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Small Hands

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Heather Simmons, May 12, 2010.


  1. Heather Simmons

    Heather Simmons

    May 12, 2010
    I am trying to find a suitable bass for my wife. She is just getting started and will be playing mostly with our family band that consists of me, three daughters and a son. We play mostly traditional bluegrass gospel stuff.

    She is 5'-2" with heels and has very small hands. What would you recommend as far as size goes? I've been told 1/2, but maybe a 5/8 or even 3/4 with a false nut.

    I have also considered a short scale electric bass guitar like a Fender Mustang, but I don't like to idea of having to be plugged in. I think she would be happier with a traditional upright as well.

    I appreciate any advice you may be willing to give.
     
  2. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    As has been written many times here, bass sizes are fairly fluid with varying dimensions along all of the measurement parameters. She might shoot for a shorter string length of 38-40", 17-19" upper bouts...

    If you can, rent a small bass for a while to give her a chance to learn a few things, then go shopping for her instrument so she has some knowledge with which to compare things. She will also have to juggle the sound vs. playability issue, as smaller basses most likely won't have the larger bass depth of sound. BTW, I've seen some fine lady bassists play on big basses with long string lengths!
     
  3. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I think she'd be happier with traditional upright as well.

    Nothing wrong with 1/2 size for what you describe. There's been one passed around my family for years. 5/8's generally is a better choice and you'll better instrument choices in that size, I think. I know a local woman who plays professionally with a nice 5/8th bass. However, lately, as much as I hate this fact, I've seen some tiny high school girls who were playing the snot out of 3/4 basses. Technique can help a lot. Even "regular sized dudes" who have been playing bass guitar for years, struggle when they buy an upright because it's just a lot of instrument. Generally few people can be big enough to overcome that with size or strength. She'll need to learn to learn to hold and play whichever instrument she buys without struggling with it too much.

    Which is my long way of saying, I wouldn't rule out a good buy on a nice instrument because it was 3/4 and I wouldn't automatically assume that you'd need to modify it or even that that's a good idea. 5/8s is a reasonable decision, but you won't find as many. 1/2 is fine for the family band, but I think it might be limiting to her if it turns out to be something that really enjoys doing.

    It will also be said that these sizes are...somewhat generalizations. Mensure (string length) will range on basses called the same size. 1/2 will definitely be smaller. The lines between 5/8, 3/4, 7/8 get a little blurry, especially if you're just talking about mensure.

    She may find a 3/4 bass with sloping shoulders and a delicate neck that she instantly bonds with.

    Hope that helps and good luck.


    Edit - and have her watch this (bass solo starts at around 3:00)
     
  4. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    ...not to forget also that, playing "traditional gospel bluegrass stuff", probably joining in on the singing, she's not likely to be motoring around all over the fingerboard with gigantic four-finger technique. She'll be playing in the first position, she'll be using open strings as much as possible, she'll likely be keeping it simple. With all that and good fundamental technique, she'll likely be able to handle any size bass.
     
  5. standupright

    standupright

    Jul 7, 2006
    Phoenix, AZ
    Brownchicken Browncow
    edit: didn't pay attention to what forum I was in. My bad.
     
  6. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    I hope you're joking. :eyebrow: You did read the OP, right?

    I agree that trying the 3/4 and 1/2 first is a good idea. I started on a 1/2 when I was 10, but moved to a 3/4 the next year because that's all the school had. As others have said, technique can overcome a lot, depending on the upper bouts and neck. Good luck!
     
  7. standupright

    standupright

    Jul 7, 2006
    Phoenix, AZ
    Brownchicken Browncow
    crap.......I'm on the DB side. I should be ashamed of myself :atoz:
     
  8. ouija

    ouija

    Jan 18, 2009
    I have pretty small hands, and don't really have many problems with a 3/4 bass. I'm sure your wife could find a 5/8 or even a 3/4 that'd work. Key word being find; look around, see what there is, if you can, the differences between sizes and shapes are all fluid. How the bass is set up could also make a pretty big difference, so whatever you get, take it to someone good
     
  9. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Something about "family band" says nice, floppy gut strings too.
     
  10. Heather Simmons

    Heather Simmons

    May 12, 2010
    Thanks for all your advice. I've been put in touch with a dealer in the Bay Area who says he has a 5/8 German flatback made in the 1930s that responds well to light strings. Would it be appropriate to redirect this thread toward pricing? What would one expect to pay for such an instrument? Is there a generally accepted price structure such as Asian laminates, $x - y$, Asian solids, $y - $z, European solids, $z - ?
     
  11. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
  12. Bass

    Bass

    Nov 10, 2003
    Canada
    Ha! A guy with upright in his name mistakenly posted in the DB section.

    No worries man, come back and visit anytime!
     
  13. standupright

    standupright

    Jul 7, 2006
    Phoenix, AZ
    Brownchicken Browncow
    well to be fair, i don't browse by forum. :oops:
     
  14. agaetis.byrjun

    agaetis.byrjun

    May 17, 2010
    I am 5' 3" barefoot, and I play on a half size. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world (except for a better half size...). I love the size and how well I can maneuver around it. I'd definitely go with a half size.
     
  15. anniemcu

    anniemcu

    May 24, 2008
    Missouri, US
    Pubisher, NEMOFOTMAD Chord Book
    I've had two half size basses, one a Kay, and the other, my current instrument, a Knilling. I would definitely recommend a 1/2 size, but play them first to find one with good tone and projection, as they are not going to have as much ooomph as the larger ones.
     

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