Help with purchasing a short scale

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MrMeyer, Aug 18, 2017.

  1. Mustang Surly

    Mustang Surly

    Jul 10, 2013
    I've had SX "J" and "P" shorties, an MIJ Fender Mustang RI and a Reverend Dub King. But my hands-down favorite shorty is the Guild Newark Street Starfire re-issue (available in either one [SF-I] or two-pickup [SF-II] versions). In addition to having a short scale length, Guild SFs and Mustangs have narrower nut (1.5") and string spacing than many and I find that makes them very comfortable to play (opinions may differ on that). With some diligent hunting, Guild SFs can be had with HSC for under $1K new and for $600-$800 in excellent used condition.

    A couple of random but useful things to know:

    •Mustangs have only 19 frets (if that makes any difference to you). Some vintage Mustang bodies have a factory, belly-relief cut but most Mustangs do not. Some have a 7-1/4" fretboard radius and vintage frets and others a 9-1/2" radius and medium-jumbo frets (depending on model). Most have a string-through type bridge which may require the use of a medium-scale string set (depending on string brand). The relatively-new Fender Mustang "PJ" is the exception and does not have a string-through bridge. Guild Starfires are another shorty that will likely need medium-scale strings, due to their unusual bridge design. The Reverend Dub King bridge allows either top-loading or string-through stringing, which broadens your choice of strings.

    •Shorty strings may feel "looser" or "more rubbery" if you are used to playing a 34" scale length (lower string tension being a function of the shorter scale length). In general, many tend to suffer from some lack of definition on the first few frets of the E string (relative to a longer-scale bass). In my experience, this can be mitigated by using higher-tension, flat-wound strings (e.g.: D'Adarrio Chromes).

    •Pay attention to short-scale bridge placement. Some of them (e.g.: the Dub King, Guild SF) have the bridge placed further away from the edge of the lower bout (where the string button is) than others (e.g.: SX, Mustang). This will mean that the nut is a bit further away from your body when you are playing, which makes the bass feel a little bit more like a 32" or 34" scale bass ergonomically. When people complain that shorties "feel like toys", they are likely referring to shorties like the SX or Mustang which have the bridge placed closer to the lower string button (in addition to having physically small/narrow bodies).

    •SX basses are a decent value for the price, but pups/electronics are definitely their primary weakness. Probably would be wise to factor the price of replacement pots and pups into your budget calculus if SX becomes a serious option for you. That said, the basic platform is good enough to be worthy of an upgrade. I put DiMarzios (DP-123s & DP-127s) in mine.

    Hope something in all that helps. Good luck with your quest!
    40Hz and staurosjohn like this.
  2. blue4


    Feb 3, 2013
    St. Louis area
    There's always that one guy who has to bring up long scale basses in a SS thread....:)
    Just messing with you..
  3. staurosjohn

    staurosjohn Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2010
    Nottingham, MD
    I have D'Addario half-rounds on my Mustang P/J... have used them before... I like 'em!
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2017
  4. BassBrass


    Jul 6, 2009
    Boston MA
    These have midrange TONE (I use lt. nickle round), low end, very light weight. Some reissues from 2000 or so have a metal bridge and new Danos have metal too, but the later "dead on" reissue like that picture sounds good. I like the sound of the Rumblecat Allan Woody too, unique pu placement, close to the does need help with mud. which may be a virtue in some music... Very comfortable to play though. I think that harmonics might need a solid body and the new Fender pj Mustang is a nice bass that will last years. I'd never replace my Longhorn with one though.
  5. Member8675309

    Member8675309 Inactive

    Aug 19, 2017
    Nashville, TN
    I tried La Bella Quarter Rounds before they were discontinued. I could see half rounds working well on a short scale.
    staurosjohn likes this.
  6. blue4


    Feb 3, 2013
    St. Louis area
    OP I currently have..

    A EB-0 with a Dimarzio model one and a hipshot bridge. Well made, great frets. Tone is meh out of the box, after the $89 pickup it is outstanding. The bridge I put in more for my dislike of the Gibson bridge, not because it didn't function.
    A Epiphone viola. Great bass, despite what you hear it's versatile and ready out of the box. Great fretwork here too.
    An Epiphone Rumblekat. This bass plain kicks butt. Too bad my daughter saw it first.
    A SX ash jazz. Good player, even right out of the box. Obviously needed a set up but much better than I expected.
    A Douglas viola with its frets pulled. Good semi hollow bass for under $200
    A Brice 5 SS. Well built, very trebly. Very stable neck.
    I'd recommend any of these, and I really can't say enough about how great that EB-0 is after a couple of $89 upgrades. Honestly the whole Epiphone line, both SS and LS, has impressed me a lot. The Viola was my main bass for two years.

    I have owned the Bronco, it's stock pickup IMO was awful. Nice neck.
  7. Signalsdrone


    Feb 6, 2017
    SW Ontario
    +1 for the Rumblekat. Roll the tone off and turn the pups down and it almost sounds like an upright. Turn the pups up and it starts to growl. It's not too heavy and fits me nice while sitting.

