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35" scale fretless question

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by angrydad, May 22, 2005.

  1. angrydad


    Jul 31, 2004
    Hey there fretless players,
    Last month I purchased a used Pedulla Rapture J2 (5 string fretless) off of Ebay. After recieving it, I realized that the string spacing is the narrower 17mm spacing. Oh well, I thought, I'll get used to it. So (hastily)I sent it off to Pedulla for a fingerboard refinish. I got the bass back and took it out on a jazz gig...lots of soloing and uptempo walking. My plucking hand was (still is) killing me after the gig. Being a life long Fender Jazz player, I found it difficult to play my favorite lines across the tighter spaced strings. "WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH 35" SCALE?!!!!!!!!!!"...I'm getting there, relax...
    I realize that I need a wider spaced 5. I'm not a fan of what Fender is offering(please, no hate mail), but I do like the Lakland skyline stuff. Have any of you fretless players made the move from a 34" scale fretless to a 35" fretless ? If so, was it a major adjustment for the fretting hand to get used to ? (I have to read alot of charts, so staring at the neck isn't an option). Thanks.
  2. It was such a major adjustment that I eventually fretted the bass! I built a 36" five string with full 19 mm string spacing. Unplayable as a fretless. I would stay with 17mm and you WILL get used to it.

    I agree about Fender 5s. Other than the RB5, I think their five strings are uninspired. I dearly love and worship their four string basses - I am no Fender hater! I don't think there is a fretless RB5 offered.
  3. Jim Dombrowski

    Jim Dombrowski Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Do you have another bass that you can gig with until you get used to a newer 35" scale bass?

    Also, do you have other (fretted) basses that are 34" scale? I've never wanted to own fretted and fretless basses that have different scale lengths.
  4. 90k


    May 3, 2005
    As a general rule 35" scale is going to make your string tension tighter... Then you need to factor in the strings you use,which in and of themselves have a tension factor of their own... You also need to get acustomed to the longer scale... I find that I can play certain things better on a tighter string spacing then on a wider one, and some things better on a wider spaceing then a tighter one.
  5. Basso Gruvitas

    Basso Gruvitas Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2000
    Dallas/Ft. Worth TX
    Also Dad, scale length and string spacing are 2 different things. One is the length from nut to bridge. The other is the distance between the strings. Just for clarification, in case I didn't really understand your question.

    My first fretless was a Fender Precision, then I got a Zon fretless 5 which still had 34" scale. My current fretless is a Roscoe which is 35" scale. Now, I really prefer the string tension that comes from a 35. It makes a tighter B string and enables me to have more control over my technique. However, If you have small hands it might be cumbersome. One suggestion would be to get an F bass or a Nordstrand which have 34.5" scales so you split the difference.

    Bottom line: unless you really have physique challenges, the change to 35 may just be personal preference. Go to a music store and do some A/B work. That will help too.
  6. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I've got no problem with the 17 to 19mm spread (I prefer the 19mm)... but I refuse to jump to 35". The twang it gives the D, G & C is far more annoying to me then the little 'tightness' the B may be favorable. I've never wanted for a more solid B string on any of my 34" scale fretlesses anyway (and I've owned a few cheap imports too).
  7. Bryan R. Tyler

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

    May 3, 2002
    I wanted an Elrick fretless because the playability and feel of them were better than any other bass, so I had to switch from 34" fretless to 35" fretless. In general it's not too big a difference. The one thing that's a bit tough is playing one-finger-per-fret in the lower registers, as you don't have the leniency that fretted allows in fingering. You have to work on your stretching a little more is all. Holding chords in lower/middle registers can be hard, although I tend to only play chords in those lower registers on fretted.

    Scale change has a much bigger impact on fretless than on fretted in terms of playability, but 34" to 35" isn't too much, particularly if you're used to played a 35" fretted.
  8. angrydad


    Jul 31, 2004
    Thank you all for your input. What got me thinking 35" scale was : when Pedulla shipped the bass back to me, they accidentally had the bass tuned 1/2 step sharp. Before I realized the mishap, I was digging the tighter string tension.
    As far as getting used to the tighter spacing...I tried...but when I go back to my J bass with Fender spacing, it's apparent that switching between the two isn't going to work. I've already got some "soreness" issues with my plucking hand from years of gigging/sports/working out...trying to manuever the tighter spacing doesn't help.
    Unfortunately none of the mom and pop music stores near me have a 35" scale fretless, I'll have to wait till my next gig in N.Y/N.J., there are plenty there I'm sure!
  9. Bassmanbob

    Bassmanbob Supporting Member

    I have small hands and now play a Roscoe 35" fretless with no problem. I did how ever play a fretted Roscoe 35" prior to getting the fretless, so I was used to the 35" scale already.
  10. The only thing I really felt I needed to work on when I switched over to 35'' scale was my intonation. Its a little harder (especially in first posistion) to keep one finger per fret as stated above. As far as anything else you get used to it within a day or two, everyonce and awhile you'll notice the scale difference but after awhile it becomes pretty undetectable.

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