Scale Length, String-thru-body, and that elusive B string for my Marchlewski

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by mattwells, Jan 18, 2005.

  1. mattwells


    Mar 19, 2003
    So I am having a custom bass made by Jacob Marchlewski and am trying to make some final decisions. I am going to have String-thru on at least the B, E, and A strings to aid in sustain and hopefully help the B string along. But I cannot decide between 34" and 35" scale. I love 34" scale as far as playability, but I like the 35" scale for how it helps the B string.

    So, the question is: will the string-thru eliminate the undefined and floppy B string, or should I also go with the 35" to be safe?
  2. Wolfehollow


    Jan 21, 2003
    Pensacola, FL
    I am a 4 stringer so take that into acount with my opinion, but... reading on these boards has made me think that 35" does wonders for the low B. Just yesterday there was a post about how big of a difference the inch made on the B string. Hope that helps! :)
  3. Dirty Road Cola

    Dirty Road Cola Guest

    Sep 8, 2000
    Gainesville, FL
    The B on my 5 string Marchlewski is as tight or tighter than another other (save my old Dingwall) bass I've played. It's 34" scale.
  4. Well the difference between stringing through bridge and body is pretty much a non issue, the general consensus is that string length beyond the witness points(nut and bridge saddle) has little to no effect on tension.

    If you prefer 34" for playability reasons, go for that. You can always get strings with increased tension, you put that extra inch on though and you can't change that. If possibly find someone who owns a march custom that you could play, check out the B string and if it meets your standards.
  5. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    I agree completely. I purchased a Gotoh 206 bridge specifically for its ability to string through the body or anchor at the bridge, and then did an A/B of the tonal differences. The end result (both by my ears, and that of my guitar player and drummer) was that there was literally no difference. I left it strung through the body for the simple fact that I thought it aided the aesthetics of the bass in a very small way....
  6. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    I have 4 basses with B strings, including my Marchlewski. All of 'em are 34". I've owned 35" scale basses with B strings. In particular, I had a Lakland Skyline 55-02 fretless. Very nice bass, very nice B-string. I still found the B on a couple of my 34" basses to be equal or better.

    You have to take into account both feel and tone. All of my other B-string basses had better tone (imo) than the Lakland. All but one had equal or better feel compared to the 35" Lakland.

    What I have not experienced is a 34" and a 35" from the same builder. That would isolate the other variables that may weigh more heavily in the overall enjoyment factor of one bass compared to another.


  7. Phil Mastro

    Phil Mastro

    Nov 18, 2004
    Have you asked him about 34.5"?
  8. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    ...but the bottom line is, on a well made instrument, the scale length is gonna' be more about what you're comfortable playing. It's easier to make a B better on a 35" scale, but again, if the instrument is a top quality one, it'll be every bit as awesome (and likely easier to play on) at 34".
  9. AlembicBob


    Dec 28, 2004
    MA, US
    Well, 1" of scale length translates into only 1/4" extra distance between the nut and the fifth fret. When you talk about playability, are you talking about comfortable reach to the first position, or the comfort of playing a 4-fret span at that position?

    If the former, extending the upper horn a little bit can compensate for the reach-to-nut issue. This can change the hang angle of the bass, and going too far could mess up your right hand position, especially if you're a slapper.

    If the latter, then any extra length could make a difference at the lowest positions. True, it's under 1/4" for any four fret reach, but I tend to play 32" scale for this very reason.

  10. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    I'm almost positive it's the latter, and it does seem to be noticeable to me. I play my Zon and then I play one of my 35's and while I don't really have a problem with a 35" I can definitely feel the diff when spanning frets.

    For exactly the reason you posted about, I don't think the "reach" is a big deal unless the bass was designed without this in mind.

    Exactly. I think this is a way more common reason for those who do object to 35" scales.
  11. AlembicBob


    Dec 28, 2004
    MA, US
    Well, if you have a 35" that you can play, you might try playing seated with the bass held as far to your right as you can to reduce the left hand reach (assuming you're right handed). Also, you can play with a high headstock angle to about 1 o'clock or so and see if that feels better. If these feel (more) comfortable to you, then maybe you can be okay with a 35" bass and a long upper horn. You may be surprised how wrist angle and reach can make you think the actual fret-to-fret distance is the problem.

    Otherwise, I would highly recommend that you go with a scale length that you find comfortable to play. If I can play a 32" B-string that doesn't sound like crap, then you should do just fine with a 34" that you're comfortable with.

    Also, it depends on what you're playing. My hand cramps after several minutes on a 34"+ bass playing tunes in the first couple positions with repeating lines (I am convinced that the guitar players like trading solos to torture me). For just about any other playing, the longer scale isn't particularly uncomfortable. My technique is probably lacking in that a little more thumb pivot or slide might solve my problem, or a little more playing exercise. Do you think your discomfort with 35" scale could be fixed with technique, and are you willing to do the work? I own 34" scale basses that are comfortable for most playing, I just gig with the 32" because it requires less thought. I am faster and more precise on the shorter scale.

    Just a few more thoughts to ponder - the decision is going to fall squarely on your shoulders.

  12. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    I too have noticed no difference between thru-body and top-load stringing.

    As for 34" vs. 35": IMO/IME, the difference is greatly exaggerated, even WRT the B string. With a well-built bass (such as a Marchlewski) I'm sure you'll be happy with either length. If you prefer the playability of 34", then I recommend that you go with 34".
  13. Apart from making first position playing less comfortable for me, I also don't really like what a 35" scale does to the G.