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Piccolo Bass questions

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Amalgam, Apr 3, 2016.

  1. Amalgam


    Apr 3, 2016
    So I've been trying to find as much information on piccolo basses these last few days and I'm interested in getting an inexpensive one, but I have a few questions that need answering first. I've noticed that many people talking about piccolo basses prefer a short scale bass, and some people seem to think this is almost mandatory. My understanding is that the reason for this is because piccolo strings on a full 34" scale bass are rather tightly strung. The thing is, I don't really know much about strings, and how length affects tuning, etc. Assuming that piccolo strings on a short scale bass make for easier/nicer playing, I've been thinking of getting the Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro short-scale bass and turning it into a piccolo bass. It's within my price range, has access to all it's frets, and I like the look. It's scale is 28.6". Would this make a good piccolo bass or are there better options? I figure I might need to get a new nut installed, and that's fine. I was looking at the Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass Special SS, but it has fewer frets and they aren't all accessible. The pickups on the Mikro have the same style of split coil/single coil pickups as the Squier. Lastly, what sort of strings would work well on a short scaled piccolo? I saw someone mention that they use the thicker four guitar strings in a pack but I'm not sure if there are better options.
  2. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    I piccolo'ed my EBO with regular guitar strings and it works great.
    Funkinthetrunk likes this.
  3. Amalgam


    Apr 3, 2016
    Do you know of any advantages to using a short scale bass instead of a full scale one? Is it just string tension?
  4. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    Well, you can use much cheaper guitar string for one! :D I've very happy with how the EBO turned out as a piccolo, quite surprised actually.
  5. The advantage of a shorter scale for piccolo in particular is a warmer sound. This is the reason multi scale basses were invented because you can make a longer scale for a clearer more articulate low b string for example but having a high G string or a high c string gets really thin and brittle sounding on most longer scale basses. I wasn't a fan of the high f string on my 7 string at all for that scale so I had it setup up low f#-C. On a shorter scale bass it's not so thin and attack heavy sounding. Personally if you are considering a short scale piccolo I would try to give a bass vi type instrument a shot they are tuned eadgbe like guitar but an octave down. So you get the range of a piccolo and a standard 4 string bass the active ones like the ibanez src6 are pretty cool IMO. Some people don't like the tighter string spacing but really the fun in piccolo basses is all in chords and tapping for me personally. Slapping a piccolo for example is like slapping on guitar. If you're Tosin Abasi and you're playing an 8 string guitar with a bass low e string it's one thing. But when you're slapping tuned eadg an octave up its kinda cheesy sounding IMO.
  6. I have 3 piccolo basses 2 are long scale and the other is a short scale, the short scale is a bit mellower or jazzy but that may also be a product of the bass itself and the old set of strings on it. My shorty is a Harmony H22 hollow body with the original gold foil pickup and a set of GHS strings that may be 20 years old. The other 2 are older Carvin basses with guitar style humbuckers (LB50) and are great tools for chords and single lines, one strung EADG the other ADGC.

    Advantage of the short scale bass or the Mikro would be the ability to make up your own set from guitar singles or even use a standard set w/o the need to go with a more expensive or hard to find actual piccolo set.
  7. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    Certainly not everyone goes short scale. While I do not play a piccolo bass I do tune in fifths and I did have to sort out the tension/gauge/scale length equation to pick the proper string gauges to do that. If the pitch remains the same then a longer scale means either higher tension or a smaller/lighter string gauge. At some point everyone is going to feel that a string is too small or physics will step in and the string will break before it can supply the tension you are demanding of it. If you are tuning EADG an octave up from a traditional bass then you should be able to use a 34 if you like. It would appear that others do this and I have had no trouble tuning my fiver to E3 which is only three half steps below the piccolo's G3.

    Tone does come into play as well. Long thin strings will have a different tone and different inharmonicities than shorter and fatter strings. The string lengths and gauges in a piano are selected for their tone. Using a shorter scale bass will get you a different tone than a long scale and some will prefer the one, while others prefer the other. If you want to try before you buy then for the price of a couple of sets of strings and a capo you could run any long scale bass that you have as either a long scale piccolo or a short scale piccolo by capoing it at the second fret.
  8. Evil Rabbit

    Evil Rabbit

    Apr 29, 2016
    Another benefit of going short scale is that finding Piccolo strings are not always easy to obtain. Most mom and pop stores just don't carry them. If you're on a budget and you get the Ibanez micro. You could get away with using a Heavy gauge pack of guitar strings, which cost usually around $4-$5 bucks versus the $16-$20 dollar pack of piccolo. You may have to change the basses nut and possibly the bridge also so keep that in mind.
  9. Bunan


    May 27, 2016
    Moscow, Russia
    So here is the stupidest idea/question I can think of.
    Could just the D and G strings be strung with piccolo strings and the E and A remain as normal low bass strings?
    Don't ask me why but this just seems like something that should be done. Booming basslines on the low two and some nice chords on the top.
  10. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    Yeah you could do that if you want. Weirder things have been done.
    Bunan likes this.
  11. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    I knew a guy who strung his bass BEDG, like a 6 string set with the 2 middle strings missing.
    He typically played a root on the lower strings and a power chord or octave+3rd on the higher strings.
    Stefan Verbeeck and Bunan like this.

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