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gigging both 34 and 35 inch scale basses?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Arnold, Jul 9, 2009.

  1. I'm a "fender player" for a long time. I have Fender's, a Sadowsky and an AC, in the rotation. There are a lot of 35" scale 5er's I'd like to check out. I have no intention of "switching", rather adding to my stable of basses. Anybody gig both 34 and 35's and what's your experience back and forth?
  2. Did it for years with zero issues. To me, it's more about the size of the body and how the bass is positioned on the strap. For example, the FBass BN line is 34.5" but feels to me like 33" due to the way the body hangs way to the right, pulling that first position reach in. The Lakland 55-94 is 35", and most who play them don't realize it.

    However, the MTD 535 I played for years put that first position out a bit, since that little body hung a bit more to the center of your body in strap position, pushing the neck away from you... so, that, combined with the scale length felt 'different' (but was still not a problem).

    Regarding the actual impact of the scale length, the difference in distance between the frets, even in first position, is so slight that only the most 'sensitive' player would even notice. It does stretch the hand just a touch in first position, but not to the point IMO of changing your playing ability.

    IMO. I guess that was a long winded way of saying make sure to play any bass for a while standing and sticking to some first position grooves. That will tell the tale after 5 minutes or so.
  3. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    What Ken said. IME it depends more on the overall bass than the scale of the bass. Even then I can usually switch up with no problem. A big key to that is not sitting there wishing a bass felt like another bass.
  4. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    No problem. They're just different, not foriegn. It's like getting into my wife's car (a Chevy Stupid Useless Vehicle) instead of driving my Old Fart Minivan. The cars are different, they feel different, but I can operate them both easily and get them to do what I need them to do.

    Don't think about stuff like this, just play.

  5. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    That's the hard part. Many bassists' brains go into overload over stuff like this.

    Shut up and play is actually good advice. Most people seem to think it's mean.
  6. I'm doing that now. Using a LEJ 35 scale 5er and two 34 scale 4s. It feels completely normal to me after a period of adjustment. It took me a couple of rehearsals to get completely comfortable with the different scale of the LEJ (standing up and playing for a couple of hours) but now I don't even notice it.

    It's almost like you develop muscle memory for an instrument over a short space of time. I look at a guy like Les Claypool - who gigs with basses of dramatically different scale lengths and kind of think if the instrument feels right in the context of what you are playing, you'll adapt to it naturally.
  7. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Ken made a good point: some basses have a longer reach than others to first position.
    Example: my Reverend 5's. Love'em, they play great, they sound great, they feel great, but because the strap button is further up the registger than ''typical Fender 12th position,'' it is a little bit more of a reach.
    Other example: My Lakland 5's have the strap button in the "normal" place, and feel pretty normal.
    It's a very small difference in terms of percentage, and I sometimes switch b/t 34 and 35 at the same job. Typically at a set break, sometimes for a particular song.

    Not a terribly big deal.
  8. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Hillsdale, Portland
    I practice on them all nightly and so when I gig it isn't a thang at all.

    I have more trouble moving between string tensions, the DR High Beams mediums are rough on the fingies but live, and the Jamerson Flats are smooth as silk but feel like telephone pole support cables (after the DR's).
  9. BassAgent


    Dec 2, 2003
    Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    Official Artist: Eich Amplification
    I even play gigs where I use a 34" ánd a 35". No problem.
  10. edpal

    edpal Banned

    Oct 3, 2007
    KEn said it pretty good, depends on body to neck positioning. I remember when I switched from 4 string to 5...I was having a little hand pain but another bass player suggested I shorten my strap to pull it up a bit...made a world of difference. The scale difference is really miniscule in theory.
  11. Hoover

    Hoover Banned

    Nov 2, 2007
    New York City
    I do it all the time, and to be honest, if it weren't for threads like this I wouldn't give it a second thought. No problems, no "adjustment time" required, just switch basses and play.

