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34"Scale vs. 35" Scale

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BASSPLAYERS4HIM, Oct 22, 2011.


    BASSPLAYERS4HIM Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2011
    Does anybody know why 34" scale vs. 35" scale are made by luthiers.
    What is the really truth behind.
    -First of all, I have played basses with 34' scale and sound wise is Amazing.!
    -34" scale basses are easy to handle and more reaching POSSIBLY when using a 19 String Spacing.
    -34" on some of the Top basses like Ken Smith & Fodera basses .....that LOW B string is Amazing.

    On the other hand, 35" scale basses that LOW B String sound Extraordinary as well.
    -Disadvantage = Neck too long for 35" scale.!
    -Advange, you can still have 35" scale neck and using a 17-19 String Spacing.

    What is the truth behind this...can anybody xplain....!!!!!!!
    thanks guys...:bassist:
  2. kai_ski


    Apr 14, 2007
    Wenatchee, WA
    that's a BIG bass!

    j/k, it's only semantics, but I'm sure you mean 34" not 34 feet.
  3. seungkoo

    seungkoo Banned

    Nov 20, 2003
  4. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    lost angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    Scale length is just one factor in how "long" a bass feels. Body shape and bridge position figure prominently and frankly can easily swamp out the extra 1". My Rob Allen Deep 5 with 35" scale plays shorter than all of the 34" scale basses I've owned.
    Tupac likes this.

    BASSPLAYERS4HIM Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2011
    Thanks for the Correction..



    BASSPLAYERS4HIM Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2011
    How is the sound like for the Low B then?

  7. JamesGoodall


    Aug 29, 2011
    I've never played a 35" (to my knowledge, but my B's (34") have always been pretty good. A heavier gauge will tighten up that floppiness if it's even there. Really it's just a matter of preference. If you like the longer scale go for it. If you have tiny woman-hands than rock out with a short scale! Or a long scale if you want! :)
  8. basspraiser

    basspraiser Jammin for the Lamb! Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2006
    Chicago - NW Burbs
    As for Lakland, the 35" has EVERYTHING to do with the sound of the B....that is how they get it to ring so clear etc...also, they "fool" with the neck pocket and bridge placement so it is NOT a true 1" more reach....

    persoanlly, I find the 35; comfy...but that is me....I know others who do not find it so comfortable.
  9. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    I have 3 34" scale basses and a 35". I can't tell one bloomin' difference between the way they play. Maybe it's because I am such a rank amateur that I don't have the ability to notice.

    One 5 string is a 35" (Lakland) and one is a 34" (G&L). Both B strings sound fantastic and aren't "floppy". The 35" is strung through the body and the 34" through the bridge. Both B strings sound fantastic.
  10. nickbass79


    Nov 11, 2009
    North Carolina
    I have a 34" 5 string, a 36" 6 string, and a 35" 5 string on order, I can tell a HUGE difference in the tension of the B, not to mention the tone is much deeper. Like hearing a stand up piano compared to a Grand piano.

    The 35" basses I have owned are a good compromise. I prefer 35" now.
    gebass6 likes this.
  11. Razman


    Feb 10, 2005
    Orange Park, FL
    Why do luthiers make them? There's a market and they can sell them. I suppose a better question is why to people like them...?

    You'll get many opinions about this. A brief Google search on bass scale length turned up a page that stated that when Fender introduced their first electric bass in '51 it was 34", and that pretty much stuck as the standard, "long" scale length. The extra inch adds tension to the strings, alters the harmonics, and allows for lower action. Bass construction still plays a major role in this, but many players appreciate the feel and tone of longer scaled basses. Still, some prefer the characteristics (tone, feel, decay, etc.) of the shorter scale length. To each their own.

    As for my personal experience, I started playing on 34" scale basses; when I switched to playing bass for my church (services and a rock band) I had to play the "church" bass which was Cirrus four string. Being relatively new to bass playing (2-3 years) I hadn't developed a preference to either scale. I did notice that the Cirrus (35" scale) played far better than most 34" scale basses I had tried.

    Spoiled by the low action, great sound and fantastic feel/playability, it became the reference I used for all other basses. After playing it almost exclusively for 6+ years it felt like an old pair of sneakers. When I'd pick up a 34" scale bass it felt odd to me (shorter) and since it usually didn't play as good I felt they were annoying.

