is p bass neck really that uncomfortable?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by 88footiee, Jul 19, 2013.

  1. 88footiee


    Jul 19, 2013
    Greeting folks, just a brief introduction, im a female with average hand size with some basic experiences with acoustic, you know the usual camp fire acoustic players

    I am currently on a assignment in thailand and the choices of basses are quite limited. Basically the local stores only had afew fender std p and j, some rockbass, some copies etc. I am particularly interested in either the p or j, unfortunately no pj configuration is available.

    I had done my research and had my belief that p bass had a thicker and broader neck. I did tried both the p and j bass in the store, and frankly, i find both neck are just as uncomfortable and its quite a stretch to play one fret per finger from 1st to 4th fret.
    (do note its my first time ever touch a bass)

    So may I ask, is the p bass really that big and wide compared to a j bass? At this point of time, i do find both to be just uncomfortable but as the time go along i believe i should be able to adapt. I do prefer the boom sound sound of the p bass and the j bass body seems alittle too big and awkward to play in a sitting position. Should i go for the p bass? Do you think i would be able to adapt to the neck? Any females or shorter fingers could share some experiences?

  2. I used to think the p bass neck was a little thick, however i adjusted to it. It may take some time but you could end up liking it. I suggest spending some time in a shop playing and see if it feels right after a while.

    If not you could always look into buying a pbass body and j bass neck no?
  3. ii7-V7


    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    The neck on the P bass is a little wider, and occasionally it's a bit deeper as well. However, that varies from bass to bass and some J basses can have pretty thick necks as well. Either way, a chunky neck isn't necessarily uncomfortable. My hands aren't very big and I prefer the thickest, chunkiest neck that I can find. The only way to really tell is to try it out.

    One of my closest friends growing up was a very small guy with small hands. He played a P bass and preferred larger necks.
  4. Keep in mind that many P basses have a Jazz-width(not to be confused w/thickness)nut. I wonder if, being more accustomed to guitar, your issue is more w/the longer scale of a bass- the greater stretch from fret to fret, particularly in the first 4-5 positions. Maybe a short-scale bass would work better for you, although I realize your choices are limited
  5. ii7-V7


    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    I'm a big fan of short scale basses (and guitars) and firmly reject the notion that they are in anyway inferior to their larger cousins. I agree that this may be a good solution for you. Of course, finding one may be the issue.
  6. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    It varies, but in general they're pretty big (wide and deep). I don't mind them, but I prefer thinner necks.
  7. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    you'll be fine. it's really each to their own - play one and see!

    oh and short scales are cool too.
  8. Steve Dallman

    Steve Dallman Supporting Member

    My 64 P bass had a very wide, but shallow neck that I just loved. I never cared much for the thinner J bass neck.

    Any bass, other than a short scale, will feel long to you. But you get used to it quickly. I have small hands and have no problems with wide necks of 34 or 35" length. I started as a guitar player. The jump to bass, while in high school was not difficult, but I was really motivated to do well on bass.

    A thinner neck does make sense for you. I switched to 5 string in 1988 and my basses have all manner of width necks. I can get along fine with any of them, but like a medium width best, too wide is starting to hurt my hands...arthritis.
  9. HalfPlayer


    Jun 9, 2013
    Go with the P its not that big of a difference you will adapt and you might as well start out on the p
  10. P Town

    P Town

    Dec 7, 2011
    I'm a hack bass player, so my advice may not be worth much, but I can't play one finger per fret in the first position either, so I don't try. I'm not very good, and maybe that is why. What do the more capable players have to say about this? If I can't make the stretch is it because I'm doing something wrong, or not trying hard enough?
  11. --Vissinger --

    --Vissinger --

    Jan 31, 2010
    The P bass neck is indeed somewhat chunker than a J bass. But as you say you don't have much (any) experience, the important thing is that you will indeed adjust to it.

    Your hand spread will increase as you practice and just working on that expansion is good.
  12. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I'm not sure if I read your question correctly, but it seems to me that the source of your discomfort is not in the width of the neck, but in the scale length of the instrument.

