tall guy playing a 1/4 sized bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by tuBass, Jan 2, 2015.

  1. tuBass


    Dec 14, 2002
    Mesquite, Texas
    I don't play much upright bass. When I do it's in a situation where it's amplified or miced, like the occasional bluegrass song at church. Does anybody out there use a smaller bass, like a 1/4, in those situations? I dion't own one, but I know where I can get a nice one dirt cheap, and am thinking about going and looking at it. As long as the endpin can get the bass high enough, I'm thinking about getting it

    here's the other part to the story... I'm 6 foot 8
  2. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Inactive

    Nov 20, 2000
    Harrison Mills
    Jake deVilliers and Lee Moses like this.
  3. tuBass


    Dec 14, 2002
    Mesquite, Texas
    I was also thinking the scale would be a lot closer to what I'm already use to, making a lot easier to play
  4. Stick with bass guitar.
  5. tuBass


    Dec 14, 2002
    Mesquite, Texas
    upright sounds better on bluegrass
  6. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Inactive

    Nov 20, 2000
    Harrison Mills
    This bass has probably has little or no re-sale value. When you decide you don't want it it will be much more difficult to sell than a 3/4 size bass . You will need a custom endpin at the very least and quite likely some setup work. It's incredibly easy to drop $500+ on a new (to you) bass just to get it playing decently. This is money you have no hope of recovering on an inexpensive 1/4 or 1/2 size bass. Even if you got the bass for nothing it might not be worth putting any money into. There's good reason the seller doesn't seem to want much money. If you do decide to move forward have it checked over by a reputable bass luthier or at the very least by a professional player who has an idea of what it needs and what it will cost. And ALL basses need some work so don't think for a minute your outlay ends with the initial price.

    After not too long with it you will realize it's not that easy to deal with a small bass. The neck will have been contoured for tiny hands and even though it might not seem hard when you first try it as you develop a little technique your hands will feel cramped on it. The collapsed grip that works on a bass guitar doesn't provide much power to depress double bass strings and much of the sound you're able to get depends on how well you're able to stop the stings with your left hand. And with a smaller body you will have a challenge to find an efficient, comfortable position standing with it. This will compound any other technical issues you'll have.

    It won't be very loud acoustically which playing bluegrass can be a pretty big deal. Even if you plan on amplifying it you may not get the big bass sound you're hoping for. The first rule of amplifying the double bass is poopie in, poopie out.

    And lastly is the point I covered comprehensively in my first post.
  7. +1 to everything Jeff Bonny is saying and I'd like to add.

    My response comes from a loving place I assure you. From your post I gather two things, first that you don't wanna spend any real money, and two, you are looking for a shortcut to playing double bass, both of which are extremely bad ideas. It's called a doublebass because it's supposed to big, to create a big, low sound. Would you play your gig with a 15watt crate practice amp, and a cheap beginner 1/4 size electric bass? Of course you wouldn't because the deep bass sound and support would not be there. If you have interest in getting serious about doublebass, I encourage you to take advantage of the plethora of information in the stickies, that members have put together over the years, so that people don't rush in and make rash decisions. I see you are a longtime member so perhaps you already have read everything, but if not, go town town.

    When I first was interested in making the transition, against all my initial wants to go out and buy an instrument, I decided to take some great advice and rent first, and take that opportunity while I had a bass to learn on, to scout around and try everything I could find, and learn everything I could about all the differences, (laminated, hybrid, carved, roundback, fatback, french/german bows, differences in strings, string spacing, neck size, resale value etc..) so that when I purchased, I was making more of an informed decision. It was the best advice I ever received, and is what led me down the road for a true appreciation, love and understanding of the wonderful instrument we call the doublebass.

    I'm 5'6 and have a 1/2 1947 kay h-10, which is slightly bigger than the instrument you are considering, and it is really small neck wise, so for you at 6'8, 1/4 seems perhaps unpractical. I got this kay bass recently for one purpose, I wanted a bass that I could take camping with me, and to have something that I wouldn't be upset about, if it got damaged. It is a blast to play on but, I seem to end up playing it more electric style (technique) wise. Which is fun but I for sure play differently than I play my other DB's.

    If it was me, and I was making an investment on a first DB, I would want to get an instrument that A) gives me a big sound acoustically, that I could play anywhere without an amp, B) a bass that made me better than I was C) something quality wise that wouldn't inhibit my ability to progress as I get better, D) is not designed for a 4th grade child, lol jk.. and E) something so cool and hip that it inspired me to play it all the time.

    In my very humble opinion if you get this 1/4 bass you could be robbing yourself of much the pleasures/pain of playing DB. It could hinder you from developing true DB technique with it, and it could remain just a novelty, that you play occasionally that you never get very good at.
    All this being said, I have heard some great sounding smaller basses come thru the shop, but if this bass is super inexpensive and super mini, it's not likely to be one of these.

    I am only taking the time to write this, because I care . I am excited for you to be entering the DB world, and wish you the best, my brother in bass.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2015
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  8. tuBass


    Dec 14, 2002
    Mesquite, Texas
    All right, you talked me out if it. . I'll wait until I can afford a 3/4
    Dabndug, rolandm, old spice and 2 others like this.
  9. I think you'll be happy that you decided to wait, once you have found your awesome bass. Even if it will take a bit to have enough coin, I encourage to start shopping around, and start playing as many basses as possible. I believe the instrument chooses us as much as we choose it. Many bass shops, will give any money spent on a rental, towards the purchase of a new bass. Just another thought, that way you could get something right away. I took the liberty of finding you a few bass dealers that rent in Texas. (All Hail Bob Gollihur.) Also Jeff Bradetich, I believe is still at UNT less than an hour away from you, and he might be a good resource to reach out to, to see if there is nice bass floating around in your budget in that part of Texas. Perhaps a former students bass that is now graduating to something more expensive. Also getting a bass that is already being used extensively will most times save you money on setups, and other work. Anyways, I wish you the best on your quest.


