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36" scale?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Brendan, Mar 16, 2001.

  1. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Hey, looking for basses, I was wondering who makes 6 string bases in 36" scale? Does is make that much difference tension wise from 35" scale? Just wondering (see a related thread in Strings).
  2. i think it alll depends on the way in which the neck of the bass is put together,, what sort of angle does it have at the headstock,, the angle at which the strings break at the nut plays a big part in the tension of the strings,, it will change from maker to maker,,,builder to individual builder,, i know for example that Overwater here in briatin built a custom 7 stringer with a 38" in get clarity,, i think!??, i'm not sure about tension

    i would sya that the best thing to do is, not to ask what we think,, but to compare a 35 to a 36,, see what feels good and dont be too preoccupied with the extra inch :)

    i prefer a 35" in a 5,, but that may be because i have a super human reach,,, :0

    thats what i think,, theres alot to take into account,, see what others say,,but it someone comes out a says" yeah 36" is the best for a 6" then there either rather stupid or pissed,, look a the TRB6 jp,, with its 34"

  3. Brendan,
    I would check out some of the smaller custom builders, like Dave Pushic, Bone, or Salas.. they would probably do a custom scale length for you, and you won't have to sell your vital organs. People like Carl Thompson or Fodera would build you a 36" scale 6, but then you're talking major, major $$. Carl told me he no longer builds any basses, regardless of number of strings, with less than a 36" scale. He feels 36" is the minimum to get the true tone of the bass, even on a 4-string.
  4. The <a href="http://www.dingwallguitars.com/">Dingwall</a> Voodoo 5-string has different lengths for all strings running from 37" (B) to 34" (G) using the Novax fanned fret system because Sheldon Dingwall found G strings sound best at 34" and B strings sound best at 37". This makes much more sonic sense than making all the strings the same length (there is a Bass Player review at the site in case you were wondering about playability--they didn't have any problems).

    In a discussion about 34 vs. 35 on http://www.bunnybass.com/ , Mimi noted that she finds the 34" G string very expressive, but the 35" G string a touch too rigid to offer the same potential for expression. I agree, and I refuse to sacrifice G-string expressiveness for a little added B-string tightness. In the first place, lots of basses sound pretty good with a 34" B. But mostly, I play the G string much more than the B, and exposed expressive ornamental figures usually involve the G.

    All participants in the discussion noted that some 34" basses have tight B strings (usually, but not always neck-through--Sadowsky and Music Man are frequently-cited exceptions) but some didn't. So your best bet is to try lots of basses hands on (sometimes you can't find a 5 to play, but maybe you can figure things out anyway: I played a 4-string 34" <a href="http://www.dpcustom.com/">Pushic</a> and found it exceptionally tight, so I ordered a 34" 5-string from him in full faith the B string would be just fine, however YMMV with this method).
  5. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    As an owner of a 36" 6 string (Tune), i can say that theres NOTHING better for tone than the 36" scale. Thats my best sounding bass, and all the other 36" ive tried were amazing (though, admittedly, ive only played about 5-6 36" scale basses). It especially helps the A and D, of all things. Total clarity.

    However, playability can get hairy, especially for a 6, unless you have monster hands like mine. The first 5-6 frets are a hard reach, and i wouldnt recommend it to anyone unless they're a huge tone freak who plays music where great tone is important (jazz, etc). I certainly would NOT recommend it for you Brendan, being that you play rock. You wont notice the difference in sound at all, but you will notice that its a lot harder to play.

    36" 5 strings isnt too bad of a change froma 35", but a 36" 6 feels like another world! If i were you, id stick to 34" or 35".
  6. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Forgot to add something (didnt edit because this is important enough to be by itself).

    Not only are strings hard to find and expensive for a bass like that, but its hard to find ones that work well on it. Once you get up to 36", the strings you used on a 34" begin to feel REALLY stiff. Strings that are about .010 (or more!) help a lot, but theyre extremely hard to find, unless you get them custom made. Like i said, its a good investment if you need the tone, but i doubt you do!

