Benefits of short scale basses?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by dezisapunk, Oct 10, 2019.

  1. dezisapunk


    Oct 8, 2019
    I've been looking around this forum, and there seems to be a lot of people who love short scale basses. Whats the benefits of them over normal scale basses?
  2. TonyRo

    TonyRo Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2017
    Cleveland, OH
    They're smaller, which means: easier to hold and maneuver on your person, less of a reach for those smaller fret numbers, they weigh less, they're easier to travel with, the list goes on.
  3. bassdude51

    bassdude51 "You never even called me by my name." Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    Umm, they are easier to play (isn't that right Sir Paul?). If you are a low register player, what more do you want? For aging bassists with carpal tunnel and or arthritis or who wants to prevent those 2 things.............short scale is is therapeutic and preventative.

    You can play faster too.


    Bill Wyman............Stones! V below.

  4. Volker Kirstein

    Volker Kirstein Blippy the Wonder Slug

    Because of physics, short scales have more fundamental, and less harmonic vibrations. This results in that classic "tubby" sound.

    They're fun and easy to play. To me, it feels more "natural", I'm always stretching on a long scale.
  5. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    To be perfectly honest - I wouldn't say a short scale bass provides any real benefits over a long scale one. I would say that some shortys are better for some people, but, there are too many variations in the basses (and people) to make any kind of a blanket statement. Yeah, some shortys weigh less than some long scale ones; but not always. For example;
    DC-59 2.JPG this 34" scale Dano DC59 weighs almost 3 lbs. less than Lefty Duke 2.JPG this short scale, headless Kramer Duke. As for fast? The Dano's neck is fast as a snake...the fastest, smoothest neck of any bass I own, in fact. Yes, some shorty's can be easier for some people to play; OTOH, some of them - like
    '94 Gretsch  G6119B-2.JPG this Gretsch Broadkaster - are actually harder to play (for me, anyway) than any of my 34" scale basses...harder, even, than this '13 T-Bird.jpg notoriously "hard to play" long scale bass. So, I guess I'd have to say that some short scale basses are "better" for some people, but - the person that thinks that all short scale basses are light, fast, and easy to play? Well, he's in for a rude shock... It very much depends on the person and the bass. Personally? I have 24 basses at the moment, and a third of them are short scales. Some of them I bought because they were short scales, and filled a particular spot in my herd; the others - like the Kramer Duke? That's just how things worked out.. My basses simply are what they are, and I have no real preference as far as scale length goes. I have 2 basses that live on stands next to my amp;
    '73 Ric 4001-2.JPG Tapewound Rogue 2.jpg these two. And, they both get about equal playing time...:cool:
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
  6. FDR Jones

    FDR Jones Inactive

    Apr 7, 2018
    I don't think there is anything magical about the 34" scale that makes it some kind of gold standard. Leo could've just as easily decided 33.2" or 35.6" was the best scale length. Different folks are going to prefer different scale lengths for different reasons. That said, most people who like short scale basses like them because they find them easier to play.
  7. Trouztrouz


    Feb 6, 2013
    The primary advantage is that the frets are nearer to one another and therefore have a reduced tendency toward loneliness.
  8. Mushroo


    Apr 2, 2007
    Find out for yourself! Here is a fun experiment you can do right now:.
    Take your regular 34" bass. Tune the strings down a whole step to DGCF. Put a capo at the 2nd fret. Congratulations! You kind of sort of have a 30" short scale. Try playing some of your favorite licks and riffs in this tuning. Do you like it? If so, you might be a good candidate for a short scale bass! Head on down to the local music store and test drive some shorties. :)
  9. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    For me the most important advantage of the short scales of my acquaintance is that they control dead/hot spots much much better than the long scales of my acquaintance.
    RocknRay likes this.
  10. 12BitSlab

    12BitSlab Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2016
    Liberty Township
    If one is forcibly drawn into a black hole, a long scale bass will undergo “spaghettification” before a short scale bass.

    Also, they tend to be lighter and easier to play for SOME people.

