How important is Scale Length? Pros? Cons?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by pat1151, Jan 7, 2005.

  1. pat1151


    Jun 22, 2004
    Montreal, Quebec
    Hello Everybody, Im an electric bass player of 5 years now and I am ready to make the move to the Double Bass because I am now playing jazz full time and would like the authentic sound. For sure I am going to be getting one of those thinner Meisel Basses (I know its not as good as a standard depth bass but let's put that aside), My problem is that I dont know weither i should get the 3/4 or the 1/2 sized. For sure ill be able to travle easily with the 1/2 but the scale lengths are bothering me in the final decision. From what I have read in my searches of this forum is that many players wont play anything under 40'' long. The 3/4 bass has a 41'' scale length and the 1/2 bass has a 37 3/4'' scale length. My bass guitar is only 34'' scale length which is only 3 and 1/4'' shorter. Should the double bass have a much longer scale length than the electric bass guitar? What are the Pros and Cons of having longer and shorter Scale lengths? Will there be any signifigant differences in tone between the 2? I have realized that the notes will be closer together but i dont think that would be a problem for me.

    Thanks alot
  2. Jazzman


    Nov 26, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    There is no relation between how you will play this and you bass guitar. So comparing the scale lengths doesn't make sense. Don't worry about it.

    I would suggest going for the 3/4 bass. The huge difference is the 1/2 scale is made for a child who is a student. It wouldn't make any sense for a serious musician to get a 1/2 scale bass because the scale is close to that of a bass guitar. The bass is a whole different beast than the bass guitar...approach them as two different instruments and you will do just fine. ;)
  3. Jazzman is right- though I play 99% BG, I agree DB is a vastly different beast. Going from a 34" scale to 41" is for me like going from bass (either one) to guitar- I'm familiar with both, but again, 2 different instruments. Also, I'm uninformed but suspect a 1/2 size bass might not be very loud compared with 3/4.
  4. JeffKissell

    JeffKissell Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Soquel, CA
    I just sold a 1/2 sized bass that I have been playing for the last several years. I got it originally because the scale length was closer to my EB. Now I'm faced with the challenge of relearning my intonation on a 3/4 scale bass. IMO if you're serious about playing UB, learn to play a 3/4 scaled bass from the beginning. I'm left handed and when I first was learning the EB, my teacher had me try both a left and a right handed bass. When I told him they both felt equally awkward, he said learn to play right handed, that way you can always sit in or borrow a bass if you need to. I think the same applies to 3/4 scaled upright basses.That being said, there is some variation in sizes and string lengths of 3/4 basses. It doesn't hurt to play as many basses as possible. Good luck!
  5. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    I think there's something about playing a vertically positioned neck that makes it a little more doable on the upright. You have gravity and a freer arm position going for you so that you can make the spread easier than you may think. Also the thickness of the neck usually matches the overall scale of the upright. Although it will take some getting used to(get a good teacher and method book, it's a different instrument), the generally bigger setup will work if you give it some time and effort. Having a well setup bass by someone who also plays makes a big difference. I'm not a luthier by any stretch, but I like doing my own setup better than anyone else's.
  6. bassgurl


    Dec 2, 2004
    i agree with all you guys i started DB like a couple months ago and it is like a totally new instrument and it takes some ear.

    i use a 3/4 bass and i don't realy know the scale length difference and the notation will be easy for you since you played electric for so long. you develop a good ear playing and that will improve your DB skills

    and i agree that you should play multiple basses and get the feel of each because a DB is like a custom shoe it only fits you and ur skills.

    good luck getting used to the feel and have fun in jazz band! :bassist: