1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Short Scale vs Medium Scale

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by 25oclock, Jul 6, 2016.

  1. 25oclock


    Aug 25, 2014
    Sumware, Texas
    There are several comparisons between long scale basses and short scale basses that can be found. But, what about short scale vs medium scale? What do you know?
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Assuming your bass is standard 34" scale:

    Put a capo on your 1st fret and tune the capo'd notes to EADG. (Without the capo, the open strings would be EbAbDbGb.) That's what a 32" scale bass sounds like.

    Now put a capo on your 2nd fret and tune the capo'd notes to EADG. (Without the capo, the open strings would be DGCF.) That's what a 30" scale bass sounds like.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2016
  3. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    It's mostly just another scale length as far as I'm concerned. But it's a nice compromise between the 30 and 34-inch length. I actually prefer it for fretless. For some odd reason I find it much easier to get accurate intonation on a 32" fretless neck than I do on a standard bass neck. Go figure. :laugh:
    Jeff Elkins and Johns Bass like this.
  4. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    I have to disagree a little in that characterization. It's not just about the string length. I think a 30" bass sounds very different than a 34" neck capoed up. The string tension is lower which gives it a very different timbre than you'll get on a standard long scale bass. It's a very different sound.

    At least to my ears.
  5. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    In case I was unclear:

    Put a capo on the 2nd fret and tune the capo'd 2nd fret notes to EADG. This means, without the capo, the tuning would be DGCF. The string tension will be lower. Exactly the same as a 30" bass.

    I'll edit my original post to avoid confusion.
  6. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Interesting! I'm gonna have to give that a try myself and do a side by side. :thumbsup:


    "Many studio pros know the secret of how unique short scale basses sound. The lower string tension provided by the short scale has several benefits - easy playability, sweet upper register tones and fat blooming low end, not to mention the added nuance that comes naturally when playing this type of bass. The lower string tension means less attack, but more “bloom” on the end of the note. The lower string tension also produces a slightly fuller low end. To demonstrate this, detune a string one whole step on any bass and hear the tone thicken as the string tension is dropped."
  8. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Not disputing you. I just wanted to try it and compare to see how similar it is to a real short scale. That's all.

    That trick could come in handy for someone who's transitioning from guitar, or a guitarist who needs to double and is acutely uncomfortable with the longer scale like a few guitarists I know. They could just get a standard bass (more and better selections - especially for lefties) and capo, and then lose the capo when they're more comfortable.
    BassHappy likes this.
  9. 25oclock


    Aug 25, 2014
    Sumware, Texas
    Hey Happy, I know your a fan of medium scales. I missed out on that JB62M and am now trying to discover what medium scales offer that shorts don't. The short scale market is more plentiful.
    BassHappy likes this.
  10. DChalo


    Dec 16, 2015
    Austin, TX
    Don't try to buy a "Short-Scale bass" off of craigslist


    I learned my lesson.
    jeffmensch, Mahcks, Holdsg and 12 others like this.

  11. Frankly fellas, yeah - I am a medium scaler all the way - but that doggone "Mouse" short scale of Rob's I own - is such an incredible instrument. Not just that it's a shortie, which I definitely struggle with in the upper registers - but it has so much to do with the rosewood bridge, the under saddle pickup, strings through body design, the incredible light weight (mine is 5.6 lbs) - and the tapewound strings. I have had mine for over 12 years and even though I play it religiously - it still has the original strings which somehow are still doing fine after 12 years.

    So simple, with just a volume control onboard - but you really marvel in the overall engineering and R&D that Rob has perfected over the years. Just sounds like nothing else I have. Always warm, round, deep and woody - just the way I love it. Sounds great in the studio.

    I kind of got addicted to it because the stamina in playing it is really great. Perfect sunday afternoon bass for crafting and drilling parts and creating muscle memory. I mean - you can play for hours upon hours with little or no fatigue on that bass. Definitely a big plus for me even though I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with it.