    Lastly, if one is playing a gig on a very small stage, a short scale is less likely to bang into a cymbal or knock into someone’s head.
    MeLikeBass, kjp360 and mikewalker like this.
  11. eJake


    May 22, 2011
    New Orleans
    They make me look huge!!
  12. Nebula24


    Nov 23, 2017
    Norman, OK
    I just like how it feels. Comfy. Natural.

    Had a few different full scales as a kid and never stuck with playing. One day (decades later) noticed I liked guitar size but wanted to still play bass. Would dork on guitars like they were basses and wanted to keep playing. Found a local shorty and yes, I wanted to get back into bass playing. Cant put it down now 2 years I play more now than I ever did all thanks to different scales.

    Didnt really know shorties or even medium scale existed as a kid (if I remember right). Just thought all basses mostly the same (not a lot of variety locally preNet). Didnt even know of different strings. Lol. So stopped playing for years as long scale sat unplayed until I realized shortys existed..... :(

    Even though I prefer shorties i still try any new bass i havent seen before at local store. Love trying em all. But shorties....ah love em.

    Wish I liked full many at my local stores..vs the same 3 or so shorties. And having to buy strings online because local is all long scale...uggggfl. Would have loved to bond full scale and not lose years of practice/learning/enjoyment...or it wasnt meant to be no matter then scale...<shrugs> but at least I'm playing now.

    Eb0 got me back into playing. So happy a jetsons jr showed up in my town (enjoyed em visually on website but I am so neck picky)..meant to be....postponed my mustang acquisition?.... ears really dont notice difference once add in amps and strings etc. And never had floppy string issue. All based on feels.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
  13. osonu


    Aug 5, 2013
    Las Vegas
    Just a note to those who might just be looking for an easier to play, frets closer together, less of a reach bass - I can't imagine a short scale bass being any easier to play than a 5 string bass played between the 7th (or even the 5th) and 12th (or even 14th) frets. Just something to think about
    Max Bogosity likes this.
  14. tjh


    Mar 22, 2006
    … some players that double on 6 string electric or acoustic guitar as well as play bass find the shorter scale more like what they are used to …

    .. I have very large hands, and find myself stumbling on 30" scales a bit … but it may just be that 45-50 years on 34" scale has me more comfortable there ...
  15. I jump back and forth between different basses so scale isn't really a concern. For me the shorties I play were purchased because of their particular tonal characteristics, not their scale.
    ajkula66 likes this.
  16. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Guest

    Oct 1, 2011
    the main reason I went ss is shoulder issues. The shorter neck means less shoulder pain when playing in first position or reaching to grab a tuner.

    Have to say though, for me, short scale + headless is really where its at. All the other ss benefits plus light weight, perfect balance, no stretching for tuners, tuning stability, fits in a guitar gig bag.

  17. rockscott


    Aug 28, 2010
    They are more comfortable to play for long sets, sitting or standing. I play shorts exclusively these days. I did discover on this journey that you need to spend some bucks if you want really nice shortscales. The cheap shortscales have week E string signals and very limited tonal range. I have settled into shortscales comfortably with a birdsong short bass, a gibson sg and a vintage fender mustang (japan built circa 1997)
  18. staurosjohn

    staurosjohn Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2010
    Nottingham, MD
    This is extremely profound... I’ve never considered this cerebral of a symbiotic dynamic... mind blown... entire course of day (maybe life) altered!! :jawdrop:
    Trouztrouz, RocknRay and Oddly like this.
  19. That's a gorgeous bass! Mine looks like its fatter, rounder sibling (mine's 34'' scale).

    Now with all the recent hype/love about the new Mustang / Jaguar shorties, I might be tempted to go all the way and get a headless soon as I can figure out a way to cram even more gear in my apartment.

    ThinCrappyTone likes this.
  20. dalkowski

    dalkowski Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    Thumpy, comfy, fun.

    (I committed to shorties after one too many times playing "Green Onions" made me want to chop off my left hand. I need my left hand.)
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