometime someplace anyhow. You can revisit the issue then.

    I think you found yourself a new instrument to enjoy.

    Have fun
  3. azflyman


    Apr 24, 2004
    Astoria, OR
    Steve Bailey has small hands, he is a small guy, and he kills on the six string slab. Get what you will use but 3/4 is standard size ( don't ask me, I realize 4/4 should be standard, it works if you are over 6'2"). I believe it is something you just get used to in time. Southwest Strings rents basses with 100% of the first few month going towards purchase. Why don't you rent a 3/4 for a few months and then buy either the 3/4 or the 1/2 if the 3/4 is too big and uncomfortable. Just be warned, the 3/4 the rental bass is a fully carved, you may not want to go back to laminated once you play a carved bass.

  4. Don't be put off by the size of the instrument; you'll get used to it. My advice is get the 3/4. You'll be glad you did in the long run.
  5. Chrix


    Apr 9, 2004
    You ever think about a 5/8 size? It's in between a 1/2 and 3/4...just a thought...
  6. arizonabass


    Feb 6, 2002
    Tucson, AZ
    I never heard of a 5/8, and it's a good idea.. Thanks for the advice (everyone) so far. Mike may have the right idea: to get the 3/4 anyway, as I might get used to it ok. I would find that out by renting one (thanks, az) and *then* deciding. (Rental periods are for a minimum 3 months.)

    What I'm waiting to hear is what you think might be the difference in sound (unamplified volume, quality) between a 1/2 and a 3/4.

    Howard Lester
  7. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I just recently sold a 1/2 size bass that i've had for nearly 20 years. It had a 39" string length played beeyootifully especially with velvets on it.

    Besides, there is no "correct" size. I agree with CONMAN on this.
  8. pathdoc2


    Oct 16, 2002
    Allen, TX
    I strongly feel you should play an instrument you feel is the correct size for you. A 1/2 can sound just fine. A cello is much smaller and has lots of volume including low end so why wouldn't a 1/2 bass sound good? I'm short, 5foot 5 inches and play a 3/4 because it feels okay and it was the only size bass I'd ever seen. If I had ever played a 1/2 I'm sure I would have liked it and probably gone that route. Now I own 2 3/4 basses so its kind of late to change.
  9. Just how big is a 4/4 anyway? A 3/4 is, what, like 42"? If one possible size for a half is 39", would that make a 4/4 about 45"? And how wouild you string it? Do all strings come that long?
  10. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA

    Around 44" is typical for a 4/4. No, not all strings are available for that string length, but certainly many are.

    There are at least a half dozen strings in this forum discussing this very thing. A search might make for an interesting read. In short and IMO, there is no good reason to buy a 1/2 other than you just want one. The difference in physical size is pretty negligible in reality. Basses are unwieldy until you acclimate to playing them, no matter what the size.

    As for the shorter scale being easier to play, I just don't see it. If you are an adult on the 10-90th percentile of size, there's no reason you can't play a 3/4 as easily as a 1/2.

    There are plenty of other good reasons to buy a 3/4 including re-sale value, general availability and most importantly, tone.

    Get whatever makes you happy.
  11. Nick Ara

    Nick Ara

    Jul 22, 2002
    Long Island, NY
    A few years back, I came real close to buying a 5/8 bass. This one sounded great even though it needed a bit of work, and it was priced right. Then I found a "small" 3/4, small because the bass had narrow shoulders so I could get around it much easier. The mensure was a tiny bit shorter than most other 3/4 basses.

    My advice: If you can, try a bunch of basses in this range, and take along a pad, pencil and tape measure or ruler. Write down the measurements of each bass, and of course, document your impressions of each after playing them for a while. Go home and think about your impressions, then revist the basses you liked best. This method worked for me, YMMV.

    Good luck!
  12. azbass


    Mar 23, 2002
    Tucson, AZ
    Thank you all for your advice. I have a lot to think about, and a lot of 'homework' before I plunge into anything like this.

    Thanks again,
    Howard Lester
  13. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    If it helps I have small hands and play 3/4 size. I have had two basses and they both feel right.

  14. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I do not think I've ever played a full size bass...don't think i would like to.
  15. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    I have two 5/8 carved basses. Just a little smaller in size, a little easier to handle, not much different from the 3/4. One is very light. The 3/4 was just too difficult to handle when I first started playing, but I probably could easily get used to it now. The 1/2 size didn't seem to have a full enough sound. I plan on staying to the 5/8. Its worth checking out.
  16. John Sprague

    John Sprague Sam Shen's US Distributor

    Mar 10, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Sales Manager, CSC Products Inc.
    Half-size basses are like Mopeds: fun to ride, but you don't want your friends to see you with one. ;)

    All joking aside, and that was a joke, what did your teacher say? Perhaps examining your technique will straighten out the discomfort issues, or you just need to make that leap that slab guys need to make when taking on the real bass, which you teacher can help with.
  17. If you buy a 1/2, bear in mind that the resale value is small. You probably won't get your money out of it. Even 5/8's have a limited market.
  18. arizonabass


    Feb 6, 2002
    Tucson, AZ

    Cute. And yeah, I have already imagined "what they'd say" when they see me with a miniature bass.

    Teacher? No, I don't yet have a teacher, though I was recommended one particular fellow here. For now, I'm just dinking around on a friend's bass - one that may be on the large end of 3/4. I certainly would need a teacher if I want to go beyond the dink stage. I would want him to see how I play it, too, to help me determine if I CAN play a 3/4 AND enjoy doing so. I don't want this to be "work." This is a hobby for me - just to play at home and enjoy the sounds that even my fretless slab can't produce. If it becomes work, I won't play it. (Yes, some "work" is plenty fun; I know the concept.) And yes, if I bought a bass and later wanted to sell it, I would have a much easier time selling a 3/4 than a 1/2. Thanks for the excellent advice.

    Howard Lester
  19. GreenDolphin232


    Apr 13, 2004
    Why I hate 3/4 size basses. That migt seem unusual especially in my middle school jazz band where I play with a full size bass

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    A full size bass isn't practical at all. It is difficult to play, and speaks slower(in most cases). A 3/4 size bass is the standard size instrument(although 7/8th is also popular). I used to have a 5/8 bass that was a canon. Louder than most basses I have played, and loud enough to play most Jazz gigs. I unfortunately sold it to purchase a slab. Something I regret! Size is less important than sound.