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The relevance of size

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by chadtyler, Oct 14, 2005.


  1. chadtyler

    chadtyler

    Oct 14, 2005
    Guelph, Ontario
    Ok, so I've never played Double Bass before but I've been playing Bass Guitar (which I hate to say because it's NOT a guitar...) for 9 years... thing is I want a big bass too badly to continue without one. So, I've heard that a 'full-size' bass is hard to play, BUT I'm 6'3" so I figure I could probably handle it. BUT then again I understand that 4/4 doesn't really mean too much these days as there is no standard measurement... I don't care about name brands or anything, and I don't want something new, but if I have some choice in my price range, does anyone have any ideas for what size of instrument? I've heard the top nut should be at about your forehead... if so would a 3/4 be too small for me? My price range is basically 3000 CDN or less IF that's doable, if not I'll have to wait and save...
     
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Standard Jazz size seems to be 3/4 and I've seen some very tall Jazz players!! ;)

    4/4 seem to be mostly the preserve of Orchestral players looking for as much volume as possible...?
     
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    That's why just about every DB has an adjustable endpin!! ;)
     
  4. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Please give examples of true 4/4 Basses used in orchestras. AND, what IS a true 4/4 sized Bass. Is it Body size, string length or a combination of both? I see the 3/4 and 7/8 as the average orchestra Bass.
     
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Of course you're right - I was trying (not too well obviously!)to say that 4/4 basses are very rare and might only appear in an orchestral context - I have seen some chamber orchestras, where there was one, loud DB player - and I remember seeing a pretty huge bass with the Birmingham Chamber Ensemble - but I don't really know if it was a 4/4 - just that if anything was - that was it!! ;)
     
  6. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Stop typing and start playing basses. It doesn't matter how big/small/wide/thin/deep/etc.; what matters is SOUND. How close does it SOUND to what you hear in your head when you think about DB? But that one. Can't afford that one? Buy the one you CAN afford that gets closest to that sound.

    Take somebody with you (like your teacher) who actually plays DB so that you can be sure you are hearing the sound of the bass and not the limits of your physical approach. This, too, enables you to hear what the bass sounds like from across the room as well as right on top of it.

    READ the newbie FAQ on how to buy a bass in the BASSES sticky up top, there's a lot of good info in there.
     
  7. chadtyler

    chadtyler

    Oct 14, 2005
    Guelph, Ontario
    thanks for the help guys... I guess I'll just find some shops around my area and call some people that I know that might be selling their basses and see which one I like best. Is anyone else here from around Southern Ontario, Canada? and if so do you know of some good DB shops around here? If not I'll figure it out on my own.
     
  8. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Why figure it out on your own? You remember when I suggested you take a look at the NEWBIES sticky in the BASSES forum? What do you think is the 2nd entry from the top? The 3rd entry?

    Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish, and you're rid of him for the whole weekend.
     
  9. D McCartney

    D McCartney crosswind downwind bass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Tacoma WA
    So then, as a flexible rule of thumb, do the "3/4" and "7/8" sizes represent the most effecient size for the frequencies of the bass? Does larger than that become unweildly and smaller than that not have enough vibrating surface?
    I have read through the link http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=26802 and it seems there is still a lot to learn about this. So many opinions and so little science.
    thanks
    dm
     
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think if you read Ken's post again - he's saying there is no one accepted definition of what 3/4 or 7/8 actually means - so this isn't a good starting point!! :p
     
  11. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    The link you refer to here is about newer factory Basses. I think it's a poor example as I have only seen a few new Basses with a decent low end tone. Most of us will not live long enough to see these new Basses mellow out and sound like the older smooth dark toned Basses currently in the orchestras around the world.

    I have seen older Basses of all sorts of sizes and shapes with the desired tone but the louder Basses are usually the bigger and longer bodied ones. I have two Basses that project almost evenly in a small room area but in a bigger hall the larger Bass wins out. They are both about 200 years old or so. I have also compared a newer 7/8 Shen to a 1919 Martini in a medium sized hall. They both projected evenly but the Martini had the tone Color and not just volume of sound.

