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34" vs 35" scale

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by mimaz, May 1, 2005.

  1. mimaz


    Mar 1, 2005
    Wheeling WV
    Endorsing Artist: Crook Custom Guitars
    Anyone care to discuss the pros/cons of a 34" scale vs 35" scale? My 5 string Modulus Q5 is 35, I have a P bass converted from 4 to 5 string, 34" scale, and all my 4 strings are 34" except for the piccolo. That being said, I'm about to have a new 5 string custom made and am waffling between scale lengths.........I need a warmer sounding, more "traditional" sound for my new gig........ideas?
  2. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    IME 34" scale will sound slightly more traditional than 35", all else being equal. I've owned fivers with 34" and 35" scales, and I like 34" as much as 35", even the B strings. Note that quality of construction is more important than scale length when it comes to the quality of the B string.
  3. Lorenzini


    Dec 31, 2004
    Los Angeles
    In my limited experience with 35" basses, it's just a more taught, precise feeling. It's a small difference but I actually prefer the 35" scale as it seems a little bit more tight. A 5+ string 35" is all I would get, though... The difference really comes through in the B string.
  4. hands5


    Jan 15, 2003
    good 'ol USA/Tampa fla.
    I agree with fuzzbass,I think it comes down to construction regardless of scale,and with that being said I find myself going back with the more traditional 34' scale instruments,as said they do sound different from each other,and IMO it seem to me that the 34'inch scale instruments sounded a little more even across the fingerboard as opposed to the 35'inch scale instruments that I've owned.
  5. Vic

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

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine

    This has been threaded here MANY times. I have a Zon 34" scale with a B string that'll keep up with anything. I've also played 35" scale 5's with lame B strings. Once you get to a certain quality level, it's really all about just finding something that feels right rather than it is that extra inch in the bass's scale.
  6. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
  7. +1 as well.

    I have owned 35" and 34" scale basses. And even a 34.5" scale (f Bass).
    It comes down to the quality of the builder. I'll put my Sadowsky(34") up next to any 35" bass. And I'll also place my F Basses (both 34.5") up there as well.
    I've had players tell me that 34" scale basses can never have a good sounding B string and all 35" scale basses have great sounding B strings.
    I then point them to Smith, Sadowsky, some Foderas, and others with a 34" scale.
    But the F Bass usually gets them! 34.5...those crazy Canadians!
  8. Razman


    Feb 10, 2005
    Orange Park, FL
    Speaking of crazy Canadians, ever check out Dingwall guitars? I'll agree that construction has a great deal to do with the B, but combine that with a 37" scale and you get a B string you can camp out and live on, not just hit on rare occasion.

    As for the "traditional" sound you are looking for, he just came out with a jazz bass version called the "Super-J." It has a 33-35" scale (not exactly sure) but it also has piezo's if you want 'em. Fanned frets take like no time to get used to. IMO, it's harder to make the jump to a five from a four-string you just got comfortable with (i.e. the Peavey Cirrus 4 I've been playing for a couple years).

    Best wishes on your search,

  9. DavePlaysBass

    DavePlaysBass Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2004
    I probably need to practice more, but I find the higher tension of the 35" scale noticable when playing hard for a couple hours. I also find finger patterns in the first three frets to be a little more strained.

  10. I agree there is a difference, but not an end all to end in 35" scale.
    There is a feel difference, good or bad is subjective. For me, I can feel the difference, but it's not much. Plus change strings and things change.
    I just prefer a 34" scale. I don't think it really makes much difference at all.
    Now the Dingwall fanned fret thing........played a Afterburner and oh lord did the 38" (I think) B kill!! When you get that much longer it better make a difference!!!
  11. Razman


    Feb 10, 2005
    Orange Park, FL
    I've played a Cirrus 4 for the last couple of years and found it was easier to play longer because you don't have to depress the strings as far to fret them i.e. lower action as compared to your average 34" scale bass. There probably are exceptions to this, however.

    Lol, yeah, I need to practice more too. One song we play is in C, and I ride the B string on my Dingwall almost the whole time. That song wears me out!! BTW, the scale length is 37", and it's a stretch down there, but well worth it. On the upper strings and further up the fretboard it is easy to play (super-low action) but because of the higher tension it is more difficult to feel where the frets are. I'm still getting used to that aspect of it, but love it anyway.

  12. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I've had both. I now have all 34" scale basses. my fretless 6, fretted 5 and fretless 4 are all 34" and sound great. I have small hands and prefer 34" scale. And yes, the B's sound fine.
  13. bazzanderson


    Oct 7, 2002
    Austin, TX
    34" = home

    35" = weird

  14. Vic

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

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    Actually, how low you can get your action has nothing to do with scale length. It has everything to do with instrument quality. Trust me on this. :)

    There is only one thing that's truly different between a 34" and a 35" scale bass, and it's VERY subtle. It's the tone of the strings, due to a (very) slight alteration in the overtone sequence. Remember, we're talking about barely a 3% change from 34 to 35! That's just not going to be night/day.

    All the rest of the claims about 35" (or longer) being inherently "better" is just unfounded hearsay, IMHO, even tho I play mostly 35's (tho not BECAUSE they're 35's).

    Trip Wamsley's got a custom 32" scale 8 string Alembic that'll blow your mind tone-wise. NO issues there. I've stood in front of him and heard him play it. Awesome.

    Again, IMHO the simple truth is, just get a great quality bass that feels and sounds good to you... don't worry about the 34/35 issue. It's pretty much hype.
  15. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    For me it comes down to specific basses rather than scale lengths, but I really do prefer 34" by a long shot. I wish I could get a shorter scale fanned fret though.. something like a 35-33 would be great for people with small/average hands like me.
  16. Vic

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

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    +1... and I wonder if Dingwall would do a custom, tho I'd bet it wouldn't be cheap if so.
  17. Vic

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

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
  18. My BTB is 35" scale, i dont notice the difference between that and my other basses, meh
  19. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    My VERY limited experience on 35" scale basses (played a lot, but only owned one) is that it may make all the difference in the world on the B string, I don't notice much on the E and A strings, but it completely ruins the D and G strings by making them too tight and the tones become to harsh on those strings. Just my experience though, I'm sure there are plenty of 35" basses with useable strings across the board so to speak.
  20. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    The only 35" scale bass I've ever owned and played extensively was my Dean Edge 5 string fretless. I liked the slightly different feel of the longer scale. But there are some things I didn't like:
    • I find it easier to intonate on my 34" Brice 6 string fretless than I did on the 35" Dean. Not that the 35" was especially tough, it's just a little easier for me on the 34" fretless.
    • finding strings that would fit was a little bit of challenge. Try finding a 35" 5 string flatwound set of strings at your local guitar center.
    IMO scale length is largely irrelevant for selecting a bass. It's all about sound and feel, and if a bass "spoke to me" I wouldn't care about the scale length.

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