String lenght, volume and playability

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by ThePersian, Oct 11, 2017.


  1. ThePersian

    ThePersian

    Feb 3, 2017
    Hey guys,

    I have a mid size hand, not big nor small ether. here a big doubt about string lenght and its effect on sounds. I always played on 104cm string lenght. But today I tried first time a bass that is 103cm and felt much more comfortable playing on first position and on thumb and throughout the higher register. I play oud as well and there, the string lenght effect very much on the volume of the instrument and the tension of the strings (and so the playability). I believe that would happen on any instrument.
    So my question is what would be a good string lenght for a 3/4 5 strings double bass (with high C) that would work best 103, 103.5 or 104 (because of my hands, wouldn't go over 104)? Is 104 the most common?
     
  2. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    I think there are a lot of factors that go into how a bass sounds. I would just to avoid extremely long or extremely short string lengths. As long as you like the sound it is fine. You obviously know how to play!
     
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  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Agree with Damon. I've been playing basses with 104.4cm string length for years. I played a bass at ISB with a 99.6cm string length, and it felt weird for about 10 minutes. After that my brain adjusted to the distance. What I had a harder time adjusting to, as you mentioned, was the decrease in tension. That, I didn't like at all, but some people would find that a good thing. I would tend to play basses and judge by how they feel and sound, then worry about the measurement later (if at all).
     
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  4. Neil Pye

    Neil Pye

    Apr 13, 2016
    Horsham, UK
    I've always liked a longer stop length, just because I have a feeling that a bit more length makes the lower register speak a bit better. My bass is 109.5cm. My hands are not huge, I manage fine. I think string length is probably one of the less important variables in the sound of a bass and player. As long as it's not crazy short or freakishly long it will be fine
     
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  5. Rod Sroufe

    Rod Sroufe

    Jan 31, 2015
    Van Wert, OH
    None
    I have basses with string lengths ranging from 102cm to 109cm. I jump between them with minimal issue and my hands are not large. I even play around with 5ths tuning on the 109cm bass playing 2 pit orchestra gigs without issues.

    One thing to note though is the bass with 109cm string length does not have the high stoppable note range on the fingerboard as the shorter string length instruments. The fingerboard length is 3/4 bass size for a 7/8 size string length so the highest note is around B instead of C or D on my other instruments.
     
  6. Neil Pye

    Neil Pye

    Apr 13, 2016
    Horsham, UK
    I have the same issue with mine. The end of the fingerboard is B. I could get the fingerboard changed I guess, but its a lot of money for an extra minor 3rd that honestly won't get used that often!
     
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  7. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Chicago
    You could get an extension installed. I'm sure less $$$ than a whole new fingerboard.
     
  8. Neil Pye

    Neil Pye

    Apr 13, 2016
    Horsham, UK
    Never thought of that.... It might be a plan! Extension symmetry, one at each end!
     
  9. Rod Sroufe

    Rod Sroufe

    Jan 31, 2015
    Van Wert, OH
    None
    Double checked my bass and the end of the fingerboard is at B flat. That’s where the longer string length becomes an issue for me. Seems like I really have to reach to get to that B flat at the end of this fingerboard. Reaching notes with an added extension would be a challenge for me. Sounds like a great idea on my orchestra bass though!!