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Is your fretless the same scale length as your fretted bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Ari, Feb 3, 2006.

  1. Ari


    Dec 6, 2001
    This is a thread for you guys who play fretted AND fretless - are your basses the same scale length? Or are they different, for example a 35" fretted bass and a 34" fretless bass?

    If so, do you find it easy to switch back and forth between the two?

    The reason I'm asking is that lately I've been playing my 535 a lot, and when I switch to my Sadowsky fretless (which is 34") I find I'm not too comfortable on it. Would that be easier to play "matching scale" fretted and fretless or do you think it doesn't really matter and that it's possible to adapt easily between different scale lengths?

    Thanks for your input!
  2. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    because I play mainly fretless and I prefer it to be 34" scale, I ONLY play basses that are 34". I know an inch ain't much... but it matters to me.
  3. Maldoror


    Oct 8, 2005
    Same here. My fretless intonation is much better now that I only play 34" basses...
  4. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    I have a 34" fretless (4 string) and a 35" fretless (6 string), as well as a 34" fretted 4, 35" fretted 5, a 35" fretted 6 and a 34" fretted 7 and I switch between them all of the time. But I play fretted and fretless basses using different techniques, so I guess that causes me to automatically think about them differently

    I most commonly use the 35" fretted 5, 35" fretless 6 and 34" fretted 7 on gigs. When going to the 7, there are a lot of other adjustments I need to make in hand position, so I guess I don't notice the slightly shorter scale ..... :cool:
  5. fookgub


    Jun 5, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Not even close. My intonation isn't that great, but that's because I'm new to fretless. I have no 'feel' issues in going from my Dingwall to my 34" fretless.
  6. GSRLessard14

    GSRLessard14 All-Things-Claypool Enthusiast

    Jun 23, 2005
    Newington, CT
    fretted or fretless doesn't affect my choice of scale length, it's the range of the bass that does. I won't play an extended range bass with a scale less than 35". I can't handle a floppy B string. 34" does fine for 4 strings, in my experience. I've yet to play any piccolo basses, so i can't speak for them.
  7. I go back and forth between fretted, fretless and double bass. They are all different scale lengths. I haven't noticed a problem but I'm used to the differences.
  8. Baryonyx

    Baryonyx Banned

    Jul 11, 2005
    Marathon Man
    I go from a 32" fretted Kubicki to a 34" fretless and it's not a problem for me, but it differs for everyone.
  9. Both of mine are 35" scale so I cannot comment on my own experience. I will say there are a lot of players out there who switch back and forth. You might just need to spend a little more time working on it.
  10. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I do have a 32" fretted 4 that I play occationally. It doesn't seem to mess me up like 35" does.
  11. g00eY


    Sep 17, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    i only own one bass, but it is 34" scale like the other ones i have played.
  12. Nope-
    For a long time, I went from a Fender urge bass (32" scale) to a Dingwall Afterburner fretless (37"-34" scale). Yes it woul take a minute or two to adjust, but it became a non-issue.
    Now I have a 34.75" -32" scale Dingwall SuperJ, and my fretless is still the 37" ABI , no problems there either.
  13. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    Nope, mine are different scales but they're both 24 frets.
  14. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    +1. I had the same experience.
  15. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    I prefer a shorter scale for fretless. I put in an order for an Elrick fretless a couple weeks ago and it's going to have a 33" scale, while three of my four fretted basses have 34" scales and one has a 35".

    To get your fingers in the right spot for proper intonation on fretless, you don't have much leeway as far as finger placement. Fretted lets you use all kinds of shorter stretches, because the notes still sound out if you fret at the very beginning or the very end of the fret. I don't always stretch to reach just behind the fret on a fretted bass- I often play in the middle or near the beginning of the fret, particularly when playing chords where another finger is holding down the root while a second or third finger is moving around to different intervals...it's just too hard for my small hand to make perfect stretches, and you pretty much don't have to with a fretted anyways. Going a shorter scale for fretless lets you get more of that leeway that fretted allows insofaras you don't have to stretch as much to hit the right pitch.

    Going about an inch shorter on your fretless can allow you to put your fingers in the same amount of stretch you would use on a fretted and still be in tune. It's not something that would bother everyoe though, but I play LOTS of double stops and chordal bits in my playing, so keeping my fingers in a static position is a common thing, so the less stretching I have to do, the better.
  16. Ari


    Dec 6, 2001
    This is interesting. One thing I've noticed is that even on a 34" scale fretless instrument, I can't seem to play in tune when using electric bass fingering in the lower part of the neck (one finger per fret: 1-2-3-4) so I find myself using double bass fingering more and more (1-2-4). That's why I'm considering a 35" fretless as stretch becomes less of an issue with this technique.

    Regardless of the scale of your instrument, are you guys sticking to the "one finger per fret" approach when playing in the lower positions?
  17. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    I'm now swapping between 30" fretted and 34" fretless.

    I feel a little uncomfortable with the swap, but I can see it disappearing over time.
  18. klocwerk


    May 19, 2005
    Somerville, MA
    all 34"'s. I'm not very interesting.
  19. MODNY

    MODNY Guest

    Nov 9, 2004
    both my fretted F bass studio 5 and bnf5 are 34.6 inch scale. its a dream to switch between axe's
  20. I pretty much go from one extreme to the other.

    My main bass is a Lakland 55-94, 35" scale and my fretless is a Mouse 30, 30" scale.

    I would have to say when I first got the Mouse it took a little getting use to, but it is very comfortable to play and feels very natural to me. I did order it with lines which helped me get familiar with the neck a lot quicker, plus the visual reference is always good when things go wrong :smug: but so far, so good.

    I don't think I would say the same thing If I had a 35" fretlless though. Because of my short stature and equally proportioned arms :) I think first position would give me a little trouble on a 35" I also have a 34" fretless which I didn't notice any difference.

    So far switching between the 35" fretted to a 30" fretless does not give me a problem but I have yet to try it in a band situation. My ear is my only reference right now.

    I would say I use both on either instrument. I like to play with quite a bit of left hand muting so the bass does not take precedence, it depends on the style I am playing. When I first started to play fretless I would stick to one finger per fret just to keep my intonation in check. Once I got more familiar with the bass I started to apply different techniques.