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Shorter scale basses.... good or bad?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Skreeeboy, May 31, 2001.

  1. Skreeeboy


    May 31, 2001
    My hands are super small. I have an Ibanez that I originally bought because it has a really narrow neck. But I have recently seen a used Gretsch Electromatic bass for sale pretty cheap, and I was wondering if anyone has had any experience with this insturment, good or bad. I am particularily interested in trying it out because it has that shorter neck, and I think I would have an easier time playing it because of the size of my hands. But I am no expert when it comes to the tech end of things. So any advice about this bass, other shorter neck basses, or this subject in general would be greatly appreciated...
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    BAD - IMO!
  3. JWC

    JWC Banned

    Oct 4, 2000
    I played a similair Ibanez for several years. I will say the sound and tones you get from it are not as good as say a Fender, you will find because of the neck it will be easier to play and also the shorter scale length will make plucking a bit easier. Also, sometimes a skinny neck is prone to warp easier I think. But, its all up to you. If you like the way it sounds go for it. Like I said, I played one in a band for a while and got no complaints.
  4. Shorter scale basses have gotten a bad rap by a lot of players but realistically they can sound just as good as a long scale bass just different. 30" and 32" scale basses don't have the same resonance or harmonic overtones that a 34" or longer scale bass has but with the right strings and a proper set up they will work out just fine. IMO if you can find a cool piece of bass history like a Gretsch, Guild or some other bass at an inexpensive price give it a shot you might just find a sound that becomes your sound. I found a Harmony H-22 short scale hollow body bass several years ago, did some repairs and put some flat wound strings on it and use it quite a bit for recording some of the roots country and songwriter demo sessions that make me some spending money.
  5. What are the 'evils' of short scale realistically?
  6. There is another way altogether of thinking about this problem. We usually assume that the length of a bass is solely a byproduct of the neck but it isn't. The body has an effect also and this is where you can make a change that wouldn't require a scale change in the instrument.

    As an example, the Cort Curbow 4 or 5 has a very small body and yet is still a 34" scale bass. This has the effect of shortening the bass and changing where it hangs on the body. The necks on these are the thinnest I've ever seen. I owned one but (in a situation opposite from yours!) I didn't fit the body and let it go. Look for basses with this characteristic and I don't think you'll have to change the tone.
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Sorry, I was just being sarcastic, as this question was posted many times in several forums and I personally don't like questions that are good/bad as I don't think any questions are ever that straightforward - life is just not black and white!
  8. Neither good nor bad - they are AWESOME!
    I know it's all preferences, but that my old Ibanez roadstar had 24 frets is what made it playable. I tried 34" basses for a long time, but all the changes to my technique and going to Elixir super lights didn't help and killed my sustain. My 78 Mustang is no worse and very punchy while being easy on the wrists. My Guild JS II extends to 21 frets in a 30.5" scale. Love it.
  9. jay tay

    jay tay

    Aug 12, 2009
    Manchester UK
    I couldn't put it any better than what this guy said in the medium scale bass club thread.

    here's a link to the thread http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f8/official-medium-scale-bass-club-402028/index17.html
  10. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
    IMO, one should choose a bass for its sound and adapt to playing it. With practice you can make any scale length work for you. I have the hands of an 8 year old girl (very small hands) and I play 34" and 35" scale basses. That said if you like the sound of a particular short scale bass then you'll gain the advantage of being able to span larger intervals with your fretting hand.

    So first and foremost: practice on your 34" scale bass to build strength in your fretting hand. That strength will make any bass easier to play. Second, get your bass set up by a pro. A professionally set up bass will be easier to play and the bass you have now could play a lot better with a setup. Third, don't buy a bass based on scale length alone. Sound, weight, playability, and even looks should be important factors.

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