Playing 34" and 35" scale lengths

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by maestrox, Oct 31, 2000.

  1. maestrox


    Oct 8, 2000
    Anyone have problems switching between 34" and 35" scale lengths? My main bass is a 34" scale Zon Lightwave fretless 5-string. I'm trying to find a 5-string fretted (I've given up 4 completely), and I'm running into scale length issues. Is the difference something I'll get used to? I've found a pretty nice Zon fretted (34") and also have access to a Lakland (35") and Ken Lawrence (35"). My initial impressions are that after playing on the 35" basses, I have some intonation issues on the fretless...playing the Zon fretted doesn't seem to give me the same problem.

    Is this something that I'll just adjust to over time, or a real problem that won't go away? Anyone have any thoughts?
  2. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    my 8 string fretless is 35" and all my 7s, fretted and fretless, are 34". for me it was just a matter of practicing, and concentration. it is tricky, but it will happen.

  3. If you really think that you won't be able to go back and forth with aplomb, there are a bazillion five-strings out there that have excellent low Bs and a 34" scale.

    Scale length isn't everything--an Ibanez BTB with a 35" scale but the flimsy Ibanez neck has a terrible B compared to a Music Man Stingray 5 or MTD Grendel with a good hunk of maple, a multilaminate Alembic or Warwick, or a graphite Zon.
  4. virtual.ray


    Oct 25, 2000
    To prevent a potential misunderstanding,the MTD Grendel 5 has a 35" scale,not 34" like the MM and Warwicks.
  5. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    I dont know what youre talking about man, the BTB has a REALLY tight B.

    My suggestion would be to practice religiously on the 34" and then when you play the 35", youll play fine, but will be just fine on the 34" fretless. I did the skip from 34" fretless 5, to 35" 5, to 36"(!) 6, and i never had a problem...i just practiced on the big one until it wasnt a problem. And then it worked fine.
  6. ThumpNPluck


    Jun 22, 2000
    New York City
    I play an older Grendel 5 and a Musicman Stingray 5 (both are 34" scale) and a Lakland 55-94 (35" scale). When I got the Lakland I was a little concerned about the scale length difference, but to tell you the truth, I haven't really noticed it all that much. The Lakland has an unbelieveably comfortable neck profile, so it really wasn't much of an adjustment.
  7. virtual.ray


    Oct 25, 2000
    So the 35" scale Grendels in stores at this time represent a change since the model came out?
  8. ThumpNPluck


    Jun 22, 2000
    New York City
    Yes, the original Grendels were 34" scale and now they're 35" (the B string on my 34" scale Grendel is great, however - it's one of the reasons I bought it). The pickup configuration has been changed on the new model as well: the old models have Bartolini split humbuckers, and the new models have single coils w/exposed pole pieces. I've spoken to Mike Tobias about upgrading the electronics on my Grendel, and from what he tells me, he's made some changes to the preamp as well.
  9. virtual.ray


    Oct 25, 2000
    When I tried the "new" Grendel,soloing either pickup brought in that 60hz hum reminiscent of the bad old days.I don't see why he would have forsaken a quieter design to go there.The only time it was as quiet as most other active basses was with both pickups full on.I have been trying several 35" scale 5 strings over the past month or so and although some of them do have a better sounding B I've decided that I'd rather have as good of a 34" as I can find 'cause I just feel more comfortable with that scale length,it's less tiring to my hand when I've been playing for a long time.BTW I was born in Brooklyn,in Bay Ridge Hospital.
  10. ThumpNPluck


    Jun 22, 2000
    New York City
    Alright - a fellow Brooklyn boy! I know what you mean about the single coil pickups. Roger Sadowsky has the same thing on his standard 5 string, and I agree - I really hate that 60 cycle hum. But based on my experience with the older Grendel with Bart humbuckers, I can understand why they're building them this way. So far, I haven't found a really authentic-sounding Jazz-Bass-type pickup for 5 string basses other than the single coils, at least nothing that comes even close to the pickups in my Sadowsky 4, which is, in my opinion, the best Jazz-style bass in the universe.
  11. foal30


    Dec 3, 2007
    New Zealand
    Hi, using the search function got me here:)

    a 2001 Grendel
    has Grendel on headstock
    with Michael Tobias Design in small lettering underneath

    is this 34 or 35 scale?
    I ask because I am interested in purchasing one but would be doing so "blind", on-line , as it were.
    It has Bart's in single coil casings...not exposed pole pieces.

  12. FromTheBassMent

    FromTheBassMent Those who can, play bass. Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2010
    Warren, RI
    Not to derail the fascinating Grendel history discussion, but to get back to the OP's question:

    I'm in the same situation. I've been playing 35s forever, and my main fretted bass is a 35" 5. I just recently bought a Stingray 5 fretless to get back into fretless playing after several years' absence. I couldn't figure out why I kept blowing sharp on the thing. But I've determined it's the scale... I'm simply used to reaching further.

    I agree with the poster above who suggested that your problem will not be with the fretted bass... having frets gives you a margin of error with finger placement, so no worries. But the fretless may become a challenge as you become used to the reach on the 35.

    I gotta tell you, I always thought all of this hand-wringing about 34 vs 35 was an affectation... after all, it's only a half inch at each end of the fingerboard. But I've learned my lesson... it makes a difference.

    Fortunately, I LOVE my SR5 so much that I'm thinking of selling the Warwick and buying a fretted 'ray... then both of my basses will be 34 and the struggle with the fretless will probably fade more quickly.
  13. KimblesNimble


    Jan 10, 2008
    I still cant believe people actually play 7 string fretless basses, kudos guys.
  14. BigOldHarry


    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Yes... I sold all of my 35" scale basses so I can own/play some normal old 34" four strings when I'm not playing my 5 string fretless... Going back and forth played hell on my intonation....

    However, if I were not playing a lot of fretless, I don't think I'd mind so much.
  15. XxBassmanxX


    Nov 21, 2001
    Rosman NC
    I think it just depends on the bass. Most of time going to a longer scale length will feel strange because you have to retrain your muscles a little. It also makes the tension a little higher, which may cause even more strain. I would suggest maybe adjusting your string choice to get back to the tension you like and just PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. A long time ago I purchased a Modulus 4 string as my first 35er. It felt like I was not going to get used to it for the first few days, but I liked the tone and the neck of the bass so much that I stuck with it. In a few weeks I went back to a 34 inch neck, and it felt like cramped, and I missed my new found space. It doesnt seem like much, but 1 inch does make a huge difference. Just find a bass that you like tonally, and if it feels OK then just keep practicing until you get used to it IMO.
  16. Etc


    Feb 3, 2010
    This has to be one of the oldest thread resurrections I've ever seen!
  17. VinKreepo


    Nov 13, 2009
    Wow, a decade resurrection!