How can I get my short scale bass to sound more beefy??

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Eagle_Claw, Jan 21, 2022.

  1. Eagle_Claw


    Jan 21, 2022
    I have very small hands and am small in stature in general and so I was toying with the idea of getting a short scale bass for a while, and having come in to a bit of money I thought I would invest in a Fender Vintera 60s Mustang, which is much more comfortable for me to play BUT having practiced with one of my bands with it last night I feel it lacks some of the punch, volume, and general beefy-ness that I usually get from my full scale.

    Now it's worth saying that I am not a tech head at all.. I usually plug in and play with whatever amp is available (I don't have my own as I have nowhere to put it really). So I am looking for maybe ideas for alternate strings or a pedal that will give me the extra ooomph.

    I'm not sure what strings are on there at the moment.. it's brand new and came already strung.

    I play with a pick and the styles I play are 60s garage punk, and pop punk/power pop. So I play fairly aggressively and am used to pounding the strings.

    I love this bass and I want to keep it but I'm afraid I might not be able to make it work for me.

    Please help!
  2. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    When I started playing bass some 50 years ago, I had several short-scale basses: Gibson EB-0 and EB-2, Guild Starfire, Fender Mustang ... they all sounded different from each other, so I don't think you can really lump them all into one "sound." Oddly enough, I found the Mustang to be a little TOO "beefy" and not enough "woody," but my perception of beef might be different from yours.

    Short-scale basses do need heavier strings. You might experiment with different strings.

    All this said - and I anticipate some blowback from the diehard short-scalers - once I got my first long-scale bass, I never looked back. Occasionally I think it would be nice to have a hollow-bodied short scale to play with a pick, but that's the guitarist in me.
    Eagle_Claw likes this.
  3. starjag

    starjag Supporting Member

    Agreed. It’s not the scale length, which is good because scale length you cannot change. What bass did you use before with the same rig? Maybe a hotter pickup, maybe some boosting or EQ’ing before the signal hits the amp?

    Eagle_Claw likes this.
  4. Eagle_Claw


    Jan 21, 2022
    I have a fender precision body with a vintage neck as my long scale.

    So to boost or EQ before the signal hits the amp would that be a boost pedal or some sort of preamp pedal? If so any recommendations? Never really played around with any pedals before..
  5. Eagle_Claw


    Jan 21, 2022
    Perhaps there is an element of getting used to it? And the strings are so bright as they are new so maybe they will deaden down a bit? I don't know whether to play it at my next gig or use my old bass..
  6. Raise the pickup up towards the strings.

    I added a small block of mahogany under a P bass pickup (once I worked out the perfect height) for even more beef. The drummer calls that bass ‘The Freight Train’.
    Eagle_Claw likes this.
  7. DJWhitJr


    Apr 25, 2020
    St. Louis, MO
    String tension plays a bigger factor in sound vs. scale length. Different brands and sets come in different tensions. That being said, before going down that road I would have your new bass properly setup. That is set the neck relief, string height, pickup height and intonated. Then adjust your amps settings. You stated you don't have an amp and plug into whatever is available. Curious if you are playing through the same amp as you were with your other bass? If not that's the other variable you are experiencing.
    Eagle_Claw likes this.
  8. Eagle_Claw


    Jan 21, 2022
    I've been looking at some boost pedals - any thoughts on TC Electronics Spark booster pedal and Seymour Duncan Pickup booster pedal Anyone??
  9. Eagle_Claw


    Jan 21, 2022
    Yeah the amp at the practice room is the same one as I was using with my other bass.. but we use different rooms.. sometimes it is difficult to get a good sound in the big room which we were in..
  10. DonaldR


    Mar 26, 2012
    I tried an Ibanez Mikro few months ago and came with the same conclusion: missing the "beef". I don't know if you can do anything to sound like a long scale, it's a just a different sound the same way that a P don't sound like a J which don't sound like an MM which don't sound like a Ric and on and on and on.

    If you like the short scale playability, you will develop your sound around it eventually. It will be different than your P sound for sure but it might be a very good sound. Playing with the amp eq, or an eq pedal, might get you closer, maybe not. I read somewhere that short scale basses are more "bassy" and less "harmonicy". This is what we perceived as more bass but less beef. So whatever you do with the eq, the short scale sound will always be there. Maybe pickup manufacturers can do something to counteract this effect, I don't know.

    I returned the Ibanez Mikro but I liked it a lot. I'm a 5-string player and it was a 4-string. I could have gone with BEAD tuning but I would had to swap the strings for some experimentation and since it was brand new it might had void the return policy. Honestly, I asked myself why long scale basses when short scale basses are so much easier/fun to play. I'm playing guitar also so switching from long scale to short scale to guitar (long scale Strat and short scale LP) was not a problem.

    Short scale basses only account for a very small percentage of long scale basses on the planet. I hope that bass manufacturers stop targeting beginners and develop the market for advanced players (Music Man and Fender are doing so with very limited choice). But they should also team up with string manufacturers as the choice is very limited right now and I think this is what slowing down having more short scales on the market.
    bassnat and Eagle_Claw like this.
  11. Monkey

    Monkey Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Ohio, USA
    The full-size Spark Booster is a great pedal and could add some nice beef to your tone, I bet. You could dial in a bit of dirt as well as boosting the lows.
    Eagle_Claw likes this.
  12. bassnat


    Jan 31, 2011
    I am a big fan of Mikro 5 strings. Big thick bass tone without overtones.
    DonaldR likes this.
  13. Lowendchamp


    Jun 27, 2021
    Shelton WA
    Try compressing your sound. Seems to be the big difference in sound between the scales anyway. I bet if you used a compression pedal you would find that sound you are missing.
    AEVAREX and Eagle_Claw like this.
  14. I switched from a Fender Precision to my short scale Reverend Watt nearly 8 years ago. It was a much easier transition than to a Mustang because the pickup in the Watt is close in output to what I was using. So my sound got a little deeper, but it didn't get quieter, which seems to be in play here.

    An earlier poster mentioned compression, which is a great idea. My BOSS BC-1x is as important to my sound as the bass. As a multiband compressor, it evens out the signal and the tone. I feel like it adds a lot of brilliance the Precision had that I miss. Even more importantly, when you do play through a lot of different amps in different rooms, it can provide some consistency and more output than the stock bass can. So you may want to look into compression instead of a boost pedal.

    I'm expecting a new Mustang bass in the next few days. And while I'll likely put the same strings on it as I have on the Reverend, I don't expect them to sound identical. I may need an EQ pedal or a boost, or I may need to reconfigure my rig to favor the Mustang, and then adjust the higher output Reverend. So the best advice I can give is that now is the time to learn how your stuff works, and maybe figure out what your preferences are. Once you know what you want, it's easier to figure out how to get it.
    Eagle_Claw likes this.
  15. Marko 1

    Marko 1 Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    You might actually find a 34” five-string easier, 'cause you can play farther up the neck where the frets are closer together.

    The A on your E string is where I play an A, when you'd play an open A on your A string, and below that is my E that I play instead of an open E on a four-string; I rarely play an open note. Not sure if I'm explaining this clearly, but hope you know what I'm saying. :)
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2022
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