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Double Bass & Upright Bass – Ultimate Buying Guide

Looking to purchase a double bass (or as it is also known, the upright bass) but are a bit wary of the many options and configurations there are?

You can stop right here. My name is S. Oramo here, and I’m an orchestra conductor. Allow me to guide you through this exciting buying journey, so you can have your mind at rest that you’re making the right decision.

For many decades, the bass has been a staple of famous music. Although most people today think of electric bass guitars, which are ubiquitous in so many genres of music despite having only been on the market since the 1950s, there are several multiple kinds of bass guitars.

Bass guitars come in electric and acoustic versions, with 4 to 6 strings and fretted or fretless options. The double bass was the standard until the 1960s when the electric bass guitar became the most widely used bass instrument in famous pieces of music.

Despite the fact that the electric bass guitar has surpassed the double bass in terms of popularity in mainstream music, the double bass is still a vital musical instrument.

Many of those looking to join a band as well as players of the electric bass guitar might also be interested in learning to play the double bass. Many music students believe that because double basses are tuned just like four-string electric bass guitars, the skills they’re learning on an electric or acoustic bass guitar will transfer.

However, there are a few things to consider before purchasing a double bass or upright bass. That’s why we’ve decided to put together this useful guide.

Double Bass & Upright Bass - Ultimate Buying Guide


What is a Double Bass or Upright Bass?

The double bass, further defined as the upright bass, standup bass, or contrabass, is the symphony orchestra’s highest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument.

This is not a part of the guitar family of instruments, unlike the bass guitar. It is the only advanced bowed string instrument with a fourths tuning.

Funnily enough, some bands have actually used the double bass as a bass guitar in some of their videos, though our suspicion is that this is only as part of the showmanship of metal bands.

Peter Steele (Type O Negative) using the double bass

RIP Peter Steele, Type O Negative Frontman, who used to use the double bass sideways like a bass guitar. He was a big guy! Check it out in the video of Black No 1 below.

The double bass is generally used in concert bands, chamber music, jazz, 1950s style blues, rock and roll, rockabilly, psychobilly, country music, bluegrass, and folk music, in addition to the orchestra.

The double bass is most generally played with a bow, but it can also be plucked. The concentration of classical musical training is on playing the double bass bowed, whereas those interested in playing the double bass in other genres of music mostly prefer to pluck the instrument.

Double Bass & Upright Bass - Ultimate Buying Guide

Should Size Make a Difference When Buying a Double Bass?

The first thing to keep in mind when purchasing a double bass is that they are quite large. They are frequently prohibitively large for younger music students, whom you may be shopping for. Until they are in middle school, most children are unable to comfortably play the standard size of double basses.

Youngsters who want to learn to play the double bass can begin with a smaller bass guitar, such as an electric or acoustic starter bass guitar.

They’ll learn a lot about playing the bass even if they don’t have the opportunity to practice with a bow.

Beginning with a smaller bass can be a great choice based on their goals, whether it’s to join the band at school, play music expertly, or simply express themselves artistically through music.

There are smaller versions of the double bass available if your child insists on playing it. The majority of double basses are 3/4 in size. There are, however, 1/4-size double basses designed specifically for students to learn on. The entire height difference between a 3/4 and a 1/4 size double bass is about ten inches. One disadvantage is that you’ll have to upgrade to a larger instrument as your child grows older, which can be expensive.

Another essential consideration when considering the double bass is that it is a complicated instrument to transport and store.

Unlike other band students who can easily transport their instruments to and from school, the double bass requires a bit more effort to transport. It’s possible, and some musical programs have double basses for your child to practice with, so it’s a great idea to look into your options before purchasing.

If the size of a double bass isn’t a concern for you or your child, and you’ve decided it’s time to get one, you’re probably wondering how to choose one.

Double Bass & Upright Bass - Ultimate Buying Guide

Should I Buy a Student Double Bass or a Regular Sized Instrument?

There are student double basses available that are 1/4 size, – approximately 61 inches in height if you’re purchasing an instrument for somebody who is just beginning to learn. Please remember that double bass size standards are loosely defined, with significant variations from one developer to the next.

These student double basses are usually cheaper than 3/4-size double basses, but they still cost over $1000. If you’re buying a double bass for an experienced bass player, however, there are a few things to keep in mind.

What are the Different Materials used in Double Basses?

There are three types of basses: laminated, hybrid, and carved basses (sometimes called fully carved). The cheapest double basses are laminated double basses, which are made of plywood.

Because laminated double basses are made of plywood, which is not an excellent product for building wooden instruments, the sound they produce is more pinched. Despite this, musicians who want to play rockabilly, bluegrass, or jazz prefer laminated double basses over other categories.

Young double bass students will benefit from them as well. Plywood is commonly used to construct 1/4-size double basses. However, note that laminated double basses aren’t always of poor quality.

Hybrid double basses have carved tops and laminated plywood backs and sides. Newcomer and intermediate students will benefit from hybrid basses’ resonance, which is superior to laminated basses. Hybrid basses are generally more expensive than laminated double basses because they are made from higher-quality materials and generate a decent sound. For those looking to spend less than $3000 on a double bass, hybrid double basses are the best.

The most costly are fully carved double basses, which can range from a few 1000 dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. They are well-suited to trained and expert double bass players because this type of double bass continues to mature and develop rich, complicated sounds.

Double Bass & Upright Bass - Ultimate Buying Guide

Shall I Rent or Buy a Double Bass?

If you’re looking for a double bass for a younger child and don’t want to spend more than $1000 on an instrument that you’ll eventually have to replace, consider renting one. These instrument rental programs frequently include offers on bows, rosin, and instrument bags. If the store you’re purchasing from offers a rent-to-own option, you can put the money you’d have spent on the rental toward the inevitable upgrade.

Visit Music & Arts for all of your instrument purchasing needs. You’re likely to find the double bass you’re looking for at a cheap cost with a large selection of high-quality band instruments.

Double Bass FAQ’s

What size double bass should I get?

A ¾ double bass is the standard size for adults. A large double bass, such as a 7/8 or 4/4, is extremely rare and rarely used unless the person is super tall.

How much does a double bass cost?

Hybrid double basses are ideal for those looking for a double bass for less than $3000. Fully carved double basses are the most expensive, costing around $100,000.

What is the cost of setting up an upright bass?

The cost will vary depending on where you live and how much work the guitar or bass requires. In general, a professional setup costs around $50, but it can cost up to $100 if there is a lot of work involved.

Sakari Oramo