Scale Length On Extended Range Instruments

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by osciphex, Feb 24, 2002.

  1. osciphex


    Jun 1, 2001
    I play a 4 string MIM fender j-bass and I'm looking to get a fretless 5 or 6 string bass. I'm looking at different models and noticing that alot of them have a 35 inch scale length rather than the 34 that I'm used to. Is this extra inch truly important to the sound of the instrument? I've heard that said... And if so, is it really that hard to adjust between the two?
  2. 1. If you'll do a search, you'll find that a bunch of threads on this topic, most of which state that the quality of a low B string is more affected by construction quality, neck stiffness, and bridge mass than scale length. The best B on the market today, IMO, belongs to the 34"-scale Zon Sonus series, while there are a number of 35"-scale fivers out there with crap B strings.

    2. It's not that difficult to go between 34" and 35" on fretted, but I would really try to stick to one scale length on fretless.
  3. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    It is absolutely true that the overall construction of the bass has more to with the quality of the B string performance than does does scale length.

    I would disagree with Peter about the best B. I think the Modulus Q5 has the clearest B on the market. I have one for that reason. I will add that I haven't played a Zon myself, only heard them.

    I personally beleive that while "floppiness," or however you wish to describe the character of the B string, isn't really effected by the scale, IMO, all other things being equal, clarity of tone is better on a B string in 35" scale. Of course the trade off is the G string is better on a 34".

    And I will add that is really isn't that big a deal to go from one to the other playing them. The spacing isn't significantly different.

  4. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe Supporting Member

    Jun 4, 2001
    Holland, MI
    i play a 34" Conklin GT-7... very good B
  5. klorence


    Nov 21, 2001
    Pittsburgh, PA
    i have both 34 & 35-inch scale basses.

    some of the chordal stuff i do is easier on the 34, just due to the size of my hands.

    haven't noticed a giant difference in B-strings...
  6. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Of course a longer scale length will give a tighter B string when the string isn't vibrating, physical law.

    However...when the string begins vibrating, stiffness and stability at the two witness points of the strings become extremely important. So does the transfer of energy from the strings to the headstock, neck and body.

    I still believe that scale length is an important factor. My 37" B on my Dingwall is something that I have yet to be able to compare it to another bass (I have played several USA Spectors, Ken Smith Neck-Thrus, F basses, Pedullas, Warwicks, and a few Peavey Cirrus basses), it blows away the Bs (not to say that any of these basses have bad Bs by any means). I do, however hope to play a Zon and/or a Modulus to try out a graphite necked 5 or 6 string.

  7. I guess we'd disagree on what constitutes the ideal B. I think that clarity, which the Modulus has in spades and the Zon has just a pinch less of, is just a little bit less important than the BIG BOTTOM, which the Modulus doesn't quite have (IMO, of course). I've spent a fair amount of time with both Q5s and Sonus 5s, even though I detest the necks, and I honestly prefer the Sonus' B.

    That said, if I had hands like a little girl :)eek: ) and I needed a bass with a massive B, it'd be pretty much a tossup between the two.
  8. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    osciphex, it really depends on the basses you're comparing.


    Four of the basses standing up are 35" scale, yet they play differently. The Clover (amber, 2nd from left) has the bridge set well up on the body instead of near the edge, moving the first fret that much farther to the left when you're holding it. This makes reaching for the nut more of a reach. The length of the horn also factors in how a bass hangs.
    I've gotten comments that the Clover was much easier to play sitting down than on a strap, standing up.

    The brown MTD 6 (35") and the omega cut Tobias 5 (34") basically require the same reach for the nut, the basses are generally the same size, the bridge is moved forward on the omega cut.

    Given these kinds of factors, you now must factor in the larger fret to fret spacing on a 35" than a 34". That's the one constant I can think of in a comparison of the two scale lengths.

    For me, my Lakland was easier to play than my Clover, even though they were both 35" scale. The combination of a nut you have to reach for and 35" scale can make a bass seem harder to play. Scale length alone is not the final arbitor of what B will work the best. I have both 34" and 35" scale basses that have very nice B's.
  9. john turner

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

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    brad, that's an interesting point you bring up (bridge placement)...


    this bass is 34" scale length, with the bridge near the body edge. easy to play, good low b, very rigid neck.

    on the other hand...


    is also a 34" scale length, but notice the bridge - it's moved away from the body edge - bill conklin used the same body template as the 24 fret, but made the neck substantially longer to accomodate this instrument's 28 frets (that's the way he used to do the 28 fret instruments).

    this instrument is strung with a low F#, below low b, and it sounds awesome. the low b is the best of all the basses in my collection (and all my conklins have awesome low b's, due to their very rigid necks), very massive, deep, and articulate. for the longest time this bass was actually a bit more difficult for me play than my 35" scale length 8 strings, due to the extended neck distance - very difficult to get to the lowest frets.

    that's sort of a trade off, i guess, with this particular bass, but i've adjusted to it - this one is one of my main basses - probably close to 1/3 of all of our stuff i recorded and performed on this bass, including the instrumental in my sig.
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