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)
    83.6%
  2. No

    63 vote(s)
    16.4%
  1. Tanner5382

    Tanner5382

    Sep 26, 2010
    Canton, GA
    Weren’t you also earlier saying that any scale length works fine? Lol. Which again, I agree with. Long scale does work well I agree. Major manufacturers also like to stick with the traditional tried and true, which just happened to be what Leo Fender settled on. Still, as I said originally, most people say short scale has more fundamental. Look around online for yourself. Whether or not you agree is fine. I happen to agree with it, after extensive experience with many scale lengths of many makes. I don’t want a super fundamental based sound anymore, hence me returning to long scale (plus other reasons).

    Not all bass players are looking for all fundamental, by the way. If they were, flatwounds would still be the most popular strings. Most people want some harmonics/overtones.
     
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  2. Garth Moore

    Garth Moore Supporting Member

    May 23, 2015
    There not cheap, but Wilcock Basses from the UK sound amazing. Saving up for one now. Serek basses also sound great. Two great short scale builders.
     
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  3. nmiller

    nmiller

    Sep 1, 2010
    Rocky Hill, CT
    Fashion. In the '60s, there were many more people playing short-scale basses because they were adopted by many prominent players. Trends have since changed, and most people play 34" basses because they're in fashion.
    That does not follow.
    Leo Fender was wrong about many things. He thought that jazz players would be attracted to the Jazzmaster. He thought that the short scale and zillion switches on the Jaguar would make it the most desirable of his [guitar] creations. He thought that the market existed for a 5-string bass in 1965. Whether he was right or wrong about scale length is obviously down to personal preference, both in sound and playability. But it would be folly to suggest that Leo was somehow infallible.
     
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  4. Miles_ONeal

    Miles_ONeal Wrangler of Raucous Thunder Supporting Member

    Dec 1, 2017
    Round Rock, TX
    It's not necessarily a question of deficiency, but of what works for that bass. I EQ differently for various basses regardless of scale. I have three different Thunderbird models. All three sound different and respond differently to a given set of strings. I run the EQ different for each bass as well.

    Strings also make a big difference.

    It's also possible you want different pickups or positions for them.
     
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  5. shoulderpet

    shoulderpet

    Sep 24, 2015
    Nonsense, not everyone wants more fundamental
    I was about to respond to his post but your post covers pretty much everything I was going to say +1 to what you have said in your post
     
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  6. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster

    Mar 28, 2021
    Wisconsin
    Got my "new" (to me - aka used on ebay) Epiphone Rumblekat cleaned up, restrung, and set up, and wow!! is this one cool short-scale bass. Looks great, plays great, and best of all (to me, and the point of this thread), sounds great!! I think it's going to give my Fender Mustang some stiff competition to be my #1!!

    epi_kat.JPG
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
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  7. Mushroo

    Mushroo

    Apr 2, 2007
    Any time you play a fretted note above the 2nd fret, you are playing a "short scale bass."
     
  8. nmiller

    nmiller

    Sep 1, 2010
    Rocky Hill, CT
    ..........................................................No.
     
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  9. Doug4321

    Doug4321

    May 29, 2017
    Oregon
    Been touched on before…. The biggest challenge I’ve found with short scales is getting a string that vibrates properly. Especially E strings and flats. You need a nicely flexible string. The worst was Rotosound flats. They are light gauge but relatively stiff, so tuned loose. The overtones were very sharp, and tuning unstable. Heavier gauge strings likewise are too stiff.
     
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  10. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster

    Mar 28, 2021
    Wisconsin
    Yes, I agree. I think lighter-weight strings are the ticket for short-scales.
     
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  11. Tanner5382

    Tanner5382

    Sep 26, 2010
    Canton, GA
    I agree, Roto flats were the worst strings I ever used on short scale basses.
     
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  12. shoulderpet

    shoulderpet

    Sep 24, 2015
    Nice, have always wanted one of those basses, the thing that has always held me back from buying one is that they seem to be geared towards a kind of warm and thumpy tone which is nice but I like to be able to get a bright grindy rock tone sometimes
     
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  13. Mushroo

    Mushroo

    Apr 2, 2007
    The pickups on your bass can only sense the vibrating portion of the string (between your fretting finger and the bridge). The non-vibrating portion of the string (between your fretting finger and the nut) is invisible to the pickups.

    As a thought experiment, imagine playing the open string of a 34" bass, vs. fretting the 12th fret of a 68" bass. How could the pickup possibly "know" that the 68" bass has 34" of non-vibrating string between your fretting finger and the nut? All the pickup senses is the 34" of string that is actually vibrating. From the pickup's perspective (i.e. what the audience hears) the scale length of the bass is 34" not 68". The extra 34" are magnetically "invisible" to the pickups, when you are fretting at the 12th fret.

    Another way of looking at it, is that whenever you play a fretted note instead of an open string, your fretting finger becomes the temporary nut and temporarily re-calculates the scale length.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
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  14. blastoff99

    blastoff99 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2011
    Under the flight path
    Mod voice:

    When this thread started, I watched it pretty carefully for a bit because I thought the subject was provocative enough to cause trouble. I'm glad to have been wrong about that, because the discussion has been worthwhile and non-trolly. Lots of good info here from a variety of perspectives, and lots for people to look into for further research if desired.

    HOWEVER, the last couple of pages have seen things veer into the ditch a bit. I've done some cleanup and might do more. I appreciate the efforts of those of you who have tried to get it back on track. If you want to keep this thread open, you know the rules. If you need to refresh your memory, there's a link at the top of the page.

    Thanks.
     
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  15. Yes but... keep in mind that for your thought experiment leaving everything else the same (string gauge, pickup position) also means you have effectively re-tuned the thought experiment short scale bass to F#, B, E, A.

    However, in real life, short scale basses are generally tuned standard which means the string tension is lower than on a longer scale bass with everything else being the same. That has a big impact on what the pickup senses (i.e: the timbre).
     
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  16. nmiller

    nmiller

    Sep 1, 2010
    Rocky Hill, CT
    The scale of a bass is defined by the length of the vibrating string when open, not how long it happens to be when fretted. No thought experiment is going to change that definition.
     
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  17. KJMO

    KJMO

    Feb 6, 2015
    Does increasing the pitch by turning the tuner do the same thing as increasing the pitch by placing your finger on a higher fret does? It doesn't seem like it, but IDK. If it does it seems like he has a point.
     
  18. nmiller

    nmiller

    Sep 1, 2010
    Rocky Hill, CT
    It does not do the same thing. One increases the tension on the string. Neither increases the scale length.
     
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  19. wiscoaster

    wiscoaster

    Mar 28, 2021
    Wisconsin
    ...which I think almost perfectly describes the "bridge" pickup only ---- which I put in quotes because it's really closer to the neck than the bridge.

    As far as short-scale "sound" goes, which I guess started me on this quest, and this thread, it seems this particular short-scale base seems capable of quite a range and variety of tones and sounds, more so than my other shorties. So exactly what's responsible for that, I don't know. What makes this bass different from my other shorties is that it's a closed hollow-body.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
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  20. KJMO

    KJMO

    Feb 6, 2015
    Decreases scale, you mean? I don't think he is saying it makes the neck physically shorter, but that it sounds the same as it would on a shorter scale. Idk if it does, but maybe.
     
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