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Deciding on a scale

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jellywerker, Mar 6, 2008.

  1. jellywerker


    Mar 6, 2008
    Hello all,

    I know my first post is a thread, sorry, but I don't really have enough experience to start talking about anything else! =P

    I've had a Squire P-Bass for several years, bought on an impulse when several of my friends thought they wanted to learn how to play bass. After I bought it, I plucked around with it for maybe a week, and it's been in my closet ever since till about two weeks ago, when I pulled it out and decided I really did want to learn to play. Of course by now, my brother has absconded with most of my starter setup gear, amp, tuner, etc... So I've just been playing it acoustically till I can save up for some new stuff. Anyways though, my problem is that no matter how hard I try, I can't seem to spread my fingers enough to hold down notes 2+ frets apart, so holding 1 through 4, or 10, 12-14 is very difficult for me, and I am wondering if I should look into a smaller scale bass, like the Ibanez GAXB150 or the Mustang or something. I've never thought I had small hands, but I do think I have shorter fingers relative to the size of my palm, so maybe that is it?

    Any help or tips would be appreciated, as would any opinions on the GAXB150.
  2. It might be the bass needing setup.

    If the action (height of the strings) is too bad, it makes it really difficult to fret properly when spreading fingers apart.
  3. I have pretty stubby fingers but find stretching 4/5 frets to not be so hard...probably a stamina issue? Worth mentioning I play a Jazz bass mind, thinner neck profile, but I learnt on a p bass clone.
  4. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    East Bay, CA
    Welcome to the finest online bass resource in the known universe!

    I'd recommend taking a lesson or two with a good teacher in your area. A number of players (of whom session ace Carol Kaye is the most prominent) promote using traditional upright bass fingering (using 1-2-4--index middle-pinky) rather than 1-2-3-4 in the lower parts of the bass. You'll have to shift more frequently, but you'll be stretching less.

    Also the setup of your bass (height of strings, neck straightness) greatly effect the ease/difficulty of holding down strings.

    You may well find that a shorter-scale bass is in order--but you may also discover that your present scale is just fine. Good luck!:bassist:
  5. mr sprocket

    mr sprocket

    Jul 31, 2006
    Good advice so far, I am one of those players that learned the upright fingering (1-2-4). If I am not thinking I still fall back into that pattern.

    If there is a shop you like see if they can take a look at your bass for setup. While they are doing that you can play some other basses in the shop. That might help you decide.

    Also take a little time to get to know you bass. Is started on big chunky P Bass copies and I think that helped me appreciate other basses.

    Then you can look at other scales. Each scale type has pros and cons.
  6. I'm a pint sized bassist and I spend a lot of time on a 35" scale fretless 6. With low action, good form, and 1-2-4 fingering, you can handle just about anything!
  7. jellywerker


    Mar 6, 2008
    Well, I guess I'll look into getting it professionally set up, and try out some shorter scales. I'll look around for lessons, but I really don't have much money to spare, to that's probably not an option.

    As a side note, I like practicing things that have a lot of melody, like Fur Elise and In the Hall of the Mountain King, rather than tabs to songs that tend to not have too much variation (at least in the genres I like) so could anyone recommend some similar songs to practice?
  8. I'm gonna go left of field here and suggest you check out some Post Rock bands like Mogwai. They have some beautiful melodic bass lines. Not too hard to figure out by ear either.
  9. wagdog


    Mar 20, 2000
    Der Waffle Haus
    Get a good setup and learn proper fingering technique. Those two suggestions will take you a looong way. That being said my favorite scale is 32". It just feels right for me.
  10. jellywerker


    Mar 6, 2008
    Well, I'll mess around with a few, and if I notice a great difference, that's where I'll go. I know I'll practice more if it's easier and doesn't strain my hands.

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