School Bass

Hi all

My lil girl needs a decent bass. The kids bass at the music shop feels like a toy and sounds uninspiring to her and she is also struggling with fret buzz. So I thot to eliminate the potential for that and sort something out where she can go ahead and learn all the stuff at school without being burdened by also cleaning up the playing at the same time. The problem is that she is struggling to depress the strings with her tiny fingers

Time for a new project. The perfect kids bass

Materials, a fender style guitar neck and a mini guitar neck. Prepared for filling back the holes and drilling 4 four bass tuners. This project is an experiment building on the time and energies spent developing the TAXI Bass

Necks prepared for filling
Red oak round panel and some leftover birch planks for bodies

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Define "lil"
As in actual age.

If too young, I´d NOT start with a Bass Guitar as her first stringed instrument

The problem is that she is struggling to depress the strings with her tiny fingers

Lots of red flags there.

PLEASE don´t pressure feed your own preferences into her, I see you are *BASS*inga but hey, let her do what she wants on her own, by own choice.

"But she loves it"

Really????, I bet she loves her Dad, and wants to please him.

Maybe some regular Guitar would be more approppriate today, and later transition to a Bass will be easy, if that´s what you want.
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Allthough I would love to see more girls pick up the bass, there really is the concept of being "too little".

Buzzing frets with the bass - besides poor neck adjustment and poor technique - is very dependend on how the strings are pressed.
Having limited strength AND limited reach (small fingers, small hand) is a bad combination in this regard.

There is a very small type of bass - the bass ukulele - and if I recall the pressure needed on strings were quite low.
But I do not recall that instrument being particulary easy to play - but maybe I am simply too big and too used to long scale necks :)

So in short I can only second JMFahey.

Cheers, Martin
I should have mentioned that she is nine, in year 4. She has been taking weekly bass lessons in school this year. She does both classical double bass and band electric bass. She is 1.4 m tall. We have a well-equipped home studio, and she has her choice of instruments, she picked the basses

I see a shortcoming in the default instrument that the schools here use. The only common bass for kids is the Fender mini P and I think more thot could have gone into it. Being sub short scale, the strings are looser and the action is set very high from the factory, the saddles are maxed up. This can be done better, and a kid can sound good without the extra effort of cleaner playing. The mini P costs $350 here and there is a cost for amp, music book, stand, workshops and lessons. It's a $600 plus investment for a family to support a kid's bass learning. One girl went the whole term just watching my daughter play as her folks couldn't make that investment

So far it has cost $60 for the neck, $10 for the hardwood for the body for the longer of the two build here. I have not found the $30 pickups from ebay lacking. Strings need careful thot and selection though and cost $90 here for the ones I just picked up for this build. I like the idea of helping out music students too

So this is just an experiment. The shorter instrument will be trailed with home modified roundwound steel strings, but I might end up running a set of U-bass strings, I picked up the best strings that I could acquire for this project

I fitted a string lock on the instrument that she is currently using. This was a mistake, at the sub short scale the tuning tolerance is lower, and our unstable humidity is wrecking the tuning and the very soft wood feeling body on the kid's bass seems problematic too. The neck to body join area visibly bows to different levels. Maybe someone's choice of a lighter body wood for a kid again needed more thot. Weight can be managed in other ways, the shorter scale strings can be implemented differently too. The lock is not appropriate, it doesn't help her learn to tune. I fitted the lock because the shorter scale is difficult to tune, but with the wood/weather instability issues this makes for a harder to tune instrument. Time to try a better wood and attack the scale length implementation with some intuition. This project may yield some useful results for others too

I have acquired most of the material for these two builds, so it's full ahead
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Another project that I have acquired most of the materials for is a kid's size double bass. I will make a start on this one now too with intentions of keeping the common build steps together for construction efficiency

I hope I am able to bring everyone up to the same page. I believe that things like the mini P are made with thee amount of effort and thot required to size the bass instrument to a smaller person. The same goes for the 3/4 size kids double bass. Only the instrument has been made smaller, the issues that appear when the instrument size is dropped has not been fully addressed, a grown up sized double bass sounds far better and fuller than the 3/4 which sounds like it's working on its size limits and takes an effort to make it sound good

There are complexities that differentiate a kid in the small person size class. To design for kid needs more 'thoting' then that!

Agree? It will be interesting to hear others thots regarding the concept of designing for age ability rather than just downsizing
Lots of red flags there.
Hey man, I read a lot of what you post and share. Thank you for taking an interest in things people come up with. Regarding your concerns, they are legitimate and appropriate. As an academic debate, there are lots we parents pick and choose that we might feel is for their development and growth, which revolves around the scope of our worlds as well as what educational authorities may have picked and developed. What I might think suitable and easy for my kid may be regarded differently by another parent for their kid, and vise versa

In my opinion, how this activities are implemented and the equipment that is engaged can make for a positive involvement by the kid. What I am writing is not intended to sound boastful or vain or anything like it, I humbly request that you please do not read it in that manner. I want to focus on efforts regarding parents taking an active interest and engaging the thot that we humans are capable off, whether design, construction, or exploring help and questioning others that might be capable of that help

As an example, let's take fishing. This is not school or academic or parental pressure. Kids love trying for a fish, they don't need a parent or teacher to push them. I got involved on the commercial side of fishing tackle scene a long while back. To increase my customer base and presence, I got involved with sponsoring clubs and forums. A kid with a toy rod and reel is as excited about catching like the parents. BUT, they cannot cast like their parents to where the fish are. If they hook up, they cannot subdue the catch like the parents

How does either the toy or "just only downsized" tackle help?

My kid, ever since she showed an interest in catching a fish, has had a 'tool for the job'. At five years old, I got her a nine-foot ultralight weight telescopic Japanese pond style pole that didn't use a reel. The line is tied to the tip and the hook is suspended under the float. This kind of thot takes into account ability and the species in range of that ability and the tool is designated for the user, environment and available species

At seven years of age, boat fishing the reefs and shipping channels. A four-foot rod with a chosen action that reduces the leverage the fish can apply against her, a taper that maximises her ability to work the rod, a solid metal reel with machined gears with a ratio that makes for efficient winding for her finger and hand strength. A kid can lean into a solid and smooth reel and the right rod action and taper for the job without being too technical with playing the fish correctly all the time. Does this make sense? Similar effort can be engaged with musical instruments for kids

I really think that properly designed tools for kids has considerable merit
My wife has much smaller hands than me. I wanted her to play bass with me on acoustic, she thought she'd just play my full scale Yamaha 5 string. Instead, I got a short scale Ibanez "Micro" and put the black plastic wrapped flat wounds on it. Much easier for her to play and not ridiculous, like the bigger FS bass with round-wounds.


Paid Member
2003-06-12 7:04 pm
Maine USA
a grown up sized double bass sounds far better and fuller than the 3/4
OTOH, the stock double-bass is clearly "short" compared to the assumed-perfect violin. Harry Brandt and Carla Hutchens scaled to the "right size" 'contrabass violin', but there seems to be only a few in the world.

Somehow the Octobass is at least as common but I think it is tuned lower. And you stand on a stool. And nobody can finger-fret it, it has lever-frets. And a stool is built-on.