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Switching between long scale and short scale basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Justshootit, May 3, 2021 at 8:10 PM.

  1. Justshootit


    Mar 21, 2021
    Been nostalgic about my old SB-300 bass sold eons ago -- love that solid Gibson sound for some stuff. Been thinking of getting either an Epiphone EB3 or a Gibson SG bass. The Epiphone is a 34" scale bass but the SG is a 30". Does anyone have a sense of how troublesome it is to switch between the two neck lengths mid-gig??

  2. Bret Music

    Bret Music

    Jun 29, 2020
    Ohio USA
    I had a Sterling by Musicman short scale and I didn't care for it. Just didnt feel right to me. I would have problems for sure, changing mid set or gig. I'm sure some people dont have any issues.
  3. PWRL


    Sep 15, 2006
    There's not much to get used to, really. Maybe there's a couple seconds of adjustment, but it's pretty quick.
  4. I switch frequently between 3 different scales of bass. I have both a lined 34” fretless and an unlined 34” fretless, a 30”, and a 23.75”. I switch between them according to the needed tone. I also have a much easier time playing chorded passages on the lined fretboard, especially when singing at the same time. With multiple strings ringing at once, and keeping a lead vocal going, I can use all the sensory input I can get.

    Plus, the scale changes (especially going from the 23.75” to the fretless 34”) become much easier when I have a reference point. In almost all songs, I seldom look at the fretboard, but I’ve grown to know when I’m most likely to need the extra visual at particular points in the song. I find lines quite helpful. Don’t always need them, but I’m glad I have them on one of the basses,
    Williethump and el jeffe bass like this.
  5. I don't play gigs, so you can dismiss my post if you choose.

    I recently bought 2014 Gibson SG bass, and have been having a time when switching back and forth among my other basses.
    My current favorite is my Schecter CV-5, which is a 5 string with a 35 inch scale. I love it, and feel very comfortable with the scale.
    When I pick up the SG, it almost feels like a toy, since it's a 30" scale instrument.

    I love the looks and the sound of the SG, but it is taking time to get used to the shorter scale.

    I'm learning to accept the SG for what it is; an excellent instrument with a shorter scale.

    I'm getting there.

    If you're talking about switching between scales during a gig, the only advice I can give is: play both instruments everyday until playing either one becomes second nature.
    I practice almost everyday.

    Good luck.

    Mike ;)
    ajkula66 likes this.
  6. I agree wholeheartedly about playing all sizes you have regularly. I’d also add that the tension differences are probably the biggest adjustment between scales. On the 30”, the E string is noticeably loose, although it might be because of the old and crappy string on the old and crappy WildFire bass. Once my Cat bass (Acinonyx) gets here, my opinion may change. On the 23.75” I have to really lighten up my touch to keep from rattling.
    Michael Jewels likes this.
  7. redstrand

    redstrand Supporting Member

    May 18, 2007
    Saint Louis, MO
    Fool For Four Strings
    Doesn’t bother me at all, fret bad for about a sec and then I’m good
  8. Real Soon

    Real Soon

    Aug 15, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    Just like playing each individual instrument, switching instruments is a matter of practice. I've gone from a 6-string long-scale bass to a 4-string short-scale one mid-session, and I'm not that great at it... but getting really familiar with the feel of each by spending time on material I know really well helped kind of build mental profiles for each. It went off without a hitch and I'm certain I'll keep getting better and better by just doing it.
    J_Bass, JRA and Michael Jewels like this.
  9. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) mmm Woody! Supporting Member

    No worries, as long as you are familiar with both. I used to bring a 42" EUB and a 30" Dano longhorn to the same gig
    el jeffe bass likes this.
  10. Volker Kirstein

    Volker Kirstein Blippy the Wonder Slug Supporting Member

    I've had no issues switching 34" and 30" scales mid performance. None.

    To be fair, I play K-I-S-S: roots, 1-5, walks, and so on. No wankery in the upper registers. No 7 fret stretches to scare the other bass players. No slapping/tapping.
    Michael Jewels and bassman10096 like this.
  11. Clank Plank

    Clank Plank

    Dec 26, 2020
    No problems here either. I habe a Hofner shorty that I take with me when I'm away and have no trouble switching back to long scale when I'm home again.

    Never tried it mid gig, but don't expect it would be an issue for me.
  12. Bodeeni

    Bodeeni Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2010
    I mix and match scales lengths, at a gig, frequently and it is fine. Probably because I have done it enough to get use to it. If I have not been playing the shorty enough I do feel cramped, but I can still hit the notes.
    Clank Plank likes this.
  13. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    It's a no go for me. Very uncomfortable switching.

    And, regular scale basses are a thing of the past for me now. I'm not That old, but, I have arthritis in my hands, and there's no way I can comfortable stretch that hand for a regular scale.
    /\/\3phist0 likes this.
  14. It'll feel different but not necessarily troublesome.
    Do you play guitar as well? If you do, do you find that difficult? Chances are you'll adapt very easily, go for it!
  15. Jeff Hughes

    Jeff Hughes

    May 3, 2020
    I have been mostly playing an SG bass during the pandemic shutdown, and when I take out a P Bass, the first thing that always strikes me is how much more tense the strings feel. So going back to the short scale felt like I switched from driving a pickup truck to a Mini Cooper.

    It is sort of cute how a short scale feels like a toy after logging some hours on a P Bass.
  16. AlexanderB


    Feb 25, 2007
    I do it all the time, also at gigs. Works well, except when playing sheet music I am less familiar with, but that is when practicing at home.
    To me, the difference is larger between types of bass, Precision vs large hollow body.
  17. Jaycat


    Sep 8, 2018
    That's nothing, try switching from bass to mandolin :)
  18. Gustopher

    Gustopher Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2018
    I play a 30" scale Gibson DC and a 34" Pbass, I use the pbass for 1/2step downtuned stuff during the set and I've never even noticed a difference when I swap. If I played more difficult technical music maybe it could be a problem, but it feels about the same to me.
  19. Ostie


    Aug 1, 2018
    Mid MI
    The Epi EB3 will have even more neck dive than the SG. I’ve played both, and I own an Epi EB0. They’re all nice basses, but if neck dive is an issue, be forewarned. The Epiphones are a great value but I wish they had used a smaller headstock design. I use a wide strap to counteract the dive.
  20. el jeffe bass

    el jeffe bass

    Nov 22, 2013
    New Mexico
    I play a few instruments ranging from mandolin to bass, never had a problem switching from one to another and back again.
    Ostie likes this.
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