About Short Scale Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by mesaphlin, Dec 13, 2012.

  1. mesaphlin


    Apr 6, 2011
    Hello everyone,

    I was thinking to get a short scale P-bass guitar but I am not sure about the measurements of the scales...

    There are three types of scales that I found on the net for the bass guitar...


    My hands are small. I have a Fender '77 Jazz Bass with normal scale and I am stretching my hands to play it comfortably. So which scale which I wrote above would be the best for me without stretching my hands so much to play it comfortably?

    In other words, the best bet would be 32" instead of 30.5" or 34" because it is still smaller than normal scale but also bigger than 30.5"?

    Also, a short scale bass sounds different than a normal scale bass?

    I really need your opinions about it...

    Thank you so much in advance...!!!

  2. Short scale is 30 inch. Medium scale is 32 inch. Long scale is 34 inch.

    I would get a short scale. Easier to find. String options are plentiful and it will be an easier instrument to play. Medium scale will not be as big of a difference in your stretch.

    Also, it depends on the instrument, strings, pickup type etc... But you wont be able to tell the difference in sound from long to short. At least I cant.
  3. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    Really only you can answer this question -- by playing some basses in stores. You should be able to find a short scale Squier Jaguar in local stores. I'm not sure how common medium scales are. The new Squier Telecasters are medium scale and you might find some near you. I'm not saying you have to buy Squier of course, but many stores carry them so your chances of finding them are decent.

    Which sounds best? Well 35 inch owners say 35, 32 inch owners say 32, 30 inch owners say 30, 32-37 inch fanned fret owners say 32-37, 39 inch custom bass owners say 39,.... In other words this is TB and everyone says the only thing worth owning is what they like best, and if that changes next week, well a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Those of us who play 34s are much maligned but we don't care because we know, of course, that 34 is the best of all worlds! :D

    You are having a physical problem with the bass you have due to the scale length. That being the case you probably want to go to 30 inches to get the maximum relief. I think that the 30 inch scale length has had enough adherents for a long enough time so that you can be quite confident that a short scale bass will play well and sound great.

  4. jbossolo

    jbossolo Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2011
  5. Do a search on here for Birdsong basses. That's what I'm going to end up with, no doubt!!
  6. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly. Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    +1 Scott is the Genius of Short Scale.
  7. VintageBoutique

    VintageBoutique Banned

    Dec 6, 2012
    If you're used to the Jazz, a shorter scale may not help. It could be too wide at the nut in comparison to the Fender that you are used to.
  8. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    Compared to what? Medium-scale maybe. Or hen's teeth. :meh:

    Short-scale string hassles are the #1 reason I never wanted to mess with them. Far fewer options than the regular bass and cost about twice as much for any kind of strings I'd ever want to use -- as they're never on sale.

    And for what? :confused:
  9. GregDunn


    Jan 8, 2009
    If you really have trouble with reach on a J bass, then try out some short scales. Only you can decide if the shorter scale suits your style. Availability of instruments and strings is not an issue if you shop around. I love my shorties and find them much easier to play, while sounding fine.
  10. Check out http://www.bassstringsonline.com/ for your strings. I have no interest in this store other than that I like their selection and service. That, and the owner is a TBer. I play a short scale because I have small hands and arthritis in my fingers. If one is going to be serious bassist (I took it up as a hobby when I retired.) I would think the lack of short scale bass models as opposed to regular scales might be a bigger concern.
  11. This. BSO has made it silly for complaints about getting proper strings. Get with the program and the sweet deals!
  12. subtlestew


    Apr 7, 2000
    Kent, CT
    I, too, have been recently looking into the short scale deal, and have done some research. Here are some nuggets that might be helpful.

    I agree with the poster that suggested you play some different scales in stores. My local GC always has Fender / Squier short scales, as well as the highly-regarded Ibanez Mikro (which just came out in a 5-sting, asnd is SUPER short scale at 28.75, yet sounds quite nice.) They also have had one medium scale bass recently, the Fender Pawn Shop Jaguar, which I quite like.

    Many on these boards also like the SX basses sold by Rondo music - they offer short and medium scale for cheap. At $119, there's not much stopping you giving one a spin. I might get one for my 9-year-old son (and play it myself) as a way of jumping into this field.

    While the Birdsongs do look like heaven, the cost, even used, makes me want to make darn sure short scale is right before I go down that road.

    There is another custom builder near where I live that makes short and medium scales; my plan is to custom order with them if I ever want to follow this path. That way I can visit the bass while it is under construction. I've seen their long-scale basses, and they are quite nice. http://bandkinstruments.com/

    Finally, Warwick recently released this http://www.warwick.de/modules/produkte/produkt.php?submenuID=17072&katID=24287&cl=EN in both short and medium. Interesting, and not too expensive.

    My whole interest in this started when I played a 1988 Alembic Stanley Clarke at GC that was going for $5 grand. Sweet.

    I must add that I have not yet made this leap because I love the long scale basses I have, but I think I might play better with a shorter scale someday, since my hands are small.

    Good luck to ya!
  13. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    The only SS that sounds really different than my P Basses is the Dano longhorn and all Dano's sound different than any other bass. My Fender and Squier SS sound about as close to a P bass as I need.

    The smaller scale is a nice to play and they are allot of fun...go for it!
  14. I prefer medium scales because they have a fuller sound than a 30" but smaller fret spacing than a 34". My SS Jag feels like a toy compared to my Fender Reverse Jag or other 32s.

    I can't argue with those who suggested Birdsong though. I think those are 31". (?)

    Spend a Saturday (after the holidays- better deals) and try as many stores and basses you have access to. If budget is a concern, look here for ideas how to mod a SS Jag so it will sound more like its bigger bro.
  15. KCWilly


    Mar 29, 2012
    31" scale 24 fret necks on Birdsongs

    and the zero fret necks are so easy to play.
  16. I would second this, they make a wonderful short scale instrument.
  17. rapidfirerob

    rapidfirerob Fusion rules!

    I play an 85 Alembic Spoiler and absolutely love it. It is 32" scale. I got it for $800 new at GC in 85. I couldn't afford one now. I was told by Micah at Alembic they could make one, but it would be over three grand. Anyway, I love the medium scale neck. I have small hands. I have an Ibanez fretless and like it, but the 34" scale is a bit too long for me. I will get a Longhorn at some point, which is short scale. I wouldn't be afraid to go medium or short scale. The Birdsong instruments look great as well.
  18. I hear that Squier Jaguar Special SS (Short Scale) and Ibanez Mikro Basses are the best inexpensive short-scale basses around.
    I myself am considering getting one of these two basses soon (I currently play a long-scale Squier Jazz Bass and I wanna move on to a short-scale).
  19. I have a Fender Jazz, An Ibanez Micro, and little hands...I am SO comfortable on the Micro compared to the Jazz its unreal...Just my personal experience...