20 frets throwing me off

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Ben Mifsud Joslin, Dec 18, 2014.

  1. Ben Mifsud Joslin

    Ben Mifsud Joslin

    Jun 17, 2014
    Before I start writing out this thread, I urge you to not misinterpet what I'm saying. In no way am I undermining the 20 fret bass- it would be ridiculous to, considering how they're pretty much the dominant model in the bass industry. What I'm talking about only relates to myself, and I was wondering if you guys would weigh in with your opinions, because it's just something I've thought about periodically for quite a while.

    So here's how it is: I've always owned 24 fret basses exclusively. As a result, whenever I try a traditional 20 fret bass, I feel limited. It's not about the extra three or four frets per se, I hardly access those; it's more about the 'layout' of the fretboard and overall bass, if you like. I don't feel the same ease of access I get when playing 24 fret models; whenever I play 20 fret basses I tend to be a lot sloppier. I tried a lovely G&L Tribute this week; great bass in all respects, but the neck just didn't speak to me personally because of this; this has been my experience with fenders also.

    Now obviously, this is due to me just not having enough practice on more traditional basses (and I would like to purchase such a bass one day), as far more capable people than myself (in other words, most bassists) can shred, play chords, etc on them with no issue at all.

    I enjoy having those frets available in the rare instances that I should ever need them, but I wonder why it might be that I don't feel as comfortable on the 20 fret bass. I'm just thinking aloud, really.
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2014
  2. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    I'm confused. What's the difference between the frets on a 34" scale 20 fret neck and the first 20 frets on a 34" scale 24 fret neck? I wouldn't think there would be any.
    somegeezer likes this.
  3. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Out there!
    ***? o_O
  4. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    I don't seem to notice a difference. Some of my favorite runs go up the the 15th fret. Maybe I don't play above 15th fret enough to notice. I play 32", 33 1/4", 34" scale; 20, 21, 24 fret; 4, 5, 6 string. Maybe I need to overthink things more!
  5. TitaniumRx


    Aug 3, 2012
    All the 34" scale basses have the same distance between frets,no matter if the frets are 20,22 or 24.The only deference is the position of the neck in relation of the body.Nothing else.It is mind tricks.The fewer the frets,the neck is deeper to the body.

    The base of the upper horn of one fender style 20 fret bass,begins in 16th fret,in a Ibanez 24 fret neck,the upper horn begins in 18th fret.This give you the illusion you got.
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2014
    The_Lucek and scourgeofgod like this.
  6. scourgeofgod


    Aug 17, 2006
    Yes. If both basses are the same scale the frets are spaced the same distance. They could have different sized fret wire but not different spacing.
    TitaniumRx likes this.
  7. j.kernodle


    Nov 23, 2008
    South Carolina
    Hey Ben, I think your mind is playing tricks on you, the only difference between a 24 fret 34" scale neck and a 20 fret 34" scale neck is that frets 21-24 aren't there. The spacing of all other frets is the same. 24 fret basses usually have smaller bodies and deeper cutaways to promote access to the upper frets. Many people like that design which exposes more "neck" to the players fretting hand.
    Jim Carr and scourgeofgod like this.
  8. Ben Mifsud Joslin

    Ben Mifsud Joslin

    Jun 17, 2014
    Ah well, I guess that's what throws me off, then. Thanks for your help.

    Apologies for my mistake.
  9. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY
    It's the same as long as the scale is the same
  10. Ben Mifsud Joslin

    Ben Mifsud Joslin

    Jun 17, 2014
    Yes, established; I messed up.
  11. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY
    Ok. Sorry. It's just getting used to something new is my guess. Good luck
  12. The highest I ever play is 17 or 18, anyways. I like to keep my bass low, for the most part.
  13. j.kernodle


    Nov 23, 2008
    South Carolina
    No apology necessary!

    Both designs have fans. For me, a 20-21 fret bass just feels like home. I'm used to looking down and seeing those proportions of neck to body when I'm playing. I have a 24 fret spector that I love and I get around on it fine, but it does take me a split second when I play it to get my bearings on where everything is. I'm used to the neck and body joining up around the 17th fret.
    SiSoldier likes this.
  14. Ben Mifsud Joslin

    Ben Mifsud Joslin

    Jun 17, 2014
    That's pretty much what I mean; I feel like that the different instruments still give me a different mindset (and maybe one kind is just more practical to me personally).

    Anyway, I edited the question a bit; although I posted some misinformation, I still think there's validity to the question; at the very least we've established that some differences occur, even if it's more to do with the way the bass is modelled in relation to the fretboard (smaller bodies, deeper cutaways, etc).
    j.kernodle likes this.
  15. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    When I got my first Steinberger I kept playing about 2 frets higher than I should have because my brain couldn't deal with the missing headstock. After a while I got used to it. So I could see how a 20 fret neck might throw you psychologically.

    Like others posted, I have owned 30", 34", 35", headless, 20 fret, 24 fret and also play DB. I don't have problems jumping between them at all.
    Ben Mifsud Joslin likes this.
  16. AaronVonRock


    Feb 22, 2013
    I played above the 15th fret once. Once.
  17. The bass riff in the second break of "I feel like making love" starts at the 19th fret. That is the only time I have ever been up that high on the neck. BTW , I own two 20 fret , a 22 fret and a 24 fret bass , all 34" scales.
  18. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    The space on the body felt different when I went from 24 frets for 15 years to a 21 fret bass. But after a few days it felt right again and I appreciated the additional room for slapping. But this was also when I was slapping wrong with my thumb pointing down. So, I was doing a lot of things wrong. Now 24 frets feels a little cramped.
  19. tobias3469

    tobias3469 Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2013
    West Los Angeles
    All of my basses (save one jazz bass) are 24 frets. I like having 2 full octaves to play with.

    Although the distance between frets obviously does not change I feel some symmetry is lost on the fretboard.

    If you exclusively play 24 fret basses for 10+ years and then pick up a 20 fret bass it's going to feel like something is missing. No way around it...
  20. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    All my basses have 24 frets or more. I don't like playing 20 fret instruments.
    gleneg61 likes this.