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What's a good sign that you need a shorter scale Bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by AltIII, Jan 6, 2004.


  1. AltIII

    AltIII

    Sep 3, 2002
    Hey, I've been playing bass for about six years an d for six years I have used a squire p-bass (don't tell me how much I suck for owning that bass, it was a birthday present.) When I started, I had trouble with the span of my hand and not being able to easily go quickly from... say fret 1 to fret 4 (or the equivilent). This has cause troubles when I wanted to play ska songs or fast paced Jazz. I figured that as I kept on playing, my hand would adjust. Now it's six years later and not much adjustment has been made. I still strain to leap from fret 1 to fret 4, and even I do manage to reach, it's hard to do so accurately enough for any musical value.
    So, is this a good sign that I need a short scale bass? If so, could you recommend one that's inexpensive and doesn't suck. if you think a short scale bass is not needed, what are my other options?
     
  2. WOOFMAN

    WOOFMAN

    Mar 12, 2003
    USA, PNW
    Exactly how small are your hands? Measure from the wrist crease to the tip of the middle finger in inches.
     
  3. ampegloud

    ampegloud Guest

    Oct 14, 2002
    kansas city mo
    heh dude if the bass player for the metal band kittie can play a 5 string esp ltd bass and she is only about 5 ft 4,and small hands im sure you can,you dont need a short scale bass ,concintrate on your tecnic first ,forget theary notes etc, for right now just get your skill down and play with a drum machine ,very important,yes learn the notes on the fret board too the best group to learn technic and timing is ac\dc,they are an example of perfect timing,you keep up with cliff williams and your doin good,gtta learn that first be4 you go on to billy sheean ,or geddy lee,or victor wooton
     
  4. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Where do you place your thumb (fretting hand)? On top of the neck or behind?
    If you do the frist, change your technique.
     
  5. Skerik1

    Skerik1

    Sep 21, 2002
    Saint Paul, MN
    Also, measure how far your fingers spread from the tip of your index finger to the tip of your pinky in a normal playing position.

    I have a custom 32" scale bass, and it makes a WORLD of difference how easy stretches are. It's so effortless. Plus, it's one helluva solid bass which helps :)

    [​IMG]

    --Matthew
     
  6. AltIII

    AltIII

    Sep 3, 2002
    my hands are about 7 inches wrist to tip and 3 1/2 to 4 inches fingertip to fingertip. My fingers are tapered, almost like a woman's hand (I'm a dude btw).
    I've tried putting my thumb on the back of the neck, when I started out and was doing things by the book. But I couldn't find a way to do it comfortably. where, in relation to my fingers, should be thumb be? in the middle or off to the side?
    this stuff has kinda gotten me a bit stressed, I love music and I want to be involved in making music. But it just seems fate is against me. My singing voice is ok, but the optimal range is pretty narrow. I wanted to play piano, but I never got lessons when I was young and my motor skills where more impressionable. And my hands don't seem to fit into bass playing as other players do. I know these things need to be worked at, but it's still a bit frustrating that it doesn't come as naturally to me as it does others.

    btw, that bass looks like a coffee table, ew. ;)
     
  7. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    You don't have to reach from the 1st fret to the 4th. I can't do it easily so I don't, I pivot or shift. Close to the nut, it's hard to do four fret stretches.

    My hands are not large and I play URB which has a 41" scale...20% longer than a P-bass, and I'm quite comfortable on it.
     
  8. WOOFMAN

    WOOFMAN

    Mar 12, 2003
    USA, PNW
    AltIII, you could go with a shortscale bass, that would even the playing field by shortening the neck length and reducing body size and overall weight of the bass. Another idea that you might try is going fretless and slide into those hard to reach notes. And finally, you might want to try a five string bass and play one octave down. That way the frets will be closer together towards the center of the fret board than spaced out upthere at the neck and you'll be playing more width(^) wise than lengthwise(<-->). You'll develop your own technique as you play more, perhaps develop some wierd non fingering technique Peter Gabriel's funky finger bass guy.

    Hopes this helps.
     
  9. WOOFMAN

    WOOFMAN

    Mar 12, 2003
    USA, PNW
    AltIII, you could go with a shortscale bass, that would even the playing field by shortening the neck length and reducing body size and overall weight of the bass. Another idea that you might try is going fretless and slide into those hard to reach notes. And finally, you might want to try a five string bass and play one octave down. That way the frets will be closer together towards the center of the fret board than spaced out upthere at the neck and you'll be playing more width(^) wise than lengthwise(<-->). You'll develop your own technique as you play more, perhaps develop some wierd non fingering technique like Peter Gabriel's funky finger bass guy.