    Last edited: Jul 6, 2016
  12. Old Blastard

    Old Blastard

    Aug 18, 2013
    I have 34" and 33" and 32" And 30.75" and 30" scales. Love them all,knit there's something about 32s that seem perfect for tired old hands and snobby ears
  13. Johnny Crab

    Johnny Crab ACME,QSC,Fame/Hondo/Greco/HELIX user & BOSE Abuser

    Feb 11, 2004
    South Texas
    There are a few shorts here(SX's, Gibson SG, Greco solid body violin bass). All play "easier" and faster plus they give a break on the weight factor(i.e. 2 gigs in one day). My experience with medium is limited to the SX got for my grandson during setting it up and playing it for a few days before giving it to him. The medium scale felt best(as mentioned above) as far as sound vs weight vs easy play, the best balance. Been playing since 1965 at age 10. YMMV.
    GBassNorth likes this.
  14. GBassNorth


    Dec 23, 2006
    I'm actually kinda partial to the sound and playability of medium and short scale basses. I have plenty of long and extra long scale basses but the mids just seem to play themselves and sound so good doing it.
  15. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I've used scale lengths of 42, 40, 35, 34, 32, 30, 28.6, 24.75, 23, 22, 20, and 18 inches.

    My DIY 24.75" scale guitar to bass conversion of an Epiphone SG Special guitar is my current #1.
    blindrabbit and GBassNorth like this.
  16. GBassNorth


    Dec 23, 2006
    I'd like to see a pic of that! So did you have to install a new fretboard, nut, tuners, bridge and pups? I've seen some drop dead gorgeous Gibson SG guitars that I've wished Gibby would duplicate in the bass line up, but alas, they never will. So I've considered taking the matter in my own hands and converting a guitar but wasn't sure how involved it would get.
    It would be something along this line but with three coil tapped lipstick humbuckers...
    Les Paul Custom '63 reissue
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2016
  17. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Not much to say, it's two inches shorter than long scale and two inches longer than short scale.
  18. drumsnbass

    drumsnbass Bassic User

    Dec 13, 2004
    Phoenix AZ area
    32" of pure fun!

    Tom0Blam0 likes this.
  19. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I used an inexpensive, used Epiphone SG Special for the bolt-on body and, since I didn't like the profile of the neck on the SG, I used the neck from an even less expensive Epiphone LP Special. I had to drill screws holes in the neck to match the smaller SG neck plate.

    I removed the SG bridge, talipiece, studs and ferrules and covered all the holes with the bridge plate of a Wilkinson 5 string bridge I had laying around since the '90s and used just 4 of the saddles. I made a shim from mahogany plywood to raise the bridge and I replaced and shimmed the nut. The high output OEM pickups worked well enough but after a while I wanted a more versatile tone so I switched to the GFS lipsticks from another project. The lipsticks are lower output but add some of my favorite Danelectro flavor to the tone.

    EDIT: Pickup update - While the the tone improved with the lipsticks it was still a bit middy sounding for my taste so, since I never use bridge pickups, I bypassed the controls and wired the neck pickup directly to the output jack...much better for what I want.

    EDIT 2: I decided to remove the pots, selector switch and bridge pickup. I filled the holes with plastic plugs. I covered the pickup routing with a mounting ring with black tape covering it for now pending a custom pickguard or auxiliary pickguard to cover it.

    I used the original tuners, removing 2 of them and plugging the holes with hole plugs from Lowes. I drilled out the post holes so the E and A strings would fit. Installing D'Addario shortscale nylon tapes and a cobbled a quickie maple tailpiece that I colored with a black Sharpie completed it.

    Why would I want to replace the fretboard?

    Crappy cellphone photo...click to enlarge.

    SG bass 2c.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2016
  20. matthewbrown

    matthewbrown Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Harwich, MA, USA
    I've played only a Kramer Duke, which really lacked any low end, mainly because, well, it didn't have a body to speak of. I'm very tempted by the Kinal Kompact, though. Lovely instruments.
    DaveAceofBass likes this.

Share This Page