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34" vs 35" scale length psychosis

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by lomo, Feb 11, 2014.

  1. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    I am, once again (I believe), over thinking this, but am curious to hear others' views. I find 34" scale a bit easier on the left hand, not because of left arm reach, but because of fingering below the 5th fret. However, 35" sounds clearer to me (especially for double stops) and I like the higher tension for my plucking hand.
    I can go back and forth, but my fretting hand definitely feels it; a few extra mm of finger reach is noticeable to me......

    How many of you don't think about it and just go back and 4th willy nilly between these 2 scale lengths?
  2. Kragnorak


    Sep 20, 2008
    I have a 35" scale bass. Others are smaller. I definitely learned to pay attention to getting long-scale strings for it, otherwise the tension is too tight. Other than that I go back and forth.

    Things that I notice more than scale length: switching back and forth between various neck widths; switching between electric bass and upright.
  3. ThatLowEnd

    ThatLowEnd Dirt, Trucks, BBQ, Whiskey Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2012
    Down In The Delta
    Has been/Never was
    After having played 34" for a while, I now am playing 35" exclusively and love it. I agree, there is an added clarity and I find that when playing quick scales that incorporate the pinky, the 35" scale feels "right" to me as I have big hands. I always felt like 34" was cramped for me and I would find myself looking at the fretboard more rather than going off of feel.
  4. aproud1

    aproud1 Don't surround yourself with yourself. Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2007
    Cincy, OH
    I can play a 35" scale bass but prefer a 34". The reach thing can be compensated for but the string feel is what gets me. I don't care for the tighter feel.
  5. basschanges

    basschanges Unconditionally Loving Member

    Jun 20, 2012
    Brooklyn, NY
    If I go from playing a 34 to a 35 I'll definitely notice the difference with my left hand. I don't think you're alone in feeling the difference. Playing intervals wider than a minor third below the 5th fret are stretches on a 34 scale as it is. Practice up and stick with one bass and it shouldn't be that much of an issue. Proper arm\wrist\hand angles will help.
  6. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    I go back and forth between 34" and 35" scale electric basses, but also between 36", 38", and 42" scale double basses—and then back to 34" and 35" electrics, all in the same day due to teaching kids, rehearsals, gigs, and practicing. Think about it? Yes I do, it's fun! :D
  7. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    I notice it but my hands usually adapt pretty quickly. There have been days when one or the other just feels completely foreign to me. Same with switching from 17.5mm spacing over to 19mm spacing.
  8. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    I played bass for 20 years before I read about scale length differences on TalkBass. Once I learned, I realized that I had a 34" and a 35" scale bass. It had never occurred to me that they felt any different.

    Nobody talks about bridge placement on the body, relative to the ergonomics of the instrument, and I think that has at least as much impact on the length "feel" of one bass compared to another.
    el_Bajo_Verde likes this.
  9. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    But for your own electrics, do you stick to 1 scale length?
  10. SeattleSunn


    May 6, 2013
    I agree. I go between my Jazz and my Ric without any problem.

    I notice the nut width a lot more, between the Precision sized nut and the Jazz sized nut can slow me down a bit
  11. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    If I could play 35 inch I would buy a Lakland by the end of the week. I love the feel of the neck and the low action and the string tension, but I have small hands and anything below the 5th fret is just too awkward.

    What happened to that rumor about 34 inch scale custom Laklands eventually working their way into production and the Skyline series?
  12. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    I go back and forth between two or three fretted scale lengths all the time. Often within one set. Never a problem. I notice reach (how far away the nut is when the bass is on a strap) a lot more than differences in string length, even between 30" and 34".

    Unlined fretless, on the other hand, is very different. It's a much harder adjustment between scale lengths for me, so I stick with 34" on gigs.
  13. bikeplate


    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY
    34 or bust
  14. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    No, I use 34" and 35"—for Reggae and Country.
    34": CS Jazz and Sadowsky P/J, 4-strings.
    35": Lakland 55-01 and MTD MIK Passive Kingston, 5-strings.

    Occasionally use a 34" fretless fiver EADGC and 30" Silvertone dolphin-nose Dano. :cool:
  15. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Playing a Roscoe Century 35" has cured me of my 35" phobia.
  16. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I am very happy with 34" scale fives, but I do like the grand piano boom of a 35" B string. I also think 35" four strings really handle detuning nicely.
  17. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    I agree. I never liked the tighter tension. Most notably the G-string, if strung BEADG. Or both the G & C string if string EADGC.
    If a bass is constructed right this should be no difference in tone
    between a 34" or 35" scale.
    If a bass is made poorly, 35" may improve tone slightly.
    Again this can change bass to bass.
  18. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    You pretty much summed up my feelings. I prefer the 35" scale for the added tension for my plucking hand.

    Over time, my fretting hand has gotten used to the wider stretch in the lowest positions, so it's not an issue for me anymore. -It sure was at first.

    Switching over the a 34" scale messes with my plucking hand more than it does my fretting hand by a large margin.

    I used to switch all the time from my 35" scale 6-string and 35" scale 5-string over to my P-Bass without noticing it much, but these days all I've been playing is my 35" 6-string, so I'm sure switching over to one of my 34" scale 4-bangers would take some adjustment time.
  19. Marko 1

    Marko 1 Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    I’ve never played a 35”. I do know that if/when I see a bass I’m looking at listed as 35”, I move on. If I didn’t play fivers, I’d likely have a shorter-scale bass as it is.
  20. Maz


    Jan 9, 2011
    I've got two 34" and two 35" and I go back and forth between them without noticing the difference. As others have said, the nut width difference from one bass to another is more noticeable. As far as clarity, all 4 of my basses have different strings and pups, so I can't really say the scale length has anything to do with it. That being said, my clearest and most articulate sounding bass is one of my 35's