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Short Scale vs. Long Scale

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Usul, Sep 8, 2000.

  1. This is going to sound dumb,but what are the differances,pros & cons to the short and long scale necks?
    If you start playing one or the other should you stay with that neck configuration or...?I`m not even sure what my Ibanez GSR190 is.The webpage has specs but nothing to indicate the scale(she has 22 frets if that means anything).I am assuming it is long since from the bridge to the nut is near 35 inches or so.


    p.s.Am I offbase thinking the short/long has to do with the physical length??:(
  2. jcadmus


    Apr 2, 2000
    The scale is essentially the effective string length of the instrument, measured from the bridge to the nut. Typical "long" scale is about 34 inches, although 35's have gotten popular over the last several years, especially for five-string basses. "Short" scales usually run 30 to 32 inches, but they vary -- some longer and some shorter. Upside of short scales are, of course, they can be easier to play because overall the neck is generally shorter (for those of us who don't have hand's like King Kong) and the string tension is looser (for those of us who don't have hands like Arnold Swarzenegger). The downsides are that some people find the short scales a little cramped, and with the looser string tension the tone can get a little flabby.

    My first "good" bass was a Gibson EBO, which I believe had a 32" scale. Loved that bass (wish I still had it!), but when I got my first long-scale Fender there was no turning back.
  3. MJB


    Mar 17, 2000
    Well I have one long scale (34") and one short scale (30.75") bass. Quite frankly I don't feel a LOT of difference. Since that almost 4 inch difference is spread out along the whole neck it doesn't really put the fret spacing all that much closer together. Play what feels and sounds right to you rather than worry about specs. MHO and YMMV of course.

  4. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    I find the short-scale Gibsons I own ('67 EB2 and '68 EB3) offer nice relief for my left hand during the fourth set, especially if I'm playing a lot of fast dance music with walking, boogie lines. Definitely less distance to cover. Also, the "floppier" tension is a little easier to pull on those late nights when energy is fading...But I'm a long-scale man all the way, myself. The orginal Precision '34 scale seems to me to be quite perfect!
  5. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I have to agree with the previous post...play what feels right. I have large hands and play a 34" scale comfortably.

    I remember several years ago playing a friend's Fender that had a 30" scale and thought it was extremely comfortable. I also owned a Modulus for about 2 years that had a 35" scale. In theory, my large hands should be able to work the fretboard quite well. But, that wasn't the case. I usually play with a close-handed technique, which helped out a bit, but there were some fingerings I had difficulty with that I have an easier time with on the 34" scale.

    My point is that each person develops his or her own playing style and will feel comfortable with different scale lengths. I know that there are many out there, probably with smaller hands than I, that love the 35" scale. Perhaps some of them just prefer bigger :p.

    Also, there's some truth to the claims that the longer the scale length, the greater the string tension, therefore creating greater sustain. But, don't let that override your comfort level on the instrument. My own feelings are that you should go with a scale as long as possible while still being comfortable playing it. If you're not comfortable, you'll certainly not love playing as much and end up wasting your money.
  6. biscuit


    Mar 6, 2000
    Virginia, USA
    I owned two Guild basses that were short scale. The basses played great but I could not find strings that fit them. Only a few string manufacturers offer short scale string sets and then it is only on their most popular line of strings. Even the dealer who sold me the short scale bass (Washington Music Center in D.C.) did not carry strings for them. All things being equal I would go with a 34" scale bass because you can't always get strings for the short scale basses.
  7. MJB


    Mar 17, 2000
    Finding short scale strings should not really be a problem. D'Addario, RotoSound, Thomastik, GHS, Fender all make them.


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