34" scale (noob question)

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by BassMan257, Mar 9, 2006.

  1. Hello

    Ive been wondering this question for quite some time...

    is the reason a bass has a 34" scale because the distance from the nut to the bridge?

    in actually setting up the hardware on the bass im totally clueless.... cause im pretty sure this^ is right, but i dont know...

    thanks for the help
  2. nateo

    nateo Schubie Fan #1

    Mar 2, 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario
    The scale refers to the vibrating length of the string. That means that on a 34" scale bass there will be 34" between where the string leaves the nut and where it hits the bridge saddle. A good way to measure it is to use the 12th fret as a guide. It should be exactly half way between the two (i.e. 17" from the nut or bridge saddle for a 34" scale).

    Of course, other factors such as the thickness of the strings, the angle / relief of the neck, and even the crown on the frets will alter the intonation. Most modern electric instruments use adjustable bridge saddles to compensate for these tiny variances.

  3. so would you suggest setting the neck first, then the bridge? or the bridge, then the neck?

    just wondering, i know basically nothing
  4. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    Neck first is best. Then the bridge.

    If you fret the board at the 1st and some high fret, say 12th, you are essentially taking the bridge out of the equation. Get that string clearance right, then proceed to setting string height at the bridge, and then do the intonation/saddle locations last.

    If you mess with the neck with the truss rod, go a little at a time - no more than about 1/4 turn a day.

    Do some reading before touching the truss rod. Bridge adjustments can be undone, but if you go too far with the neck/truss rod, you Could get an unpleasant surprise. :)
  5. You MUST have the neck attached first before you screw down the bridge. Best thing to do is to set the neck in place with a clamp (no screws or glue), then string up the outer-most strings with some thread or fishing line running through your bridge stuck down with double-stick tape.

    This way you can check (1) to make sure your neck pocket is straight, seeing that your "strings" are evenly spaced on either side of the center line; (2) your neck taper matches the string path (edge of the neck needs to be parallel to the string); (3) your neck angle matches what the bridge requires.

    If any one of these is off, you need to fix it.
  6. Good advice, I have had problems with my bass previously and had to have my Truss rod adjusted. My neck was bowed. I knew what the problem was, but I knew not to touch it for a fear of paying more money for repairs or even a replacement. I had my SR405 worked on professionally and it sings like a croc now.
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Is any advice going to be advisable in this case...? :meh:

    I think you really need to get some help from somebody who knows more and can see what you're doing - just giving advice "blindly" - may do more harm than good...?
  8. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca

    True, but in lieu of being able to do this, it's definitely good advice to check your pocket by attaching the neck and running line (string, etc.) from nut to bridge.
  9. so, your saying to put my bridge on to what i think it will be streight, and the right spot on the body... then cut the neck pocket, and make sure its all correct?
  10. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca

    Here's an approach that I take:

    I make sure I have a center line drawn on the bass for reference. I have the same center line on all of my templates, and I check all lines with a protractor habitually. Depending on the bridge I use, the front of it will be a staight edge, and should be perpendicular to this center line. The neck pocket (and the template for routing) will have an edge perpendicular to the center line as well. If I'm faithful to this line during the entire process, then routing the neck pocket will work out well. Shaping the heel of the neck is based on the pocket template, though I tend to leave the tiniest bit of extra around the edge so that I can fine-tune the fit.

    I still go through the process of checking the neck allignment with the center line, fix the bridge (with tape, not screws), use mock-strings to check the line, and then go from there. I won't screw the bridge on until the neck has been bolted on, and will only do that after checking everything.

    I take my time, because I'm doing it for me. The pros here probably have a more efficient way of doing it...I'm still "steadying" my approach;)