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The Myth of the 35" Scale?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Mike, Mar 30, 2003.

  1. Mike


    Sep 7, 2000
    Last night I played a gig in Buffalo that went well. We played first for an hour twenty, got great response from the crowd and, coincidentally, it was my first gig with my Sans Amp RBI rather than the DI pedal box. I really liked my tone for once and actually rcvd a couple of compliments from some folks hanging out in the club who were also musicians. That was pretty cool. Otherwise, I was using my typical staple set up with my Moon Jazz 5 and EBS 2x12. Everything was cool and then...

    The bassist from the second band, who was a young guy probably in his early 20's (I'm nearly 33), kinda bizzare and highly philosophical about everything but not at all interesting to listen to (if ya know what I mean) approached me and said,

    "Is your bass a 35 inch scale, perhaps?"

    I said, "No. It's 34."

    "Wow. It almost sounds as good as a 35 inch scale bass."

    I thought to myself, "Did he just compliment me or insult the hell out of me?"

    So, I asked, not defensively but inquisitively, "What the hell does that mean?"

    He replied, "Well 35" scales, like my new Carvin, sound better than 34 inch scales."

    (Huh??? Did he just want to make an announcement that he got a new bass or is he trying to create idle conversation?)

    I said, "Not necessarily. I've owned a number of basses, 34's and 35's, and most have performed equally well, regardless of scale length. Most of it has to do with electronics, woods, your ear and instrument design. I've had 35's I've hated, 34's I've dug and visa versa. The best B I ever had was on a Pedulla Rapture 5 which was a 34 if that's what you're getting at."

    "What's a Pedulla?"

    "It's a bass, bro."

    "Well, anyway, my 35" scale Carvin is awesome."

    At this point I realized I was dealing with a complete idiot. Not partial, but complete.

    I said, "Yeah maybe. But the next guy might think it's a complete POS."

    He looked at me in complete shock and briskly walked away...

    My point is... it's a sad day when scale length, to some, has exclusively become the only ingredient in what one perceives to be a great bass. I own one of each, the previously mentioned Moon and a Cirrus 5, and am comfortable with both. They both sound great, play great and are very well made instruments, regardless of scale. I hope I never stifle myself and decide a great bass is determined by measurements and statistics rather than great craftsmanship and tone (all relative)... I don't know... Some people draw conclusions from a wealth of experience. Some draw conclusions because they're misinformed or following the herd. Others just draw conclusions for lack of anything better to do...

    A rant for what it's worth....


    I am not arguing for or against any scale length. As mentioned, I'm comfortable with both. Further, I am not bashing Carvin basses. I owned one for awhile. It was nicely made, but, I didn't like it and sold it.

  2. arose11


    Sep 30, 2002
    Kalamazoo, MI
    well thats his opinion, though strange...
    Although some people don't know the difference between a nice bass and an OK bass, not everyone lives on TB you know:rolleyes:. Thats my $0.02
  3. it probably sounds great 'cause HE plays it. :rolleyes:
    anyway; i don't think scale length affects the sound that much. my esp/ltd is a 35" i believe, and it sounds okay. but i can't compare it to my 34" bass; they're totally different. the 35" is mahogany, has two EMGs, 3-band EQ, and is a neck-through. the 34" is basswood (i think), has a passive p-pickup and is a bolt-on (and doesn't even have frets anymore). I think scale length more affects playability, since it affects tension quite a bit. sound; not really. there're WAY too many other factors.
  4. Mike


    Sep 7, 2000
    not everyone lives on TB you know:rolleyes:.

    Yeah... But they should. :)
  5. All things being equal, a 35" scale bass will have stronger lows and clearer highs than the equivalent bass at 34" scale.

    However, the phrase "the equivalent bass" is worth noting--it denotes an initial condition that is nearly impossible to achieve, due to the vagaries of wood and human craftsmanship.

    I think that if Status, to name a company that makes one-piece molded carbon-fiber instruments, were to release two models that were identical in every way except for scale length, the 35" model would win over the 34" one in terms of tone quality.

