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Anybody care to explain "scale"?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Skel, Apr 6, 2006.

  1. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    I don't have a clue about what "scale" means when it comes to bass guitars. I see things like 24.xx scale, short scale, what does this mean?

    Thanks - Skel
  2. afiaowo


    Jan 9, 2006
    Basically, it's the distance between the nut and the bridge.
  3. Schwaa


    Feb 25, 2006
    I think most bases tend to be 34" scale (forgive me if I'm wrong :) )

    That's the length from the nut to the bridge.

    I'm looking at getting a 35" real soon. Suppose to help keep the lower B string tight.

    most guitars seem to be in the 24" scale.
  4. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    This is nice and simple! Thanks guys! I don't really care what the scale is I guess - I trust the manufacturers to know what they're doing.

  5. BobWestbrook

    BobWestbrook Mr.

    Mar 13, 2006
    Philly suburb
    Most basses are long scale - 34". 35" is considered extra long scale, 32" is medium scale, and 30" is short scale. Many 5 and 6 strings are extra long scale, to give the low B string as much length as possible.

    It will make a difference when you buy strings, and of course it makes a difference in the way the bass feels, plays, and sounds.

    I learned to play on a Fender Mustang as a teenager (short scale), and that is still my preference.
  6. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    Just for the record, the most precise way to measure your scale length it measure from the nut to the 12th fret, and multiply it by 2.

  7. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
  8. If THAT figure is different than from the nut to the bridge you need another bass!!
  9. sb69coupe


    Aug 9, 2004
    Raleigh NC
    Actually, the nut-to-12th fret distance is different than the nut-to-bridge distance depending on the saddle location being used to compensate for the intonation on the given string. The distance from the nut to the 12th fret is exactly half the scale length.
  10. I find short scales easier to play, unless you have big hands. But short scales usually require slightly thicker strings to get good intonation, thereby making them generally sound thicker and less clear/tight
  11. jim1457


    Mar 29, 2006
    Honolulu Hawaii
    Mark, you're one of those "mad scientist" types, aren't you. But I'll play along, shouldn't you measure from the 12th fret to the bridge? As if it mattered?
  12. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    No, it is much easier to measure from the nut to the 12th fret. The nut is fixed and the 12th fret is fixed. But the bridge moves around to correct for intonation like Mark mentioned.
  13. jim1457


    Mar 29, 2006
    Honolulu Hawaii
    Oh, ok.

    I thought maybe it was the part of the string that gets used that matters.

    As if any of this does ...??? ... ?!?
  14. Pennydreadful

    Pennydreadful Goin out West

    Jun 13, 2005
    Arlington, Texas
    Assuming you've got a long scale and a short scale with the same number of frets, the frets will be closer together on the short scale, making it easier to play for some folks. I prefer a short or medium scale myself.
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Or not - if you have big fingers ...

    I actually prefer long scale bass guitars, now I have started playing Double Bass and I could never really get on with short scale basses as my fingers are too big really - it just doesn't feel right! :meh:

    The other thing is that some basses have 24 frets or more and others have less - say... 21 - and this makes a big difference to how the neck feels!!

    So - even though basses may look similar from a photo - they can feel radically different, when you actually get to play them as the "scale" (sic) of a picture is not usually apparent.

    This is one of the many reason why you should always try a bass extensively before you buy and why it can be disastrous to buy a bass unseen - so a bass may look great in a photo - but feel completely wrong in your hands! :meh:

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