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What is wrong with short scales.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bass theory, Dec 1, 2020.

  1. bass theory

    bass theory

    Oct 7, 2020
    Portage WI
    I have noticed several members looking for reasons to invalidate the entire concept of short scale basses. And I have to ask why?
    I play short scale Basses. I started on full scale then switched. Why? several reasons:
    • Because I don't have the finger length to comfortably span 3 frets on a full scale let alone 4. I tried, a short scale allows me to play better than I can on a full scale with much more comfort.
    • Because I am starting to develop arthritis in my hands. this effects all scales, but is less of a problem with a shorty.
    • i actually like the sound of the low end on a short scale. Maybe it is the thicker strings it takes to get the sound without being floppy, I use a 5 string short 45-125 so yes I have a low B on a short scale.
    • I am not convinced that when Fender set the standard length for a bass guitar at 34" that it was inspired by God. call me a skeptic but I think it was more a marketing decision.
    The reasons I can think of that makes a full scale superior:
    • Ego. Some guys think it make them look cooler.
    • Some probably like the sound of a full scale better.
    • nothing more that i can think of...
    On the balance, I'd say short scales have a lot going for them. I don't tend to judge by expectations, I judge basses on what I see, hear, and feel, And I happen to like short scales better.
    Thud Staff, bhunt1, lucas303 and 20 others like this.
  2. lug

    lug Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    The reason is obvious. A short scale bass is almost 4 less than a real scale bass. It's like how an amp that goes to "11" is better than a lesser amp that only goes to "10". It's simple maths, really.
    bhunt1, swamp_bass, _jaxon5 and 63 others like this.
  3. bass theory

    bass theory

    Oct 7, 2020
    Portage WI
  4. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Nothing much, why?

    I've played 34" my whole life and recently got into some shortys. Love the feel. No problem switching between short and 34. I have a 31" semi-hollow and a P bass next to each other on the wall and I am 4' from that wall and they look about the same size, just saying unless you are closely comparing instruments nobody would know it's short unless they are an experienced bassist. They're fun to play and mine sound basically just like my longer scales. So crack a beer and enjoy.
    Can't personally speak for a short B, I don't own a short 5-string. But I have played a Birdsong 5 and the B was as solid as anything. So that is in the design.
    Also, FWIW, I can palm a basketball, I don't have a problem stretching frets. I just think shorts are a way wo add some new fun to my playing.
  5. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I'm tall, and I look dorky playing a little bass. Think "Tiny Tim" for you folks with a few decades under your belt. I do have one - if I end up playing somewhere where things are crowded, the dork factor is outweighed by the "not running into everyone else on stage with my headstock" factor.

    I also have enormously long fingers, and feel cramped on a short scale.

    Whatever works for you, works for you.
  6. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    There's absolutely nothing wrong with short scale basses.

    I've played long and short scales (actually ranging from 4/4 upright to 18" Guild Ashbory) for decades. In fact, I find SS basses of my acquaintance control dead and hot spots better than long scale basses of my acquaintance and the shorts are easier to play and lighter in weight, all three characteristics are major plusses in my book. Over the last 15 years have phased out all but one of my long scales and I use only short scales for shows.
  7. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    I see a lot of perceived criticism of the concept of short scale basses but almost no actual criticism.
  8. rockscott


    Aug 28, 2010
    To each their own. I play shortscales, they sound great to me, granted my basses are higher end instruments. I am a much better bassist on the shorter necks!
    Indiana Mike and MarMar like this.
  9. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    I like a good 4 string short scale. Love Danelectro and Guild.
    However I have yet to meet a 5 string short scale that works.
    BioDriver, MrLenny1, DrMole and 2 others like this.
  10. Bent77


    Mar 6, 2013
    J_Bass likes this.
  11. Volker Kirstein

    Volker Kirstein Blippy the Wonder Slug Supporting Member

    I've never personally experienced this so-called "short scale disapproval." On the contrary, I get compliments on my sound/tone. On the occasion when others play my bass, they generally have a great time.
    Ellery, Bruno1950, trickyric and 3 others like this.
  12. I surprised that Stanley Clarke plays short scale electrics.
    dan1952, trickyric, HolmeBass and 3 others like this.
  13. PJ Muzikmansky

    PJ Muzikmansky Supporting Member

    I love the sound of a good short scale bass, but I'm 6'5 and make a Precision look small. If I were to strap on a regular short scale, I think I'd look like I was playing a large stratocaster LOL. I've been sorely tempted by some of the large-bodied short scales, such as the Guild Starfire II, but the narrow string spacing at the nut puts me off a bit. Likewise the Hofner Verythin. LOVE the bass and the way it sounds, but the string spacing at the bridge is just way too narrow for me.
    eJake and KaraQ like this.
  14. Ricky Rioli

    Ricky Rioli

    Sep 29, 2020
    Where in Leo Fender's lifelong search for ways of improving and developing instruments did you find the clue that told you that when creating the Precision he abandon his principles and purely for the benefit of sales *checks notes* deliberately made his bass unnecessarily hard to play?
    Ellery, trickyric, equill and 3 others like this.
  15. Phlipper


    Feb 5, 2013
    Fayetteville, NC
    Endorsing Artist: Old SS Peavey Lead Sleds and Peavey tube amps
    I was unaware there was a stigmata about short scale basses. I never get the memos. I don't think I've ever noticed the diff when watching another band either.

    Is it possible you've merely developed a complex about having tiny hands? :laugh:

    IIRC Jack Bruce played shorties. He knew a wee bit about playing bass. :bassist:
    Lee Moses, Ellery, Bruno1950 and 4 others like this.
  16. You care too much about what other, some other people think or might think. Much too much. It is not that you have bought an atomic bomb and plan to attack another country and are confronted with people who might think that this is a wrong idea.
    Play what you love, be proud of what you love and show people, who bore or annoy you, one of your short fingers.
    Lee Moses, Ellery, Bruno1950 and 4 others like this.
  17. Phlipper


    Feb 5, 2013
    Fayetteville, NC
    Endorsing Artist: Old SS Peavey Lead Sleds and Peavey tube amps
    Well ... that bit is actually true. God told me this himself just last week, as we were discussing why he's sending people who defret Rickenbackers straight to hell. Kinda unfair, I told Him. Especially if they restring with tape wounds. :(
  18. tubedude

    tubedude Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2015
    Nothing wrong with short scale basses. My granddaughter plays one.
    easyj, MYLOWFREQ, Brad Easley and 6 others like this.
  19. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive

    string-selection alone kills it for me
    down-tuning on a short-scale isn't great, & when people claim you just get larger-diameter strings, there aren't many, if any
  20. InhumanResource


    Dec 28, 2012
    I haven't observed this. My personal experience is that I have not yet met a short scale that I liked the sound and feel of.
  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.

    Jan 25, 2021

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