    I also used to think that deep ribbed Basses would sound deeper and/or louder. Not true! I was at dress rehearsal saturday morning when a section mate walked in as I was warming up on stage in the huge hall. He telles me that my Bass sounds like it is amplified. In the middle of rehearsal he says "I'm bringing my amp"!, but he was joking of course as he joked about the difference of volume between the two of us. I could usually hear him but in the f,ff and fff sections he could not hear himself as well as he could hear me. THIS Bass of mine only has 7 3/8" - 7 1/2" ribs on average. The body is a bit long and more Violin shaped than Cello or modern DB as far as the upper bout goes.

    This proved to me that the depth of the Ribs alone do not make the sound. The Top must float and push air. The Back must push out the sound.

    Do not shop for a Bass by size alone. Go for feel and tone. 41"-42" String length is the range usually. It must be playable even if it's a 43" S.L. but you are the one that has to feel comfortable with the Bass.
     
  12. D McCartney

    D McCartney crosswind downwind bass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Tacoma WA
    So then it comes down to tone, volume and playablity, and each bass must be judged on it's own merits, not any formula or size?
    This is so musical! I would think the instrument pushing air could be reduced to pure physics, but I guess it won't tell you in the end what it sounds like. And music can be reduced to pure mathematics, but again, it won't tell you what it sounds like. Thank the Lord for artistic talents.

    dm
     
  13. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Every Tree is different. All Varnishes are different. EVERYTHING in my mind makes a slight difference so when added up, huge differences exhist between Basses including ones that even look similar in size and materials.
     
  14. D McCartney

    D McCartney crosswind downwind bass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Tacoma WA
    Ok, so then size may have some effect on sound, but the main relevance of size is comfort and playability? Or is there an image issue involved?
    Would a major symphony orchestra take seriously an auditioner with a small 1/4 size bass, even if it sounded gargantuan?
    Are there any 1/4 size basses that sound gargantuan? :eek:
    thanks
    dm
     
  15. Yup. Try starting here: http://www.violins.on.ca/canada.html
    They sell Christophers, which seem to have a good rep. Should have something in your snack bracket.
     
  16. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Try this guy:

    http://www.riedstrasviolinshop.com/

    I've not dealt with them personally but they may have some thinks of interest. The problem with 3000 CDN is it doesn't really get you into carved territory but it's more than what most cheap plywoods cost. You may be able to get a reasonable hybrid (solid top) for that price.

    There's also a guy in Barrie by the name of Ralph Johnson who may have something in your price range. I bought my current bass from him. He doesn't have a website but I can get you his details.

    Good luck.
     
  17. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    1/4 size?.. For a childs orchestra in 4th grade maybe..lol

    Full 3/4 to 7/8 size is the standard. Size does matter if it is made well. All things being equal, a 7/8 can move more air than a 3/4 and deeper at that. Not all Basses are equal though. Smaller than a 3/4 at your Symphony audition for a section job? I would tell you to 'keep your day job' just in case. Modern 3/4 Basses are the smallest I have seen used in Orchestras. Large 5/8 sized Basses with the same cubic air space of a 3/4 might work too but most people look as well as listen. For a major Orchestra, get a major Bass.
     
  18. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    FWIW, if you are interested in the science, it does exist. See:

    http://www.catgutacoustical.org/

    and

    http://asa.aip.org/map_publications.html (see Research Papers in Violin Acoustics under the heading, "Books.")

    No, the science won't replace the good advice offered in this thread. I just thought you might want to know what's out there.
     
  19. D McCartney

    D McCartney crosswind downwind bass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Tacoma WA
    Ken :cool: and DRURB :cool: ,
    2 cool dudes
    Thanks, that pretty well answers what I wanted to know. I will indeed do some reading up on those links.
    dm
     
  20. Pop/Chad/Time/Tyler -
    For what it's worth, come the day you try to sell a used 4/4, you'll find buyers are few and far between, and no one wants to pay you what it cost you.