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Fretless scale length--What should I do?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by DaveAceofBass, Apr 19, 2009.


  1. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    Well, I'm parting ways with my Linc Luthier fretless 4-string. It's a nice bass, but I need a 5-string or 6-string to feel comfortable.

    All of my basses, except one are 34" scale. I had a 35" scale once and didn't like it, but it might have been the particular bass and the feel of the neck and other factors. The only bass I have now that is not 34" is my 34.5" Kinal.

    It seems as though I have found a deal on a 35" scale 5-string fretless that I can get once I sell my Linc. So the question is, do I grab that bass, which is the brand and model I want (Sukop), but not exactly the woods, or do I spend extra money and have another Kinal made exactly to my specs? It's a tough call, it's only one inch....and I do play upright too, which is a lot longer of course.

    Another consideration--the custom Kinal would cost more, but if the Sukop were new it would be significantly more than the Kinal. My fear is if I get the Sukop and don't like it, I won't be able to sell it because of the economy, which makes it tough to buy and sell instruments.

    My other options could be a Browne MBD from Brian with a 34.5" scale, or a custom Stambaugh, which is also reasonable in price. All of these instruments are under $3K, but I don't want to spend much out of pocket. Someone buy my Linc! (Guitar Center will if you won't--I'm losing money either way.)

    What should I do? :confused:
     
  2. jibreel

    jibreel

    Apr 12, 2005
    Seattle
    If you really get clear on the scale question, that will trump the other considerations.

    I started young with Fenders at 34" scale. My hands got used to this.
    Intonation is key with fretless. My turner 5 string fretless basses were 35". I always felt just a little off with the fingering. Yes, it is only one inch over the length of the neck but with muscle memory, at least for me, it is significant.

    So, I cut both of my Turner fretless basses down from 35" to 34" and I love them like this. I will never have another 35" scale bass.

    Now I also string them EADGC. And there is of course the B string question.
     
  3. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    I have two 34" scale fretless 5'ers, and they both have an awesome low B and are easy to play. I used to have my doubts about the whole 34" low B question, but the ones I own now have put those concerns to rest. A well-made bass, set up properly, with the right string choice for that particular bass, will have a much better low B than any bass missing any one of those properties. Note too that everyone has a different definition of "better"--some prefer a more taut piano-like tone, others prefer more width and pillow, etc. It's up to you what you like.
     
  4. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    I used to have a lined 6-string fretless Carvin. It was 34", but I think the lines helped more than anything. With upright, it's a feel/ear thing. The shape of the neck is also a consideration. The shape and feel of a neck can affect how you play.

    How did you cut your bass down to 34"? Cutting the top of the fingerboard and moving the nut seems obvious. What about the side dot markers?
     
  5. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    Agreed. I don't have an issue with my low Bs.
     
  6. JazzV

    JazzV

    Feb 27, 2001
    I have a Lakland 55-02 fretted. I was thinking about gettting a fretless, so I ended up getting a 55-01 fretless. They have the same basic neck. It's also lined. For me, having the same scale length, spacing, and neck profile was definitely a plus with fretless. Whenever I pull the fretless out of the case, it feels at least somewhat familiar since I've been playing that same neck already.
     
  7. Call me crazy, but I really enjoy 35" scale fretless 4-6 strings. It's probably all in my head, but it feels a little more forgiving in the upper register and the additional tension may allow for a little lower action. I know it's possible to get a great B in 34" scale, but when you do 35" scale you can get a B that's even more amazing and be allowed the option of a slightly thinner and/or tapered string, which may allow for you to use the B string much higher up the fingerboard with amazing clarity.
     
  8. jibreel

    jibreel

    Apr 12, 2005
    Seattle
    Here is the thread on the " operation ".

    Used an electronic tuner and put a few sharpie marks on the side for fingering.

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=534656&highlight=turner
     
  9. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    Might wind up keeping the Linc. The Sukop is being bid on (finally) on eBay. Looks like someone wants to pay more than me. :bawl: Is it you?
     

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