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Short Scale Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BulbousMoses, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. So, my bass instructor doesn't have too many good things to say about short scale basses and I am wondering what the "real" deal is with them. How, specifically, are they worse than a standard 34" scale bass? I was thinking of buying a short scale as a second/backup/travel bass but if they truly suck, I may not make the move.
  2. acleex38


    Jul 28, 2006
    They are different in feel and in tone, and get a bad rap in part due to the fact that so many were cheap student models, BUT...somewhere around is a thread where someone did a blind test. He recorded a bunch of tracks - some on different short scales and some on long scale - and challenged people to pick which was which.

    There are good ones and bad ones and there are people who like how they feel and sound and some who don't. Don't take your instructor's word for it - figure that out for yourself.

    On top of that, let's look at a list of *some* of the bassists who have recorded some of their classic work on medium or short scale basses:

    Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones)
    Jack Bruce (Cream)
    Paul McCartney
    Les Claypool (his main bass for many years was a 32" scale)
    Stanley Clarke
    Rick Danko (The Band)
    Mike Watt (Minutemen, Stooges, fIREHOSE)
    Allen Woody (Gov't Mule)

    and their tones range from "old school and thuddy" to "bright, piano-like tone."
  3. Haha... find a new instructor.

    Different doesn't mean bad, or inferior.

    A 30" scale bass sounds different than a 34" scale bass... sure... but that's not BAD.

    Aside from an active 5-string... i'm VERY close to replacing all my 34" basses with 30" basses. I have owned and played a myrriad of 'nice' basses through the years... right now my main gig bass is a modded Squire Bronco.

    Try one out... no one can decide if you like them or not but you.
  4. acleex38


    Jul 28, 2006
    That list is by no means comprehensive.

  5. Well, no, my instructor is really fantastic. I think he' was just expressing his personal opinion, which he's entitled to. But yes, I should try them for myself and see what I think. There are a couple of bands that I go to see semi-regularly and both bass players use a short scale ( a Fender Mustang and a Fender Musicmaster) They sound fine to me in the band mix. I'm not looking to spend a lot of money on the second bass so a Fender Mustang is not in the cards...maybe the new Squier Mustang, depending on how good they turn out to be..
  6. I'll have to see if I can find that "tone test"...thanks for the reply.
  7. Mastermold

    Mastermold Supporting Member


    I have a few short scale hollow or semi hollowbody basses and they're great. Paul McCartney is perhaps the poster boy for this sort of tone.
  8. Haha, i was just being a bit fecetious.

    Mustangs are the standard 'Fender Shortscale', but from what i've been told, there's a bit of a difference between the older ones and the newer CiJ Reissues... with the favor being to the newer ones. Musicmasters are not in production, but don't fetch as high of a price as other 'vintage Fenders'.

    I'm excited about the new Squire VM Mustang. Squire also has a VM Jaguar Bass in short scale that gets some love.

    Honestly, check out a Bronco. You can often find used ones for under $100. They are fun in that they take any standard Stratocaster pickup with no modification to the body or pickguard. I have a Duncan Hotrails in mine and it's AMAZING. It can also take a Musicmaster pickup. The body itself also has a large route, allowing for even MORE modification. Search some on TB and you can find some really good mods! Lastly, on Squire's side of things, if you can find one... in the 90's Squire had a line called the Vista Series. One of the instruments made was a Squire Vista Musicmaster. In my experience... they are AWESOME!! Unfortunately, their awesomeness is pretty well known, and often times they go for almost as much as a vintage Fender Musicmaster.

    If you don't like the Fender look, there are plenty of others... Gretsch, Hoffner, Ibanez, Eastwood, SX, Epiphone, Gibson... almost any manufacturer i can think of offers at least ONE shortscale model...
  9. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    what kind of short scale are you looking at?

    there are those "u-bass" things, and ashbory basses, witch are unique little weirdos.. but then there's fender-style 32" and such scale instruments.. what are you talking about?

    they aren't better or worse than other scale lengths. paul mccartneys hofner was a 30" scale. nothing wrong with the way his bass sounded..

    short scale basses tend to have a much more pronounced upper register, with thicker low end, but less deep-sub content, and less highs for sure.
  10. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    Shortscales are great. If your instructor tried my Stambaugh he might have a different opinion.

    If you are currently considering one, check out the Squire ss Jag basses. Great basses and fairly cheap at less than $200.
  11. I think my instructor has tried a few short scales over the years and just doesn't care for the feel/tone...that's fine, he's allowed to have a preference but I've also heard others trash the short scale bass and I wondered why (other than ass-hattery)

    FWIW, my instructor didn't tell me not to get one, just that he did't like them.
  12. Purple Ibanez Mikro (28.5"), Silver Squier Jaguar SS (30"), Burgundy Fender Precision (34").

    The Ibanez or Squier can be had new and shipped for under $170 (at least where I live).

    The Fender Precision is currently in a case, under the bed, lonely and no longer played. :bawl:
  13. soxhats

    soxhats Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2011
    Raleigh, NC
    I bought this Jerry Jones Longhorn several weeks ago. My first short-scale bass. Has turned my head around. I just love the comfort of the short scale (in addition to other qualities of this bass), and now find my G.A.S.-y mind thinking about other short-scale basses.
  14. DeanT

    DeanT Send lawyers, guns and money...

    Well, bass tone is very subjective. And your instructor is allowed to not like short scales, but not to claim they are "worse" than long scales. They're not. They're just different.

    I defy anyone to prove to me that my Birdsong bass (30.5" scale) is worse than a long scale bass. It isn't. It sounds huge. It can go head to head with any bass out there.
  15. Exactly this. Besides, what's "worse" mean in this case anyway?

    IMHO, short scales are great fun to play and they sound just fine to my ear. Personally, I like a 32" scale - sort of the middle ground - but I'm always happy to noodle around on my buddy's Squier Bronco whenever I can. I was contemplating adding a Jag shorty to the stable, but I'm currently waiting to try out the new VM Mustang before I decide.
  16. SquishyBass


    Aug 4, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    I have a Fender Mustang and a Squier VM Jag both short scale. They DO sound different from the P I used to have but once you get them going with the right strings and the right EQ they both sound amazing and what's even better is that I can FLY around that fretboard!
  17. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    Find a new instructor.
    The one you have now doesn't know squat.
  18. UnfortunateTony


    Jul 26, 2010
    The problem with a lot of teachers nowadays is that, being a little older, they're a little more stuck in their ways. They don't like picks, they don't like short scales, etc.

    Short scales are just as good as any comparable long scale.
  19. Jeff K

    Jeff K Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2005
    Memphis, TN
    Several months ago, I bought my first short-scale bass (Gretsch Broadkaster). It's a lot of fun to mess around with, beautiful, and the tone sounds great. But after a short while, I decided that personally, I'm not as comfortable with the short scale (30.3") as I am on the 34" one. So I have it up for sale. Nothing wrong with the tone though. It's just not my thing from a playing-comfort point of view. But my guess is that anybody who is into short-scales would love it...
  20. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Banned

    Jan 20, 2011
    what a dumb thing to say they dont suck they rule
    thats like saying kayaks rule canoes suck ***

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