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small hands - j or P-type 4 0r5 for complete novice

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by si6r, Apr 16, 2004.

  1. si6r


    Mar 27, 2004
    London, UK

    I am a complete novice. just picked up a friends Yamaha 604.

    I want to buy a bass to learn on and want to audition a few but as I cannot play a note dont know where to start.

    My main issue is I have short fingers so assume a j-type neck would make sense. I also assume this would also mean a five string doesnt make sense cos in addition to having to learn another string, and most books seem to be aimed at 4 string.

    My budget is around the GB£250 to GB£300 mark for the bass only. I have a practice amp from a friend.

    Should I audition a fender P and J even with no playing knowledge.

  2. Actually in my experience finger length/size has very limited influence on what neck you should get.
    I've met some great players who have small hands and i've met great player w/ huge hands.
    Basses have various size/shape necks and whatever your hand feels comfortable w/ is prolly the best for you. A number of bass makers make super thin necks (like Ibanez), and thin flatter necks might work best for you.
    So i guess apriori I couldn't tell you which neck would feel best for you. Try out as many basses as you can and one of them will speak to you.
  3. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    If you have narrowed it to a P or a J and you have small hands, a J will be more comfortable for you.

    Ibanez Soundgear series basses have pencil thin necks you might like even more.

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    I have small hands, and it really makes no difference as long as you have good technique. I have no problems playing 6 string bass or Upright bass for that matter. You are better off deciding what tone you like better than what bass. You could always get a Precision special if it came to that. J neck with P and J pickups.
  5. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    Yea, didn't I read somewhere that Victor Wooten had really small hands?

    Don't distract yourself w/ handsize, just learn, & practice.
  6. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    When i started i had small ish hands so i bought a jazz. Then they grew to normal size and now i can play basically anything.
  7. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003

    Sounds like an ad for one of those vacuum pumps for your Johnson. :D :D :D
  8. si6r


    Mar 27, 2004
    London, UK
    Thanks I take your points that I shouldnt worry about the P or J-type.

    I should audition maybe a Precision, Jazz and another couple of basses at my dealer. and go with what feels and sounds good.

    Would you guys agree that it would be safer to start on a $ string rather than a 5.

  9. si6r


    Mar 27, 2004
    London, UK

    Unfortunately at 39 years old I dont think they will grow, BTW does that make me too old to start.

  10. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    I dunno, are you?

    Point is, we're all willing to take on what we want... If you want to, then start... Only one person can answer that,,, you!
  11. DDXdesign

    DDXdesign formerly 'jammadave' Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area
    Si - maybe this will help - I'm 26 and have small hands by most standards. I thought the tiny necks were the way to go, like the neck size of a Jazz - so I bought everything I could with a J's 1-1/2" nut width - Gibson, Cort Curbow, et cetera.

    But the SHAPE of the neck is also very important. I play mainly Warwicks now, and my hands haven't been happier. People think they're too big and chunky, but I find that a shape that fills up my hand space when curled around the neck, feels more comfortable and less stressful on the hand itself.

    One of the best necks I've ever played was nearly the size of an upright bass neck, as deep as it was wide. So try even those outside of your initial choices, you may find a surprise fit.

    BTW, why limit yourself to Fender? For about the same amount of money, in each price point, there are MANY better basses out there.

  12. DDXdesign

    DDXdesign formerly 'jammadave' Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area
    Oh, and 4-string vs 5 has been covered a lot if you'd like to search the thread archives -

    bottom line is, a 5-string can be used for both lower-range notes, down to the B -and/or- it can be used to make position shifts less necessary (for example playing that low E on the 5th fret instead of open.)

    Playing and learning doesn't require 4 before 5 or whatever, they're not graduating steps really, just parallel avenues. Any book theory can be applied to any number of strings since most of us tune with constant intervals between strings. And if you're learning a song on 4, it can be learned the same on 5, just don't use the extra string =0)

    That said, I stick with 4 myself even though I've played 5 and more before.
  13. michele


    Apr 2, 2004
    don't worry about hands size or age ... focus your attention on correct hands position (i mean BOTH hands). A j-style neck could help ... and a light gauge set of strings too!
  14. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Si, I also have very short fingers. I play 4, 5 and 6 stringers, and have little problem switching between them. If you use good technique, a five shouldn't be a problem.

    What kind of music are you wanting to play? That could help you decide whether you want(need?) a 4 or 5.

    One thing to consider is that you can get a better four stringer for a low price than a fiver stringer. And you can also get a lot more bang for your buck if you buy used.

    As jammadave said, one of the nice things about a 5(or more) string bass is that you do less shifting. You have more notes available under your fingertips, at each position.
  15. si6r


    Mar 27, 2004
    London, UK
    The music I'm going to play will be varied. My tastes are Jazz ( Early Miles Davis to Pat Metheny), Rock ( Purple, Stranglers, Hot House Flowers) , Soul. For a long while it will be play alongs I'm sure. I would like to be able to get to a standard good enough to stuff in the church group.

    Cheers for all the advice everyone.

  16. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    For most of the music that you listed, a 4 will be fine. If you are going to play modern praise and worship at church, you really need a low B. Helps with all of the stuff written in E flat, D, D flat, and C. And a lot of the newer songs use the notes below E quite a bit.
  17. dangnewt

    dangnewt Veteran Dispenser

    Jun 6, 2003
    MetroWest Boston

    I also think my hands were on the small side - the Precisions feel too big and the Ibanezes feel too skinny. The Jazzes felt good and I bought an inexpensive SX Jazz copy. After I had been playing for a few months, I fell in love with a used Fender '75 Jazz Reissue that had a thinner (and more comfortable feeling) neck than my j-copy - didn't buy right away and it was sold when I returned a week later. At a different store I picked up a new, but shopworn, Peavey US-made Millennium in the closeout bin and loved the feel of the neck (again thinner than my J-copy, better feeling than even the Fender '75 Reissue). Fortunately, I bought it.

    The moral is - You may want to consider at least trying other basses in your price range just to confirm that there is not one neck that clearly stands out.

    Second story - I play at church and most of our songs are the modern pop praise songs which my Peavey handles well. However, I am hopeful that we will play some old gospel bluesy songs every once in a while and for that I would love to have the Precision tone. An earlier post mentioned the P-bass special which has a Jazz neck, P-bass body and both a P and J pickup. I would echo the suggestion that you try one of those out. That bass is on my wishlist as a way of getting the P-tone in a neck I can get my hands around.

    Lastly, this is pretty good recent thread about older new bassists that you may enjoy reading - http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=122516
  18. Dr. PhunkyPants

    Dr. PhunkyPants Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    Si--To add to the very valid points made above, I would strongly encourage you to let your:

    a) ears
    b) hands

    decide which bass is best for you. I wouldn't limit this to just P and J basses. As has been noted that there are far better values out there than Fenders, particularly abroad.

    Instead, go to as many music stores as you can, resolve not to buy the very first thing you fancy, and see if you can't find and instrument that speaks to you. This is preferable at the early stages of learning to mail ordering an instrument, since instruments at this price point are going to be somewhat hit or miss on quality. That's just a fact. If you mail order something, you don't know what you'll get. And you don't need the headache of contending with a lemon.

    No, play all the basses you can in person--ideally through the amp you'll be using if you can bring it along. If the strings feel just so-so but the bass has promise, ask the salesperson to adjust the action for you.

    One last thought--I wouldn't worry about P or J or color or anything at all except how the bass feels in your hands and sounds to your ears. Like they say, love is blind.

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