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Short scale vs long scale

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Evil Undead, Dec 18, 2013.

  1. Comfort

    174 vote(s)
  2. Tone

    227 vote(s)
  1. Evil Undead

    Evil Undead

    Oct 31, 2009
    Ok, I know some of you have clicked this title hoping to say something along the lines of "this has been done to death etc" but bear with me :D

    I've got a couple of short scale basses and one long scale. Of course, being a short girl, the short scales are way more comfortable and easier for me to play. I have an issue with my little finger on my left hand - it goes a bit numb after 10 minutes of playing a 34" scale bass due to ulnar nerve entrapment - doctor won't operate.

    For me, my long scale bass (this one in particular) is the best sounding bass I ever played.

    After playing short scales for a week or so, switching back to the long scale really makes my left hand ache. Plus the little finger issue.

    I'm considering getting rid of the shorties and going back to standard purely for the sound, but can't help feeling like I'd be doing myself some damage over the long term. How do I get around this?

    I guess it comes down to comfort or tone. Which would you guys choose, and why? Which is more important to you?
  2. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    Comfort any day. A good eq can do a lot to improve your tone, but if the bass isn't comfortable, you won't enjoy playing it.
  3. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    I'm a big guy and was all about full scale for a while, but I haven't played anything other than my 5 pound shortscale Hofner since I got it. My longscale jazz is more versatile, but I like the oldschool tone of my Hofner. Plus, I'm a lazy bastard, so comfort wins.
  4. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL
    Tone all the way. I can adjust to feel and or comfort. If it sounds good and to my liking, I'll adjust.
  5. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan. Supporting Member

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.
    I went with comfort. Playing a bass that makes your hand hurt will probably do long term dammage. I have both and to be honest, the shorty is more fun to play.
  6. ghostfather


    Oct 26, 2013
    comfort all the way.
    i actually just replaced my short scale for a long scale because the long scale feels better to my long spindly fingers. and the balance of a long scale feels better for my freakish gangly arms.
  7. I've never played a shortscale, but I'd pick comfort every time; a more comfortable bass will make me more likely to pick it up more often, so I get to enjoy playing it more, and get better faster. Hell, if the tone is all in the fingers, that sounds like the only real choice. Plus playing live, people are much more interested in seeing me jump around and whip my hair like an idiot, easier to do with a forgiving bass.

    Besides, I have a hard time believing you can't get a tone you'll just as much (if maybe in a different way) from the shortscale by swapping out components, or looking at altering your amp/cab setup. All of that becomes moot if you screw up your hand.
  8. Loel

    Loel Blazin' Acadian

    Oct 31, 2004
    I've always played short or medium scale,thing is you can
    change neck size but not your hand size,i own both prefer
    the medium scale..
  9. Uncle K

    Uncle K The custodian is your enemy Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2011
    Erie, PA
    Comfort. Also I'd be hard-pressed to be able to tell my Mustang from my Precision from listening to one of my band's recordings.
  10. blue4


    Feb 3, 2013
    St. Louis area
    Comfort. If your short scale doesn't sound as good, look at trying new strings. What are the basses you have, and what tunings are you using? I may be user name profiling here, but Evil Undead strikes me as a drop tuning kinda name. JK:)
  11. Andii Syckz

    Andii Syckz

    Jan 2, 2011
    Comfort is good, although i chose tone. But i agree with a lot of the posts here. I play long scale basses (with the exception of my short scale ibanez GaxB), But i prefer short scale hollowbodies and long scale solid bodies (aside from musicmaster/mustang)
  12. Comfort you can change pickups, electronics . Im fact just ordered nordstrand fat stacks for my short scale
  13. MoeTown1986

    MoeTown1986 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2010
    SoMD (Mechanicsville)
    COMFORT! you can do a lot to change your tone. Not many options for comfort.
  14. Danelander


    Sep 13, 2013
    I think that if you are not feeling comfortable when you play it will affect your tone in a bad way anyway. Could it be a question of trying out some more short scale basses? Have you tried the Gibson SG or Fender Mustang?
  15. 66thunderbird66


    Dec 14, 2013
    To choose between comfort and tone, hmm. Why not choose both? Find a bass you're comfortable with, and as someone wrote, change the bass too your liking ...
  16. willop


    Feb 7, 2013
    beaver, pa
    I've not played a short scale but once in a store so can't comment on how much diff it makes, but easy action, lighter bass, thinner strings are good things IMO.

    As others have said you can change pickups, eq adjustments, string choice, how you play, amp and pedals/effects can be added.
  17. DrDAV14

    DrDAV14 Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2008
    For you its not just comfort, its the health of your playing.
    Stay with the short scales, just find one that matches your tone needs. There are a lot of them out there,Spector,Warwick, Alembic, Birdsong. Choices are much better than in the past for shorty's.
  18. macmanlou

    macmanlou Don't push it. Just let it fall. Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Washington, DC Area
    Comfort (and health).

    What short scale basses do you have, and what long scale has the tone you like? Chances are, one of your shortys can be modded to sound very much like (maybe even better than) your long scale.

    There are many options for short scales now, including complete custom builds for less than you might expect (i.e. Jimmy Wilson at landingbass.com). Let us know what tone(s) you're going for.
  19. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL
    I guess I'm choosing tone thinking I'd be playing the instrument as is. Now if the case was where I could mod the bass, I wouldn't have to worry about picking either, I'd just mod the bass to my specs and enjoy the feel AND tone.
  20. Bass Fund

    Bass Fund Banned

    Nov 30, 2013
    Sometimes shortscale basses that are under 32' sound out of place, to me. Have you ever tried a medium scale bass? Also, it's a 34', but have you ever tried playing a Fender Jazz? You can wrap your thumb around the low notes, if you need to. The neck tapers a good bit.