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32" Scale basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by guinessdrinker, Sep 16, 2002.

  1. Anyone play with a 32" scale bass? I have small hands and on my 34" scale bass its tough to make the stretch between 3 frets when I am fretting notes close to the nut. Is a 32" easier to make those long stretches? Also, does the tone, intonation or sustain suffer from the shorter scale?
  2. HI:
    I have a fender UrgeI bass, its a 32" scale. Pretty good bass actually, it does exactly what it claims. Its got a superfast neck and is light as heck. IMO Urge I does suffer a little from being small and lightweight, the bass responses is well not deep. However its got a nice preamp and you can dial in many of the things you're lacking. Intonation is fine.

    I'm just curious how small must your hand be if your struggling like that I consider myself to have small hands (and finger lengths). I've learn to stretch my hands and fingers and now i have pretty good flexibility, but the key for me was proper technique. I keep my thumb underneath and shadowing my middle finger and importantly i pivot at the elbow. Do you use your pinky for the 3rd fret? and not you ring finger?
    Actually my Urge bass is pretty much retired, i play a Dingwall which has a 37" B string and a 34"G, and i have little problem reaching on this bass.
  3. IMO tone does suffer a bit on the short scales. The strings are have lower tension at proper tune and they can sound a bit dull, undefined and thumpy. I prefer a clearer, piano like tone. The 34" scale takes care of most of this problem and generally confines it to specific instruments. I've got a 35" scale and must say that it's got the greatest "E" string I've owned. By that comparison, it seems that the longer the scale the better the tone. I don't know if that's entirely true since any particular instrument can sound good. There are even 36" scale instruments that the owners swear have better tone, especially on the lower strings of 5's, 6's, and 7's. At the point of 36" it begins to be more difficult to work the low end of the neck but that's another story.
  4. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    I too have small hands. I also have 32", 34", and 35" scale basses. I used to think my small hands were the reason I was having trouble with my 34" Fender. At the time my 32" bass was my main axe. But as my technique got better I could play longer scale basses just as well as shorter ones. So getting a shorter scale bass might not be the solution you were hoping for.
  5. David Morris

    David Morris Supporting Member

    May 22, 2002
    Lincoln, Nebraska
    I have two 32" scale fretted basses and I prefer the shorter scale's playability. I think my preference for the shorter scale is more related to my arm length and overall size than my hand size, but the shorter distance between frets also makes the shorter scale feel "faster."

    I also have a 34" scale fretless (Rob Allen) that feels as comfortable as a 32" scale to me because of the position of the bridge - right at the edge of the body. This makes the first position notes less of a stretch for my left hand.

    In my opinion - with the right strings (Thomastiks) and a good preamp, an active 32" scale bass can sound every bit as good as a longer scale bass and tone does not suffer at all.
  6. rojo412

    rojo412 Walnut is fun! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I played (and took a great deal of care for) a Stu Hamm Urge 1 bass and I loved it! Unfortunately, I was only caring for it for a friend, never got to gig with it.

    I loved the feel and when it was set up right and had new taperwound strings on it, it felt incredible. The tone I guess was "thinner" a bit, but very snappy. A Preamp adjustment took care of anything that natural build would lack. If the strings on a 32 felt a bit floppy, I'd suggest a thinner guage of string, but a Taperwound Dean Markley 45-105 felt sweet. The thing with strings is just science... The longer the scale, the heavier the string. Shorter, get lighter!

    As for the difference in playability, here's where I'm coming from... I played 34 for many years. Then I got a Modulus Quantum, which is 35". I played the 32" and it was so cool to be able to play with such ease and speed. To this day, I still have a modulus (35") and a warwick (34") and I can feel the difference as soon as I put one down and grab the other.

    Not to get all nutty here, but look up the history of bass. Leo Fender used 34" as just a place to start. Because his basses became so popular, people copied him. Yet there are a few free thinkers out there willing to try something new. Phil Kubicki, Carl Thompson, Geoff Gould, and many more challenged the norm and (despite name recognition compared to Leo) became successful.
  7. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Banned

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass
    If you want to talk about scale length and tone You'll get some real world answers from a piano Tech.Theres a reason why the grand piano is the real deal and its all about those low notes.

    That being said I own a stu hamm and I gotta say replace those Pick ups, there crap, the pre is nice though . I got a pair of lane poors in mine, no contest!

    The Fodera web sight has a pic of a 33 inch scale 6 string . I inquired about that and told them I might consider having a 33 inch 5 string built. I'm reluctant to believe they can get tone out of a 33 inch scale B string. The only selling point that had me believing them at all was that they told me Lincoln Goines bass is a 33 and so is Matt Garrisons( although he plays high c). Ive seen Lincoln Play a number of time sitting close enough to be hearing just his amp and his B sounds good.

    Every thing that been said about technique is true.

    hope this helps

  8. Yeah I have a Burns 32" Marquee. Its a good bass, but the E does feel a little floppy at times. Plays damn' nice though- not sure if my hands are too small or not but I haven't played a full or extended scale bass that feels as good.
  9. Hey dude, I just noticed your screen name!

    Keep drinking the Black Stuff!
    Nice to know some people still appreciate real beer!
  10. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Banned

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass
    I live in boston which has the Best Irish Pubs,considering its America,Hence the best Guiness. I Dream of going to ireland though and seeing whats its supposed to be like.

  11. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    I had a 32" fretless Alembic Spoiler 4 and it had great sound and phenomenal playability. All maple neck-through construction + ebony fingerboard + 2 big Alembic humbuckers = fatass tone. Mine originally had a gloss white finish and was very bright sounding, with enough cut to be heard over drums in a rock band.

    I later had it (unprofessionally!) stripped down to the bare wood after the paint started chipping and covered it with butcher wax. Piece of advice to everyone-NEVER trust instrument refinishing to someone who's not an experienced pro! Reread the last sentence several times until you fully understand it while laughing heartily at my expense. All I'll say is that the 1) drink lots of beer-2) bubble paint with zippo lighter-3) use screwdriver and hammer to chisel paint off-4)carving initials into the top of the instrument technique leaves much to be desired!

    Afterwards it had a much more mellow tone-great for playing with acoustic instruments but not so good for cutting through drums and guitars. The tone was very deep and warm, with great mwah but not as much midrange complexity as a 34 or 35 inch scale.
  12. natebass


    Sep 6, 2001
    Bremerton, WA
    I have a Kubicki Factor and although I have owned other basses - this is by far the best playing and best sounding bass I have had.

    As for the 'tone' thing, a guy some of you may have heard of uses a 30 3/4" scale bass gets a great tone out of his....think he goes by the name of Stanley Clarke.....
  13. mans0n


    Jun 15, 2002
    i own a 30" :eek: scale bass, and i cant agree with the floppy string comments ive never had that with any string ive used be it any guage flat or round wound... ive had many compliments over its tone and sound from a few touring musicians, and also a few friends who have been playing 10+ yrs...

    i dont see any reason to stay away from a small scale instrument. if you have it amplied good' it should soend great!
  14. Thanks for all the replies. I am going to try and find a music store here so I can try out some new basses. Hopefully they have some shorter scaled ones. Anyone know any good stores around Kaiserslautern, Germany?

    Hopefully I will be able to make a trip to Ireland soon and throw down a few pints of Guinness:)
    My band has been thinking of packing up our acoustic instruments, going to Dublin, finding a spot on the street and just spend the day playing.

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