    The only strings ive been able to find easily for 36" are Foderas and the ADGC of LaBellas, but the former is too heavy and stiff, and the later is obviously not going to work!
  7. Angus -- just out of curiosity, what gauges are you running on that 36" bass?
  8. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Right now, 30-130 Foderas, but id prefer to have 30-125 or 25-125, maybe even lighter, but i can't find them without custom ordering, and im selling the bass as it is. The original strings were really light, about 25-125, and they sounded incredible, but they were specially made LaBellas (which is also my normal string brand).

    All my other basses have 45-135 or 50-135.
  9. nanook


    Feb 9, 2000
    I just went through this when purchasing a six string. All my research pointed to two 6 strings, that were in my price range of about $1000, that had the best sound and nice tight strings.

    One was the Peavey Cirrus 6 in a 35" scale and the other was the older model Yamaha TRB-6P in a 34" scale. Yamaha is again producing the TRB-6P (2), so you can get a new one if you want it.

    The rigidity of the neck is much more important and will have more effect than a one inch difference of scale length. John Turner tipped me off to this, he is a seasoned (lotta strings) bassist.

    As far as the less or more expensive basses, I didn't research them but I suspect the same principal would apply to the less expensive basses.

    I think on expensive basses (like Dingwal, Fedoro or Tyler) the extended scales (some up to 37") are not a result of the necks being too flexible but instead just a deluxe feature. Wish my budget had been $4,000.
  10. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador
    Everything goes down to construction and neck rigidity.
    If the neck is very well made and the tuners are not too close to the nut, I think a 34" scale could work just allright.

    I have small hands, play 6 strings, and I have played 35" and 36" basses that were just too uncomfortable for me and I really think the other strings like the G or C string get too tight.

    Thats why i chose to use a 34" Scale on my custom pushic bass, but asked for a Wenge neck with Carbon reinforcements, and the tuners placed farther to the nut.
  11. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    And yo...Angoid: When I post questions, it don't mean much. I pretend that I've got a rig to handle what I'm aksing about, because I wouldn't get something like that untill I could handle it in a efficient manner. It doesn't mean I've got the money in my hand. Matter o' fact, I'm getting a rig before I get a new bass, so it's all just questions. Hypothetical questions.
  12. Well, Ifabara, I asked for my tuners to be not too far from the nut. Dave opined that what the non-playing length of string does doesn't matter, and he has two degrees in physics, so I figured, heck, if it doesn't matter, I want it shorter.

    I like what nanook said about John saying the rigidity of the neck is the thing. That makes a whole lot of sense.

    I want the B string to sing, so I'm going to try these light-gauge Pyramid flats, .120 and .124 B and .095 on the E. I dislike low strings that are too huge to get out of their own way. I don't at all mind a high action. We'll see how it works out.
  13. trainyourhuman


    Apr 12, 2000
    Scale, like all things musical, is relative and based more on opinion than anything. However, there are some issues of physics to consider. String length adheres directly to tone simply because you have more string to vibrate freely. Your opinion of this "extra tone" is the variable. You can find cases all over the place, where you like the sounds of different basses with many different scales. I feel that it is silly to profess undying devotion to one scale length. Even if you cite playability, the playability of basses is also relative you may like this 35" scale bass, and this 34" scale bass. Generally speaking, the longer the scale, the harder that particular bass is to play.

    I also agree with John Turner. I believe that the rigidity of the neck is by far the most important compontent in how strings vibrate. Scale length is a very distant second, with the witness point issue coming in third. However, our hands are not your hands, and our ears are not your ears. Play and listen!
  14. Chuck M

    Chuck M Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    San Antonio, Texas
    I have two six string basses and they are both 34" scale. I have a Ken Smith BSR-6P and a Pedulla Hexabuzz. They both have excellent sounding B strings.

    I also have a Mike Lull Modern 5 which is a 35" scale bass. The B string is a bit more clear sounding than the 34" basses but it really is all the strings that benefit from the longer scale. The clarity on all the strings is improved as is the feel of the bass because of the increased tension.

    I have small hands and have no trouble with the 35" scale, however, I also play upright so there is probably some "mindset" involved.

    The longer scale has several benefits IMHO. I like the increased tension (I use the same strings as on my 34" scale basses) that you get with the longer scale. It seems the string moves somewhat less because of the tension and that allows the action to be set quite low. The bass has a great feel for slap as well.

