Demystifying Bass Sizes

So what’s the deal with bass sizes anyways?!?

First off, unlike violins, violas and ‘cellos, basses have a much less rigid standard for dimensions and sizing. There is no exact formula to determine the size of a bass but these are some commonly accepted parameters:

Basses are mostly sized by the playing string length which is the length of the string between the bridge and the nut.

4/4 and 7/8 size. Typically, these are basses with string lengths over 42″. Some folks refer to basses with a 43″+ string length as a 4/4 size.

3/4 is a bass with a string length of between 40″ and 42″.

5/8 is a bass with a string length of between 38″ and 40″.

When it comes to 1/2 and 1/4 sizes, it gets a little murky. Some manufactures will label a bass as a 1/2 size and another manufacture will label a very similar sized instrument as a 1/4 size. This can be especially frustrating when trying to purchase a case for the instrument.

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