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Perhaps a silly question. 34" scale upright?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by rammsteinswrath, Apr 27, 2005.

  1. rammsteinswrath


    Apr 26, 2005
    I am a bass guitarist really, but I am interested in starting to play uprights. It would be nice to have a fully acoustic instrument. Most acoustic bass guitars just don't have that kind of volume, and nothing sounds quite like an upright. I am comfortable with fretless bass, but the drastic scale change would take a while to get used to.

    Can you get a moderately priced 34" scale upright? Does someone routinely make these? :meh:
  2. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    Well, they do exist and are called a 1/4, but they are considered a child's bass. I don't have opinion about them really, and I have never played one. The only time I ever have seen one played that looked small enough was on that folk special on PBS that A Mighty Wind was made to poke fun at; I wasn't all that impressed with the player, but the sound did the job.

    e-bay always has a few cheap'n'crappy ones up and there is also the
    Engelhardt EM3 Maestro Junior Bass , I think there are a few more makes, but I can't remember.
  3. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    The issue is that even a 3/4 scale bass, which is viewed as the "standard" and has a string length around 41" (+/- a bit), doesn't have a big enough airspace to fully and flatly replicate the frequencies that you are looking for. Sure, there are some cannon 3/4 basses out there, but many of your super loud orchestra basses are even bigger than 3/4.

    A 1/4 bass will sound thin. In fact, not much louder than a quality acoustic bass guitar and tonally probably not as good as an instrument like a Thunderchief. Not to mention, an adult would look fairly ridiculous playing on one in an otherwise "normal" setting. They are designed and built as student instruments. Not for tonal excellence.

    There are a few electric upright builders out there doing shorter scale basses and marketing them for the slab convert. But, they are obviously, not the same thing.

    FWIW (coming from a guy who did 15 years on BG before taking up DB and I still play a lot of electric bass guitar), the fingering technique and overall approach to playing the double is so different than slab, the scale really isn't an issue.

    Having played slab, hopefully you've gained valuable experience in listening and tonal recognition, rhythm and time, and a general understanding of the bass's role in a performance ensemble. It will help you on DB.

    But, the value of having played EBG is minimal as far as technique and physical approach. In fact, it may be a hindrance in some cases. In hind sight, I'd say that about myself.

    Honestly, an electric bassist switching to DB doesn't have much more advantage over a raw beginner than would a pianist or guitarist.

    Get a teacher, a real bass and let 'er rip.
  4. Chas, I agree w/you on everything except for the advantage/disadvantage issue. My feeling is that 15-20 yrs of slab helped me greatly w/the basic role of a DB compared w/BG(for me, pretty much same target, different gun).
    But as for physical/technique comparisons, they are two vastly different animals.
  5. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA

    I think you and I are on the same page. I just explained my point poorly. I did a little editing for clarification.
  6. I also want to encourage the original poster- get a bass & teacher, & dive in! It's much more physically demanding, but also very rewarding. The two(BG & DB) complement each other nicely.
  7. greene


    Dec 19, 2003
    New York City
    Ideal Music
  8. rammsteinswrath


    Apr 26, 2005
    I should have expected as much. :D Oh Poop.
  9. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    They ain't so bad... the body volume is still much bigger than any ABG, the strings put a lot of pressure on the bridge etc. For bluegrass and other trad folk musics where you don't play on the E string a lot and don't need all that much volume they're perfectly usable.

    Some large European makers even made 1/4 size basses with full-width necks for the folk musicians who like portability but have adult-sized hands. However, I agree with those who say get a 3/4 or larger bass. It's not hard to make the transition - I was playing gigs within a month of starting DB. There are tiny women with tiny hands who can play on a big bass far better than I ever will be able to.
  10. I don't agree that there's no benefit to having played bass guitar first. You've got the hand strength and the callouses, and you know where notes lie in relation to each other - it's just that they're further apart on double bass. There's a lot of skills you'll already have that a raw beginner would take years to master, such as ear training, knowledge of tunes, rhythmic sensibility, and so on. Yes, the physical aspects of DB are challenging, but you won't find it anything like as hard as a beginner would. And when you go back to the slab, you'll just fly around it!

