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What's the deal with short-scale necks?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Flux Jetson, Jun 4, 2012.

  1. I see Warmoth offers 32" and 30" scales. What does the shorter scale do to/for a bass, all other things being equal?

    Do the strings get floppier? And what of tone?

  2. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I have had many long (34") and short (30") scales over the last 40+ years. Tone depends on the the entire bass which consists of a myriad of other factors besides the scale length and I've found there is no inherent "shortscale" tone.

    I've found that shortscales are are better at controlling dead spots and are in general more even sounding than longscales.

    I've had no issues with string tension on long or short scales.
  3. Thunder_Fingers


    Jun 24, 2004
    Well then, Its just "Easier" to play? I'm after an Aria ZZB in blueburst (Becouse they look bitchin') wich is 32", And I too kinda wonder, what IS the advantages of shortscales? It can't just be for women with small hands? :p
  4. LowEndPrinciple


    Jun 1, 2012
    I have had a few short scale basses over the years. I typically use a short scale, if I am singing - due to personal playability of the short scale. IMO the short scale basses I have had seem to have a warmer tone and threaten even a somewhat muddy tone if not eq'd properly. Now this may be due to the models of short scale basses I've used. I had a 1965 Gibson EB-3, a Gretsch 2202, and currently play a Gretsch G2224. I've never A/B'd them; however, I seem to get more sustain out of these short scale basses then the long scale. There may be some scientific information/explanation about that which I just do not have. It could be my ears playing tricks on me - I don't know.

    It reminds me of the Paul McCartney tone - woodsy??? I am sure the pickups would have plenty to do with the tone. All of these basses have humbuckers/mini humbuckers. I have never played a short scale Fender such as the Mustang. It may have a different tone altogether.

    Jack Bruce of Cream used a short scale Gibson EB-0 or EB-3 - You could youtube "sunshine of your love" and maybe listening to "Something" by the beatles (keep in mind Paul was probably using his hollowbody violin bass - but when I am playing softer my tone reminds me of that song.

    I have know idea what slapping would sound like on a short scale, maybe some people can do it. With me slapping the basses mentioned I imagine it would clear the building - I have never tried.

    Another plus, if you had to use a plectrum/pick with any of the aforementioned basses, it doesn't sound half bad.

    I hope this is somewhat helpful.

  5. LowEndPrinciple


    Jun 1, 2012
    BTW - I believe the basses i mentioned were all 30" scale.
  6. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    IME with those same instruments, it definitely is.
  7. I have plenty of 34" and 35" fours and fives, and a few shorties, and lately I've been on a 32" kick.

    My reason was it's easier for me to do a four or five fret stretch in the first and second position (where the groove is) easier than with a longer scale.

    My latest (and final?) acquisition is a 32" five string. No, it's not floppy due to it's overly solid construction. It's built like a tank yet weighs maybe 8 lbs.

    I think I prefer 32 over 30 because they seem livelier when and thump nicely.
  8. Darnell Jones

    Darnell Jones Inactive

    Aug 29, 2011
    Strings get floppier and the tone has more fundamental and less overtones. If you want to see how much downtune your 34" scale bass a whole step, ignore the first 2 frets and the tone & tension on the rest of the neck will feel and sound like it would on a 30.25" neck.

    I like floppier strings :hyper:
  9. Kopfjaeger

    Kopfjaeger Guest

    Jun 3, 2011
    I've never considered owning a short scale bass. All I've ever owned were 34 inch scales. Quite recently a 32 inch scale 5 string Alembic has caught my eye.

    Hell, it's an Alembic. It can't be bad, right??:bassist:

  10. arsie


    Jan 19, 2011
    That's what I'm trying now. I get lower tension strings, all the notes get closer to me, and I get a D and an Eb to boot. I also bought a capo for the few songs where I want the open notes. So far so good.
  11. Short scale basses are nice for ancient, arrthritic amateurs with short fingers. They also work better when you are playing it close quarters with other musicians. If I could find one with no headstock, a la Steinberger, I'd try to jump on it. I tried one of those Kala U-bass (21" scale), but it was almost too much of a good thing.
  12. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    To get the same string tension on a 30" scale as a 34" scale you have to use strings that are 1.065x the size. So to get the same tension as a .100 "E" you have to go up to a .107 "E". The "formula" is to divide 34 by your actual scale length and take the square root of that :) .

    I generally string my short scales 40/55/75/107 (GHS Bass Boomers singles) but have a .120 "E" on one of my Ibanez Mikro's (28.5" scale). And yes, they don't call the pickups on the EB0 & EB3 "mudbuckers" for nothing! Like any other bass the pickups used have a big influence on the tone. My 30" Cort can cop a single pickup MM tone just fine :) . The biggest problem with short scales is the lack of string selection and that the pre-made sets tend to be geared towards the light side. Fender did sell a decent set for their P-Bass Jr that fit the Mikro with a .110 "E" but it's been discontinued :( . I have a set of LaBella flats in 39/56/77/109 destined for my EB-0 but haven't put them on yet.
  13. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    My hands are fairly large but I just love the playability of the short scale. And the ubass is fun to play with a great sound, and adorable.
  14. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    You mean amateurs Like Paul McCartney, Stanley Clarke, Jack Bruce, or Chris Wood? ;)

    I use my shortscale EUBs in close quarters playing situations.
  15. I got a late 60's Teisco that has a 25 inch scale and tune a half step down. No major floppy string issues. It's all about preference and a big +1 on getting a bigger string gauge.
    El Pelusa likes this.
  16. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    With modern construction techniques amps, cabs and materials, short scale is a great option. There is an inherent rational that players will put in an instrument. Short scale to some has a association with not being a "proper bass" they are seen as a choice for inferior players.

    But the truth is they are a great option for players with smaller hands or reduced span. Size of the neck to the hands is a great plus when correct, and a big negative when when it causes players to struggle.
    I have talked to so many players at clinics and demos that openly admitt they play down the bottom end.
    They never go up past 19th fret, they draw a "symbolic" line at that point as being to far up the neck.
    But suggest short scale to them, and all sort of irrational reasons come out despite the fact that they would benefit from a bass has better ergonomic scale length.
    I believe the use of the word "short" is the problem.
    Referring to scales as numbers such as 30, 32, 34, etc does not bring much of a reaction among players that do not relate them to short, medium or long scale.

    I play short scale semi acoustic basses and find no draw backs to what I do (Blues ) and can see no real draw backs in most other genres, but then again i may not be qualified to make such a comparison.
  17. spiritbass


    Jun 9, 2004
    Ashland, MO
    I haven't ventured into short scale, but I am stepping into medium territory with a Landing 32" precision. One very nice feature is that it strings through the body, which allows the use of any standard (34") string set. I still haven't gotten my fingers on it, but it will arrive here in central MO next week. :hyper:
  18. That was my thinking also when the builder of my bass and I were mapping out the specs for my bass. It IS strung through so I can use regular scale strings on it.

    Although TB scientists will disagree with that. Physics and whatnot.

    Tightrope walkers agree with me.:p
  19. I play short scales, mainly.

    There's no reason either. I own 34" basses, but prefer the 30". I have one Short Scale strung with flats and the other with rounds. They both sound excellent!

    Sacrilegious as it sounds, i prefer the tone of flats on my 30" jazz to my 34" P.
  20. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    The bolded portion is 100% inaccurate.


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