Making a 30 inch bass from 34 inch bass

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Adam Felix, Dec 6, 2020.

  1. Adam Felix

    Adam Felix

    Nov 22, 2009
    I wrote an email to Adrian Maruszczyk regarding the idea cutting fret slots from a 30 inch layout on a 34 inch type neck in order to make a short scale bass with full fret access up to the 24th fret with out needing to make a more extreme cut out in the body. As far as I can measure, one could fit about 24-25 frets in 30 inch scale length on a 34 inch neck. Then one could take a standard 34 inch bass body and position the bridge closer to the nut in order to have half distance at the 12th fret. Would this idea work? Adrian does not think it would, but doesn’t care to give an explanation as to why it wouldn’t work. He started out by calling my idea bullsh#t, so I’m definitely not letting him build anything for my money. Pretty unprofessional attitude for a simple request.
    I’m a bit surprised by this, as I can imagine he has a lot of interaction with customers. His business seems to be going fine.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2020
    JRA likes this.
  2. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

  3. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    SW VT
    If business is going fine, you can call BS and let the customers you don't want walk away, rather than bothering to quote them a price you hope will make them walk away while fake-smiling.

    You may find some balance and playing position issues with your concept. If not a neck-through there might also be pickup placement .vs. neck joint integrity problems. I don't know - I don't care much, either, as I can easily lose the entire G string and frets higher than 12... Perhaps he'd rather not build it and have you find the problems and blame him rather than your concept for them. Again, I don't begin to know.
  4. JKos

    JKos Supporting Member

    Oct 26, 2010
    Torrance, CA
    Yes, it would work. Not sure how ergonomics would end up. Cosmetically, look at the bridge position of a Strat vs. a P bass. On some guitars, half the body is behind the bridge.

    Considering that 24 fret, 25 inch scale guitars still have plenty of room for two humbuckers, even two humbuckers and a single coil, there is plenty of room for pickups.

    Someone with good graphic skills could easily mock it up.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2020
  5. As long as the distance from the bridge to the 12 fret is the same as the distance from the nut to the 12th, with some adjustments for intonation, that part will work. You may not have room to position the pickup(s) where you want them, assuming you want any pickups close to the neck. Also, if you’re using a “standard” 34” scale body, the bridge will end up close to the middle of the body which may or may not affect playability for you.
  6. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Well, what you are describing is not too far from how I laid out my SSB short scale bass model. It's 30 1/2" scale length, but the neck is 24 frets, and is only about an inch shorter overall than a Fender-size neck. The body is long, and the bridge is near the middle of the body. I used separate tailpieces all the way at the back of the body, so the SSB uses standard Fender-length strings. Overall, the SSB is only about an inch shorter than a Fender. It's a short scale bass that doesn't feel like a guitar.

    So yes, you can put a short scale fingerboard on a long scale neck and work out the body to fit. But there's some engineering involved. It's not a simple parts swap.


    Last edited: Dec 6, 2020
    wraub, Paco Leon and Matt Liebenau like this.
  7. Adam Felix

    Adam Felix

    Nov 22, 2009
    Thanks for the feedback, and good to know I wasn’t completely off. I’ve got a Hofner president bass, and to me it seems to be kind of what they have done. The bridge is located center of the body. The ergonomics are great. Right hand is resting right around where a jazz bridge pickup would be in relation to the bridge. I’m surprised to see that builders haven’t done this with classic fender body types. Chime in if you know where this is practiced, besides Bruce Johnson. (Gas’ing for a fender style solution)
    Beej likes this.
  8. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    Here, I've laid a long ruler down in line with the inside edge of the nut on a 34" scale fender style bass. Since the 24th fret on a 30" scale lies at 22.5", you can see that you could probably fit around 26 frets at 30" scale on a 34" scale fender-sized fretboard that joined at the usual location. It would put the bridge way up into the body like a guitar, but no reason it would not work. You'd be able to put pickups in there, but would not be able to locate something in the P position, as it would sit around the 26th fret (ie on the neck itself). :smug:

    This is perfectly doable, but unusual, so Mr. Maruszcyk may have not thought about it in detail, or doesn't want to bother with the additional work of changing up his tooling to accommodate a build like this. :)
    Adam Felix likes this.
  9. JKos

    JKos Supporting Member

    Oct 26, 2010
    Torrance, CA
    Keeping a P pickup in the same proportional location, the center line would need to be at 25.1" which, yes, puts it right at the end of the fretboard (28.5*30/34). I bet moving it 1/2" closer to the bridge to leave a little gap wouldn't change tone much. Maybe even help a short scale.

    What does the scale length work out to if you put the 24th fret at the 34" scale 20th fret position? I get 31.055". Call it 31" That would put the P pickup centerline at 26". 24 frets sounds a bit more visually appealing than 26 and gives a gap between the fretboard end and a P pickup.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2020
    Adam Felix likes this.
  10. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    Thinking a little more about this, the simplest solution might be to buy a body that is not routed and an unlined/unmarked fretless neck and then having someone cut slots for a 30" scale. You could then mount the bridge where you want it, and rout out the pickup cavity of your choice. Overall this would probably be cheaper than a brand new custom scratch build. Especially if you're set on a Fender design since there are so many out there. :thumbsup:
    Adam Felix and JKos like this.
  11. Slidlow

    Slidlow Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2009
    Oshawa, Canada
    And if your unlined unmarked neck has the truss rod adjustable at the headstock you might be able to trim some off the end just after the 24th fret so there is a little more room for the pickups?
    Adam Felix likes this.
  12. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    If you contact an instrument maker and ask a question about hacking up an existing bass and ending up with a strange odd duck, rather than actually building a nice one designed to do what you want to do, I'm not surprised that you didn't get a cheerful and uplifting response.

    The result would not be a pretty thing.
  13. Adam Felix

    Adam Felix

    Nov 22, 2009
    Pilgrim, I wasn’t proposing hacking up an existing instrument.
    Beej, I had to same thoughts after getting rejected. Warmoth seems to be the solution. I have contacted them regarding an unrouted p5 51 style. I wanted it with toprout control cavity, which oddly enough is not a standard option. Looking forward to a vintage looking shortscale 5 string E-C, but maybe I should just buy an Ibanez tmb35 and be done with it and live without 24 frets.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2020
  14. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jul 31, 2021

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.