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. KJMO


    Feb 6, 2015
    In all fairness, I also see that the short-scale is fretless. Those two are very different basses apart from being long vs short-scale. My mustang has the same pickups my precision had, and it could definitely be used for anything the precision was used for.
    WI Short Scaler likes this.
  2. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    If you poke around here long enough, I think you'll find that majority is definitely in the
    "short scales have more fundamentals/less harmonics" camp. Historical reasoning (play an EB0 and a Fender) and Acoustical Physics (I studied that in college) also agree with that camp.
    Jeff Siddall, Tanner5382 and Mushroo like this.
  3. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    I use GHS PWs on one of my 5s and am considering a set for the baby Samick SS. If you think you have trouble buying them, try in an Australian city, let alone the rural area I'm moving to.
  4. MovinTarget

    MovinTarget Supporting Member

    Jan 30, 2018
    Maryland, USA
    Yeah, you can't treat a short scale version of a bass exactly like a long scale of the same bass, a lot of factors change just by changing the scale. The pickups, even if the same and placed in roughly the same relative position, won't be sensing the same movement. The same strings will move differently (lower tension).

    You should be able to adjust things to get the same kind of sounds but that may entail EQ changes or even a different approach to playing the instrument. Why? Because it is in fact a different instrument.
  5. Tanner5382


    Sep 26, 2010
    Canton, GA
    Yeah, most people definitely say short scales have more fundamentals.
  6. Rich_Briere


    Jul 31, 2003
    Tom Petty, Paul McCartney, Chris Hillman and thousands of others did rather well using Short Scale Basses. :) As you're currently using a Squier I'll respectfully suggest a Danelectro Longhorn based only and respectfully on $$$. :). I own several very high end basses.....but my Longhorn takes a back seat to none of them. It's Bassilicious.
    wiscoaster likes this.
  7. Having a short scale bass is only one part of a much larger issue when it comes to your tone. Not to mention how YOU play it. But until you try changing strings (different styles & manufacturer), changing electronics (much more expensive) , changing amps (even more expensive but testing if free), eq'ing (tone shaping) you will never really know if it's a long scale vs short scale thing.
    Experiment with different setups, and record how they sound. "Record and listen". I'm always amazed when I hear how I sounded recorded. Live sometimes I think I'm too bright and keep the mid and treble down. Then when I listen to it recorded I sound dull and boomy. I've had to train myself to except the fact that my tone that comes through to the audience is different that how I'm hearing it right next to the amp.
    wiscoaster and MovinTarget like this.
  8. Gusdfunk

    Gusdfunk Supporting Member

    Aug 10, 2017
    Bay Area
    Well, short can be better than long scale in the sense that when you sell it on TB, you don't have to waste time typing out how much it weighs and rest assured that no one's going to go "weight!!??..."
    Rich_Briere and tzohn like this.
  9. bill81255

    bill81255 Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2010
    Kensington, MD
    An Alembic Stanley Clarke will go toe to toe with any 34" scale bass. Birdsongs are quite nice as well.
    Rich_Briere likes this.
  10. Basic Lee

    Basic Lee

    Feb 3, 2020
    Rich_Briere likes this.
  11. I have had very good results with short scale bases. I had a Fender Musicmaster that I installed a Jazz Bass pickup and new bridge. Very good sound and playability.
    People send way too much time chasing "tone". Most of the sound comes from the fingers.
    Having said that, a simple solution. I have a Fender P Bass, Fender J Bass and a Mesa M9 Carbine and I never have to think about gear again. (Also some cheap stuff for dive gigs.)
    Rich_Briere and wiscoaster like this.
  12. I got a Sterling Sting Ray short scale , 6 months ago, due to arthritis in my left shoulder and and wrist and it sounds as good as any other bass through my Ampeg BA210. I have to always adjust the amp depending on what bass I put through it. I have a Fender Jazz Special, Schecter Stage 4, Sterling Ray34, Schecter Michael Anthony Sig model, Ibanez 5 string something or other. My shorty can keep up with all of those. Along with a couple more laying around here somewhere. No worries for me with any of them. I have ran them clean into the amp and also through my Line 6 Helix or my pedal board going into the amp. Your mileage may vary.
    wiscoaster likes this.
  13. MovinTarget

    MovinTarget Supporting Member

    Jan 30, 2018
    Maryland, USA
    This may not have occurred to the OP when he says that the SS he's tried can't compare to his Squier, but do we even know if an identical Squier would hold up? He may have lucked out (it happens) and it has nothing to do with scale.
    WI Short Scaler likes this.
  14. A fact that many here still don't seem to get. Or simply refuse to accept.

    Tone is only consistent at the point it's entering your ears, whether it's standing in front of an amp, from your IEM's, or on a recording. It's almost always going to be different to the audience or at the recording console from what you're hearing. The reason I finally went the amp-less/IEM route. I send the FOH a flat tone and let the sound guy tweak it there, send the same tone to my IEM's and use my own tone control at that point (small mixer) to make it sound the way I want it to sound in my ears. MY sound I hear is always consistent and I trust my sound guy to make it sound good out front. Which from the recordings I get sounds good to me there too.

    Yeah got off on a tangent, I know...
    MovinTarget and Thud Staff like this.
  15. Don Sanders

    Don Sanders

    May 16, 2018
    Winnsboro TX
    Try a Spector Bantam
    amper and MovinTarget like this.
  16. MagnusGudberg


    Aug 12, 2019
    Long-scale basses are no substitute for short-scale basses :D


    Jul 14, 2021
    Maybe change the pickups. That's probably the main difference in their sound.
    MovinTarget and wiscoaster like this.


    Jul 14, 2021
    I have a Gretsch G2220 Electromatic Junior Jet II short scale bass. 30.3" scale and I love it! I use stainless steel strings, .044 .064 .084 .108 for drop-D at A=432Hz and the intonation is perfect. Has a really nice growl on that low D.
    I played several basses off Guitar Center's wall that day and I chose this one based on the tone, before I realized it was short scale. After buying it, I discovered it was impossible to find stainless steel strings in short scale bigger than .105, aside from paying Newtone strings to custom make them in the UK. Stringjoy makes a nickel-plated .110. Availability of strings is the only thing about this that made me feel I should have gotten a 34". But I like it being easier to play. I have long fingers but they're not very dextrous, and there's some things I can play on the short that I can't on a long.
    It's not an active bass, but the Gretsch mini humbuckers sound really good. Just got a Gretsch baritone with them, too, and it sounds great.
  19. I voted no to the poll, but I will caveat that a bit by saying that I really meant "Short-scale basses are no substitute for some long-scale basses"

    IMO, there is no way you can make a 30" 5 string B sound like a 37" 5 string B. I own a 34" 5 string currently but am building a 34-37" multiscale to get that really rich harmonic content on the 5 string.

    Here is a great video by Ian Allison that addresses this:

    The interesting thing is he is a huge fan of short scale basses, but he isn't under the delusion that the 32" scale (which is arguably not even short scale) he is reviewing sounds the same as an extra long 37" scale.
    Doug4321 and amper like this.
  20. wiscoaster


    Mar 28, 2021
    No, the original question was only about the "sound". There are really so many other variables that the question was never about whether one (in general) was "better" than the other (in general).
    amper and MovinTarget like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Dec 7, 2021

Share This Page