Am I lazy, or restricting myself by preferring short scale basses?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Stuey3D, Dec 11, 2021.

  1. Stick with short scale, this is what you are more comfortable with and playing the best.

    177 vote(s)
  2. Try and go back to a long scale, you’ll have more choice in the long run. Shorties are for kids!

    19 vote(s)
  1. Stuey3D


    Nov 23, 2021
    Hi all, I apologise if there are countless threads on this topic but I would like some advice from the community regarding my bass playing situation.

    I am a new player, not looking to gig or anything just to play along at home for fun. I’ve been on an off trying to learn since Nov 2019 using a combination of Rocksmith and online tabs, also prior to lockdown I was doing face to face lessons as well. Due to mental health issues there have been large gaps in my playing but I have really started to play a lot more in the last few couple of months.

    I have amassed a little collection of basses trying to find the one I am comfortable with as I seemed to hit a wall and that combined with my mental health issues just put me off playing.
    One of my earlier bass purchases was a Harley Benton PB-Shorty 30” scale bass and that was the bass that showed me I much prefer short scales. I have since started playing an Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro and for me that is the one, it is a 28.6” scale and has a really fast narrow neck.

    Since switching to the Mikro my Rocksmith scores have improved, playing through a headphone amp my playing sounds cleaner and I really feel like I’m progressing. One of my favourite songs has multiple fast A 3h5 D 3h5 sections during the verses and I really struggled with that on a long scale but on the Mikro that has really cleaned up.

    I always told myself I’d learn on the short scale and when I was comfortable move to a long scale, but the more I play the Mikro the less I think about playing my long scale basses. I recently repaired my full size P bass clone which I borrowed some parts out of temporarily and when I put her back together and tried to play I really felt so uncomfortable, even simply reaching over to tune her up was uncomfortable.

    Now my best mate who purchased me Rocksmith and got me started playing keeps saying I’m lazy for playing a short scale, and that I’m making excuses for playing a short scale instead of sticking to a long scale. He also has a short scale but he alternates depending on what bass happens to be near him at the time, he doesn’t have a preference.

    I told him I really struggle with stretching and dexterity in my fingers but he keeps going I should keep on with the long scale as my fingers will eventually stretch through practice, he says gymnasts had to train for ages to be able to do the splits and I do see his point. However my counter point is that you wouldn’t expect a pro runner to wear equipment too big for them as that will slow them down and they wont hit their best.

    Now this wouldn’t normally bother me as my mate is very opinionated and he has turned around on a few occasions and said how proud he is of the progress I’ve made and how I am better than him at playing, so he takes with one hand gives with the other.
    What has resonated with me for the longest though is my face to face instructor also told me to stick with the long scale as I’d be restricting myself with the short, I started lessons with my full scale GSR180 but one lesson I took in my Shorty and I did feel more comfortable but the instructor said to keep with the larger bass. Now this is coming from a professional teacher which has always stuck with me.

    I am a 6ft2 heavy bloke and it probably looks a bit weird someone my size playing a bass so small, but my issue is that whilst I have big hands they just aren’t that flexible or dexterous. Even on the 28.6” basses my 11 year old daughter can do the frets 1-4 stretch easier than I can, my fingers don’t line up properly with the frets, and my pinky’s curl back towards the ring finger so I cant stretch them straight so in a lot of my playing I naturally avoid using them. I have been forcing myself to use my pinky on easier songs that I have memorised but I am finding it hard. Now my mate says this is an excuse, but it really is a problem for me and that is why i prefer the Mikro.

    However when looking at basses the only 28.6” scale basses are the Mikro, the Minion, and the Mini P and these seem to be marketed towards kids. So am I artificially limiting myself or getting myself into bad habits by playing a bass so small?
  2. I'm a short scale advocate who also struggles with a full scale bass. I have one and am "attempting" to learn how to play it, but a 30" scale just seems like home to me.

    Short scales are not for kids. That myth has been debunked.
    B-Mac, TempoGuy, naokiman and 13 others like this.
  3. Stuey3D


    Nov 23, 2021
    I agree that short scales aren’t for kids, hell a short scale was good enough for Macca and he is one of the most iconic players in the world.

    But when you see a lot of the cheaper 30” basses, and especially the 28.6” scales all the marketing and the online reviews and videos all say “these are perfect for the smaller player, kids, or guitarists looking to lay down bass lines” never just these are awesome basses for anyone.
  4. That's all propaganda/noise. Ignore it.
  5. Stuey3D


    Nov 23, 2021
    I definitely think that more manufacturers need to make 28.6” basses and string manufacturers need to get making more choice in strings.

