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Short Scale Fretless??

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BenderR, Sep 14, 2005.


  1. BenderR

    BenderR

    Jun 1, 2004
    Tucson, AZ
    While I love my Warwick fretless I am forced to give it up because of a tendon problem. I have explored medical and other alternative treatments and unanimously been advised that the stretching required by a long-scale bass is at the root of the problem. I can play my short-scale bass all day long with no troubles however.

    My question is this; does anyone have any experience with a 30" scale fretless? If so, how was it?
     
  2. Kael

    Kael Supporting Member

    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    I've got an old short scale acoustic fretless that I bring out occasionally. The shorter scale makes it less forgiving of imperfect intonation. Don't know how much more I can add, as mine is an acoustic.
     
  3. BenderR

    BenderR

    Jun 1, 2004
    Tucson, AZ
    I appreciate the reply. As long as the overall sound of the instrument is OK I'll be glad to put in the practice required to fine-tune my intonation.
     
  4. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Boston, MA
    My suggestion to you is to find a 32" scale fretless. That extra 2" will make a difference in playability. Also, for what it'd worth, one of the best sounding fretless basses I've played was a 32" scale bass by Jack Read. The scale length really added to the tone.
     
  5. BenderR

    BenderR

    Jun 1, 2004
    Tucson, AZ
    That may just be the best idea yet! What I have in mind is a Warwick bolt on which is available in 30", 32" or 34". I hope that I can find a 32" ANYTHING to try in the meantime.
     
  6. Kitsapbass

    Kitsapbass What key is this?

    May 26, 2005
    Fife, WA
    DUDE!!!! Why don't you contact Dana B. Goods/Warwick and notify them of the issue; I know that they make bolt-on necks that are different scale lengths (like 30" for a 4 string, and 32" for 4 AND 5 strings) and see if you can purchase a neck for yours; if you give them the serial #, I'm sure they will take care of you....maybe.
     
  7. BenderR

    BenderR

    Jun 1, 2004
    Tucson, AZ
    I already tried that but they said that they don't sell the necks separately. I might call 'em back and grovel just to wear 'em down.
     
  8. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    You can actually play a 34" scale with total ergonomic comfort by using upright fingering in the lower registers. Fender J's are particularly comfortable, and the neck sits in a particularly accessible position. You would also find that the upright fingering improves your intonation. With upright fingering, you do not use your ring finger in the lower positions. You have to get used to shifts, but there are techniques to work that into all sorts of complex lines. Worth checking out.
     
  9. Fealach

    Fealach Guest

    Apr 23, 2003
    Gone to a better place
    Well, not exactly an answer but maybe a hint. I've got this little toy bass - it's a "Quest, by Vantage" as if it wasn't high class enough for Vantage to put their logo on it. This thing is fretted, but the scale is maybe a little smaller than my Carvin GUITAR. Right. Put a Duncan 1/4 P pickup in it. So how's it sound?

    Almost like a fretless. I'm half thinking of yanking the frets. With the tone know all the way up, it sounds pretty bad. Thin, clanky, bad. BUT with the tone all the way down, I can best describe it as a combination of old Cream era Jack Bruce and the tone of the bass in the studio version of "Whipping Post." Not a good tone for many situations, but awesome for others.
     
  10. BenderR

    BenderR

    Jun 1, 2004
    Tucson, AZ
    I had thought along these lines myself but I'm not certain if it would work or not. As I recall, upright fingering uses the fourth finger (reinforced by the third finger) in place of the third finger. What concernes me is that my fourth finger seems to be the source of the problem. I am primarily a guitarist, classically trained and quite accustomed to a four-finger technique and a lot of stretching but for some reason even a couple of scales played at the third position of a bass gets my arm aching.

    I went to an orthopaedic surgeon and in his opinion I have a healthy carpal tunnel. He felt that I was simply asking too much of my left arm and it seems like his words have proven true. If I lay off of the bass for a week or so the problem vanishes. I bought a Jaguar Baritone Custom (28.5" scale) and can play that all day long with no problem. Worst case scenario (at least at this point in time) would be that I would have to stay with the ultra short scale of the Jag Bari and forego playing a fretless. To me it boils down to one thing, can a 30" scale fretless sound OK?
     
  11. Joe Smithberger

    Joe Smithberger Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Canton, Ohio, USA
    I have a Rob Allen Mouse - 30" scale, fretless, semi-acoustic. It is a beautiful instrument, but not a replacement for a more conventional bass for a Rock band. The Mouse is about the same size as a guitar. In fact I tend to play it with my right thumb and fingers like a classical guitar. It only has a bridge piezo and sounds like a cross between a fretless P bass and an upright. I think the website is http://www.roballenguitars.com

    On the upright fingering subject. The difference is that the ring finger and pinky are kept together at the ring finger position. It is probably less stretching to do that on a 34" scale than trying to do four-finger technique on a 30" scale. You should spend some time with this idea. When I began playing upright, I switched to that style on the first few positions on electric as well. It is pretty easy to do, and makes fretless intonation much easier down low.