Short-scale basses are no substitute for long-scale basses?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by wiscoaster, Nov 21, 2021.

  1. Yes

    322 vote(s)
  2. No

    63 vote(s)
  1. wiscoaster


    Mar 28, 2021
    Because I have a somewhat painful degenerative osteoarthritis at the base of my left thumb I've been playing bass mostly with short-scale basses. However, when comparing the "sound" of my rather ordinary Squier PJ long-scale bass against any of the other half dozen or so short-scale basses of various makes and models I've aquired and played it seems that it's becoming clear to me that any short-scale bass CANNOT substitute for the "sound" of a long-scale bass. What are your thoughts / insights / comments?
  2. Popcorn! Everywhere is delicious popcorn!
  3. nmiller


    Sep 1, 2010
    Rocky Hill, CT
    Long-scale basses are no substitute for short-scale basses. :whistle:
  4. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    What have you tried?

    You may need to get off the beaten path to find what you are looking for.
  5. wiscoaster


    Mar 28, 2021
    Fender Player series Mustang, Sterling Sting Ray, G&L Tribute Fallout, Squier Jaguar, Epiphone EB-0, Sire U5, Guild Starfire. All stringed with flatwounds.

    All great instrments in their own right but just don't deliver what my Squier (also w/ flatwounds) delivers through the same amp (Orange Crush 50).
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2021
    Peter Torning likes this.
  6. My short scale sounds and plays better than every squier I’ve ever played.
    Saying all short scales are “missing something” is like saying “this burger just doesn’t do it”. Not everyone likes the same burger, not all burgers cost the same, not all burgers taste the same.
  7. Root 5

    Root 5

    Nov 25, 2001
    Short scale can easily & absolutely sound as big & full as long scale.
  8. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    That's a good assortment. It's hard to recommend since we don't know what's missing to your ear.

    I've got a Maruszczyk Jake with a P/MM pickup config with a coil split circuit on the MM. Extremely versatile and sounds as good as any of my long scale basses.

    One thing for me is that all my short scales deliver a tone with more fundamental and less higher overtones than a long scale. I've switched from flatwounds to GHS Pressurewounds on the Muruszczyk and my Mustang and it really made them come alive.
  9. BarfanyShart


    Sep 19, 2019
    DC Metro
    It plays the same notes. Everything is an EQ, right? So if you feel like something is missing from the sound, you can maybe get it somewhere else in the chain. Some people don't like the feel of the shorty, but if playing a long scale hurts, then you would probably prefer it.
  10. A band I was in several years ago the BL had a nice fully equipped practice room, had a new at the time Squier Jaguar PJ he kept there so I wouldn't have to bring my own bass. Once setup properly I thought it played and sounded as good as any other long scale Fender-ish bass I'd ever handled. The Rumble 100 I played it through didn't hurt either.

    Take the flats off and put some decent round wounds on yours, will likely fix your issue.
  11. I’ve been playing long scale basses for almost 50 years now, I started out on short scale bases and retired them all, a Hagstrom I and a couple of EB3s, even a 70s Fender Mustang, because I didn’t like the sound. Later, I found out it wasn’t the basses at all, it was I didn’t know how to EQ properly.

    I guess you could make a case there might be a slight difference, but nothing anyone else would know. Besides, your long scale bass isn’t going to make any sound at all, good or bad if you can’t play it.

    I have a little bit of that arthritic condition in both thumbs and it’s no joke. So far it responds to deep tissue massage and stretching, but I fear there will be a day.
  12. jimmydean


    Mar 14, 2009
    Short Scale basses tend to have more bottom end , but that's about it . Monday , I bought a Sterling Short Scale and I love it so much I sold my other basses......back to one bass again .
    Root 5, leftybass54, JettBlaq and 4 others like this.
  13. wiscoaster


    Mar 28, 2021
    Thanks!! Will have to look into that. :thumbsup:
  14. Did the basses you tried have a tort pg? I'm told that can help a lot.

  15. wiscoaster


    Mar 28, 2021
    Hmmmm, no, as sort of a purist, with strictly analog ears, I don't think that EQ, analog or digital, can make up for any fundamental deficiency, sorry. It can enhance, yes, but not replace.
    dougjwray, PaulSund, cchorney and 3 others like this.
  16. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I play exclusively 34 inch 5 string basses at this point. Some guys consider those short scales.

    Going a bit more on topic, it's all relative - we're talking only a bit over 10 percent difference in scale length between a 34 and most short scale basses. If you reposition the pickups to compensate (keep the same proportion of the string between each pickup and the bridge), the comb filtering is identical for the same tuning - at that point it's just a difference in how the string reacts, either being a bit bigger in diameter (to keep tension the same), or the same diameters, meaning you lose some tension.

    I believe if you spent some time making sure you made scale length the only variable (positioning pickups as I suggest), and worked on strings to compensate tension, you'd find very little sonic difference due to the scale length difference.

    A lot of the lore behind why short scales sound different came initially from comparing the Gibson short scales to the Fender standard long scale basses. Yes, they sound very different, but the pickup design of the Gibson mudbucker is radically different than anything Fender has ever made (something like 10x the inductance of a normal pickup), and its position right up against the neck is very different than any Fender bass pickup position. Undo those differences, and you'll find that things are much closer sonically.
    wmmj, Root 5, Dasgre0g and 9 others like this.
  17. vvvmmm


    Dec 6, 2016
    I recently obtained a new Ibanez TMB30 - it sounds absolutely terrific; I just recorded with it yesterday (into a cuppla pedals off and on [Fulldrive 3 and Bass Fat Drive], into a PF50t, SM7b and The Brick and 160xt, paralled through a VC3Q; I also used a MIJ Fender fretless Jazz and and Toby V).
    Bassamatic and NOVAX like this.
  18. west al

    west al Road Rex (Road King) Supporting Member

    Shot scales are what they are. A bass is a bass.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2021
    Orangeclawhammr, dangevans and NOVAX like this.
  19. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I've always had a short scale in my stable since the early '70s. I started using short scalees more than long scales about 25 years ago and over the 15 or so years I've used short scales pretty much exclusively. Yes, in my experience short scales can substitute for long scales.

    One of my favorite things about short scales I've used is that they are much better at controlling dead spots than the long scales I've used.
  20. wiscoaster


    Mar 28, 2021
    Well, the Fender Mustang short-scale, the Squier Janguar short-scale, The Sire U5 short-scale, and the Squier PJ long-scale have the same pickups configuration.... There's quite a noticeable difference. I'm guessing the Fender and the Squiers have exactly the same pickups.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2021
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