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Bass Versus Guitar Scale

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by paniak17, Mar 25, 2004.

  1. y is it that guitars have shorter frets and produce the same pitch with a shorter length when bassist use bigger frets? is it that the tension of the strings are different, because i know that guitar strings are very loose. also y is a guitars tuning E-A-D-G-B-E, shouldn't it be E-A-D-G-C-F?
  2. seanm

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

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    The bass guitar is tuned an octave lower.
  3. of course it is, everyone knows that
  4. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    Away with ye! Moved.
  5. seanm

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

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Ok, my answer was a bit flip, so I will attempt a better one. You are on the right track with string tension. The longer the string length, the higher the tension. If you attempted to detune a guitar an entire octave, the strings would be so loose that they would not be playable. So by making the string length longer, we get higher tension for the same pitch. So a bass must have a longer scale length to work. Since the frets are a division of the scale, they must be further apart. Simple physics.
  6. Interesting stuffs. For a guitar, the high E string and low E string have the same fret width, its just the size (and maybe the tension) of the string that is different. The bass low E is one octave lower than the guitar's low E, why can't the same theory be applied again just to make the strings bigger and keep the fret width?

    I am also wondering about short scale basses, do they use the same strings and do the strings have the same tension? compared to a normal bass.
  7. seanm

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

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    The thicker the string the higher the tension. And note that having the same fret distance for the high and low E is a tradeoff. See the Dingwall bass for an example of a system that tries to compensate for the different strings.

    Because the strings would have to be so thick the neck couldn't handle it. Plus very thick strings would be hard to play.

    Short scale basses can use the same strings, the strings just have less tension. Most short scale basses (I have two) tend to have cheap necks, so if you use thicker strings to compensate for the shorter scale, you run into neck issues. I literaly use long scale strings just because short scale strings are hard to find locally.
  8. Wow, learned something new today, fully understood. The dingwalls bass will sound the best? But would those strange frets be so hard to get used to? somehow remind me of those ergnomonic keyboards... hehe

    ahah, now I understand!

    So actually there will be some sound difference between long and short scale basses, because of the thickness and the tension of the strings?
  10. seanm

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

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Three things affect string tension:
    • length
    • mass
    • frequency
    For a most bass string sets, we can assume that mass goes up as diameter goes up. The reason the A string is higher than the E string is due to the differing frequency. Frequency affects the tension more than the mass. The string tension applet shows that a .100 string tuned to E will have more tension than a .080 string tuned to the same E.

    If the length and frequency are the same, a thicker string has more tension.
  11. The reason bass frets are larger is to compensate for the larger scale length. Pythagoras suggested that notes are actually subdivisions of a string. What is important to realize though is that the ratio between first and second fret width on guitar is the same as that on bass.
  12. hehe, it will me more understandable to put it like this

    Three things affect string frequency:

    Cool, this is a very good theory lesson for me. :)

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