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    Last edited: Jan 4, 2015
  10. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    Good advice for someone seeking to take up upright bass in general. But OP specifically asked about playing an occasional bluegrass song, amplified, in church, and using a 1/4 bass for just that application. So it seems to me that a lot of the comments, while accurate in the main and certainly reflecting the conventional wisdom, do not really address his specific concerns in the post.

    This being said, OP being 6' 8" adds ergonomic complications that might be insurmountable.
    PauFerro and el_Bajo_Verde like this.
  11. So what exactly are you adding the conversation? I'm struggling to understand what you addressed that we didn't?
    We all said his size might be an issue.

    Let's agree that anyone could play almost any instrument, and yes the 1/4 instrument will make sound on stage for the one application he asked about. However some of us see the bigger picture, and thought maybe he might wanna use it somewhere else or for another application at some point. So let's get serious, we addressed every concern he might have with the instrument and then some. We gave our personal opinions and experience on why he might want to consider other instruments, and why we thought his money might be better spent on something else, and explained why in great detail. We gave him nearby resources to checkout before he made a final decision on the 1/4 size instrument. If he wants to buy the instrument, he will, and none of us will be upset if he does. In fact I will be the first one to congratulate him, live and let live. We all have different wants and needs. He got what he came here for, honest advice on a purchase. Sorry you don't approve.
  12. Ludwig


    Aug 17, 2006
    I am about 6 foot 2 and play a 1/4 double bass. Have added a very long spike to be able to play standing up, but mostly play seated. The 1/4 bass is loud enough for small accustic group (mandolines and guitares) and can be amplified if needed. Sound amplified is pretty good (1/4 size bass has scale length like super long electric bass). Much easier to transport then the 3/4 or 4/4 bass, and only a little worse then electric bass. I have a 3/4 size bass too, but it is mostly just standing around and accumulating dust. For everything I am doing, the 1/4 is usually good enough and caring the bigger bass around is nothing I enjoy. Maybe I did get a good one, but I very much like the sound of my small bass.
    PauFerro likes this.
  13. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    I went back and reread both your posts, and you addressed a lot, for which I gave credit. But you expanded, excuse me, inferred, a lot of things about what the OP might want without ever specifically addressing he question he asked. A common occurrence on TalkBass, I have observed.

    What I am adding to the conversation is to try to get people to read closely enough to at least address what is specifically being asked. My reading of your posts is that you (and some others) did everything except that. I suggest we take care of the immediate query before going off the map, so to speak. Then, if one wants to expand the discussion, fine.

    In this instance, the only person whose approval matters is the OP.
    PauFerro and Eric Hochberg like this.
  14. How cheap is "dirt cheap"? Might still be worth considering a 1/4 if it's indeed dirt cheap. Mind, I'm only 6'5" and still had to get an extra-long endpin on my 3/4-cum-7/8 (it's a tall 3/4 or a narrow 7/8, depending on your POV).
  15. tuBass


    Dec 14, 2002
    Mesquite, Texas
    It would have been $500. I call that cheap, compared to what I see 3/4 basses go for
  16. eerbrev


    Dec 6, 2009
    Ottawa, ON, CAN
    Will it work? yeah, probably. Will you be happy with the result? Most signs of experience around here point to no. Obviously Ludwig (above) makes it work, and is happy, but will it work for you, and will it meet your expectations?

    Those are the questions you really need to think about. Of course, if you've got 500 bucks burning a hole in your pocket, then try it out. Worst that happens is that it was expensive firewood.
  17. Sounds fair to me GretschWretch. After rereading your post, I have to agree, that is a problem here on TB. :thumbsup:
    It is true, no one even asked what type of Bass it was, for all we know it could be a previously undiscovered 1/4 Stradivarius or Montagnana bass.
    So what type of bass is it tuBass?

    Sorry I took it more as something more personal GW, my bad. I just felt like you threw people under the bus, without you yourself actually addressing anything either. So I ask this question in love, what's your opinion GW, should he get this 1/4 size bass as a first DB? I attempted to give real world advice on DB's and my share my experience with my 1/2 kay, the technique that I use on it, and point out that's it's not as loud as any of my larger basses. Why I expanded is, sometimes what we want today, may not be what we want tomorrow. When I first got interested in DB, like the OP I wanted a DB for playing pizz amplified too. However, once I had a DB, I quickly got invited to a lot of big acoustic jams, unamplified outside situations, got asked to play arco stuff etc.. I discovered players outside of jazz, like Rabbath, Meyer, Karr, Fons-Garcia, even our own Sypher..etc. I quickly fell in love with arco playing and today, I probably play more with a bow then I do with my fingers. I was just trying to give him things to consider, and point out, that our wants and needs might change quickly. For a first DB I personally thought it might be better to have 1 instrument that works in as many playing situations as possible. The size of the bass wasn't as much of an issue for me, as I just felt the OP might benefit from taking a step back and weighing his options, before jumping on the purchase.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2015
  18. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Gold Supporting Member

    Jeff Bonny likes this.
  19. It's not just that such a small instrument will be low on volume and tone - it's also too physically small for you to be able to effectively dig in and attack the strings to get a satisfying sound, and I can't imagine it will be physically satisfying to play either, especially since you are very tall and also presumably have big hands. $500 is significant money. It would be better applied to a more worthy purchase imo.