Anyone not like short scale bass sounds?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by basss, Sep 28, 2021.

  1. basss

    basss Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2001
    I've never spent much time with a short scale bass. Everyone seems to gush about extra lows and fat punchy tone. Is it all positive from a tone perspective? I know they are smaller and easier to play. Strictly speaking in terms of sound does anyone prefer long scale and why?
    glocke1 likes this.
  2. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    I think there are too many types of short scale basses for the whole category to have an identifiable tone. If you were to compare a short scale Japanese Fender jazz to a long scale Japanese Fender jazz, I don’t think most people would be able to tell the difference in a blind test. It’s mostly about comfort.
  3. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    Back in the 90s, I had a 33” scale Alembic Series One bass and the only thing missing from that bass was the neck dive. It was all Alembic all the time. Not a typical short-scale bass, nor was anything typical about that bass….. I found it used for a great price and didn’t even consider that it was shorter than other longer Alembics I was familiar with.

    These days, most of my basses are 35” Mike Lull 5-string basses. My first Lull was a 35” bass and I didn’t consider the scale as I checked out and bought the bass and the subsequent Lulls after it. I also have a Stingray SR5 that’s 34” as well as a fretless ESP. I literally think nothing of the different scale lengths when I pick up one bass or the other.

    I’m 63 now and if the need arises to consider shorter basses because of a physical condition later on (Lord Willing) in life, I won’t hesitate to. I do consider the extra length to be advantageous for a few reasons, but I do believe I can get the tone I need from whatever instrument I’m using at the time.
  4. msb


    Jul 3, 2002
    Halifax,N,S. Canada
    Different bass models all sound a little different regardless of scale . The short scales I have sound fine . (I have six) I don’t think the long scales sound better . (I have about a dozen of those)
    I prefer playing short scales these days .
  5. J-Mags

    J-Mags Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2018
    Durham NC
    My Mustang certainly sounds different from my P, despite many similarities in design, and similar strings. I go back and forth about which I prefer. They can approximate each other's sounds but the short scale always has more fundamental, and the long scale always has more upper mids.

    For a while I was preferring the short scale sound. Right now I'm on a long-scale kick.
  6. I love my short scales so that's all I have.

    But if you ask enough on TB you'll inevitably get the opinion that SS's sound different, or worse.

    So many variables that can affect the sound on any bass and any scale. But I'm firmly of the opinion you can find the tone you want with a short scale.
  7. I recently did a soundtrack for a short film, and the only bass I used was my Fender Mustang. The producer I worked with loved the sound of it.

    It just records so well IMO:
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2021
    macmanlou, dkelley, BazzaBass and 7 others like this.
  8. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone

    Feb 23, 2011
    I think I read somewhere that the reason Stanley Clarke plays a short scale, despite his rather huge hands, that by the way handles double bass masterfully as well, was because of the kind of tone he could get from a short scale.

    That said different short scale basses sounds about as differently as different regular 34" scale basses.

    Some will have that characteristic short scale low mids emphasized tone leaning heavily to the fundamental notes, others will have a more harmonically rich tone, though in theory two otherwise identical basses made of the same wood, equipped with the same hardware, electronics and strings, but one of them being a short scale version and the other a regular 34" scale version, the short scale will have a tone that leans heavier on the fundamentals, whereas the tone of the regular 34" will be more harmonically rich, that is in theory at least.

    Still according to ones wishes it is possible to with a short scale bass to either emphasis these short scale characteristics or tone them down emphasizing the harmonic content of the notes played, depending on for example pickup and string choice.

    Personally I mainly play short scale bass for the playing comfortability of it, but I do actually also happen to quite like tone, to me it appears somewhat more focused and tight.

    I guess my main point being that if you want a short scale for the sake of comfortability there are enough great quality short scale basses on the market currently that you ought to be able to find one that also sounds the part, almost regardless of tonal preferences, at very least with the right string choice.
    dkelley, BadJazz and mikewalker like this.
  9. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    My first short scale about 50 years ago was an early '60s Danelectro/Sears Silvertone Model 1444. I still use one at times. I added long scales a bit later and mostly used them until the late '80s when I started using the 1444 more. I continued with both long and short scales for about another 10 years gradually switching over to shorts.

    I decided to try other shorts and primarily used them because I found they control dead spots much better than my long scales and are much more comfortable for me to play with no tone penalty.