    These days I'm usually switching between a 34" fretted 4-string and a 35" fretless 5-string. I used to gig with a jazz group where I brought a 35" fretted 6-string, a 34" fretless 4-string, and a 32" fretted 8-string! But even then, the scale differences never manifested themselves in a way that interfered with my being able to express my self musically on whatever instrument I'd have on at the time.
  12. g4string

    g4string Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    Melissa, TX
    This is why I use the same strings (brand and guage) on both my basses. Swapping brands/size can cause set-up woes......NTM, it can be hard to remember what string to use on XYZ bass if you have several basses. So to the OP, try and standardize your stable. Set your basses up with the same strings, use the same strap, set the same amount of refief in each bass neck, etc, etc. This will help make bass swaps during a show a smooth transition.....esp when swapping basses w/ different scale lengths. I applied the same method to my 35" Lakland 55-94 and 34" Low End 5. It makes both basses feel like home.

    +1....Great piece of advise!!! If a bass doesnt feel comfortable in a 1st position groove, I wont keep it/buy it. I will agree with Ken on this one, I think finding a bass w/a comfortable 1st position matters less on the scale length, but more about the the way the bass positions itself on your body when strapped. So worry less about scale length, and more about comfort.

    +1....Again, more classic words of wisdom:D

    A question for the OP, why the need for a 35" bass??? What are you hoping to gain from a 35" scale that your Fender, Sads, or AC's aren't giving you???
  13. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    I switch back and forth frequently. All my basses are radically different, though, so all the other "feel" issues heavily outweigh scale.

    Like everyone else says, just switch 'em and play. It generally takes me partway into the first verse of a given tune to completely forget that I just switched basses.
  14. BigOldHarry


    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    So long as I wasn't playing fretless, I had no problem. Once I started gigging on my 35" fretless, I found that playing 34" at all screwed me up.... So I sold all my 34" basses, played 35" for years... but then I started missing having a simple 4 string bass. Just try to find a 35" four string - A few folks make them, but they are RARE and they are spendy. So sold all my 35" basses and now just play 34".

    I also found that that low-register reach on a 35" started wearing my left hand out - - doing octave parts ~3rd fret really felt longer. So I don't miss 35" at all.
  15. I need a spare 5er, that's all. I've had my sadowsky for 10 years, my fretless is an amazing Alleva, all of my other basses have 4 strings and they hardly ever get used for work. Laklands and Lull's look kind of like I'd like to check them out, but all of the posts about different scale lengths made me think too much.
    Thanks for the answers.
  16. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.

    I'm 99% of the "shut up and play" crowd, with one observation:

    I've swapped between a Sadowsky and a Lakland 94 or 02 for many years. To me, there is a slight feel difference between the 35" Lakland and the 34" Sadowsky. However, the design scheme on the Lakland makes it "hang" on your body in such a way that it doesn't feel unnatural or out of the ordinary compared to a 34" scale, especially when reaching for a low F on the E string or a low C on the B string.

    This isn't the case with many other basses made by other manufacturers, so it's worth looking into if you'd like as seamless a transition as there can be.
  17. g4string

    g4string Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    Melissa, TX

    All I can say is definately check out Laklands (USA if your wallet can swing it)!!!!! The 55-94 below has been my goto bass for almost 8-9 years. Until I got the Low End (below), nothing could ever come close to the feel of my Lakland's neck. I tried Sadowsky, Zon, Valenti, and a host of others.....Laklands have some of the best feeling necks in the biz. The LEJ came close, but it still needed a neck-reshape from Carl @ Lakland. After the neck reshape, now the LEJ is just as cozy as the Lakland. The only thing about Lakland is the Daryl Jones 5 has a different profile than the Jobo and 55-94.

  18. Lia_G


    Oct 27, 2005
    As someone else mentioned, I only have problems switching scale lengths on fretless. It messes with my muscle memory and affects my intonation. Fretted bass, no problem, but I like playing only one scale length on fretless. That used to be 35" until I fell back in love with my P basses and got a fretless P that is my main axe these days.

  19. Let's put this in perspective - what about those bassists who switch (on the same gig) to and fro between 34-5" BG and 40-42" DB?
  20. I do that every night. Not the same to my body to play electric and double bass. For the last 1.5 years it's been tuba also, trust me, that's different.;)