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Changing scale length

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Samophlange, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. I've been playing a Pedulla for years, which are 34" scale.
    I'm currently in the process of getting a Pete Hilton bass, and by his suggestion, I'm going with 35 or 36" scale to allow the low B to really resonate.

    I''m curious if anyone out there has done a change from one scale to the other after playing a particular instrument for a long time.

    Its not a drastic change (30 to 36), just 34 up to 35/36. But, I'm curious on the opinions of 36" scale, as I'm unfamiliar with them.

    Any thoughts on the switch? scale? etc?
  2. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    I routinely go between 34" and 35". You'll definitely feel the difference in the lower frets unless you have no muscle memory. It takes mere seconds for the brain to reset when changing over.
  3. The belief that scale length needs to be >34" to allow for a tight, focused B is a myth. Yes, I've played plenty of 34" and up with floppy Bs also. But I own a 32" five string with a super B. I let a stranger who was in my home to buy an amp play it, and he was amazed.

    If the instrument is built solidly using solid (and dense) materials, a tight B is possible.

    But to answer your question, it is easy to bounce between scale lengths IMO. I'm more affected by position of the bridge and where the neck meets the body. Look for a picture and description of Zentner's (sp?) 38" Carl Thompson here somewhere, or Les Claypool's Rainbow. The bridge is WAY back compared to "normal" thus bringing fret #1 closer to your shoulder.
  4. dralionux


    Feb 3, 2009
    Savannah, GA
    I'm playing both my SX Short Scale Fretless (30") and my Peavey Axcelerator 5 (35") without problem.
  5. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nope, not really an issue. I play two 5ers, a Yamaha BB415 (34") and a custom John Toon bass (35"), and I barely notice the difference in scale length. WEIGHT I notice, but not scale length.
  6. I switch back & forth from a 34 to a 35. Can't tell the difference, really. When you do the measurements, it works out to 1/2" extra length on either side of the 12th fret...and that 1/2" is then broken down between ALL the frets from the nut to the 12th and from the 12th to the bridge. So, it's very negligible for playability, but makes a big difference on tension.
  7. I have both. I like the feel of 35" and what it does for the B string, but don't care for how it changes the timbre of the other strings.
  8. Thanks for the thoughts.
    I trust Pete to build an awesome instrument with playability being paramount. I'm just a worrier.
    I suppose that when you think of a change from 34 to 36, its alot less shocking then going from an old 30" to the new size.

    Can't wait to get it! Guess I better send that deposit. :p
  9. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    I have switched before with no problem, I personally wouldn't fret too much about it.

    Also, in regards to scale length and B string. Yes it does have a huge impact. Though you can have a great, responsive, and tight open B on a 34" bass, it will not ring clear with proper sustain unless the bass is a longer scale. The 35" is slightly better but it takes 37" (Dingwall) to get a B that has clarity and sustain all the way up the fretboard. My Carvin has a 34" B and it is great but around the 12 the fret it starts getting overtones, really though do you need to B string in the second octave?
  10. Sid Fang

    Sid Fang Reformed Fusion Player Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2008
    I had nothing but 34" scale basses for 20-odd years, but my first 5-string was a Schecter Stiletto Elite, which is 35" scale and a tight string spacing. It was harder for me to adjust to than I had expected, perhaps because both scales changed at once.
  11. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I notice virtually no difference between the sound and playability of the B strings between my basses with 34-inch necks and those with 35. It depends almost entirely on which strings you use. My Sadowskys are all 34-inch scale, my Laklands are both 35-inch and my F Basses are both 34½-inch. They all have great-sounding B strings and none are "floppy." Well, maybe except for the UV70, on which I put Thomastik-Infeld PowerBass strings, which require a soft touch. But that's just about technique.
  12. I don't really notice much of a difference when switching between my various scale lengths of fretted and fretless basses. I'm currently spending most of my time on a 34" scale fretted 6 and a 32" scale fretless 7.
  13. jsbarber


    Jun 7, 2005
    San Diego
    The increase in span from the 1st fret to the 2nd fret between a 34" and 35" is 0.053", and the increase from 1st fret to 4th fret is 0.150". So, I agree that the change is small (but not necessarily irrelevant depending on the ability of your hand to span the frets). There are many less conspicuous changes between two instruments that can affect playability (e.g. neck shape, position of the neck and nut relative to the body, string tension, etc.) that are not quoted in any bass specs. The fact that the scale length is specified draws our attention to it, and tends to cause people to attribute all differences in playability between two instruments to the scale length difference.


  14. Most likely, I'll go with a 36". If I'm going to make a change, I might as well get the most benefit out of it.
  15. Zentner

    Zentner Supporting Member

    I started with a 35, then got a bunch of 34's, and now I have a bit of everything.... 29 3/4", 30", 33 1/4", 34" and 38"; soon I'll have a 36" scale too.

    I have different tools for different jobs, and I play my '68 ric differently than my '73 ric because one's got 43-89 thomastiks, and one's got 45-105 rotos. I really feel that you need to play every instrument the way it wants to be played, and a longer scale length will certainly tie in to that.

    For me, I think a longer scale B just allows you to use a slightly lighter guage of string. Lighter strings = more string movement = more fatness... (in my experience, or for what I perceive fatness to be). The catch is- every bass is different, and to arbitrarily say that a 33" B is fatter than a 35 "B because it's shorter so there's more string movement is not the case. Vice versa as well- not all 35" B's are thicker and have more definition than 33's. I like my 38" B ALOT, but I'd like to try it with a .120 just to see what it does- maybe it'll lose all its definition, maybe it'll get fatter instead of floppier, I don't know. As with everything in music and 'tone chasing', it seems like the most fitting and often frustrating answer is: 'it depends.'

    Play everything. Buy what you like.
  16. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I hope the sonic benefit (if any) outweighs the change in playability. Frankly, I doubt that it will. How many 36-inch-scale basses do you see on stage? There's really no need for it.
  17. I've been playing 25 years, and have smaller hands than most, and still have a little trouble with 34" scale basses. I've tried several 35" scale basses, and it was a s t r e t c h.

    I'm with Munji - I just don't see needing a 36" for a good sounding B not to mention the fact that all your other strings will be higher tension as well.

    It will also limit the amount of available string choices you have.
  18. I like the idea of using a thinner string with 36" scale. My 35" scale Conklin 6 has an amazing B string with a .127 taperwound string. It sounds very clean very high up the fingerboard.
  19. Green1

    Green1 Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2010
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Agree here.....I went from a 37 inch scale on my Dingwall to a 34 inch scale on my Nordstrand. Both have great B strings, but the Dingwall B string is not the be all end all that alot of guys would have you believe.....:bag:......no offense to the Dingwall owners, they are fine instruments, it just comes down to preference.
  20. 73jbass

    73jbass Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2004
    One of Pedullas selling points has always been a strong B string. Anyone that says you cant get a good B on a 34" scale bass either doesn't know what they are talking about,or is trying to sell you something else.

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