    I’ve found string choice the biggest limiting factor for the short scale, I’ve managed to find a 5 string set to get my 2nd Mikro tuned for BEAD but it was bloody hard work in the UK/Europe the US seems to have a little more choice but not a massive amount.
  6. J_Bass

    J_Bass Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2008
    Porto, Portugal
    That doesn't make any sense. Who says that doesn't have a clue of what he/she's talking about.

    Are violins for children? Are grown men forbidden to play violin? What about mandolin? Guitar? Are guitar for children? Those strings are certainly cute. And that little neck.


    Play what you like. The "short scale is not a real bass" is one of the stupidest bass myths out there.

    Ask your friend if he knows who Stanley Clarke is.
  7. Titch

    Titch Guest

    Nov 30, 2021
    I've got various scaled basses. 98% of the time I don't go past the 9th frett.
    I guess it's a case of your own aspirations and genre tastes.
    leftybass54 and Stuey3D like this.
  8. LadyLoveStingRay5


    Jul 17, 2004
    Play what YOU like and LIKE what you play.:bassist:

    Sometimes less is more.;)

    Don’t believe the hype. :rollno:
  9. I struggled with this thought process for years as well. Bought a short scale 5 years ago, loved it but didn't want to limit myself (or give up on my really good long scales I already had) and kept trying to get good on long scale. Even got comfortable with 1-2-4 fingerings for playing on scale without stretching.

    I can play a long scale fine but below the 5th or even 7th fret it is just simply not as comfortable.

    I finally made my decision to just accept short scale is what is comfortable for me this summer and I couldn't be happier. Sold all but one of my long scales and got a really nice short scale. They do exist. EBMM short scale Stingray.

    Now I just play my bass instead of always fighting it or having to spend all my focus on form. I just play and couldn't be happier.

    I will admit though I am really not happy about limited string choice. Maybe one day that will change. I play a lot of Rocksmith as well and like a lot of songs in Drop C. Not an easy tuning to find strings for in short scale. Low tunings us why I still have my one Long Scale bass. My new shorty can handle the tuning but the C string is really loose.

    There is that new Ibanez EHB1000s though which has a tuning system that allows for any string to be used. Hopefully more short scales will have something similar so us short scale users can use any string like everyone else.
    leftybass54 and Stuey3D like this.
  10. For me, the great thing about music is that you can make whatever you want with whatever gear you want. So if that short scale inspires you the most, rock on.
  11. Stuey3D


    Nov 23, 2021
    If you are ok with flatwounds then Dunlop & Labella do short scale strings over .105, I have Dunlops on one of my Mikro’s Tuned BEAD they are 65/85/105/125 and they feel decent at BEAD and even better when I tuned them up to D drop C for Machine Head. I also had them down to Ab Db Ab Db for Staind, they were enough for Rocksmith to register the notes but not something I would like to play full time.

    On my main Mikro I have D’addario Chromes 40/60/80/100 tuned EADG and I’ve had those pretty low as the Chromes have some nice tension, also bear in mind my Mikro’s are 28.6” so you EBMM will be 30” so even tighter than mine. Amazingly the first set of Chromes I had prior to my upgrade binge I managed to get to the same Ab tuning I mentioned above and scored 98% on the Staind song I was playing. Luckily it was easy as the strings were basically hanging off the fretboard at the time.

    Dunlop also have a 5 string set which is 40-120 I think which may be better for more tunings above B, I imagine nice and tight for E standard but could drop nicely to C if needed. My GSR180 long scale has D’addario balanced tension which has a .120 E although I have left it for DGCF but it was perfectly playable at E standard and felt nice and tight.
    Andre678 likes this.
  12. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Im slowly gravitating towards short scale as I get older, and arthritis makes long stretches painful. I think you do sacrifice some clarity and punch on the E string, and I havent played a short scale 5 with a great B string, but if it feels right, and you enjoy it, thats all that matters. Plenty of short scale players out there, and the Mikro sounds great. Im building a 32" scale now, hoping its a good compromise between finger stretch and string tension that will get me back to playing without pain. If not, I'll build a short scale!
    Stuey3D likes this.
  13. sedan_dad


    Feb 5, 2006
    Play what you want. You don't need permission from me.
    DJ Dru and nonohmic like this.
  14. With regards to short scale basses, you do you. But have you looked at your wrist angle yet? If you play with a bent wrist, that severely limits your ability to stretch. Try splaying you fingers as far as they go with a straight wrist, and then bend your wrist backwards. You'll see your fingers automatically tuck in. I don't know if this is what's going on in your case, but I just wanted to throw it out there...
    Stuey3D and scott sinner like this.
  15. Oddly


    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    Your friend and that instructor are both, frankly, idiots.
    You're clearly happier and more comfortable playing a short scale. Keep at it.

