34" vs 35" scale. Can anyone really tell the difference?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by tb-player, Jan 11, 2022.

  1. tb-player

    tb-player Sarcasm intended… always. Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2019
    Maryland
    In all my years of selling basses, this happens most consistently:

    I post a 35" scale bass. I get a comment saying, "If this bass was 34-inch scale, I'd be all over it." A little while later, I sell a 34" scale bass and get the comment, " Man! If this was 35-inch scale, we'd be talking."

    I own both. I play both... in 4-string and 5-string. Scale-length has never crossed my mind when switching from a 34" to a 35". I've never noticed any need to adjust. For me, scale length isn't even in my top-10 of things I look for in a bass.

    Can anyone REALLY tell the difference between 34" scale and 35" scale? If so, what's the deal? Does it affect your playing? Is it all about how the low-B sounds?

    I don't get it. Enlighten me. :meh:

    (don't get me started on multi-scale... lol)
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2022
  2. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    I MUCH prefer 35" (or longer) as it sounds deeper and richer to me and feels fantastic.

    However the scale length either way wouldn't keep me from buying a bass if I truly wanted it. I look at it like this...34" is great. Bonus points if it's 35".
     
  3. Standalone

    Standalone

    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    I prefer 34” — it’s comfortable and I get a nice fat thumpy tone up the neck and don’t miss the piano tone clarity of the longer scale. I have large hands but the 35” feels unwieldy.

    I’m glad there are both out there.
     
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  4. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    Massachusetts
    Yeah. I found a difference even in Ric's 33 1/4. I had a Birdsong 31" and could feel a difference in my Serek 32".
     
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  5. Beej

    Beej

    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    I can "feel" the difference, but with the right setup, you don't notice it much. I also regularly move back and forth between scale lengths and other stringed instruments, so the scale length doesn't affect me much. :thumbsup:
     
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  6. s_wood

    s_wood Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2003
    Delaware (USA)
    I have both 34” and 35” basses. I very much prefer the feel of 34” scale. I have found it’s easier to get a good B string sound on 35” basses, but there are some 34” bass s that sound just as good.
     
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  7. Gsnorgathon

    Gsnorgathon

    Jan 15, 2020
    Sea Addle
    I like a 35" (low) B, but not a 35" (high) C. Bit zangy up there for my taste.
     
  8. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I have 35, 34, 32, 30.7 basses. I have 24.75, 25.5 and 27” guitars and a 12.5” violin to boot. I will say in my experience I don’t notice the difference. Even if I switch directly from 30.7 to an unlined 34 fretless it doesn’t bug me. I think you just develop muscle memory for what you play. I also have no idea what my string spacing are. I know they aren’t the same. My 30.7 bass feels just like my 34” but it’s like there’s an extra fret if that makes sense. I know there is a difference and that some people prefer one or the other. That’s cool.
     
  9. Lo-E

    Lo-E

    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I don’t need to adjust either but I do feel the difference and I (believe I) hear a difference, too. A 35 has more harmonics and sounds more “piano-like” to me. I like and play both (as well as some shorter scale basses) and it’s far from being a huge deal but it’s a subtle difference that I actually can discern.

    As far as B strings go, I thought longer always equaled better until I heard a couple of 33” basses with excellent Bs, so there goes that theory for me!
     
  10. Yahboy

    Yahboy

    May 21, 2008
    On both ibanez 35' BTB 5 and 34' SR 5 which has same BH2 pup and preamp, I prefer BTB in term of tone, clarity and better B string tone quality. Another factor could belong to different wood or neck through body concept.

    The best tonal BTB5 in medium price tag to me are discontinued BTB705DX which has EMG system inside. Clean and studio quality bass tone .
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2022
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  11. tb-player

    tb-player Sarcasm intended… always. Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2019
    Maryland
    I always assumed string gauge had more to do with a good B string tone than scale. Maybe it's a combination of both?
     
  12. I feel the difference much more since I’ve gotten older. I’ve had several 35” scale basses and sold them all due to the scale length. To me it’s most noticeable on the lower frets.
     
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  13. tb-player

    tb-player Sarcasm intended… always. Supporting Member

    Mar 6, 2019
    Maryland
    So are you talking about discomfort with the reach? If so, that makes sense. One reason I enjoy playing 5-string so much is the option of playing the "money notes" from the B-string/5th fret. The tone is beefy, I have easier access to the upper register, and my arm isn't always extended. Hmmm... :thumbsup:
     
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  14. 58kites

    58kites Save a life....adopt a Pitbull

    Oct 21, 2014
    Austin Texas
    The 35" feels about an inch longer.
     
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  15. Yeah the reach. Especially with the first couple of frets.
     
  16. PaulCISSA

    PaulCISSA Unsweetened, highly-caffeinated Supporting Member

    Jul 10, 2014
    Northest New Jersey
    I have three 35” five string and a bunch of 34” four strings. I’ve been playing that way for 30 years and I don’t notice any difference in playability switching between them. I much prefer the deeper, tighter tone of the B in 35”. When I bought a Ric @ 32-1/2” scale, my brain bled for a while but I got better.
     
  17. Slade N

    Slade N Supporting Member

    May 28, 2005
    portland, or
    I have both and can tell. The way the bass is constructed and balances will effect this greatly
     
  18. I have a 36 6 string. I can feel the difference vs a 34 but not 35 vs 34. I do not even think the B is better on the 35.
     
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  19. BassFalcon

    BassFalcon Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2020
    I agree that there is a difference, especially on the B, and more richness in the harmonics, but the difference isn’t insurmountable, that’s the best word I could think of for the situation. All things being equal I would take a 35” over a 34” any day. But they never are equal, and so some 34”s do have a better B string etc. I have a lot of double bass in my background though which is about 41”, so the longer scale instruments never posed an issue for me.
     
    Jason Hollar likes this.
  20. roller

    roller Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    I own several 34-inch scale basses.

    I've owned 35-inch scale basses... but no longer do. The reasons for turning loose of them have nothing to do with the feel of the length -- it was a myriad of other reasons. Sometimes I simply needed the money to fund a new bass.

    Incidentally, I own several basses with sub-34-inch scale lengths and don't see me getting rid of them anytime soon.
     
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