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Short Scale - what's the attraction?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by SteveC, Sep 5, 2008.

  1. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Just curious how/why for those of you that use them. Seems like there's a bit of talk about them these days.
  2. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    Good question.

    I am 5'6" and have very small hands. I owned a Gibson SG Reissue and HATED the shortscale. I ended up returning it.

    Very interested to see some replies!
  3. McHaven


    Mar 1, 2005
    I play a Fender Mustang, it's just an absolute joy to play.

    Precision like tone, Jazz like neck, super fast neck to just fly around. With a smaller bass, I feel freer on stage as well.
  4. Long scale - What's the attraction?
  5. RonChase


    Aug 15, 2008
    I dunno I play both short and long always have always will,I guess its the look of the axe I kind of get showy
  6. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    It certainly has something to do with it's "shortness".
  7. EddieG


    Jan 19, 2005
    I used to play a Hofner copy. Great little bass, you can whizz up and down the neck all day. It was only after I built my Jazz that I saw big deficiencies in the violin's tone, and now I very seldom touch it.

    Considering a short scale J purchase from Rondo now though....
  8. alembicguy

    alembicguy I operate the worlds largest heavey equipment Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
  9. They are physically easier to play, and the combinations of overtones from the strings are different from those of long-scale basses. It's weird but for some reason I can always seem to more easily get an old-school upright-type sound out of a short-scale bass than from a long-scale bass.

    It somehow adds up to a more fun and satisfying experience to me.

    Don't get me wrong, I like all scales of bass. But my favorites to play have been short-scale basses.
  10. RobTheSkanker


    Aug 29, 2006
    Dundalk, MD
    Shorties are nice because of the reduced distance between the frets, makes it really nice to zip around the neck. Plus, its a lot easier to do larger jumps lower on the neck.

    Also, they're just tiny which is cool, expecially if you are energetic live, with my full scale jazz I always feel like I'm about to knock the headstock into somebody, my shortie P almost feels like a guitar.

    Also(this really isn't a why or why not), it just makes you look a lot bigger when holding it.

  11. better tension on the strings especially in lower tunings
    resonates more and improved sustain
    with my style of playing i need the improved tension
  12. Gubna


    Oct 21, 2006
    San Francisco
    I've owned a few short scale, and they're great for sitting on the couch/bed and playing.

    not sure if I'd ever gig with one, but the SX short scale Jag I recently had a great sound and played very well - almost too good for the money I paid for it. that said, I have one which I'm working on - a wishbass I am doing the finish on.

    One thing I will bring up is Carl Thompson's point of view on this. He feels that you will get a better sound out of a larger instrument - and he's made 36 inch scale basses - so I can really understand his point there. Not that I've ever played a 36 inch scale bass.
  13. Gubna


    Oct 21, 2006
    San Francisco
    yeah, don't I look HUGE?!

  14. hieronymous


    Nov 28, 2002
    Northern CA
    I don't know! But lately, I've been gravitating much more towards short scales. I've used 28 1/2", 30", 32", 34", and 36" scale basses. I will always love a regular long scale 34" scale bass like a Fender or Rickenbacker (I'm not quibbling over 1/4" or 1/2" here or there), but lately I prefer 30" or thereabouts. Maybe it's a comfort issue, I definitely don't find the sound to be lacking. 28 1/2" on the recent CIJ Fender "baritones" like the Jaguar Bottom Master/Baritone Custom is a little too short for the low E, but 30" on my Les Paul Triumph and 5-string Alembic Stanley Clarke are perfect!

  15. GeneralElectric


    Dec 26, 2007
    NY, NY
    It makes me feel manlier.
  16. mellowgerman


    Jan 23, 2008
    Orlando, FL
    i'm 6' with fairly large hands, but i like the feel of shortscale basses better regardless. also, with some flats and some darkstars --> tone heaven:)
  17. I'm 5'8" and started on orchestral (upright) bass, so I have no problem playing a bass of any scale length.

    However, short scales are easy to play (less hand stretch), the action can be very fast because you're not moving your hand/fingers as far, short scale necks can be used with lightweight bodies and still balance very well, and they take up less room in cases and in transport.

    They were fairly popular in the 70's and many of the imports and hollowbody basses were short scale. I gig with them all the time and they sound every bit as good as 34" scale instruments.

    And I envy that Guild bass shown by Mellowgerman, immediately above this post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  18. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    They play fast, they produce huge groovy mediums, rich chords and they're a lot of fun.
    I love them.
  19. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    My first bass was a short scale Fender Bullet and the E-string sucked on it so I was yearning for a real, man-sized fretboard. (I satisfied that particular craving with the next 25 basses I bought.)

    For a long time for me, short-scale would have been a deal-killer but now it's all good. As long as it sings! I recently picked up a 30" Musicmaster and am having a blast with it. The E-string works great - tons of "vibe" all around - I think this one is a keeper.

    On 5-strings, I've always liked playing E-string notes above the 5th fret on the B. (Try it on the gig sometime - sounds massive.) That's like playing a 26" scale bass with a 125 E! :D
  20. Paingod1


    Dec 5, 2003

    I am a guitar player who has dabbled on the bass from time to time. A friend just dropped off his NEW CT Bass last week for me to try out. Its a 32" scale and I cant put this Bass down!!!

    (I am placing an order REALLY SOON) this is hands down the most comfortable (6lbs.) bass I have ever expierenced and the Tone is out of this world!!! no loss on the bottom end.
    Frets closer together (Better for guitar guys) and the top end has sort of a glassy piano type tone that I LOVE!!!

    It is the only 32" scale bass I have played so maybe its just the case that CT is a Bass genius????

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