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Short Scale, live gig reactions from musicians and audience members ?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Davyo, Aug 14, 2019.

  1. Davyo

    Davyo Davyo Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2008
    Las Vegas, Nv
    I’m sure this subject has been discussed before and I did a search but didn’t find specific answers to my question’s.

    I’ve never really seriously own or used a short scale bass so I ordered a new Fender Mustang and a used Squier Jaguar, both get delivered in the next few days.

    I work with more than few bands playing out live on a regular basis and am curious to what the reactions are from fellow band members and audience members when they see a bass player using a short scale bass ?

    Are the comments “why are you playing a beginner’s bass” or “what, are ya trying to save money on gear” or “WOW, that’s totally cool”.

    I’m just wondering what I’m in for when I show up to my next job with a short scale ?

    Listening to the comments could be very entertaining I would think.
    Or, do people even really notice ?

    Thanks in advance for any comments.
    Cheers, Davyo
    jamro217, MCF and jd56hawk like this.
  2. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    In my experience, short scales barely get noticed.

    U-basses, on the other hand, now they draw attention. Not necessarily in a bad or good way, but people get real curious wth you're playing there and as far as I have seen, they're the basses that get most of the audience reactions. As in, people physically coming up to you to ask what you have there. Never got that with short scales.
    mbell75, fretlessguy, grrg63 and 24 others like this.
  3. Energy


    Jun 20, 2006
    They don't.
  4. No experience playing a short scale live (the only short scale I own is a Bass VI and I haven’t gigged with it), but I did attend to shows where the bass player would use a short scale and as a bass player myself, I just paid more attention to how a short scale sounds in the mix, etc. It gave me GAS for one, and reading your post gives me some again...

    I have the same reaction when a bass player’s using affordable gear like a Squier bass or a small cabinet like the Ampeg micro-vr 2x10 (I’ve heard one in a small venue lately and was surprised how big it sounded). I just listen to hear how it turns out in a live situation. Enjoying a show is no place for gear snobism!
  5. Energy


    Jun 20, 2006
    On second thought, I need to be more specific. Mustangs don't get noticed as they look kinda generic, i.e. like any other guitar. So mostly you don't get any reaction, positive or negative, with a Mustang.
    Other short scales do get noticed though. The U-Bass got mentioned. People are always astonished that such deep rumbling sound can come out of such a small instrument. Another one is the Höfner 500/1. It is so strongly associated with Sir Paul and the Beatles, it always puts a smile on peoples faces.
  6. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Tina Weymouth did all right with one. :D Most people honestly dont know the difference between a guitar or bass, let alone long or short scale. If it sounds good, it IS good. Ive always played long scale, but i can see myself gravitating to medium or short scale as my arthritis worsens.
  7. Wisebass


    Jan 12, 2017
    Lost in Space
    Hi Davyo :)

    Bandmember' s comment: Toddler guitar! :laugh::roflmao: (or Mädchenklampfe :D) Always joking!!!!

    Audiences rarely notice the bass.

    When they do, you will maybe get a comment about a crazy colour.

    Or maybe a crazy body form (e.g. Steinbergers)

    As long as they don 't see another bass to compare it to,

    they won' t see that your scale lenght isn' t a long scale.

    A bass is just a "bigger" guitar to most people.


    gebass6, jamro217, design and 6 others like this.
  8. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    +1. The only people that will notice are other musicians, and quite frankly, it wouldn't be bad thing if other musicians started paying a little more attention to the bass player. ;)
  9. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Even as a bass player I have never cared. I have never noticed any other musicians caring one way or the other.

    And if they do, your tone and chops can shut them up quickly. ;)
    REV, SwitchGear, hintz and 6 others like this.
  10. JohnArnson


    May 28, 2019
    I doubt a guy like Stanley Clarke ever got any negative comments about him playing his short scale Alembic bass.

    Also proves short scale basses are not just for small people with small hands, Stanley Clarke is quite tall and have quite big hands, and is also an accomplished upright bass player.
    gebass6, Johnny Crab, zon6c-f and 5 others like this.
  11. I have yet to get a single comment about my Reverend Watt at a gig. As a guitarist, I received plenty of comments about my guitars. Nobody cares about bass.
  12. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    That audience members notice the bass player, much less what he is playing, is unusual. Band members, on the other hand, are band members and may judge you and your gear based on their prejudices.
    gebass6, Maxime1980, jamro217 and 6 others like this.
  13. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    This one probably gets noticed.
    Other than that, nothing to worry abput.
  14. I own and gig with my two Musicmasters. I cant say that any audience member has ever had any feedback other than commenting on the colors/paint jobs because they're unique.

    Other musicians comment, and I immediately forget any negative ones about them being short scale. I just do my thing so their opinions remain their own.
    Machiavelli, Davyo and SoulReflection like this.
  15. Paul New

    Paul New Supporting Member

    Jun 1, 2004
    deepest alabama
    Yes, Jack Bruce caught pure hell for playing that dinky EB.
    jamro217, cratz2, hintz and 5 others like this.
  16. I've played a U-bass at every one of our gigs during the last 5 years. It tends to be the only instrument to get noticed, and always positively, by both musicians and others.
  17. I was recently at a concert with a few friends who aren't musicians and they asked me, referring to the bass player, "why does he keep switching out his bass?" (cycled between a Jazz, a 60's P, and a Mustang). Not once did they ask "OMG WHY IS HE CYCLING IN THAT SHORT SCALE?!?"

    Chances are, if you get negative reactions, it's from some snarky bass player who is butt hurt because YOU'RE gigging and he's not.
    gebass6, TrustRod, jamro217 and 10 others like this.
  18. blastoff

    blastoff Supporting Member

    Sep 5, 2007
    your guitarist will notice, and he’ll say that it makes you look huge and you’ll both chuckle uncomfortably for a few seconds
    dannnnn, cratz2, Lee Moses and 11 others like this.
  19. 39-Bassist


    Jul 7, 2010
    Endorsing Artist for: Brace Audio; Duncan Pickups; Line6, Hipshot, GHS Strings, Somnium Guitars
    I have seen a few guys playing the Jaguar bass and I have never heard anything bad...In fact a LOT of guys prefer it. It has a decent look and sounds fairly well too.

    I would say don't worry about anything and play till your hearts content!
  20. Carter Reid

    Carter Reid

    Aug 14, 2019
    Hey. I own a Squier Bronco bass and a Ibanez acoustic short scale. I am not a bass player but wanted to learn bass for all the usual reasons. As a guitar player and a runt I found it uncomfortable to play regular scale basses. I put EMG pickups on the Bronco. Nobody notices me.
    TrustRod and Davyo like this.

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