    I've a friend who began playing a fretless 4 string as his 1st bass. He does quite well and probably just did not consider that fretless is more difficult than fretted. I don't see why one could not start with a 6 string as well. In some ways, playing a 6 is much easier than 4 or even 5 string. So many notes in one position!

  15. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador
    I have heard the same about the tuners not affecting..
    But what I have found out is that all 5 string fenders thave the tuner very close to the nut.. and all of those... guess what.. Floppy B Strings.

    Also.. look at the design of the Fodera 6 String 33" Scale Bass and the Edward Model (My uncle designed that one) all of them have an Extended B tuner wich is placed where the "A" tuner should be.
    Fodera says it works, the guy who uses the 33" scale says it works, My uncle says it works.
    I dont know if it works or not, but if it comes to my own bass, I want something that psicologically makes me feel better.
  16. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Chuck M, i dont know how many people will agree with me, but i dont think youre correct with the "6 string is easier than 4." Id like to see a REAL beginner mute all 6 strings better than on a 4, or even realize about the "so many notes in one position." The positional playing on a 6 only helps if you play really up high. Seeing as how most people play within the low G to open G range, the C is almost irrelevant. Beginners aren't going to be soloing, and they ARE going to be having problems just playing and muting 1 string, let alone 6, especially if they can't pluck the same string that they're pressing down on. Most beginners I know also tend to play with one finger and on 1 string (until i get to em, :D), it makes both the idea of positional playing useless.

    No, a 6 string is NOT easier than a 4 or 5.

    Lfabara, what about having a string tree across all the strings right behind the nut (which acts similar to a tuning peg), a la Lakland? Their Bs sure arent floppy. The Fenders aren't a good example, they're basses are pretty poorly constructed for the most part. What about the RB5? Its B peg is close the nut, but its B is very tight. Its construction man, construction! Ive played both Foderas with and without the extended-B peghead, and it felt EXACTLY the same, no change in sound or string tautness. Past the nut, as long as there is sufficient (the more, the better) downward tension, its fine, whether the peghead is close or far away. Maybe its just me though. ;)
  17. Chuck M

    Chuck M Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    San Antonio, Texas

    Regardless of where you play on the neck of a 6 string there are more notes available. First position gives me everything from a low B to the E above the staff. Don't forget those additional high notes. Less shifting makes it easier for me. Perhaps it would not for some players.

    Muting is indeed a challenge on multistring basses. It is even more difficult on very lively basses with a lot of sustain.

    It comes down to what is more of a challenge to each player. I played a 6 string bass when I started taking lessons. I learned to read playing 6 string and find it much easier to play in one position than to shift. Muting came fairly easy to me and may come easier than shifting for some beginners.

  18. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I have a question. Let's say you have two basses, each from a different manufacturer, but each having a 36-inch scale. Now, one of the basses has a headstock that is angled back more steeply at the nut than the other. So now you put identical strings on each bass, and properly tune them. How could it be that the strings on one of the basses will be at a higher tension than those on the other?

    It seems to me that the controlling parameters are the length of the strings (identical), the gauge of the strings (identical), and the tesion of the strings, which must be identical to produce the same pitch. Help me out here.
  19. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I agree with Chuck on the more notes in one place advantage of a 6 over a 5 and a 5 over a 4. Even a beginner, maybe especially a beginner, can benefit from learning how to play with less position shifts. This is not true just up high, it works down low, too.

    Muting is muting, learn how to do it and the same basics you employ on a four can be used on a seven (works for me). Or vice versa.

    What this will force you to to do is refine your technique and that's hardly a bad thing. Learning to be precise makes playing easier.

    One caveat may be scale length. A 36" scale is not very common and can be harder to navigate. I have a 35" Lakland and a 35" Clover, the Clover "feels" like an extended scale bass, the Lakland doesn't. In this case it's about where the bridge is on the body that I think makes the difference in feel.
  20. Chuck M

    Chuck M Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    San Antonio, Texas

    I think you are correct in your reasoning. I also fail to see how the same gauge strings could have different tension on necks which are identical except for the angled headstock. It is my understanding that headstocks are angled to increase the break angle at the nut to provide a firm witness at that point. This should contribute to clarity.

    Some folks also say that strings through the body increase tension. This is another statement that puzzles me.


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