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!  

Switching between long scale and short scale basses

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

  1. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    It can be done with some practice and time.
    I was on the Nashville showboat a few years ago
    and the bassist played a 5 string bass then swapped over to a violin
    and sang lead & harmonies. Yikes!
    /\/\3phist0 likes this.
  2. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    For some folks, it's a no brainer. For some of us, it occupies enough of the brain that we start thinking on stage. That's a horrible thing.

    I had a medium scale for a while. I have huge hands. I could play it, but when I wanted to play in on a gig, I would practice with it the week before, so I was relatively automatic - I don't like to have to look at the instrument much during a gig if at all possible. if I tried to switch during a performance, I'd end up staring at the neck to avoid small errors, which would kill the vibe.

    I donated that bass. I also realized from that experience that I should pick one scale for both 5's and 4's. I'm a 34 all the time, regardless of the number of strings, or the presence or absense of frets. I think the biggest dividend that that pays is when I play fretless, I'm much more accurate because I'm always going for the same place.
    Williethump likes this.
  3. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    You need to commit both basses to muscle memory. When one of them is new and you've had the other for a while, it might help to play the new one exclusively for a while. Long enough that playing it feels like second nature. When both basses are baked in to your system, you can swap at will.
    svlilioukalani and /\/\3phist0 like this.
  4. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    I play gigs on my U-Bass, 21-inch scale; Mitchell 30-inch scale; and my Ibby BTB845V 33-inch scale interchangeably. It never takes more than a sound check to settle in. I can see if gigging is seldom, that it might take a little more time for the muscle memory to kick in.
  5. The more you do it, the easier it gets!
    Clank Plank likes this.
  6. Williethump


    Sep 10, 2017
    I'm a student bedroom bassist of three years and don't gig. But switching from my P-bass to a short scale Harmony to a minature Hadean uke bass is not a problem. Within about a few seconds your fingers adjust and find the needed fret almost automatically. No problem. But, again, I don't gig so YMMV in that situation. Good luck.
  7. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    Switching between 30" and 34" mid gig = no problem whatsoever as long as you are used to playing both scales regularly.

    Switching between the sound of an EB/SG and pretty much any other bass mid gig = the FOH engineer will most likely murder you (especially if you haven't told him in advance) and you really need to make sure you know what you're trying to achieve artistically and whether an EB/SG really is a good choice rather than just a "fun" thing for yourself and nobody else (including the audience).

    Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE Gibson EBs/SGs for SOME stuff. But for most songs/genres they're not the best choice and if I was going to play an EB/SG live I would want to ONLY play an EB/SG for that gig and optimize the rest of my gear and my playing around it.

    Just my personal opinion of course.:)

    Btw, the current Gibson SGs are a lot more versatile than the EBs. The SGs are not quite as extreme and boomy. But I guess you could also say that the SGs are missing a little bit of what makes the original EBs unique...
    Last edited: May 4, 2021 at 9:29 AM
  8. BarfanyShart


    Sep 19, 2019
    DC Metro
    I would say not a big deal at all. I mean, I spent a fair bit of my gigging life switching between Double Bass, Bass Guitar, and guitar - that really does pose some challenges, and honestly probably contributed to some long term injury for me. I like short scale BG a lot now, and I ultimately also want to get a 1/4 scale (~35") Double Bass, but I feel like the difference between 34" and 30" BG is negligible.

    Interestingly, the biggest problem for me with switching to a different scale on BG or DB is grabbing harmonics, those little guys are pure muscle memory to find.
  9. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    I switch live between 35” scale and 18” scale Ashbory. Not an issue.
    If the focus is fingers it could be. If the focus is music coming from inside you not even stopping at the bass but spreading into the performance space, then it won’t matter.
  10. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I've recently been switching between 32" Fender Mustang, a 34" Ibanez, both fretless, plus upright bass, and cello. It hasn't been a problem.
    Killing Floor likes this.
  11. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I routinely switch between a 34" and a 30". I also routinely switch between a 30" fretted and a 34" fretless (unlined). Once you get used to an instrument your brain works just fine. Even switching from a 25.5" scale guitar to a 34" fretless or a 30" fretted, it's all the same. Some call it muscle memory. Your noodle can handle it.
  12. dangevans


    Mar 26, 2014
    I never had a problem. I guess maybe it just takes getting used to playing both a lot at home before trying it.
  13. Tvrtko


    Dec 27, 2002
    South of the USA
    No problem for me. I equally suck on both :bassist::roflmao:
  14. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    I bought my first short scale on my lunch break, it sat in its case all afternoon, then i gigged it that evening.

    ... if that helps answer your question!

    I now switch between 30, 34 and 36 inch scale pretty regularly.
  15. David76112


    Feb 19, 2012
    I purchased an Epiphone Viola a few years ago and like it. It was sort of an experimental trial for a future Hofner. The only issue I have found so far is the floating bridge which has nothing to do with the shortened scale length.
  16. svlilioukalani

    svlilioukalani Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2012
    Seattle, Wa
    When I go from a 34 inch scale to a 30 inch on a gig, I feel like superman. Moving down to the 30 inch make me feel like I am driving a Ferrari. When I go back to the 34 inch scale it's like coming back home.

    I have more issues going from a 5 string to a 4 string.
  17. Yellow Bang66

    Yellow Bang66

    Jun 5, 2019
    IDK,IMHO my muscle memory is so intuned with my 34" scale, It threw off my fill when my singer proudly brought out his his Gibson EB-3, for me to try out & give him my feed back. I t was cool but felt small like a guitar, kinda confused my fingers trying to play my usual licks! but probably be okay if i had more time to noodle with it! and get used to the spacing!
  18. msb


    Jul 3, 2002
    Halifax,N,S. Canada
    Just spend some time on the short scale , get used to it , and it won’t be hard switching . And take a look at the Gibson Les Paul Jr DC bass ... it’s a beauty !
    Gustopher likes this.
  19. CalgAaron

    CalgAaron Supporting Member

    Aug 1, 2013
    Calgary, Alberta
    I switch between upright bass, a 4 string p bass or a 5 string on multiple gigs. I find that if you are used to them it’s not much of a problem. Though I have brought a Fretless and an upright on a gig and the scale length was a little awkward. Might have been a bit pitchy on each instrument for the first few measures until I got my intonation set. Just practice the set and the switches and you’ll eventually get used to the switches.
  20. PWRL


    Sep 15, 2006
    Well we're all different, but I bet it wouldn't take you too long to get used to it. After you did, the adjustment time between scales would probably come pretty automatically. I used to switch between the two pretty frequently.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    May 9, 2021

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.