    I played a Mustang the other day and it was nice but I like the neck and the sound of the Rumblekat better.
  8. If you like the EB-O then you're going to find that the Mikro, Jag SS and Bronco are not the same.

    The EB-O does not feel or play like those at all.

    I've heard more bad things about budget Mustangs than I have good.

    I have not played a Talman MB30 shorstcale yet...but it interests me because the nut is slightly wider than 1.5"

    The Bronco nut is is 1.62"....

    I find 1.62" much better than 1.5" personally.

    The EB-0 is 1.5" nut as is the Jag SS and Mikro. But all three basses feel different.

    I would seriously be looking at the Ibanez MB30 if you have access to one to try out. I heard they are a little on the heavy side but then again basses vary by weight amongst the same make.
  9. Boristhespyder

    Boristhespyder Guest

    Feb 12, 2016
    IMG_0469.JPG IMG_0380.JPG IMG_0457.JPG temporary.jpg

    Some of my short scales.
    blue4 likes this.
  10. MrMeyer


    Jul 12, 2017
    Wow, I must say, the response is almost overwhelming, thanks again, guys.

    Budget is max $450, preferably even less, but if things pick up a little work wise soon, I would be happy to spend another 100.

    At 28", I´m honestly a little afraid that the Ibanez Mikro could be a little bit too small? A narrow neck would definitely be nice, which makes me look more to the Mustang, even though I really like the Jag as well.
    Bridge pickup seems to be important for good harmonics, but I guess anything would be an improvement over the Warlock. This is also the main reason that I looked to other basses than the EB-0.

    As mentioned, I would like something that´s open for mods, but preferably not necessary out of the box. Mustang/Jag sure seems nice. I really like the violin basses too, but I´m thinking maybe that could be a fretless at a later time.

    Rondo doesn´t seem to have a dealer in Norway, so I think I´ll leave them out for now, and rather go for something that I could return if there is something wrong.
  11. MrMeyer


    Jul 12, 2017
    And this thing here is my effects unit...

    Attached Files:

  12. blue4


    Feb 3, 2013
    St. Louis area
    Whatever you decide I wouldn't think there are too many retailers left that don't give the 30 no questions return, Rondo included. I view that as the bare minimum required to earn my business.
  13. blue4


    Feb 3, 2013
    St. Louis area
    Btw, if you're looking on eBay or other used site look for an Ibanez ARTB100.

    30.3" IIRC

  14. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Well, someone had to do it, so I took one for the team. :)

    At least I didn't go on about how lots of people of small stature with small hands play long-scale basses, or how it's just a matter of technique, or anything like that. I mean, that would just be inappropriate, right?
    blue4 likes this.
  15. blue4


    Feb 3, 2013
    St. Louis area
    Well, it wouldn't truly be complete without a story about your own 2" fingers and your 37" scale bass that you play with flawless technique. :)

    Or maybe how you started out on upright as an infant and now everything seems small.....

    I could counter with how I'm 8' 10" tall yet I still play a short scale.:bassist:
    Lobster11 and KJMO like this.
  16. staurosjohn

    staurosjohn Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2010
    Nottingham, MD
    Yea- I had some (turns out defective) Labella Quarter-rounds a few years back... I conversed with a rep. at Labella (thats how I found out they were defective)... wanted a few more sets but they 'fixed' the mistake- so I didn't get anymore. So- the half-rounds are close!
    Member8675309 likes this.
  17. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    I own and play a Gretsch Junior Jet. And I can highly recommend it. A very inexpensive but well-built and great sounding short scale with tone for days.

    I'd suggest hunting down the sadly discontinued single pickup G2202 model if possible. Used they run around $200 in very good condition. Looks like this:


    It packs a TV Jones pickup that really sings. The Gretsch dual humbuckers on the newer models also sound really nice. But I think the single Jones pickup in the sweet spot is where it's really at for this bass.

    Highly recommended. :thumbsup:

    I use GHS Pressurewounds on mine. (#7700 short-scale light set: 040,054,076, 096)
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2017
    GoLeafsGo, ScottTunes and staurosjohn like this.
  18. pbass2


    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    I think that new Mustang P/J could be your ticket. I tried one and thought it was very well made and playable. Bear in mind though it's rather different sounding that a "traditional" Mustang. It's more versatile for sure, but it isn't the classic Mustang sound.
  19. jd56hawk

    jd56hawk Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    Only short scale I'd buy.
    Only one that felt...right.
    Tvrtko, Signalsdrone, blue4 and 2 others like this.
  20. Member8675309

    Member8675309 Inactive

    Aug 19, 2017
    Nashville, TN
    I owned a Rumblekat for just over a year until I had to sell it in unfortunate circumstances.

    Later, wanting another short scale, I sold my old Camaro and bought the Gibson SG.

    I'll tell you this, I love the Gibson, but I remember thinking to myself, "Man, that $400 Epiphone played just as good, if not better, than the Gibson." Epiphone puts out great instruments right now. I own a Masterbilt, and just pre-ordered one of their new Embassy basses.
    HouseofElrond and jd56hawk like this.
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