How much better is the tone of a 35 inch scale instrument?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by FaultLine423, Sep 19, 2000.

  1. FaultLine423


    Aug 27, 2000
    hello everyone
    I have a question. I was asking a fellow bass player about 5 and 6 string basses (basses with a B string, basically), and he told me that getting a bass with a 35" scale would be my best shot, because I was looking for a bass with a tight sounding B string, contrary to many that I had played. Is this true? The reason I ask is that I'm interested in buying a Toby Pro Bass 6, and from what I know, it only has a 34" scale. Will the scale length affect the quality of the B string sound? Thank you.
  2. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador
    The scale will affect your playing... and the sound.
    Yes. But the most important factor is the stiffness of the neck. Graphite Necks have tighter B's Strings.

    Want a Toby? Get one. Im getting one.
  3. coyoteboy

    coyoteboy easy there, Ned Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2000
    Sactomato, CA
    The most important factor for a clear B is the construction quality, not a 35 or necessarily graphite. I own a couple of graphite necked instruments and I've heard wood necked, 34"scale basses with a B string that was just as good as the 35" graphite necked bass. Play the bass before you buy it.
  4. MrGump


    Apr 20, 2000
    He may howl at the moon,but Coyoteboy is smarter than Lassie on this one.
  5. ka-tet


    May 2, 2000
    I've had 35" scale with good B's and some 35's with bad ones. I think it totally has to do with the stiffness of the neck. If a 34" scale bass has a rigid neck and good construction as well as good pickup placement it will have a good B. I think another thing to consider is what you sacrifice to get a better B. It's my experience that when you lengthen the scale on all the strings you sacrifice the tone of the A, D, and G strings. I think those strings tend to sound thin and lose some of their midrange frequencies with the added tension of the 35" scale which in turns gives them a lifeless tone. It's not true of every 35 I suppose, I'm sure there are a few that sound great throughout its range, but I don't like the feel of the extra tension on the other strings.
  6. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Based on the 35" experience I've acquired over the past few months, I agree with ka-tet, the tone and harmonics ARE different sounding on a 35" scale , especially on the D and G string.

    I am coming to believe that this has as much to do with the 'sterility' or 'harshness' of the Modulus 35" basses as the composite construction does, if not more.

    I've never played a 35" Zon(Do they make them?) but I've played 2 Sonus 5 strings with 34" scales, and they sound a lot warmer than some of the 35" woodies I've played.

    Even the wood necked 35 inchers I've played do not sound quite as sweet on the D and G as the good 34 inchers I've played.

    Maybe we should all just get a Dingwall Voodoo, since they've solved the scale length problem nicely with the fanned fret and progressive scale length. I wish they made a 7 string, that low F# would rock with a 37" scale, but the high C would be very mellow with a 32.5" scale.

  7. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    Coyoteboy is dead on, there's more to it than just scale length. Try out as many different basses of all lengths and get one you like. Neck stiffness is probably the single most important thing, my 34" B sounds great, but it has a very rigid neck (rock maple/wenge laminate 5 pieces, 2 truss rods).

    Ka-tet makes some good points about the effect of longer scale length and it's possible effect on strings other than the B. This is the reason that Sheldon Dingwall ( ) uses the fanned fret system on his basses (actually invented by Ralph Novak). It does make a big difference in the tone, the strings are all much more responsive and the bass sounds incredible. That said, the Peavey basses with 35" scale length have sounded very even and full across all the strings to my ear, although obviously not as good as a 3K+ Dingwall :D.
  8. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    you know, another thing to consider is to use lighter gauge strings with the longer scale length, especially for the higher strings. knocking down your regular strings by .005" will compensate nicely for increased tension, if you don't want it on the higher strings.

    i have both 34" and 35" conklins, and some tuned all the way down to low F#, and i don't really think the scale length makes much of a difference, not in my experience. i think pickup and preamp config have WAY more to do with the tone of the lowest strings than scale length, and i think that the rigidity of the neck is the BIGGEST single factor, more than any other, on the integrity of the lowest notes.
  9. coyoteboy

    coyoteboy easy there, Ned Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2000
    Sactomato, CA


    talking about scales and B's, I had the opportunity to demo a Curbow Petite 5, and the B was pretty astounding, as were the rest of the strings, and a 34" scale. Probably the best bass I've had my hands on.
  10. mr t

    mr t

    Aug 24, 2000
    manhattan, ks
    i think curbows are among the best basses out there. all of the sound is there; the warmth, punchiness, growl, snap, bip, bang, ba-zoing, and lots of other batman effects. seriously, though, the tone of these basses is amazing.


    no, the cort versions don't compare.
  11. biscuit


    Mar 6, 2000
    Virginia, USA
    All things being equal a 35" scale will have a tighter, crisper B-string. Neck stiffness is also a factor; however, most necks are very similar in their stiffness. Graphite necks are obviously more stiff than wood necks, but a wooden neck with graphite reinforcement bars (like fender) or metal reinforcement bars (like reverend or warmouth) or a neck made of wood laminates (like smith, carvin, warrior, ric, etc.) are all going to be very similar in their stiffness.

