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Very Short 26" Scale Bass

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by overtahill, Oct 31, 2006.


  1. overtahill

    overtahill

    Oct 30, 2006
    Greetings all,

    I am new to this forum, but not to playing or building.

    I recently acquired a "Traveler Guitar" (http://www.travelerguitar.com/pro_series_specs.htm) and was delighted at it's small size and playing convenience.

    I now have the urge to build a bass using the traveler as my blueprint.

    I have a six string bass now that I tune E to E so that I can transfer my guitar licks to the bass. Measuring from the fifth fret to the bridge gives me a scale length of about 26 inches.
    So why not build a traveler bass with a 26 inch scale, and use a five string set of bass strings with a suitably selected guitar string for the high E? The Bass would be tuned E to E.

    I presume that I'm not the first guy to have thought of this, so I'm hoping you folks can share some of your wisdom and experience, and perhaps save me from wasting time and money.

    I welcome your input

    Cheers,
    Rick
     
  2. What you're describing is essentially a guitar with a scale length (nut to bridge) which, at 26", is maybe 1" to 1.25" longer than your current travel guitar. If you tried to tune it one octave below a guitar with bass strings, you'll end up with very floppy strings.

    That design is fine for guitar, I looked at it very carefully when I built a travel guitar. But I don't think the tuning system would hold up to the higher gauges of bass strings, by doubling over like that, you are basically doubling the pull required by the tuners to get it in tune.

    If it were me, I'd build a headless bass with an ABR or Steinberger bridge and a bolt-on neck with threaded inserts in the neck. This way, you can take the neck off for packing, and have it back on and tuned up in 5 minutes. I did this with a guitar (Schaller fine-tune bridge) and it works fine.
     
  3. overtahill

    overtahill

    Oct 30, 2006

    Greetings erikbojerik,

    To clarify my intension, let me describe my idea this way.

    Imagine that you have a good sounding five string bass - no floppy strings. Now imagine putting a capo on at the fifth fret. The "open" strings are now ringing E to A. Now, add a sixth string, retune the capoed A to B, tune the sixth string to E and you have a six string Bass tuned E to E like a guitar. No floppy strings.
    As for hardware, I would be using Bass hardware, not guitar hardware.

    What I am describing is essentially a 26" Steinberger Bass with appropriately guaged strings that will ring true.

    Hope this clears up any confusion I may have inadvertantly comunicated.

    Cheers,
    Rick
     
  4. OK, now I get you. You're moving the nut to #5 and keeping everything else the same.
     
  5. T-34

    T-34

    Aug 11, 2005
    France, Paris region
    Good idea. You can buy regular 6 string sets then. The only problem I see is the gauge of the cut-out 6-th and 5-th strings that won't maybe fit in the regular tuner holes...
     
  6. overtahill

    overtahill

    Oct 30, 2006
    You got it. It should make for a very compact practice bass that is easy on my ailing back.

    So my question is, has anyone tried this sort of thing, and if so, how did it turn out?

    Cheers,
    Rick
     
  7. overtahill

    overtahill

    Oct 30, 2006
    Have Black & Decker, Will ream.

    Cheers,
    Rick
     
  8. It should work
     
  9. Can't wait to see this.

    lowsound
     
  10. lowtide

    lowtide Commercial User

    Oct 14, 2006
    Bradenton, Florida
    Owner: Buzzard's Bass Shop
    Wow . . . this is strange because immediately before coming to the forum today I started drawing up plans for the same idea. I'm actually making plans for scales leading down from 34 . . . meaning the first bass I want to build will be the 32 inch scale. I had a thought though that in order to keep a similar tone as the 34 I may have to maintain a similar weight and type of wood.

    But this thread is good too because you've made me think of the string lengths being a major issue. Are there any bass string below a small scale 30" ?
     
  11. overtahill

    overtahill

    Oct 30, 2006
    I havn't found any five string sets for 30" scales or less. I have some ideas for folding standard scale length strings back under the body, but the tuning machines will be pretty close to the fingerboard. I may have to solve that problem by wraping the strings one and a half times around a one and a quarter inch diameter bearing before meeting up with the tuners. This technique will soak up just over six inches of string length, putting the tuners where I want them. I'm not sure if this is feasable yet, but it works in my head.

    Cheers,
    Rick
     
  12. Why not buy regular strings at the desired gauge and cut them to length.

    lowsound
     
  13. I am in the process(more or less)of ever-so-slooowly building a fretless 5-string w/a 26" scale for my son(now 7, I started it well before his 5th b-day :rolleyes: lame-o dad...). It's 90% done; needs electonics to be wired & there you go. I have strung it up- I used Ernie Ball brand Fender VI/baritone-type 'bass' strings; can't recall the gauges, but tuning it EADGC actually worked very well. This being my first build, I'm sure it could be improved upon. The whole thing had me wondering about a minimal-bodied, short-scale(30" or so)'travel' 6 string. I'm still wondering...
     
  14. ehque

    ehque

    Jan 8, 2006
    Singapore
    a 34" capoed at the 5th will still be about 30". making it a 26" with normal 6-string bass string sets (BEADGC) will still result in your EADGBE tuning being a bit floppy.

    i think.
     
  15. overtahill

    overtahill

    Oct 30, 2006
    Good question... basically, the reason is the same reason string manufacturers don't just make extra long scale strings and have the bassist cut them to suit the scale of the bass.

    If you cut a string, it starts to unravel.

    Cheers,
    Rick
     
  16. overtahill

    overtahill

    Oct 30, 2006
    Greetings Ehque,
    My current bass was designed to run a low B. Whatever guage that isn't floppy when tuned to B, (I don't know what guage that is yet, but I'll find out) will also not be floppy when I move the nut to the fifth fret and tune it to E.

    Alternatively, if it is a wee bit floppy, I'll lengthen the scale one quarter of an inch or so, and I believe that will solve the problem.

    What do you think?

    Cheers,
    Rick
     

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