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34 or 35?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by T. B. Player, Dec 10, 2005.

  1. Hope everyones having fun Christmas shopping - most of ours is being done via internet. Gives us time to enjoy the real meaning of the season. Anyway....

    I'm sort of stuck, and would like your opinions, feedback, etc.

    I'm close to ordering a custom-made, and the only question is 34 or 35 scale. Most of the feeback I've received is to go 35, since you can detune a half step and use a wider variety of strings and still keep a tight "B". But a 34 doesn't kill my left hand after a four hour gig, while the 35" Brice does. Perhaps it has to with action height, or wider string spacing...but I've heard good things about a 34" Ken Smith (among others) with tight low Bs.


  2. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    You can get a great sounding B at 34". A well built instrument and appropriate string choice can be a bigger factor than a 1" scale length increase.

    If you prefer the feel of 34" then you've probably already answered your question.
  3. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    34" as long as its made well, since 35" seems to give you pain.
  4. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer LowEndBassShop.com, Builder LowEndBasses.com
    I'm personally a 34" guy, but 35" allows you to get away with not as stiff a neck and improper head stock angle. When ever I have a Bass build for me personally, no matter if its Benavente, Daniel Fernandez, Iturra, etc. I do 34", but many times customer's want what is considered standard today for a 5 string which is 35". As you stated Smith’s are all 34", Ken has never gone to 35".

    I feel you get much better tone out of a well built 34" then a 35". Reasoning is that the scale length and tension on the string in a 35+ stops the motion of the string sooner which stops the response and ring of the string that the pickup transfers. With a well built 34" the string can ring and have better sustain with out any issues and tonally is fatter plus the rest of your string's don't feel overly tight.

    That is what I like, just pick a quality builder which there are a number of them. Also you might ask what type of return policy or rebuild policy they have if the bass doesn't work out for you. We (Benavente) will rebuild an instrument for you in place of the one your not satisfied with.

    [EDIT] there is always 34.5 scale........
  5. Fawkes007


    Sep 13, 2005
    SF Bay Area
    Bass Player's 5 string shoot out a few years back yielded some interesting results. They actually found the Pedulla Rapture 5 (which is a 34) to be one of the best 5 strings in terms of string to string balance, tension and sound.

    The other thing about 35 inch scale length is that while it is great for the B string, the D and G strings can "feel" too tight. Of course, that is a subjective opinion on my part.
  6. My Stambaugh 6 is 34", tuned BEADGC, & I drop the(.125)B down to A w/no flop whatsoever. A good builder can absolutely make a 34" B sound good.
  7. ThumbyAche

    ThumbyAche Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2005
    Pacific NW
    34.5" scale on both my 5's and that was after playing and owning both 34" and 35" scales. I like being able to tune down and still having good clarity and focus on the "B" and the 34.5" feels better compared to all the 35" scale basses I have played/owned. The "B" sting usually sounds great on the 35" basses but the feel and tension of the other string is what I don't like which always took me back to 34" scale basses (till I got an F-bass and a Bene SC-5). Pedulla has a great sounding 34" "B" and believe it or not, I had a Hamer Cruisebass 5 with 2-Tek and Emg's that had one of the Best "B's" I ever heard. Sold it because the string spacing wasn't good for me..
  8. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY

    34 for me

  9. Helstar


    Nov 26, 2005
  10. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    Springfield, VA
    I prefer the feel of 34" scales.
  11. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Banned

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    For me, it's all about 32" inch scale, so obviously I'm going to reccommend you the 34" inch option.

    if a 34" is more comfortable for you, go for that! Like it has been said, a decent instrument with a 34" low B will sound good...I always feel that with 35" scale absses, it's compromising every other string in order to get a tight low B. I've always felt like this, ever since I owned a 35"er.

    Compounding this, I thought "I'll put up with a tiny bit of flap in the B go for a 34" scale 6 string". How naive I was...I played a Thumb 6 string, and it had a tighter, more articulate low B than any bass I had played to that date.
  12. mike sancho

    mike sancho SANCH

    Feb 10, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I was playing basses with 35" necks and struggled alot with stress in my left forearm. I went to Ken Smith 5 string and the difference physically was immediate. I've had a Zon sonus custom and have added a Metro both 34". If you have to go 34" you won't be disappointed in any of the above mentioned. Some builders offer both 34 and 35" scales so you should go with what you can play most comfortably.
  13. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    This is OFTEN talked about here, but I don't think the question can be answered as asked. Here's why...

    How "comfy" a 35" scale bass is (or any bass for that matter) is GREATLY dependent on design, which can really vary a LOT from bass to bass, unless you're strictly talking about fret span (as opposed to "reach" for the lower notes).

    I'm not a big person and I've played both 35's that are very easy to play, as well as 34's that are difficult to play.

    Also, I'm no longer convinced that a 35" design is inherently better or more versatile than a 34". If the instrument is built right, either one can be just as awesome, and yes, have a thunderous B string as well.

    I think the only real tangible difference between a 34" and a 35" scale bass that is true regardless of design is a somewhat subtle characteristic in the tone due to overtone coloring diffs. Everything else is so greatly affected by materials, construction, and design, I really don't think you could make a safe generalization at all.

    I hate to repeat a worn out cliche', but I'd strongly suggest "just play before you buy" and DO NOT automatically rule anything out JUST because it's either a 34" or 35".
  14. bugbass


    Apr 8, 2004
    A 35 feels different than a 34, try and then decide. As for the B, it has more to do with the quality of the instrument then the scale length
  15. GSRLessard14

    GSRLessard14 All-Things-Claypool Enthusiast

    Jun 23, 2005
    Newington, CT
  16. Andy Brown

    Andy Brown Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 23, 2004
    Rhode Island
    Founder/Owner: Wing Instruments
    An F Bass 34.5" to me is the perfect compromise.
  17. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I have no trouble on 35" scale, but 34" works just as well for me -- and that includes the B string, even when tuned down a half step.

    34" has a slightly more traditional tone, so that's what I prefer and own. But I've owned 35" in the past, and have another on the way in.
  18. spiritbass

    spiritbass Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2004
    Ashland, MO
    Since you're going custom, +3 for 34.5". Loved it on my old 'bird, diggin' it on my Kinal fiver!

  19. diptixon


    Oct 29, 2004
    I have pretty small hands (no jokes, please) and just got my first 5 string, a Lakland DJ 5 which is 35" scale and a pretty flat radius... have not had any problem adapting at all, and in fact would probably never have realized the scale was longer than my 4's without someone telling me. The B on the bass is great, not floppy like some 34" scale basses I'd tried, though I am sure that the scale length is not the sole reason for the tight B...
  20. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine

    Sorry, that was just too dang funny to let go... :)

    P.S. I want a shrubbery.