    That is why a reverend rumblefish 5L with a 35" scale has a tighter B-string than a Ken Smith or Warwick with a 34" scale. The Smith and Warwick are both excellent quality basses but even the best 34" inch B-string won't be as tight as a medium quality 35" bass.
  12. ka-tet


    May 2, 2000
    I don't agree at all, Biscuit.
  13. As to Biscuit's post above, he says a 35" scale instrument will have a better B string than a 34" scale instrument, all things being equal. Well, that's exactly the point others have made.. all things AREN'T equal. As an example, the last two extended-range instruments I owned: Reverend Rumblefish 5L (35" scale) and Warwick Thumb bolt-on 6 (34" scale.) I thought the Reverend had the tighter, better-sounding B. But again, these instruments have absolutely nothing in common, so it's hard to compare anything about them.
    Another man's opinion: I've had several conversations with Carl Thompson lately. The old CT bass of mine that's he's fixed up is a 34" scale instrument. He told me he hasn't built a bass with a scale length of less than 36" in several years, even 4-strings. He says, in his experience, 36" is the minimum needed to get the true sound, especially with B strings. The bass he's currently building for himself is a 4-string fretless with a 38" scale.
  14. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Biscuit, I have a Pedulla Rapture J2 with a flatsawn(supposedly not as stiff as quartersawn or laminated) maple neck and a 34" scale, and the B string is tighter than many 35" basses that I have played, most noteably Dean, DeArmond, Peavey and MTDs, 'though Laklands are a bit tighter and Moduli are noticeably tighter.
  15. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    Has anyone noticed...whether neck-thrus have a better B string than bolt-ons? Or in a higher end bass...would it make a difference, regardless of scale length?
  16. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Well, I'm sorry to report this to you, but you couldn't be more INCORRECT! I play a Spector. Bass Player reviewed the 5-string version of my bass prior to Spector offering the "XL" line. The comments in the review were that the 34" scale on the 5-string Spector produced "One of the tightest, most focused 'B' strings they've EVER heard".

    In fact, the only reason that Spector even offers the "XL" line (35" scale) on their 5 and 6 stringers is because of popularity. It is clearly NOT necessary in all applications to extend the scale just to produce a tighter "B" string.

    The 35" scale is a fad. It is one that may stick forever, like blue-jeans. But, in and of itself, the 35" scale on basses is not necessarily going to result in a better sounding "B" string.
  17. And on the other hand, in the January '97 5-string shootout, BP went out of the way to point out how much better the Lakland's B string was than most of the competition, BECAUSE of the 35" scale. (In their opinion.)
    A friend of mine has a Modulus Quantum 6, and the first time I played it, I thought the B was floppy. He told me he was still experimenting with what strings to use. Next time I played it, he had a different brand of strings on there, with a different gauge on the B, and it was much tighter. So the type of B string you're using can make a difference too. As has been stated before here, there are too many other factors to place all this weight on 35" vs. 34".
  18. G


    Apr 12, 2000
    Also, in the same bass player review they had great things to say about the StingRay5. I now proudly own one of these, and I think that the B is about as tight as they get. I am with John TUrner on this one as well - neck STIFFNESS, ELECTRONICS, and SOLID CONSTRUCTION have a lot more to do with the B than does scale. Again, just an opinion.

  19. timp


    Jul 19, 2000
    I have to agree with G. My Carvin LB-75 has not been out of it's case since I got my StingRay 5. The Carvin is neck through 34" scale. The Ray is bolt-on 34" scale. It absolutely has a better B. I am not sure what the difference is, but the MusicMan is just better. Combined with my Acme-B2 I can put out the most huge and solid low-end.
  20. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Im going to have to disagree with a lot of Tune has a 36" scale, and has a better A, D, G, and C that any other bass ive ever tried. Not to mention the B and E, which are F**kin fantastic. There is NO floppiness to the B. None. Its probably 10 times better than any other bass ive ever tried. And John, i hear they will make custom 7 and 8 strings! So scale doesnt kill those strings. But yeah, neck stiffness and construction are the most major factors in a tight B string (when played acoustically. pickups are another matter).

    But Ram, man, i tried the fretless Spector 6 at Bass an overrated B string. The B string was very floppy compared to what it should be for the price. Dont get me wrong, id buy one if i wanted a fretless that expensive, because the sound was killer. But the B string certainly wasnt that great for the price. My Growler was tighter than it. And they are really, really light! Whoever said they were so heavy is wrong! :)