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5 or 6 string short scale bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ninkompoop, Apr 20, 2003.

  1. ninkompoop


    Apr 20, 2003
    im not a very big guy, and have been playing a short scale bass for about 3 years. im ready to invest in a new bass.. a 5 or 6 string if possible. but would like to avoid a longer necked bass if possible.. ive been looking around the net, and havnt found any short scale 5-string bass's for sale. i think i remember seeing strings for sale though, so im assuming they exist somewhere.. can anyone help me out?
  2. 5stringDNA


    Oct 10, 2002
    Englewood, CO
    :meh: I haven't really seen any- I'm 6' so I haven't really looked, but hope someone comes along and helps ya out. You could have one custom made I suppose...
  3. ninkompoop


    Apr 20, 2003
    that is something id probably consider.
    i guess it would be ALOT more expencive that way wouldnt it.. anyone have any reccomendations for a company that would do such a thing?
  4. Ernie Ball MusicMan Silhouette 6-string bass is short scale. I'm not sure what tuning it uses, as I always thought the low B string needed at least 34.5 inch scale for clarity...

    Click here for the Silhouette

    edit: after looking at the string gauges on the Ernie Ball set for this bass, there is no Low B. I'm guessing it is tuned:

  5. Schwinn


    Dec 4, 2002
    Sarasota, FL
    I don't mean to sound like a jerk, but why can't you get used to a 34" bass? I don't think you need big hands to play one. With practice, you'll be able to stretch your hand farther than you think. Worse case senario, if you're hands are really small you may need to shift a little within position, that's all.

    If you get a 34" scale practice shifting positions with your eyes closed. This will help tremendously.

    BTW what scale length are you used to now?
  6. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    There are two problems you will likely find with a short scale 5 or 6 string bass. Either it will be super expensive 'cause you'll need to get it custom made (unless you happen to find one used that someone else had custom made) or you'll find something "inexpensive" with horrible balance. The extra hardware on the headstock can make them neck heavy, unless the builder used lightweight tuners (expensive).

    As Schwinn mentioned, you may want to take a shot at playing around with some standard scale (34") basses and see if playing higher up the neck suits your size better. Pay attention to the neck contour, too. Some necks are rounder and chunkier like a baseball bat (Warwick for example) and others are flatter and broader ( my Hanewinckel 6 for example). I've found the flatter necks much easier to play.

    I'm fairly short (5'7") with small to average sized hands and find 5 & 6 string 34" & 35" basses very comfortable, as long as I don't have to live life in 1st and 2nd position.

    Good luck with your search.


  7. NV43345


    Apr 1, 2003
    The strings you saw 4-sale may have been for a
    ovation acoustic 5 string, they made one in 32" scale a few years back, also dean makes a acoustic 5 string with a 32" scale. I have one and the only thing the "B" string is good for is a nice place to rest your thumb, it also keeps it from ringing. I have never seen any 5 or 6 string electric solid body basses in anything shorter than 34".
    Try some different brands til you find one that is comfortable. The secret is in the strap adjustment
    keep messing with it.:)
  8. Killdar


    Dec 16, 2002
    Portland Maine
    I just think some adjustment on how you hold a longer bass can make plenty of difference, and once you are used to it, it is fine.

    I suppose a 6 string short scale is possble...but its not very probable.

    Hey, you could probably make one yourself from old parts.....hmm, maybe something like a 5 string neck chopped off at the head until the desired scale is achieved, then add a 6 string nut and headless tuners....or something.....

    good luck with your search anyway.
  9. XxBassmanxX


    Nov 21, 2001
    Rosman NC
    IMO its not about the reach. If you can make your shifts clean and fast you could effectively play with a 3 fret reach. For small hands you may look into multi string basses with a tight string spacing. I play a John Myung yamaha 6 string bass with a 35 inch scale. The spacing is real close and it feels great. You also should make sure youre using the propper left hand position. Try a search on the forums and see what you can find. Keep rockin!

  10. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    One of our Luthiers in Residence here at TB, FBB basses, is building a short scale 6 string for someone I think.

    go to the "Luthiers Corner" find a post by FBB and send him a pm.

    from what I understand they sound fine , so on't sweat that.

    Also, don't pay any attention to the "34" or bust " crap.

    get what you want.

  11. ninkompoop


    Apr 20, 2003
    thanks for the replies everyone :):)

    Schwinn: ive been playing the same 20 fret bass for as long as i can remember. im not exactly sure how long the neck is. im about 5'5 and am WAY smaller then the average 22 year old. a couple weeks ago i played around with my friends bass. im not sure how long the neck was, or how many frets it had, but it was ALOT harder for me to play smoothly. especially up at the end of the neck. on my short scale.. on E A D G, i can pretty easilly do a E-1 A-2 D-3 G-4 (# being the frets) chord. on the long scale this seemed close to impossible for me.

    thats a dissapointment that short scale 5 strings wouldnt have a B string.. that was basically the point in me getting one.. hmm.

    malthumb: thanks alot for that comment about the rounded neck. that is what im used to now, but i can totally see a flat back end being easier to play. im definetly going to look into that.

    DonZ: thanks alot man :) i will give him a pm tonight :)

    i'd really like a 5 string over a 6 string personally.. 6 seems almost like overdoing it. my friend who plays guitar has been nagging me to get a 6 string basically because more can be done with it.. i dont think its nessesary though. im thinking if its possible to get a short scale 5, with a B string, i should.. so far it seems im outta luck tho :(

    thanks again for the help everyone.
  12. I believe that's a baritone guitar.
  13. ninkompoop


    Apr 20, 2003
    i sent a pm to the user FBB custom. i hope this is the guy :)
  14. RedGrange


    Jun 11, 2000
    Denver, CO
    Fodera made on a 33" 5 or 6 string for some guy in France... check out thier website.. it's on it.
  15. RedGrange


    Jun 11, 2000
    Denver, CO
    I thought the EB 6 string 'bass' was tuned A to A
  16. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    How short a scale are you talking, and do you need a low B?

    The pitch of a string is determined by speaking length, thickness (gauge), and tension. If you shorten the length, you lower the tension required to tune to pitch. I have made a 33" scale bass that I strung for a short while B-E-A-D. It was passable, but I wouldn't want to go shorter.

    If you wanted to go E-C, then 33, 32, or possibly even 30" scales would be possible and playable. I have a 33" scale E-C 5 string in the finishing stages right now. I'd be surprised if you found a production bass for under $1000 that was 5 string and short or medium scale.
  17. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City

    This is kinda the point a lot of us were trying to make (but not very well, obviously ;) ). With a 34" scale 5 string with a B-string, you can finger that same chord figure, only starting at the 5th fret (E) of the B string.

    By moving your E, F and G fingerings to the B string, you also wind up with an added octave of "playroom" without moving out of position (you get C, D, D#, and a slight stretch to E on the G string). The width of the fret spaces in 5th or 6th position on a 34" scale is probably no more than on a 30.75" scale at the 1st position.

    End result, you move a lot of your lines to 5th and 6th position, pick up some higher end range, and only go to the 1st / 2nd position when you need notes lower than E or when your fingering is more comfortable for a given tune playing the EAD and G strings in 1st / 2nd.

    It's one of those things you really oughta experiment with. As long as you're searching for a low B 5 string short scale, you have nothing to lose in trying out standard scale instruments while you continue the short scale search.

    Whichever your journey leads you, enjoy the ride.
    :bassist: :bassist:


  18. Schwinn


    Dec 4, 2002
    Sarasota, FL
    Understood. But I bet if you took your friend's bass home with you and played it every day for a month you'd feel just as comfortable with it in a month as you feel now about your short bass. I found the transistion from 34" to 35" to be challenging at first, but now that I'm comfortable with my 35", my 34" is just collecting dust.

    Since short scale basses are so hard to come by, you might be doing yourself a disservice by not making the transition. What if you see a beautiful, perfect-in-every-way 34" 5 string in a store? Would you pass it up because of the longer scale? That's a good way to think about it, IMO.
  19. ninkompoop


    Apr 20, 2003
    i just wanted to say thanks to everyone that replied & helped, i think im going to try and get used to a 'standard' size bass before making any decisions. you guys helped me alot, i really wish there was some way i could repay you. im really glad i found this board :) thanks :)
  20. bassiclybass


    Mar 1, 2003
    ninkompoop, i have a tobias 5 string medium scale bass made in 1984 (pre-gibson)that i have been trying to sell on ebay but got disgusted w/ the lowballers,sharks and tire-kickers.let me know if youre seriously interested and we can go from there.

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