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Short scale vs long scale for hollowbodies?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by zradguy, Jan 21, 2013.


  1. zradguy

    zradguy

    May 2, 2011
    Boulder, CO
    Hi all, I'm getting more interested daily in a hollow body bass. I played a Gretsch Electromatic 4-string a few times, and like the tone a lot. It was a long scale, and I have read that short scales have a fatter tone with a more colorful high range and a juicier G string (who doesn't like a juicy G string... Ha! Sorry...)

    Anyway, I would love to get people's thoughts on the tonal differences and playability between a long scale and short scale, specifically in regards to a hollow body design.

    Thanks in advance!!
     
  2. Gorn

    Gorn Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    There seem to be very few options for long scale hollow bodies. The Epiphone Jack Casady is the only long scale I can think of. I'm curious myself as to why they mostly come in short scale.
     
  3. zradguy

    zradguy

    May 2, 2011
    Boulder, CO
    Yeah I wonder that myself. From reading up a little, it looks like short scales got a "just-for-beginners" reputation because they're easy to play with less tension on the strings, shorter neck, and closer frets. The long scale brings the more advanced feel I suppose, given more frets.

    I'm getting really focused on tone these days, and I'd love understand what a nice short scale can really do.

    The answer I'm sure everyone would agree with is "go play one and find out" but I'd like to know if anyone is in love with their hollow body and/or short scale, and why?
     
  4. jasper383

    jasper383

    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
    Neck dive for one.

    Also, you have that big body, and a longer neck can be quite a reach out to the first couple positions.
     
  5. zradguy

    zradguy

    May 2, 2011
    Boulder, CO
    Thanks Jasper, makes good sense about the size of the body. In looking at the Gretsch Electromatic basses in particular, I felt like the long scale was perfectly fine for playability, but I'm curious about the difference in tone. Wish GC had a short scale to play with. I read earlier that Gretsch only made around 200 of those basses. Seems hard to believe, but who knows. The GC near me has two of them. One kinda stinks but the other is pretty great sounding.
     
  6. Gorn

    Gorn Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    Most GC's have a Hofner icon.
     
  7. Rob Martinez

    Rob Martinez

    Sep 14, 2005
    I love my short scale basses (Hofners, Waterstone, Danelectro) because they are easy to play, look cool, and sound amazing. And, in the end, audiences don't care and could not tell the difference. Neither can musicians, once you are playing and mixed in with vocals and other instruments.
     
    Slaphound likes this.
  8. My Eastwood Classic 4 30" scale hollowbody is the same overall length of my Lakland 44-02 34" scale, and the body is much larger, so I'd imagine a full size neck would be extra long.
     
  9. MAJOR METAL

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    I own both long and short scale hollow body basses. I have not observed any sonic differences due to scale length.
     
    Slaphound likes this.
  10. MCS4

    MCS4 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    In my limited experience, there is a tonal difference (on the average) that likely is more based on string tension than anything. This could be reduced or increased by different string selection, pickups, etc.

    However, that is in no way a difference in quality or "beginner-ness." Just a preference. I play 34" mostly but also love my 30.5" Gibson, which is killer when I want a fatter/bass-ier tone or want to bend strings like mad...
     
  11. woodyng

    woodyng

    Dec 19, 2007
    Oregon coast
    There are a bunch of choices in both short and long scale HB basses. I've owned a few short scale basses over the years,and find my fingers get tied up in the upper registers on them,so i prefer a long scale for the most part. I've owned/sold the lakland hb,Epi JC,Dano Hodad,ibanez full scale hb,and now have an Italia Rimini,which has a 33 1/2 scale. They're all great basses,especially the Lakland and the Italia.
     
  12. fjadams

    fjadams

    Jun 7, 2011
    Danbury, CT
    The Gretsch White falcon and the G5440LS are both long scale.

    I play short scales exclusively and have never noticed they sound any different than a long scale.
     
  13. MarkusBass

    MarkusBass

    Feb 24, 2008
    California Coast
    Graphic Designer: Lakland
    And Lakland...although they have a short scale coming too.


    Oh...and Warwick.
     
  14. fjadams

    fjadams

    Jun 7, 2011
    Danbury, CT
    Yeah, the Lakland SS is of major interest. My local music store meets with the Fender Reps Friday morn at NAMM. I'll know more about the new Guild Starfire after that. Will either have one, or be on the list for one as soon as released. Absolutely love Starfires, wanted another one since I had to sell my 67' in early 70s.
     
  15. zradguy

    zradguy

    May 2, 2011
    Boulder, CO
    Can't wait to play the starfire. I hope they do a broader release of the starfire II. So far I heard they've only made nine (9)...!
     
  16. There's two different Guild Starfire basses!

    The Starfire II GSR (Guild Special Run) were made in New Hartford CT. and were build from existing bodies and outfitted with N.O.S. humbucker pick-ups. They built less then 20 of them.

    fe3820200888-xl-02.jpg



    Now they have "re-issued" the Starfire I with a "reverse-engineered" Hagstrom Bi-Sonic pick-up. They are called the Newark Street Series and are made in Korea.

    Guild-Starfire-Bass-620x218.jpg

    There's a review somewhere on the forum for this bass.
     
  17. I love the tone and playability of my short scale '65 Rivoli with Rotosound tape wounds and mudbuckers through my Jeff Berlin combo amp and NY151 extension cab.
     
  18. Make that single mudbucker.
     
  19. I can tell you from experiance that the Jack Cassidy, while being the most fantastic passive bass I ever played was a very physically daunting bass to play due to it's size. I am 5'5" and it was just too much to handle.:crying:
     
  20. pinz

    pinz

    Jun 14, 2010
    NZ
    I have both, a Gretsch Broadkaster (short scale) and a Warwick pro series Star Bass (long scale), although the Star Bass is more semi hollow due to its construction.
    The Gretsch feels like a normal scale to me due to its design,compared to my short scale Squier Jag,which feels tiny and toy like.
    The Warwick is a stretch for me to reach the 1st frets,but a joy to play and faultless for a Korean instrument.
    The Warwick rocks hard at anything I throw at it whereas the Gretsch suits more mellow styles due to its nature and lower pick up output even with the TV Jones option fitted.
    I have more feedback issues with the Gretsch compared to the Warwick.
    Both are reasonably light and well balanced,although I do find the right arm resting on the body edge a small pain after 3 hours with both after playing rolled off slim bodies for years.
    But that doesn't put me off loving hollowbodies.
     
  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.

     
    Feb 25, 2021

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