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extended scale lengths?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by newbass, Oct 29, 2002.


  1. newbass

    newbass

    Mar 18, 2002
    Austin, Texas
    Hello again! I have some questions regarding scale length, or more specifically, extended scale length basses. I know all the physical factors, like what it is, why it works, etc. What I want to know is: does it actually give you more responsive lower strings and clearer notes down there?, If so, at what scale length would you say that it starts to make a dramatic change (I'm talking about over 35" for anyone who's interested), , and finally does the long scale length have an adverse affect on the high strings even if you get the proper gauge for your liking? I would also like to ask everyone what their favorite scale length is and if they have a prefered company for 35'' and above scale length basses. The only extended I've played was a Fodera Emperor II (probably one of the best fretted instruments I've played) with a 35" scale, five strings, chestnut top, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.....*wipes off keyboard*.
    Anyway, thanks for the help on my other questions and I hope you can answer some of these!
     
  2. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I have a 35" scale Modulus and a 34" Warwick.

    There has been a great deal of debate about what makes for response and clarity in the lower notes. Many here argue (and I agree) that overall design and build quality defines the bass. Scale length is only a part of that equation. For as you probably know, there are far too many good B strings on 34" basses and poor ones on 35" basses.

    So, to answer your question, I don't think there is a clear way to find a definitive place where scale length begins to matter. It always matters as one of many contributing factors in how the bass performs.

    All that being said, the best comparision that I have ever been able to do was a Modulus flea vs. a Quantum. I think it is safe to assume comparable design and build quality being that they are from the same company. I found the Q5 to have better response and clarity in the lower notes. Especially the B string.

    On the otherhand, even with my 35" scale bass, I think the G string is a little thin. So, IMO, it is a sliding scale of compromise. Where you land depends on what you want.

    As for a preferred scale length, I don't really have one. Although, if there was bass out there that sounded EXACTLY like my Q5 but was a 34" scale, I might consider it. I think, overall, 34" scale is more comfortable. Especially in fretless.
     
  3. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    I agree....scale length is only part of the equation. A 34" scale is also more comfortable. My Warrior 6 has a 34" scale, and the low B blows away almost every extended range bass I have played. My Fodera has a 35" scale, but the Warrior has a tighter low end. However, I feel that the 35" scale adds a lot of clarity to the entire instrument. I get a clearer "bigger" sound out of the Fodera. There are a lot of contributing factors in increasing the clarity and feel of a bass.

    If you are interested in extended scale basses, you may want to check out Dingwall instruments. They have a fanned fret design which adds extra length to the low strings. 37" B!!! This design is very similar to the way a Piano is strung, and gives you a clearer and again "bigger" low B. A really cool design:)
     
  4. newbass

    newbass

    Mar 18, 2002
    Austin, Texas
    Thanks for the replies, keep em coming! Hey Adrian, how do you like your Warrior, and what are the specs? Thanks again!
     
  5. Brendan

    Brendan

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Or, you can not have to worry about scale lengths, and go with a Novax fanned fret system.
     
  6. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    The Novax fanned fret system is used by Dingwall. An ingenious design!

    newbass- I love the Warrior! It has a huge sounding B, and a sweet high end. The bass has through body stringing on the E and B strings making the total length 37", but 34" at the saddle. The bass has a vintage Mahogany body, Walnut/Purple Heart neck through, with a Quilted Babinga top. The fingerboard is Ebony. I use this bass mainly for Jazz. It is more suited toward solo and small Jazz ensemble playing. A very unique voice.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. geshel

    geshel

    Oct 2, 2001
    Seattle
    I have a bass with a 36" scale, and the B is very nice indeed. It also has a graphite neck, however. The B really does feel about like the E feels on a normal bass.

    The higher strings have a tighter sound too, which I feel suits the overall tone of the bass. But I wouldn't want it for my main bass.

    Playability-wise, the 36" scale isn't that bad. It's a bit of a pain in the low frets, and sometimes I get a little screwed up because the 12th fret isn't where I expect it. One thing for sure though, after playing that bass (a Clover, courtesy of fellow TBer slowburnaz) for a few minutes, going back to my 34" scale 6 (the Clover is a wide-spaced 5, the 6 is a Hanewinckel with medium spacing and lower action) it's like, "aahhhhhhh, so nice".
     
  8. geshel

    geshel

    Oct 2, 2001
    Seattle
    If you include the string wrapped around the post, it's even longer than that! ;)
     
  9. newbass

    newbass

    Mar 18, 2002
    Austin, Texas
    Actually, I do have a basic question that I just thought of. Fodera says that their special extended B peghead design increases the tension of the B string is this true? I thought it was just the length of the nut to the bridge that mattered, the same goes for Adrian's body-thru B and E strings. I thought I heard this somewhere, but
    I'm probably wrong. Also, what other world renowned bassists use extended scale instruments. Thanks for the help and keep em comin!
     
  10. geshel

    geshel

    Oct 2, 2001
    Seattle
    They (and Warrior, and probably others) are wrong. You are right. It might affect the way the string feels (though it seems to me it would make it more flexible), but it doesn't increase the neutral tension.
     
  11. Well I have a Dingwall bass and personally I think its too hard to determine if just the scale lengths makes the difference in tone, clarity, and focus.

    As you guys know the Novax board allows for optimal scale lengths for each string, but i think its some sort of compromise as well, as it also seems to incorporate some type of fingering ergomonics as well, so you can finger these extended notes.

    Nevertheless I feel on a Dingwall, there are a number of other factors which combine to form great tone, besides just the scale length. Sheldon has nailed all the right components. He uses very stable/rigid and firm necks, incredibly resonant bodies and hardware (like these unique high mass bridges) which really allows the body to become part of the string vibrations. While i believe that Dingwall basses have an focus, and clarity of each note, I've played other instruments which have equally pleasing B strings and while they don't play as fluidly as a Dingwall their tone is very good.

    I think the key to your search is the Novax board, it keeps the lower guage strings from being to harsh, as their scale length is proportionally shorter, and it allows fair easy fingering.
    You can see the fanning of the Novax fretboard in the photo below
    my 2 cents