Advantages of wide string spacing and long scale length?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by vindibona1, Mar 15, 2018.

  1. I asked for advice in and earlier thread, but didn't get any replies. Perhaps if I asked the question a different way it will help me understand.

    What are the advantages of wide string spacing and nut? My IbanezBTB675 has 19mm strings spacing and a 47mm wide nut. It is MUCH wider than I'm used to. I've played other basses with narrower spacing and nut that seem more comfortable to play at this time. So the questions become 1) Why are guitars with these specs made? I noticed that Fender 5's have similar spacing, but not such a flat fingerboard and a 34" scale length compared to Ibanez's 35". 2) Will such a fingerboard be something that a player with medium-large sized hands usually has to grow into just because it's different? I find myself using muscles I don't have to use with an ultra-slim neck like I have on my Squier VM.

    Scale length? Is there that much difference in the fret spacing between a 34" and 35" scale length that is it noticeable under the fingers?

    Bottom line: Are there enough advantages of these features that I'll grow into this bass?
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2018
  2. A lot of people like wide spacing simply because they started on a 4 string with wide spacing so that's what they're used to. Others, who do a lot of slapping, like it because it gives you more room for getting your fingers in between the strings. I prefer tight spacing and narrow necks. Economy of motion.

    I can definitely tell the difference between 34" and 35". I prefer 34. A 35" might give you a tighter feeling B than what you're used to. On the other hand, I've owned several Warwicks and Roscoes that have incredible feeling B strings even with a 34" scale.
    Loring, Ductapeman, dralionux and 7 others like this.
  3. BassAndReeds


    Oct 7, 2016
    Scale matters just about as much as cabinet weight. It’s not about the size. It’s about the design, not just one feature. There are other factors you mention like fretboard width and radius that aren’t related to length, but effect comfort.

    Bottom line, 34” and 35” are basically the same thing. So if you don’t like the feel of your bass, then I’d suggest swapping for one that feels better.
    Omega Monkey and Ant Illington like this.
  4. Ant Illington

    Ant Illington I'm Anthony but I'm only illin' Inactive

    You will get used to the string spacing very easily. It may take a little longer for slapping unless you're already really good at slapping.

    Scale length is a little more complicated, not so much the distance between frets but the overall reach to the nut and first couple frets can be challenging for some. Upper horn length and bridge placement will determine the net reach. Spector 34's, for instance, have the same reach to the nut as Spector 35's due to their just moving the bridge placement in the body... so all 34s and 35s comparisons aren't equal. Just gotta see what works for you but if you think about little, little kids smoking on a 34 them a grown person, even a smaller one should have no inherent difficulty with a 35.

    Is a 35 worth it, soundwise? TB has yet to determine that but a lot of guys make 32 and less sound good so.... don't be fooled by floppy strings either; instead, listen. A "floppy" string doesn't necessarily result in lack of punch, it may only feel to your fingers that the string isnt punchy. And better sustain with tighter strings, longer scale? In most cases you don't need a ton of sustain so, to me, that's not high on the list of concerns. Compressors can help with that, too. So can heavier strings if you really need more sustain (this may be a myth, though).
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2018
    dralionux and gebass6 like this.
  5. Wisebass


    Jan 12, 2017
    Lost in Space
    Wow that is wide!!! :laugh:

    I play, what feels and sounds right for me!
    4 string, 5 string and 5 string fretless basses,
    with different string spacings and neck profiles....

    I know I am not a big help here :(

    UNICORN BASS, interp and Sixgunn like this.
  6. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    Hmmmm. I play the 18" scale Ashbory professionally. There is indeed a difference between 34" and 35". I agree that design may be why you prefer the feel of one bass over another but there is a big difference. 5-string players will tell you how the extra bit helps that B. The reach is very noticeable. For some with smaller hands the 35" could be no good. I play both.
    Bassbeater likes this.
  7. Kriegs


    Feb 14, 2018
    I play both a 34" Schecter Stiletto Extreme 4 and a 35" Schecter Apolcalypse C4-EX and the one really noticeable difference is the tighter B. Because of this, if you want to down-tune, the 35" gives you more play in your string tension with which to do so and still maintain distinct notes instead of a mix of mud :) At least, that's been my experience, your mileage and the answers/ opinions that you get will vary wildly, lol =)
  8. I prefer wider string spacing. Both of my 5’s are 19mm and my 6 is 18mm. The advantages for me are this.
    1. Easier to dig in and still play cleanly
    2. Easier and more natural for me to slap and pop cleanly.