    P basses do have wider necks, but not by a lot and I'm sure you could adjust easily to either one (a P bass neck is no wider than most guitar necks). If the problem for you is the longer distance between the frets, that's a function of the scale length, which is the same on a P or a J. Trying a short-scale bass, as others suggested may be a good bet for you. If you don't have access to one where you are, try playing using the technique that double bass players use: instead of one finger per fret, you use four fingers for every three frets. It's much easier on the hands and works fine on electric bass. I know I didn't describe it very well, but this does:
  13. ii7-V7


    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    Lo-E, I use that method in the lower positions as well. then transition to 1 finger per fret once I get above the third or fourth fret.
  14. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Inactive

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    It is to me. It's like half a baseball bat.
  15. Practice really does makes perfect. I have pretty small hands and I play a 62 reissue p bass. That's arguably the widest neck around on a four string (a full 1.75" at the nut). It took a while to get used to it but now I feel really good on it.

    There's so much room that I feel a bit cramped on my other bass which has a jazz profile. I also find that the p bass makes me use the tips of my fingers more than the pads which has improved my accuracy greatly and also my speed.

    I say go for the bass that sounds best to you and train yourself to become comfortable with the profile IMHO (within reason). If you can't hack it after trying you can always replace the neck or trade for a bass that works better for you.
  16. Ugh, P-Bass necks. I hate 'em. And, I have absolutely h-u-g-e meat hooks for hands. I have a friend that has an early 70's P-Bass. And, the neck is so, so huge on it. I'm surprised Fender even took the tree bark off the damn thing. I can play 20 minutes on that thing, and my paws are screaming bloody murder, for some reason. And, the guy that owns it, has the daintiest, most feminine-looking hands I've ever seen. Doesn't bother him a bit. It all comes down to how it feels in the player's hands.


    She sure as hell ain't gotta problem with 'em!
  17. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    I personally do not consider that a viable technique, and it's a quick way to excruciating RSIs for a lot of people not gifted with extremely long fingers.

    In the late Bronze Age, I got to hang out a bit with Tina Weymouth. She's a little squirt, but at the time she played a Precision, and as I recall, it was a vintage wider-profile neck at that. She just moved around more.

    She typically uses shortscales these days, so make of that what you will.
  18. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I have the smallest hands of any male I've ever met and I do fine on a Precision. I kind of feel the same about Jazz basses as you, too. Love them but they're a bit uncomfy and often way too heavy for me, whereas I can almost always handle a Precision.

    And while I have no problem making a 4 fret stretch on any long scale bass (can even do 5 if I pivot just a bit), I don't find it necessary unless I'm playing something really difficult that requires a lot of stretching, so 1-2-4 fingering on a 3 fret stretch is just fine as well.
  19. Malak the Mad

    Malak the Mad Over the River and through the Looking Glass Supporting Member

    One thing no one's mentioned so far is the fretboard radius, or "how much the fretboard curves". I make no assumptions how much you know, so forgive me if this is all academic.

    Most Fender basses, long or short scale, have a 9.5" radiusÂ…basically a shallow, but noticeable, curvature. There are some that have an even flatter board (Squier Deluxe Jazz Active IV has a 12" radius) and there are others that have a tighter radius, thus more curvature to wrap your fingers around. I would presume a neck with a tighter radius might be better geared to a smaller hand, especially when combined with a Jazz width neck (1.5" at the nut).

    Checking out a bunch of specs on the Fender site shows these models have a smaller 7.25" radius;
    Fender Mustang
    Fender Aerodyne
    60's Jazz
    70's Jazz
    50's Precision (even wider at the nut, 1.75")
    Steve Harris Precision (also 1.75" wide)

    If what you need is a short-scale, tight radius neck bass, it looks like the Fender Mustang (not the Squier or Pawn Shop versions) might be worth checking outÂ…if that's even possible, given your location.

    Is it possible to get something from Fender Japan shipped to Thailand? I would presume it'd be a little less on the shipping than going to the States.
  20. Dig Wilbur Ware

    Dig Wilbur Ware

    Mar 7, 2003
    I've found chunky necks to be the most comfortable, and my hand doesn't cramp. For this reason alone, I'd recommend a standard P. Also, as mentioned above, you'll be more comfortable using the "upright fingering" which is 1,2,4. (Stay off the 3rd/ring finger, and use it to support the 4th/pinky -- your wrist will then "develop" safely). Welcome to the ROOTS. ; )