    Go full size, you won't regret it.
  11. EFischer1

    EFischer1 Guest

    Mar 17, 2002
    New York, New York

    However, this is true of any convert. A player who had formerly played the fiddle or the cello or the bassoon would have a similar advantage when switching to bass as they would have been exposed to "ear training, a knowledge of tunes, and rhythimic sensibility". As for having a knowledge of notes in relation to eachother, someone could also be said to have similar knowledge if they understand that c comes before d. This is just intuitive. This gives you absolutely no idea of how to better play these notes properly or in tune on the double bass.
  12. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    Well lets see, both are tuned the same, have the same number of strings, play the same roll and function in a musical setting and have to put up with drummers. As for as intonation, a fretless BG can be played just as out of tune as a DB. Yes playing techniques are different, so what, that is what taking lessons and practicing are for.

    Contrabass, Bassguitar, Tuba, left hand Keybass and so forth all do the same thing, they play BASS, that is the point, no matter what kind or bass you are playing the mindset is the same. You play the the low notes, hold the grove, balance the melody and the rhythm. There is more to being a bassist then deciding what bass you will play, that merely comes down to getting the sound the you strive for.
  13. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    I played bass guitar for 27 years and went to DB 4 years ago. I worked my way up through the 34" EUB's to the 41" scale EUB's, to fully acoustic EUB's then to a real DB, over about 9 months. I didn't really have to. I found that a PROPERLY SET UP DB for a player new to the instrument (maybe a few position markers, lower tension strings, string height set lower with adjusters wheels that you can raise later, good pickup and amp - none of which is expensive) gives you an instrument that I could have transitioned to in a couple of weeks (mastery of the instrument, well that's a bit longer!) I have several posts about this...I agree with everyone else, go 3/4 right away, but be sure to get a bass from someone that can do the right setup for your needs. That leaves out most chain stores, but with all the great luthiers around the US, you'll have plenty to choose from.
  14. I would agree that there are many things that could carry over, but hand strength and callouses, IMHO, would not.

    The amount of strength and stretch and the depth of callouses, don't compare. I played for five years, with heavy practice routines and frequent and long gigs (during the summers a performance every night, sometimes in the afternoon as well, and a practice every day) and I never felt the stresses I felt upon first taking up the double bass.

    I don't however think the answer is to ease into the double bass. The best way is to get a standard size instrument, properly set up for you. Get a good teacher, who will help you learn the techniques correctly from the start, and quckly spot and correct bad habits. Be patient with yourself, don't compare your double bass self, with your bass guitar self.
  15. Just look at the threads I've started in the last couple of months. I bought a 1/4 size Kay (the same bass is still made by Englehart as the EM-3) in February. It is playable and sounds OK but since it is not the "standard size" you can't just hop on eBay and buy strings or cases or anything else you may want or need. Everything is readily available from numerous on-line merchants, but don't expect to find many bargains or a whole lot of options. I would liken the experience to finding parts for a 1960's vintage English motorcycle...they're available but, after all is said and done, you'd have better off buying a Honda than that '65 BSA Lightning. Since I've "been there, done that" I'd strongly urge you to buy a 3/4 size. I have 40 years of EBG including about 12 years of fretless and playing the URB is worlds apart from playing an EBG. I'll soldier on with the baby Kay but only until I find the right 3/4 size. Imagine yourself gigging with one of those kid-size Fender/Squier P-Basses and you'll have some idea what I'm talking about.
  16. rammsteinswrath


    Apr 26, 2005
    Well, it it looks as though I'll be getting a 3/4 if anything. I'm glad I asked first! :bassist:
  17. Way to go! You won't be sorry.
  18. This was posted on another thread by alert contributor Aaron Noguer. http://www.luth.org/backissues/80savart.jpg
    This one has EBG string scales so you could build your own if you really want to pursue that route. It does have a large body cavity. Who knows what it sounds like.

    I encourage anyone who plays EBG to go ahead and grab the longest string DB you can find. After playing EBG for 28 years, I got a 3/4 4-string with 41.5" scale. Now, I've got one with 5 43" strings. It's not as big a deal as you think to switch. You are still playing a bass. It is a much bigger and fuller sounding bass and you play it differently (arco can be incredible), but you think it the same after a fashion, and if you return the EBG later then you have some greater knowledge in reverse also.

    It is very important to get a teacher right at the beginning. Don't wait. Make that part of your plan. Pursue the teacher just like you are pursuing the bass. :)
  19. rammsteinswrath


    Apr 26, 2005
    I know exactly the guy to teach me upright. Works about twenty minutes from where I live. But I might check out that instrument, too. It's pretty cool. :cool:
  20. Ramm,
    I just bought my first upright at Easter. I've also been playing BG for some years.

    Whatever instrument you consider, play it first. Make sure it fullfills your expectations sound wise.

    Anyway, you'll be surprised how quickly you adapt to the longer scale (up to the octave at least, then it's thumbs and...oh dear)


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