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How is scale measured?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by richperson, Apr 2, 2002.

  1. richperson


    Mar 20, 2002
    Where is the scale measured from? Obviously the nut at one end, but the bridge distance is different depending on which string you measure. On a 6-string this difference can be quite substantial. So is the scale an average, or the shortest string, or the longest string?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    I guess scale would be best defined by the position of the frets. Here is a sure thing, if you measure to the 12th fret from the nut, you have exactly half the scale length. The length of the strings overall is dependent on many factors. This is caused by intonating the bass, to ensure that the string is in tune with itself. On many basses the bass side of the instrument generally has progressively more compensation (the slight extension of the length of the string), but I have seen basses that were more like a zig zag.

    Here is an interesting question, what effect does the fact that the outer strings are not parallel to the frets, and thus the difference between the frets on the outer strings is slightly greater have on the ability of the bass to be accurately intonated. My guess is that it is so small that the inaccuracy in cutting and crowning the frets makes it irrelevant. But hey, you never know.

  3. DW


    Jun 22, 2000
    To get the exact scale length you measure from the inside edge of the nut to the top center of the 12th fret, then multiply by 2. That is the true uncompensated scale length.
  4. richperson


    Mar 20, 2002
    Thanks for the help. I was confused because the seller told me his bass had a 34.5" scale. It looks like it is a 34" scale with the B string compensated to 34.5".