    I gave the 35” scale thing a shot several times and it’s not my favorite. For the most part the 35” scale basses have had good sounding b strings more consistently than all of the 34” scale 5 strings I’ve played but there are still plenty of ppl making 34” 5 strings with good b’s.
    The main reason I’ve gotten away from 35’s is hand fatigue. I would definitely feel it more after a show when playing 35’s. There really isn’t that much difference in fret spacing but apparently it’s just enough for me to cause me more hand fatigue.

    I played 35” scale exclusively for about a year and a half. I’m now back to mainly 34.

    As a previous post said there are many factors that can provide an advantage for certain build specs over others. The 2 biggest factors I can think of are your physical build (tall/short/long fingers/skinny etc...) and the music you want to play. When I buy a bass now I look at those things as constants but there has been a lot of trial and error (wasted money) figuring that out.

    As far as the btb basses go, every one I’ve played (all the way back to when they first came out) has been well built instrument. My only real gripe with them has been that they sound drastically different when plugged in. They seem to sound darker and less punchy and I like bright and punchy.

    Good luck.
  9. The thing is I'm a *relative* bass newbie. New in the sense that I want to play it more seriously. It's not like I never held a bass in my hands before. It's just that I'm not sure if retreating to a narrower fingerboard/string spacing is the right thing to do, or persevere with an otherwise totally awesome instrument. I don't seem to have any diffculty playing it, but there is some initial discomfort because my fingers aren't used to laying across strings in a wider setting. So my questions revolve around the advantages of the bass and sticking out getting acclimated to it- knowing that I would in fact get used to it and it would become comfortable.

    Part of the issue is that my hands are a bit sore, and I'm thinking because of my current rehearsal schedule. I've been rehearsing for a show (that opens tonight for 4 days) and those rehearsals are long. 9 hours Sunday, 4 on Monday and 5 hours yesterday. Even though I'm playing my Squier due to familiarity, my hands are still a bit sore. I'm not used to playing for that long, particularly bass.

    Bottom line is that I'm not experienced enough on bass to know will like after a month or two of playing this bass. I have to depend to some extent on the experience of others to help me figure it out. Thanks for your input.
  10. BassAndReeds


    Oct 7, 2016
    I would do some research on your fret hand technique, and work on it. Sounds like you may not be fretting the bass correctly. The problem most likely won’t be solved by going down to 34” in my opinion, without seeing you play. I’d keep working on your technique before changing instruments. Straight fret wrists, always. Both hands.
  11. honeyiscool


    Jan 28, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    The advantage of 35" scale is the B string is usually good on 35" scale, whereas the quality of B on a 34" has more range. So you might find the 34" scale with a stronger B string than a 35" scale, but on average, it's probably tighter and better on 35" scale basses.

    Generally speaking, the longer the scale, the more defined your notes. That doesn't mean the tone is better. In fact, there might be a little too much definition for your tastes.

    As for wide string spacing, a lot of people have this theory that it's advantageous because lot of players are used to wide string spacing of 4-string bass and like to replicate it on 5-string bass. For people like me who never really spent time on a 19mm spaced 4-string bass, I don't perceive much advantage at all. I play 18mm because that's the most common spacing on basses I like.

    In an ideal world, I think my favorite is something like 35" scale with 17mm spacing. But most basses with those specs don't have the sound I want, so I tend to play 34" scale with 18mm spacing, which to me isn't ideal, but it's not that far off, and I can adjust.
    MobileHolmes likes this.
  12. Wisebass


    Jan 12, 2017
    Lost in Space
    Hi vindibona1 :)

    When you switch basses, there will always be a ":oops: what 's that?" effect.
    It can take a while to get used to a different neck profile or string spacing.

    In this case, I would stick to the bass I am used to. Don' t force it!
    Return to the new one later, when you don' t need to stress your muscles!


    JRA likes this.
  13. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Always overcompensating Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    Its all mostly preference.
    scuzzy, JRA and Element Zero like this.
  14. inanimate_carb


    Aug 11, 2016
    These are questions only you can answer. There's plenty of players out there using all sorts of scale lengths and string spacings that are getting the job done just fine. Ultimately, the setup that allows you to get the music you hear in your head out to the world in the easiest and most comfortable way is the right one for you. This can vary wildly from player to player.

    Anthony Jackson has been using 19mm to 20mm spacing on his 36" scale six strings for decades. Those measurements are admittedly on the extreme end, but he's a living legend and highly respected by knowledgable bassists. If it works for him.....
    Dr. Cheese likes this.
  15. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    I like 20mm or more because I switch back and forth on upright where my strings are 1 inch apart
    JRA likes this.
  16. roller

    roller Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    35-inch scale doesn't necessarily equate to a "better" low B. I believe that falls on multiple factors making up the design, along with the materials going into the neck, body, bridge and nut.

    I bought into the 35-inch scale years ago... reading everyone's theories made me believe... I purchased a Modulus Quantum 5. I know now the B on my 34-inch Valenti SMOKES the Modulus. My Valenti B is clear, focused and sounds just like a low B should. I was glad to turn loose of the Quantum.

    Additionally, many believe a great P-Bass tone is partially attributed to the 34-inch scale... and I certainly agree.

    Regarding string spacing, I believe that's all personal preference. 19mm feels good to me as I have big mitts... but I could get used to 18 or even 17mm if I needed to.

    Nino Valenti likes this.
  17. There’s not a huge difference between 34” and 35”. There is a noticeable difference in performance between a 34” low b and a “37” like my Dingwall. As far as how long they “feel” different basses hang differently. My 34” warwick thumb bass feels like it’s longer than it is more like a 35”. The musicman bongo I had a few years back was 34” but felt like it was a shorter scale because of how it would hang on me when standing up. My dingwall even having a 37” low b doesn’t feel rediculously long to me. Because it’s a fan fret That 3” difference is basically an inch and a half difference on both the bridge and nut ends so it really doesn’t feel 3 inches longer to me more like half that. I think it’s one of if not the most comfortable basses I’ve had both sitting and standing.

    String spacing is very much a taste thing. To me 5 string necks are typically more comfortable. So for 4 strings I like beefier necks. That tends to mean wider string spacing and I’m fine with playing the bass enough to adjust to the spacing over playing a neck that is uncomfortable. There are a lot of bridges these days that allow you to adjust string spacing as well. The Warwick bridges for example you can get the 3mm-4mm of range out of.
  18. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I have huge hands, I'm actually faster on a P width neck than I am on a J width neck, as it fits my fingers better. Yeah, I can get used to a narrower neck (I have one narrow necked bass), but if I want to play that, I always practice with it for a whole week before a gig, so I'm past the adjustment phase. Still feels like a toy, even after I'm adjusted to it.
  19. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    I switch back and forth between a 35 scale and 34 because of relative string tightness. I prefer to play finger style bass on the 35, slap on the 34. If I had to choose to go with one, I'd probably opt for the 34. I use the same brand strings on my two main basses, the 34" has a nice slinky feel to it for slapping. My basses are set up with near identical string height, I know other factors come into play but from basses I've owned in the past and currently own, that has been my experience. Width and string spacing doesn't really bother me as much even though I have small/medium hands - what does matter is fret width though. My LTD Stream has jumbo frets, I seem most comfortable on medium.
  20. Barticus

    Barticus Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2017
    For me it's a preference thing, I prefer 17-17.5mm string spacing for finger style and slapping... Wider than that feels like I don't have good control and feels like I'm reaching for everything.

    All of my Warwicks and Ibanez have 17-17.5mm spacing, my P Bass is a little wide and its okay, but not a favorite for me. I've played 6 string BTBs with the wide string spacing and didn't care for it, and went with the SR instead.

    So I think a lot depends on hand size and comfort. Longer scale doesn't bother me as much as the wide spacing so I no longer own any basses with the wider neck and nut.