    I'll take my short pencil necked Hofner Club bass, DIY Mutant Bronco or DIY Mutant Mustang over a long scale any day. Both sound great, play easy and each weighs just under 5 lbs.
  10. jd56hawk

    jd56hawk Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    I prefer long-scale basses for several reasons.
    First, some people suggested I look for a short-scale when I started learning and I wanted to prove them wrong.
    Second, more choices, far more choices, even today with more short-scale basses to choose from than ever before, long-scale still rules when it comes to the sheer number of different basses available.
    However, there are several short-scale basses I'd play if I were forced to...
    All excellent basses, all about great tone, too.
    Compared to long-scale bass tone?
    It's all good.

    Last edited: Sep 28, 2021
  11. mrperkolator


    Jan 4, 2020
    I think that because of the slightly shorter scale, there is a difference in string vibration at a given pitch. This may cause the player to play slightly differently, or cause a slight setup change vs. other scale lengths. I play on a 30" Gretsch, and I love it. I do EQ it differently than a 34". Very easy to play.
  12. BarfanyShart


    Sep 19, 2019
    DC Metro
    I tune down to C on a 30" shorty, and I think most people (including myself) are going to want more color and sustain on that low string. I'm very attracted to that Ibanez multiscale shorty, because it seems like a little extra length is needed for tuning down to B territory.
  13. Marko 1

    Marko 1 Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    I had a Fender Mustang years ago, and I liked everything about it, but when I went to fivers (not custom builds), for mostly obvious reasons, I can't enjoy the short-scale experience.
  14. blastoff


    Sep 5, 2007
    way out west
    me. i have had various really nice old fender mustangs and musicmasters and i really like the idea of them, and they’re fun to play as a sort of novelty, but…
    i find the tone sort of too bassy and not very interesting, which according to this thread seems to be accepted.
    but more than that,i notice that i have to put in MORE effort to make a SS talk.
    with a standard P bass i feel i just stand there and pluck and the bass does all the hard work.
    again, i like them and keep a few in my collection just because they're cool, but FOR ME, i prefer the authority and, sure, rich harmonics, of a 34”
    Mili and Alivefor5 like this.
  15. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's

    I started on short scale many many years ago with a borrowed EB-2, thuddy by nature, then bough my Hagstrom HII. Not thuddy at all. Started playing long scales about 20 years ago and am now going back to short scales, and have tried many of them and own several. So much easier for my old fingers.

    I am convinced that the reason short scales have a reputation for thuddiness is because short scale strings were hard to find and users just installed the regular long-scale strings and cut them down. Since strings are wound at final tension the strings were never pulled to proper tension and therefore were muddy. This same result exists for medium scale basses, but it is not as drastic.

    String makers are now getting hip to the increased popularity of the shorties, and making better strings. I have Short Scale T.I. Flats on my Mustang P/J and it just sounds fantastic live or recorded. I have LaBella Flats on a shorty P Bass. BOTH sound 98% like my USA P with Flats. I will get another good shorty soon - maybe another Mustang P/J or a Sire U5 perhaps to have one with round and look for the best short scale roundwounds. (Dr Sunbeams - where are you???) Meanwhile I will continue using my Jaguar SS for the round sound, and the SS strings will get better and better.
  16. Low8

    Low8 Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    I don't know if I could go short-scale exclusively... but as another tool in the box? Oh, you bet. They're a blast to play and I love the way they sound. They give you a little different flavor, feel, tone, etc. vs. a longer scale. I'll still lean on a 34-inch scale bass for most of my playing but definitely enjoy the shorts.

    For me, it's similar to having a truck or SUV as a daily driver and occasionally enjoying a ride in a sports car or jumping on a motorcycle. Shorties are a breed apart and a heckuva lotta fun. YMMV.
    Volker Kirstein and lomo like this.
  17. Looks like my Soundcloud link wasn't working. Let me try it a different way:

  18. dalkowski

    dalkowski Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    I'm a shorty partisan but play whatever TF feels and sounds best to you because who cares.
    Killing Floor likes this.
  19. akukulich

    akukulich Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2007
    Low Country, SC
    I've always played long-scale basses. After playing a Nordstrand Acinonyx, I've been tempted to pick one up. I doubt it will replace my CS Jazz Bass, but it might be fun to have around.
  20. lucas303


    Mar 11, 2019
    There's about as much commonality in the tone of all the short scale basses in the world as there is among all the long/standard scale basses...tons of variety within each category. Trying to make comparisons in such broad terms isn't going to be very useful.
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