    There's plenty of professional players out there very happy and not one bit limited by a short scale.
    Stanley Clarke, Garry Tallent (E. Street Band), Jack Bruce (Cream),Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads), Bill Wyman (Stones), Paul McCartney.
  16. Marihino


    Mar 25, 2010
    ... Justin Meldal-Johnsen, Nick Campbell and countless others.

    Your friend sounds like having ego issues, praising you for being a better player in shorter time, but condescending on trivial things like gear preference.

    Not too sure about the teacher either - would they be equally unhappy if you showed up with a 36"? A fan fret multiscale? A 6-string? Is their job teaching you to play bass or making you a copy of themselves?
    TempoGuy, leftybass54, Oddly and 3 others like this.
  17. Gizmot


    Mar 22, 2009
    Pittsburgh area
    In 2020, I was in Amsterdam and did a double-triple fall down a staircase and since then, I’ve had three surgeries on my left shoulder. After my first surgery, I found out I literally couldn’t play my MusicMan bass even sitting down and the bass pushed down to the right. After two more surgeries and months of physical therapy, I’m getting better but I still don’t have the range of motion I used to have. About 6 months ago, I bought a SBMM Stingray short scale and I can play it comfortably. This bass is okay and I’ve got it and my EA amp dialed in so my sound is pretty good. This weekend I’m going to get out one of my regular scale basses and see if I’ve progressed enough to be able to play one again. Although there are some nice short scale basses like Serek, Alembic and a few others, your choices are pretty limited. My opinion is that if you can’t play a regular scale bass, you don’t have a choice; if you can play a regular scale bass and just need to get used to one, you should take the time and expend the effort to do it. After all, if you can play a regular scale bass, you can play a short scale even more comfortably. Good luck
    Stuey3D likes this.
  18. 31HZ

    31HZ Glad to be here Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2006
    Central VA, USA
    The tool is basically irrelevant.

    The music is all that matters.

    Your friend has bought into the "pay to play" hierarchy that makes people buy certain kinds of gear just so that an activity "looks right" -- an outlook that pervades Western consumption culture, and which excludes authenticity of expression while favoring the disposability of a bland, store-bought sameness.

    Rock that Mikro like it's the only bass in the world, and tell your buddy to stuff it.
  19. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    Play the bass that is comfortable. Play the bass that makes you want to pick it up.

    Oh. . . . and stop stretching. If your fingers are struggling to reach the notes, move your hand so they can hit the notes more easily. So don't stretch.
  20. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    It simply depends on what you want to achieve long term.
    When you want to play a regular 34" longscale bass, you don't really learn that by playing a short scale.

    You do learn rhythm, groove, harmonics, fretting with one hand and plucking with the other and all that jazz on any scale length, sure. That will be a bit of grease in the gears when you make the transition - because you will just have to transfer that stuff to a longer fretboard. But a gymnast does not learn to do the splits by jogging and by lifting weights. Sure, it's better to do that than to sit in a deck chair and eat fast food, because someone fit will have a better starting point.

    I see two possible answers here:
    1. When you want to stay on a shorty because you like it, just do so. Whatever floats your boat. Rocksmith surely does not mind scale length.

    2. When your long term goal is to play a longscale, start playing one now. It'll be uncomfortable at first. You won't be able to play without looking and some stretches will be quite something. I mean, pass me a sub 33" shorty, put on a song I know well and watch me struggle. My hands are used to 34-36" scale lengths. When I play past the 10th fret on a short scale, it's all mushy because the frets are so close together.
    Take away my longscales and force me to play a shorty for a few weeks and I'll be able to ride that stump of a neck just fine.
    Once your hand has developed a bit more strength and reach, it'll be easier and progress will begin to accelerate.

    The only way to be sure would be to lock up the shorties and learn the longscale by playing nothing else until it feels comfortable and is committed to muscle memory so you can play it without looking.
    Once you're there and you can play a longscale just fine, you can dig out the shortscale bass and play that.
    It might feel like a bass, only a wee bit to short. It might feel like finally coming home from a long journey.
    You might want to get rid of those basses then or you might want to never play a longscale again.
    The only way to judge a 34" bass is to master it (or to give up due to medical reasons that forbid playing this scale length).
    ratdoc, dasherf17 and Stuey3D like this.