    For a brief period of time I owned a Dingwall fiver. It too had excellent feel, tone and action. Unfortunately hard financial times came and I had to sell it. I didn't have it long enough to get accustomed to it very well. Because of the longer scale lengths I couldn't feel the frets as easily as I could on the Cirrus due to the higher tension on the strings. Had I kept it I probably would have grown accustomed to it.

    Earlier this year I acquired a nice, custom made five string bass from my best friend. 35" would have been my preference, but this one is 34" in scale length.

    I was totally surprised by the performance of this bass. The action is just about on par with the Cirrus (within tenths of mm's). The sound is fantastic, and after six months I'm almost as comfortable with it as I was with the Peavey. The quality construction allows the B to thunder without being floppy or lifeless. I'm actually very impressed with it and it has changed my bias against 34" scale basses to some extent (I'd still like to own a 35" scale headless one day!)

    It really boils down to what you prefer, tone/feel/aesthetics, etc.
  12. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    String spacing has nothing to do with scale length. You can have any string spacing on any scale length.
  13. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    lost angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    There are 34" scale basses with great B string sounds. There are 34" scale basses with lousy B string sounds. There are 35" scale basses with great B string sounds. There are 35" scale basses with lousy B string sounds.

    Scale length is a measurement, not an indication of quality of the instrument or the sound it can produce.
  14. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    The truth? :ninja:

    It is xtremely hard to find. You'll have to xcuse me now!!!!!!! :p

  15. soulman969


    Oct 6, 2011
    When I was playing regularly I had a 34" scale Deluxe Jazz 4 and a 35" scale Modulus 5. The cost of the two was similar but to me there was a definite difference in the feel of the basses. The Modulus played much nicer, sounded better and had a very clear and well defined B String. Strictly from a players stand point it would win in a shootout 9 times out of 10.

    What made the Modulus sit at home more was that it was far more difficult for me to do vocals when I was playing the Modulus. There was just enough difference in the two that things I could play subconsciously on the Jazz Bass could not be done that way on the Modulus. I doubt most players would have even noticed that small difference but to me it was huge.

    Both types exist because players like me find a certain advantage in each. When I recorded, jammed or sat in I usually played the Modulus but in my primary group it was just the opposite. It's the same reason Gibson uses a 24 3/4 " scale lenghth while Fender uses a 25 1/2" and a lot of us play both types there as well.
  16. +1 to this!
  17. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    My main bass has a 36" neck but doen't feel all too long because the body is designed a certain way.
    It is comfortable to play in all positions.
    String spacing has nothing to do with scale length.
    I have not heard low B on a 34" bass I liked anywhere near as much as that on a 36" instrument.
    They work but the B on a longer scale bass sounds richer and all round better to me.
    Builders make them because they sell.
    That's my take on it.:)
  18. I've never played a 5 string or to my knowledge a 35"scale bass.I've been doing a little playing for the first time in 30yrs and was surprised when given 4 songs to learn,3 of them had parts below a bottom "E".It's not a problem playing those notes an octave higher,but it doesn't sound quite the same. It's made me think hard about getting a 5 string and I've been wondering about 34" VS 35" scale.It's only a 1/2" difference in length from the nut to the octave fret right? So at the 1st fret I'm guessing it's maybe an eighth inch or so difference? I've got big hands(you know what they say.....big hands-big gloves LOL)but I'm getting old,56,is it really that much more of a stretch for a 35"? Thanks!
  19. I have a 35" through neck 4 string, feels great to me. But then again, I'm really tall. (Or so I'm told(6ft. 5")) I can reach way past the headstock, so length really is not an issue for me. It's comfortable, I dare say, if I had my strap that long that the bass was at my knees, then scale length could be an issue.
  20. nautipaul

    nautipaul Singer and bass player / Acoustic guitar strummer Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2011
    Zebulon, NC
    I really enjoyed reading this thread. I do not know the difference between a 34" & 35" but I'm about to find out. I just had a winning bid on a Lakland 55-01 off ebay. After 40+ years of plunking on a 4, I'm giving a 5 a try. If I adjust, I'll get me a US 55-94. Wish me luck.