This will cover some aspects of DB technique and some aspects of 4 finger bass GUITAR technique as it applies to scale length. Apologies in advance if I have this in the wrong place. Mods, feel free to move. Note in advance: this will go long. OK, time for my little dissertation. I want to give my experiences here in the hopes that it may help some folks who might have similar "technique" issues. I have been thinking about this for years and I hope I am able to articulate this is a way that is clear and understandable. I think some history is relevant - I started playing bass at 12 years old and I was in a band the day I got my bass. It was an Old Kraftsman short scale by Kay purchased out of the Spiegel catalog with an amp packaged with it. The two guitar players in my band were good players and at least "Mel Bay" schooled - and gracious enough to take me aside and teach me basic technique. Of course, they were teaching me one-finger-per-fret guitar technique - not any recognizable form of bass technique. One of my guitar players was a real stickler for technique, and he would laugh and openly criticize players - pro and otherwise - who either didn't use their pinky, or didn't use their ring finger. He called them three-fingered jokesters. I took to the bass right away - and he showed me several finger exercises which strengthened my hands and wrists substantially and got my pinky and ring finger operating very well in concert with the other two. Of course, as I eventually learned, there was a bit of a difference in using the fret-per-finger technique on a short scale vs. a long scale - especially in the lower registers. I was small as a young fella, with very small stubby hands. In a matter of weeks , I was playing the hits of the day - which of course were very simplistic. I mean, this was 1964. I mean it was "Dirty Water" and "Louie Louie", well you get the idea. Simple stuff. I bounced around a little bit, but the players eventually locked in for several years and my band really started getting local traction. By 1968 or so - one of my guitar players had a Gibson "Kalamazoo" bolt on short scale, the one modeled after the Mustang. He had a great set-up on it and I fell in love with it. The action on the Old Kraftsman was crazy high and it did a lot to strengthen my fingers and served me well - but it was time to move on. He sold me the Kalamazoo and I sold the Old Kraftsman. I continued to play through my high school years, and eventually scored a trashed short scale EB-0 which my father and I resurrected and restored. My band was highly successful, opening for a lot of national acts and creating a big local following. We won the Midwest Region in the "Search for the New Sound" contest. Two of the guys followed me into "Happy the Man". We didn't feature a lot of vocals so we ignored most of the hit parade - and instead focused on our own arrangements of album oriented obscure rock. We loved bands like The Flock, Touch, The Litter, Spookytooth, Crow, and bands that eventually became popular - but no one in the midwest had yet heard - like Jethro Tull, The Moody Blues and even the Allman Brothers. Later on, we grew weirder as we were dazzled and delighted by bands like King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Ekseption, Van Der Graff Generator and the whole "Canterbury" movement in the UK: Bands like Camel, Gong, Egg, Caravan and Hatfield and the North. We also began writing our own material and sprinkling it in. The music grew in complexity. We always kept the audience guessing, the material was so obscure at the time - it was hard to tell which songs were ours. It was a ROCK band and I am a ROCK player. In 1971 I sold the EB-0 and went into the Army. I was sent to Germany, and it was there that I met the nucleus for my future band. I knew I needed a bass so I bought a 1972 Fender Jazz from the PX for $296 brand new. It was natural ash with black blocks. I also went to London and bought a 100 watt Hiwatt bass stack with two 4 X 12 cabinets. In those days my heroes were John Wetton, Greg Lake and Chris Squire. I adapted to the Jazz quite well, even though I had never spent any serious time on a long scale. In those days I was getting in 4-6 hours a day on the instrument and really refining my chops. Getting to the story - when I got back to the states and we started rehearsals - I was delighted and amazed at the virtuosity of the players in the band. The music was startlingly complex and demanding. I got along fine 90% of the time, but when I created really rapid fire finger patterns in the lowest position my hand would have a tendency to cramp up. Sure, I could have simplified the part, but I considered that to be a cop out. I was always stretching and writing above my technical abilities, so I could learn and grow into them. But this cramping was new to me. I never had that experience with my short scales, but I figured it was because I had stepped up my playing a few notches. At this point I was playing 6-8 hours a day, every day - so my wrists and hands were in excellent shape. I didn't have any way of explaining the hand cramping, but it worried me. I noticed that with GI Bill I was eligible for upright bass lessons at the local college, Madison College, now James Madison University. I signed up for an introductory course, and started in. My teacher was an accomplished player, having played in many orchestras and jazz outfits. He was also an accomplished soloist. We started in on the lessons, and of course he started teaching me proper DB technique which involved the use of only three fingers and specific hand positions up and down the neck. I struggled mightily at first, but started to get a bit of a feel for it. As I was learning I was trying to adapt the technique to some of the wild and crazy stuff I was playing in my band. At the next lesson my teacher greeted me with a big smile. We had played Wilson Auditorium - which was a 1200 seater at the college - and had sold it out previously. He mentioned that he had been hearing some really great things about that show and didn't realize that I was the bass player of the band - and that he was curious. I was delighted of course, and I began to tell him about the hand cramping and my struggles with the electric. He asked me if I could bring in a cassette tape of the song that was cramping me and said he could spend a little time outside the lesson and maybe point me in the right direction. I dropped off a tape with one song in particular that had been giving me consistent cramping problems and he seemed excited. He called me the day before the next lesson and asked if I could also bring my "electric" along - as he called it. I showed up at the lesson and he asked me to get out the electric and to play along with the cassette. I didn't realize it, but apparently there were several passages in the song that he just couldn't play with DB technique - and he wanted to see how I was playing them. He got out the DB and tried to play along but eventually gave up. He told me that in his opinion I was playing guitar parts only an octave lower on bass. I don't think that is really true, but that was his opinion. And it certainly didn't surprise me coming from a dedicated upright player. The fact is - I am very much a melodic "root" bass player, never a frustrated guitar player. I mean - isn't it called BASS GUITAR? I don't own or even play guitar, and I never have. He didn't say much about it, but he didn't have to. It was obvious that switching to 3 finger "position" technique was not the answer for me. Sadly, when I went in for my next lesson, I found out he had to leave the university for medical reasons. Long story short - I never saw him again and I took this as a sign to stay in my lane and stay focused on my own path. The Jazz bass had dead spots from frets 4-7 on both the G string and the D string and they were becoming more and more of a problem. Maybe Fender was sending the "seconds" overseas to the GI's but it was really incredibly bad on this bass. Frets 5 and 6 with zero sustain and the others only slight sustain. I took the bass to several local luthiers and we went through all the possible fixes, which of course didn't work. The band eventually held an intervention and asked me to sell the bass. Our singer at the time had a Fireglo Rick 4001 and he offered it to me to use until I figured out what to do. I won't say it was miraculous, but I found myself getting around much better on the Rick and eventually realized it was 33.25" scale instead of 34" scale on the jazz bass. That 3/4" doesn't seem like much but it made a difference to me. But, that one song still caused my hand to cramp even on the Rick. I decided to get my own mapleglo Rick: In 1976 I met a remarkable gentleman named Paul Reed Smith. Paul had worked for years as the "holy grail vintage repair tech to the stars" - in the DC-Baltimore area. Eventually he started making his own guitar and bass designs. We were doing a show in Annapolis and my guitarist and I stumbled onto his tiny shop at 33 West Street. We had heard about him from our friends in the band "Artful Dodger" so we recognized the name when we saw it on his sign. Paul had a fretless bass in the shop, one of the first he had made, for Stan Sheldon of Frampton's band - and I fell in love with it. I explained to him my cramping problem and how I had always wanted a custom bass. He told me we could make a bass with a slightly shorter neck, and still keep it two octaves, which I needed. I told him that I found the upper registers of short scales to be too cramped for me, and he said we could split the difference on that between long and short scale. We invited him to the show, and he came out to see us. He was blown away and wanted to continue the discussions. We met again the next morning and began designing and working through the details together on a bass for me. It would be #7, the seventh instrument Paul ever built and it would be a medium 32.5" scale. My guitarist Stan ordered a doubleneck 6-12 guitar, and I ordered the bass. We were the first two customers to ever write Paul checks in advance to make us custom instruments. I played the Rick for well over a year because Paul was building guitars and basses in batches of 7-8 and it took him a year to finish a batch. We were working at A&M Studio D with producer Ken Scott when the bass arrived unexpectedly. Paul wanted to surprise me. Ironically, i had just finished the basic tracks the day before the bass arrived. However, the song that gave me the most trouble had several punches and I was very unhappy with that. I am exclusively a one-taker. I don't believe you can punch "feel" and "feel" is what bass is all about. You can lose emotional continuity. Ken was a sport and he allowed me to use the new PRS to go back and re-record the tune. I nailed it one take with no hand cramping and never looked back. I ended up swapping #7 out for #11, and giving him the Rick - but that is another story. So, I played PRS #11 exclusively through many tours and over the course of a couple of dozen records, including the "live" and "bootleg" offerings. My hand never cramped again and it was the only bass I owned. I was hoping this might be helpful if anyone finds themselves in the same or a similar boat. Anyone have any similar stories to share? I know folks don't always agree on some of these "technique" issues, everyone tends to think their way is the "way". I tend to go easier on beginners and smaller stature folks with physical limitations, as experience has taught me to. The number of medium scalers out of Fender Japan is a nod to the smaller stature of the Japanese people. For me, it was never an issue of "technique" but an issue of a bass that didn't fit me properly. I am no longer naive enough to only question "technique". There can be a number of other limitations, and many times there are. I will always encourage folks to play the bass that fits them properly. This is why. As we grow older we all hope we stay healthy and that we don't have to make a the decision to go shorter or quit playing. But folks need to realize there is no down side to going shorter and in fact, there are lots of world class options out there for the beginners or the old timers.