    For all intents and purposes, scale length is not nearly as important as quality of materials and quality of construction. Peavey made a 35"-scale graphite-neck bass a few years back, the G-V, and it still had a floppy B string and mushy tone in general. (This is not to slag on Peavey, just that one model.) I'm sure that if Alembic made a 30" scale 4-string tuned BEAD but used a super-thick neck and ebony stringers, it would sound massive.
  6. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Next time you see this chump, let him know his new Carvin is 35 1/4", not 35".;)
  7. gfab333


    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Yo brother Paleale,

    To put you at ease... and since age seems to make a difference in this thread, I'm 46; that means that the 20-something year old kid that you referred to was non-existent when I started playing bass in 1969. Also, I've owned 2 different Carvin 5 strings over the years. They have a great finish, but tone-wise they're OK. not bad, but not fantastic either.

    Granted a 35" scale does provide good tone attributes to 5-string basses, that is not the only aspect that makes a difference. Other aspects that can affect a bass's sound are the pick ups, wood make-up of body and neck, bolt on neck or neck-through design, headstock tilt back, nuances of the on-board active preamp, string through body or string through bridge, etc., etc.!!!

    So, the kid was on to something, but scale length does not make or break the sound of a bass.

    This opinion comes from a TBer who plays a 35" MTD 535, a 34.5" F Bass BN5, and a 34" Fender Jazz (4 string). All these basses sound great to my ears.
  8. gfab333


    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    Where's Brad Jonhson on this thread? I swear, he's got every bass from 30" scale to 40"!!!! OK, maybe 30" to 36".
  9. Jontom


    Mar 11, 2002
    New York
    Its more of a tension/feel thing than any other concern, and when b-strings are involved they require the longer length to maintain tension at pitch, which would give the advantage to the 35" scale.
  10. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    neck-through. . .active electronics. . .extended scale. . .5-string. . .N-string. . .roundwounds. . .

    so what else is new? :cool:

    There'll always be people like that guy. Don't expend too much energy on account of him.
  11. Mike


    Sep 7, 2000
    Ehhh... I really didn't take it that seriously. I actually thought it was pretty interesting and funny. Everyone has a learning curve, hopefully. It was just a strange conclusion he had drawn, supported by half understood information on his part. I'm not picking on younger guys either, just strange ways of thinking. ;)
  12. Well put paleale.

    Another WNYer? Wow. What are the chances?
  13. Mike


    Sep 7, 2000
    Yeah, I'm in Jamestown. Actually, there are a few other WNYer's around here. A couple dudes from Rochester anf Buff hang here regularly. We are not alone...;)
  14. yoshi


    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    He was in his 20's?! Wow, that reeks of the attitude of all the local 15 year olds to me.
  15. DanGouge


    May 25, 2000
    Sounds like the guy just wanted to turn the conversation around to his new bass and how great it is. You could have had a custom-build Fodera made with wood from the true cross and hardware made from melting down excalibur and this guy would still be saying, "yeah, well my new Carvin has a 35" scale..."
  16. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    It's called being young and dumb. I was that way when I was younger as I am sure most of us here thought we knew everything when we younger.
    I am sure he had no idea how arrogant he sounded when he said "it almost sounds as good..."

    Life will straighten that guy out. It always does.
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    My EUB is 42" scale - so there!! :p

    I do think the extra length is important to its DB sound - but the guy in the original story just sounds like an idiot and doesn't deserve a whole thread on TB!! ;)
  18. DanGouge


    May 25, 2000
    These are usually exactly the people who get at least a whole thread and maybe several on TB ;) :eek:
  19. Schwinn


    Dec 4, 2002
    Sarasota, FL
    Hey paleale,

    I happen to have that model bass (and I'm in my mid-20's) but I swear...it wasn't me, buddy!!!:D

  20. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I'm surprised it took you that long to figure that out. I'm surprised you didn't either break out in hysterical laughter or just walk away and stop wasting your time. Too bad you wern't playing a 34" sub-$100 Essex P clone. That would have really been awesome.

    Ahh, I remember when I was that young and that dumb rather fondly....

    Hey on the other hand this means that my Dean Edge 5 is better than a Sadowsky! Hot damn!!!! :)

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA :D :p :D Man, you really got a laugh out of me with that one. :) Thanks!

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