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
    I love the suggestion and will definitely consider it for my "wanna" list. :thumbsup:
  2. wiscoaster


    Mar 28, 2021
    Yes, I agree. I recorded my sessions with my bass teacher and it was very enlightening listening to my own playing. Excellent suggestion for a bass student. :thumbsup:
    Rich_Briere and MovinTarget like this.
  3. wiscoaster


    Mar 28, 2021
    That's a distinct possibility, and no way I could test it.
    MovinTarget likes this.
  4. Graham Tyler

    Graham Tyler

    Jan 26, 2021
    I have long scale and short scale basses. I find myself playing the short scale ones much more often. I have relatively small hands and they are less of a stretch for my fretting hand and easier to play at speed. I also love the punchy tone. The Ibanez Mikro bass plays well above it's price point, but my favourite is my Hofner violin bass. Comfortable, weighs almost nothing and sounds great.
    cruk48 and MovinTarget like this.
  5. MovinTarget

    MovinTarget Supporting Member

    Jan 30, 2018
    Maryland, USA
    Just to get peeps back on track, the OPP is not dissing Short Scale Basses. He is lamenting the inability to emulate the tone he gets from his full scale bass on the various SS models he has tried.

    He is not arguing comfort or any number of other factors. So our responses (should we choose to respond) should be along the lines of:

    "Short Scale Basses will never sound like Full Scale Basses and here is why:"


    Shor Scale Basses can better approximate the tones of a Full Scale Bass by employing these tricks:"

    I am in the latter camp. I won't say SS Bass A will ever sound EXACTLY like FS Bass B but if you cut one leg down on a chair, you have to make other adjustments if you want it to not wobble, such as:

    • Experiment with different gauge/types of strings
    • Try playing with you non-fretting hands in different positions
    • Play with the EQ to see if you can dial in your tone

    One could argue that a stock Short Scale sounding like stock Full Scale is as likely as a Full Scale fretless sounding like an Electric upright bass.
    amper and wiscoaster like this.
  6. oddeotek


    Mar 28, 2010
    Sammamish, WA
    I really think it depends on whether the bass sits in the mix and you like the tone. I own Fender, MusicMan and Steinberger basses but I proudly play a Hofner ignition Club Bass in my Rock trio. Inexpensive, a bit delicate feeling and thumpy it fills out the bottom end like nothing I’ve ever played in my 58 years of performing professionally. I honestly get more good comments on the way this bass looks and sounds than with any of my much more expensive basses. I’m also not complaining that it weighs 4 pounds!
    DavidEdenAria likes this.
  7. MovinTarget

    MovinTarget Supporting Member

    Jan 30, 2018
    Maryland, USA
    Also, if you *really* want some insight into short scales, you can always check out:
    The Official Short Scale Bass Club -- Part 4
    wiscoaster likes this.
  8. What's that old saying? In the dark or if you close your eyes?
    MovinTarget likes this.
  9. drgregn

    drgregn Granddude Supporting Member

    May 13, 2002
    Denton, TX
    MovinTarget likes this.
  10. Johnny Em

    Johnny Em

    Oct 10, 2019
    Las Vegas, NV
    You'll (probably) never get a SS to sound exactly like a LS. Each note played on bass (or any instrument) includes a series of harmonics that are predictable ratios of that note. The volumes of these harmonics give an instrument its unique tone, or timbre. When the string length changes, the character of those harmonics change. This difference in tone is due to how the instrument’s scale length affects the harmonics & timbre of the notes. LS has higher string tension & tends to emphasize the mid to high frequencies & typically sound tighter & punchier. SS tends to have lower tension & emphasize the lower (fundamental) frequencies because it doesn't produce the higher frequency harmonics of a LS.
    Doug4321 and MovinTarget like this.


    Feb 8, 2017
    I agree… I started with a short scale Danelectro, in 62, switched to a used 61 J Bass in 63, and switched to new 65 Gibson EB3, loved it then and still use it currently
    Bought a “vintage” 64 J Bass a few years for $2200, and a 5 string J for $800 around the same time
    Did not like either so I just play the 65 EB3 exclusively and am considering selling the other 2 Js
    I have nothing but praise for a 30” scale!!!


    Feb 8, 2017
    Did you ever display a 30” vs a 34” on an good “scope” to support your harmonics info?
    MovinTarget likes this.
  13. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    I went to university for Sound Design, and studied Physics of Music at both the secondary and university levels, have played bass for over 25 years and worked as a professional audio engineer for over 30 years. Pretty sure my opinion is shared by the vast majority of bassists, which is why the vast majority of bassists play long scale basses, and why double basses are as big as they are.

    My short scale is a Warwick Custom Shop that costs more than a Gibson and a Fender put together. :shrug:
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
  14. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    Both of them are fretless.

    DA41BD9C-0349-4380-815F-57A44A9231F2.jpeg 84508155-EEAD-42DC-B5EC-F7FE794A8BA6.jpeg
  15. west al

    west al Road Rex (Road King) Supporting Member

    MovinTarget likes this.
  16. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Very good. I studied The Physics of musical instruments with the professor that literally wrote the book on it, have played bass for 43 years, and have designed the gear you used as a pro audio engineer for over 40.

    Why are we comparing resumes?
    CliveMA, MovinTarget and Tanner5382 like this.
  17. Tanner5382


    Sep 26, 2010
    Canton, GA
    Don’t know or care. That’s their choice and I’m sure they have many varied reasons for that.

    Edit: to be fair it’s also the most widely available scale length.
    MovinTarget likes this.
  18. P-Boy69


    Mar 7, 2019
    I have a reverend dub king and the first time I brought it to practice the other guys were like “holy crap, this sounds great, I hear every note” , so in this case it’s not a “substitute”, it’s better :hyper:….. but I had messed with EQ quite a bit, so as has been say before, you can shape so all works :bassist:
  19. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    It's the most widely available for a very good reason, and that has to do with sound quality. Luthiers all over the world understand this and have had the opportunity to experiment with many different scale lengths.
  20. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    As it turns out, most bassists actually like harmonics - a Gibson EB0 is very big on fundamentals, and very light on harmonics, and.....most people ended up preferring Fenders. If your bass needs a touch more low end, we have tone controls on our amps to fix that.
    MYLOWFREQ and Tanner5382 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 2, 2021

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