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Some Questions About Short Scale Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Brock385, Jun 15, 2001.

  1. Brock385


    Nov 5, 2000
    my apologies if these are really dumb, but i want to know so i can stop thinking about this at night. (i've never touched, heard, or seen a short scale bass in person. ever.)

    ok, just picture a 30" scale bass put right next to a 34" scale bass.

    -1. will they both be the same height overall?
    ----if they are, will the short scale bass have a longer body, to make up for the 4 inches lost fromt the neck?
    ----if they are, then why do people suggest short scale for shorter people? wouldn't it be the same size as the regular scale anyway?

    -2. what exactly makes a short scale bass a short scale bass? i've always thought the neck was 4 inches shorter, but maybe i'm wrong?

    -3. how there are only a few models of short scale and so many models of regular scale? why do so many people not like them?

    -4. what's the difference in sound?

    it feels like a weight has been lifted...
  2. jcadmus


    Apr 2, 2000
    Okay, we're talking in generalities here, so keep that in mind.

    First, no short-scale basses are typically shorter and smaller than long-scale basses -- they don't compensate by lengthening the body on a short-scale.

    The scale length is essentially the string length measured from the bridge saddles to the nut.

    Because a short-scale bass is shorter, the strings have to be looser to acquire the same pitch as on a long-scale bass (remember they're both tuned at a constant EADG). This, along with the shorter overall length of the neck, make this a little easier to play, particularly for people with smaller hands. (And why they are typically suited for beginners, kids and small people)

    But the penalty you pay is tone -- in order to fatten up the tone, you need to use heavier strings, but even then you won't get the deep, ringing tone of a long-scale bass. It's the same reason a large grand piano sounds so much better than a smaller upright spinet.

    Hope that helps.
  3. MJB


    Mar 17, 2000
    jcadmus, I think you meant to say short scale basses ARE typically smaller and shorter than long scale.

    To compensate for adjustable bridge saddles, consider the distance from nut to 12th fret and double that number for the scale length. In addition to what was mentioned above, the shorter scale also places the frets closer together, meaning a smaller stretch for small hands. As a bass player with the small hands curse, I own 2 short scale basses, but I hardly play them anymore as I have become accustomed to 34" scale.

    Some notable short scale players are Jack Bruce from the Cream days, and Stanley Clarke.
  4. jcadmus


    Apr 2, 2000
    DOH! Sorry. Fixed it.
  5. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    Even considering the generalities jcadmus alluded to, that description of short-scale tone is not satisfactory. The REAL difference in tone has more to do with overtones (shorter scale puts the harmonic series in different places thus affecting the way the string behaves) than a deep bass tone, per se. Granted, ss basses do sound different but try thumping on a vintage EBO or EB3 sometime with the neck humbucker on and then claim they don't offer a deep bass tone equivalent to a 34". What you'll find is that a short-scale can and usually does give you just as much bottom as a 34". For very little money, one can buy a Dano Longhorn and, through a good, rig get all the bottom you can use.

    If you haven't guessed, I LOVE ss basses. My main gigging axes are 34" scale but I always enjoy the shorties when I take 'em out.
  6. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    I gotta go with boogiebass on this one... especially the Dano portion. There is another post out there questioning what makes a 'good' bass. For me, it's tone, and the Dano's have this in spades! My friend's Longhorn sounds fantastic, cuts through the mix, and always gets comments on looks!

  7. MJB


    Mar 17, 2000
    boogie, Yeah, my 65 EB-O is as muddy as it gets. Its the only bass of my 4 that I play with the tone knob dimed as well as cut some bass on the amp EQ.

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