Medium or Short Scale?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by howlin, Nov 5, 2020.

  1. howlin


    Nov 15, 2008
    I'm Not There
    I'm on the fence as to whether I should go for a Squier Mustang bass or the Squier Jaguar bass and it all comes down to the scale length. Since I've only ever owned a long scale bass I'm not exactly sure which one would make the most since. I've heard great tihngs about both of these basses but have only ever played a Mustang. Due to the current situation getting to try a Jaguar right now is next to impossible at the moment. So, what say you the collective spirit of TB? Mustang or Jag? Please say why, if you don't mind. Thanks & Cheers!
    Ricky Rioli likes this.
  2. I own a Mustang P/J, a modded Bronco and a Sandberg Lionel and love the short scale. I have left my 34" scale basses in their cases, neglected. Haven`t tried a medium scale but what I would say is the Squier Mustang seems to vary a bit in quality so defo a try before you buy if possible.

    I had a white one and it was ok but the tuners were made of cheese! But after changing them and the rubbish strings, it was a decent player and set me on my 30" scale trip. They are just so easy to play and when I pick up my P bass after the shorties, it just feels cumbersome.
  3. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    Moving to a 32" medium scale was hardly noticeable for me, but going from 34 to 30 was quite a jump. The issue was not so much the scale length, but the relative feel of the strings, and need to adjust playing style a little to accommodate the differences. Both of those basses are pretty iconic, and I prefer the longer scale to the 30", but to me the ergonomics of the Mustang feel better than the Jaguar, so in the end, I'd personally go Mustang, but YMMV.
  4. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I've played both long and short scale basses for about 50 years until a few years ago when I switched over to short scale. I tried a couple of medium scale basses and found I prefer the short scale.

    My short scale stable includes the Fender Mustang PJ and Squier Jaguar VM shortscale. The Jag has my favorite neck profile but the profile of the PJ is nice and not a hindrance.

    Before I bought the PJ I bought the newest Squier Mustang and it was fine but was bit lower output and I preferred the top load bridge of the PJ so I returned the Squier and bought my PJ very lightly used at the same shop for just a bit more than what I paid for the Squier.
  5. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Short scale is easily gotten used to. Medium scale, should you want to upgrade or try something else, your choices will be very limited.

    Also, I owned a MIM Mustang (still have my MIA), and I've jammed with a Jaguar. The Mustang is IMO a much better sounding and feeling bass.
  6. Volker Kirstein

    Volker Kirstein Blippy the Wonder Slug

    Get a shorty!
    disclaimer: I love my short scales! Ergo, I'm biased
    mikewalker likes this.
  7. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Well, let's start with the question of why you want one of these two particular basses, as opposed to whatever long-scale basses you have (or have had) and the zillion other possible options available. Is it just because you want a shorter scale-length (and if so why?) or is it for some other reason?
  8. ClusterFlux


    Apr 11, 2018
    I don't think that medium scale offers much of a difference. Might as well go short scale.
    Dubious Aa and inthevelvet like this.
  9. Are all Jaguar basses medium scale? That’s news to me. I’ve never played one.
  10. I'd argue that there's a couple of other factors that would make more of a difference to the feel of the instrument overall than those 2" of scale length.

    The Mustang is a slab body, so no belly cut or arm contour. The Jag has both. I have a Mustang PJ and I love the instrument itself, but it gets less play than my shortie 'Ray - and its essentially for that reason. Once I've been playing and I'm used to it, it's not too bad, but it does bother me at first.

    The second thing is body size. The Mustang is much, much more compact than the Jaguar, and that size different will be noticeable. All things being equal, it should make the Jag heavier - however, a common complaint is that 'Stangs can be a little neck heavy without lightweight tuners, so that's definitely something to take into account.

    Past the ergonomics, I'd also consider sound - a single Mustang pickup will sound very different to a PJ setup. If you want the bridge pickup tone, it has to be the Jag. If you like a P tone, the Jaguar will do that perfectly, but the Mustang will get you close, with a cool vintage vibe as well. You can replace both easily, but a great Mustang pickup like a Nordy wouldn't be cheap, and hard to find second hand compared to a PJ set.

    I'd also consider strings. If you have a preferred set or model, look up what they're available in - short scale seems to be more common than medium, so you'll have more choice. If you go for the Mustang, you might want to go for a slightly heavier guage to keep the same tension level, so take that into account while you look.

    As a tl;dr summary - while the different in scale length is definitely noticeable, I don't think it's enough to make the decision between the basses simple. They'll vary greatly in sound and feel as well as replacement part & string options, and my advice would be to get the instrument you think will be best for you in the long run. You can easily adapt to short or medium scale, but it isn't so easy to adapt to a slab body or a bigger body or not having a bridge pickup if you need one.. and so on.
    Jim2112 and Ricky Rioli like this.
  11. ejaggers


    Aug 18, 2009
    Fort Worth, TX
    Jags come in SS, MS, and LS.
    I have the SS version and I love it.

    I also have a modded Bronco that looks like a Mustang,
    and it gets more play time than all the rest of my basses.....057912
  12. LowWay

    LowWay It’s got 4 strings ‘cause they’re bigger! Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2009
    W Mass
    I just returned a new MIM mustang pj. Didn’t like it. Buzzy J pickup, very heavy, lots of neck dive.

    have a wattplower. 30”. Very comfortable. Plays great. Have a very light Squier Mustang on the way with ultralight tuners. We’ll see how that works out. I like 30” Basses.
  13. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    Go for the gusto: short-scale!! :woot:
  14. I have both, but my main bass is a P. I'd say the medium scale is like an easier playing regular sized bass. The short scale feels and plays like a totally different instrument, just because of the spacing.
  15. telecopy


    Dec 6, 2009
    Unless I'm mistaken, the selection of medium scale strings is more limited than short scale..
  16. Tone is more important than scale length IMO. I think you should try both if at all possible before you take the plunge.
  17. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Both really cool basses. Do not sweat the scale length. I've been playing for around 40 years and just picked up my first short this year and I routinely go between it and my 34s, even fretless. Your body knows more than you think, it's really no challenge.
    dmt likes this.
  18. Bryan R. Tyler

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

    May 3, 2002
    Reviewer: Bass Player Magazine
    I’ve found the same- the tension change in short scales is a whole different thing to get used to. My main bass for the past couple years has been a 33” scale and it’s been a nice balance of playability while still maintaining most of the tension that I prefer.
    Beej likes this.
  19. On the string tension issue...
    I've found roundwound strings to have a somewhat loose/floppy feel to them on 30" short scale basses. However, some flatwounds (for example: D'Addario Chromes) are very stiff and can go a long way toward making a short scale feel right.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  20. Dynomuttasaurus


    Jul 23, 2016
    100% agree. My main player is 33" and it's super easy to play but feels like a full scale. I also have a 32" Fenderbird which makes that style playable for a small-stature person such as myself. I had an Ibanez Mikro that felt like a toy. Medium scale feels legit.