    Hopes this helps.
     
  10. jdombrow

    jdombrow Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    A few suggestions:

    Learn to play with your thumb on the back of the neck. In a resting position, the tip of my thumb is at about the centerline of the neck, and directly behind my index finger. My four fingers are in a vertical position, in line with the frets. When I'm playing, my hand pivots on my thumb as I shift to reach various notes in a 4-fret span. Also learn to shift your entire hand from position to position with your thumb resting lightly on the back of the neck.

    Try doing stretching exercises to spread your fingers wider. I put the thumb and pinkie finger of my right hand between two fingers on my left (fretting) hand and gently spread them apart. I've been doing this for as long as I've been playing bass - about 30 years - and I have a pretty wide spread: 6-1/2" from index finger to pinkie when they're fully spread (without assistance from my other hand). My hand from the wrist crease to the tip of my middle finger is about 7-3/4", and my middle finger is 3-1/2" long.

    Learn to fret with your index and pinkie finger for both 3- and 4-fret spreads. I use my pinkie more than my third finger, which allows me to keep my hand a comfortable vertical position for most playing.

    By the way, reaching from the 1st to the 4th fret is about as far as I can stretch at the end of the neck on a 35" scale bass.

    I hope this helps.

    JD
     
  11. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    I recommend that you find a decent instructor that can help you develop a sound technique. Yes, 32" requires less of a stretch than 34", but bad technique is bad technique and you will pay for it in the long run with injuries.
     
  12. AltIII

    AltIII

    Sep 3, 2002
    actually I've notice that I actually do put my thumb on the back of my neck, just not all the time(when I play the e-string I rest my thumb on the top of the neck, not sure why, just happens natually).
    btw, I really don't want to use a 5+ string bass. I don't know why, but I just don't like them. I also don't like the coffee table-esq custom shop basses, they have no edge to them. And fretless is a bitch play in tune. So how bout recommending a good short sale?
     
  13. atldeadhead

    atldeadhead

    Jun 17, 2002
    Georgia
    I think you'll really be limiting your choice of basses by going to a short scale bass.

    FWIW, I just measured my hand and it's almost exactly the same size as yours. For years and years I played Jazz basses exclusively. The thinner neck made it easier to fret than say a p-bass neck. Recently though I switched to a 35" neck, Modulus Q5. I haven't had any problems. Good technique and lot's of practice is what it's all about. Your hand is more than big enough.

    Before buying a short scale bass, I'd recommend you try a fender jazz bass. The thinner neck might be just what the doctor ordered. I'd also recommend you talk to a long time bass player or teacher and see if they can help you improve your technique.

    Play scales like mad. That's what helped me. It will really help build up your hand strength. And that hand strength is what will make some of those stretches easier. Also, as someone else mentioned, don't be shy from shifting or pivoting to make the stretch. Practice, practice, practice.
     
  14. radapaw

    radapaw

    Mar 22, 2000
    Ottawa, Canada
    I switched to short scale because my fretting hand was going numb when I'd play for long periods. I tried many things, but it doesn't happen when I play my short scales. I wonder if arm length has as much to do with it as hand-span..?

    But by far the biggest sign you need a short scale is when you play one and fall for that deep thuddy-thud-treble-is-the-enemy tone. It's not for everyone, and not for everything... but I've never played an alembic :)
     
  15. sethlow3

    sethlow3 Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Nashville, Tennessee
    Its all about technique in this case. I don't care how small your hands are. I have friend with tiny hands and he does a lot of amazing playing on a 6. It can be done. The lesser the scale the less of a piano or bell like tone. Just keep practicing.....
     
  16. quallabone

    quallabone

    Aug 2, 2003
    I play on 31.6" scale bass and found that helped a small amount. I don't have huge hands but I consider my technique to be pretty darn good so it didn't make a huge difference. The real difference was that I didn't have to reach as far because my armlength is more suited to a shorter scale. If your technique isn't the problem then go find a good short scale bass. There are only a few that have greater sustain and low end than standard scale basses but buy one of these and you'll be off to the races.
     
  17. jdombrow

    jdombrow Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Another suggestion is to shorten your strap. If the bass is too low, it affects your fretting hand position and makes it difficult to move efficiently. My bass hangs in the same position as when I'm playing sitting down with the body against my chest. It's not up uder my chin, but the top of the body is about 7-8" below my chin.

    JD