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Who has Officially Abandoned the Leo 34" Scale Standard For Greener Pastures?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BassHappy, Sep 14, 2019.

  1. OK, so when I first checked in here many years ago as a dedicated 32" medium scaler, there was a lot of resistance - and I was criticized for going against the grain of the 34" scale "standard".

    Lots of time has passed, and I now see the short and medium scale threads on the first page of this Bass Forum a few times a week. We seem to be learning that one size does not always fit all. While some like to play instruments that might be a little shorter than the Leo standard, many like to go even longer, into the 35" scales and even 36" or longer.

    I don't know if this will evolve into a popular topic or not, but I would love to hear the deets about your journey away from standard 34" scale. What was your motivation, what made you stick your toe in the water, what put the icing on the cake? Hands too big? Hands too small? Reach not comfy? A playability issue? A medical issue? Have you abandoned 34" scale or are you hanging in there with it - and still experimenting with other scales at the same time?

    I will go first. I learned bass from some Mel Bay trained guitar players at twelve years old, and the four finger, or "fret per finger" technique they showed me - appealed to me and made sense to me. After all, I always thought it was called "bass guitar". I dedicated myself to the technique. I later found that I couldn't use my "fret per finger" technique in the first position without discomfort and sometimes wrist cramping on a full 34" scale. The finger reach was too much, especially on very fast passages. It was in essence a physical limitation due to my short fingers. No need for the technique folks to weigh in with their criticism, believe me I have heard it all - and my technique is fine. However, when I moved to medium scale - the discomfort and cramping completely disappeared and there was no need to ever look back.

    How about you? Got any stories you'd like to share?
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
  2. ejaggers

    ejaggers Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2009
    Fort Worth, tx
    My first two basses were short scale, which I played for years, when I was a kid.
    Back then I was unaware of scale in the first place.

    Years later I got a '72 Jazz which felt very awkward to me, and again, it took years to appreciate.
    In fact, I really didn't fall in love with it until even more years later when I replaced the stock PUPS with Fralins, as a repair.

    I have always sang either lead or BU in almost every band I've been in, which was a lot over the years.
    So SS was always more comfortable to sing and play from the beginning.
    I've always felt that it's easier to go from LS to SS then the other way around.

    If given a choice, I will always (and always have) grabbed my SS first,
    and very few bands have ever complained because I was such a "Bad Ass" with it (Back In The Day).

    I have 6 LS's and my P is my favorite, I have 5 SS's and my Coronado from back in the day, has always been my fav.
    But now days when I jam, I will generally grab my Mustang, VM SS Jag, or SG.
    Although I can play my LS's just as well, especially if all I have to do is play.

  3. MynameisMe


    Dec 31, 2018
    Steamy Florida
    Using a long scale sounds like a reach. Get it?
    booch29, tubatodd, dmt and 1 other person like this.
  4. BlacknWhite

    BlacknWhite Supporting Member

    I switched to short scale a few months ago. I'm 39 now and have been playing 34 scale for about 25 years. Never tried a short scale because I figured they were beginner/for kids just getting into bass. I picked up a Gretsch Junior Jet when I saw one sitting in a music shop because it looked cool and I fell in love with it. I love the low tension and whole feel of SS bass's in general. The sound is perfect for the style of music I write and it is very comfortable to play. I'm fairly short (5'7) and they just fit better on me and the light weight of them is awesome when I'm doing long sets on stage. For the last few months my two shorties are all I have been using and I don't think I will go back to 34 scale.
    chupacerveza and BassHappy like this.
  5. Nebula24


    Nov 23, 2017
    Norman, OK
    Played bass a few years as teenager with friends. Went through a few basses but not a lot of local choices back then and I couldn't afford nice fenders. Fell out of playing and bass stayed in closet for decades. Would bring it out a few times but just never clicked to stick with it.

    Son got a acoustic guitar and I would toy on it like a bass. Dont recall knowing basses came in different sizes when I played long ago but nowadays new. Starting looking into short scales. Maybe that would get the bass playing to stick (guilt of the bass stored in closet....).

    While he took lessons at GC I tried all the entry basses long and short. Locally only had mikro, bronco and a used epi eb0 shorties. Fell in love with its neck. Just felt right. Comfy. Can play and not have to (awkwardly) stretch or always look. Like it was meant to be.

    Traded my closet stored ibby and have been playing daily or near so for almost 2 years. More constant practice than when I was a kid. So either it's due to finding I love shorties or just an age thing (ready to focus now) or both. After buying it still went back to GC on weekends to try everything out. Love trying basses I haven't tried before (any scale).

    Still rocking my epi eb0 but highly modded (knew what mods I might make before purchase to calculate cost vs other basses but still my fav neck...used to customizing bmx bikes and PCs). Recently nabbed an eastwood airline jetsons jr. Had been eyeing that and univox but not into online ordering basses as I am neck picky. Somehow one at my local store so rushed down and nabbed it. Love it too. Was waiting on the squire mustangs to compare to junior jet but couldn't let eastwood pass by.

    "Needed" a 2nd bass so can try new strings or mod my eb0 more (need something else to play if it's in pieces/non functional!). Tapes on my eb0 with reissue guild bisonic and victory gold foil surface mount pickup. 1st Chromes and now low tension labella flats on my jetsons jr.

    Just bedroom player for now but love it (no desire to play due to time constraints so happy to sneak in 30 mins or 1 hr of bass a every other day). Also dig tab software and YouTube vids vs playing from books or tab printouts (at least I get the timing now). Also got back into bike riding (mtb dorkin around neighborhood). Cheap midlife crisis? Haha.


    Also got my eb0 for cheap. Stepped on cable and broke output jack so used my GC warranty. Used the money I got back for a studio 40 bass amp. That and vox50ba are my amps (love vox sound). Itching for an orange but I dont "need" 3 amps especially if one is a modeling amp. :)
  6. I love my Rob Allen Mouse 30” Fretless, piezo PU. Physical injuries have all but stopped me from playing DB. I’ve tried many alternatives, but the Mouse is the most comfortable and versatile IME.

    I’ve always loved hollow body short scale basses. Owned a few, love my ‘67 Fender Coronado II, and bonding with my recently acquired MIK Danelectro Longhorn.

    Decided I’ll only buy short scale basses from now on. Harder to find so it keeps my GAS under control. Still play LS basses but moving closer to SS everyday.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2019
    burnunit, Iofflight, BassmanM and 3 others like this.
  7. Uncle K

    Uncle K The bass player doesn't get a sandwich Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2011
    Erie, PA
    I started on a MIM P-bass that I bought from a friend. Always thought I just had to practice more and get better. Then one day I walked into the music store and they had one of those new Squier VM Jaguar basses. I had seen those on the internet and thought they looked cool Picked it up and it dang near played itself.

    I went home and couldn't stop thinking about that bass, so I went back the next day and bought it. I got it home and realized it wasn't as big as my P-bass.

    About a year later I got my first medium scale, a Fernandes FRB. I played around with different scale lengths for another three years before deciding 34" isn't for me. I sold off my last full scale bass a year ago.

    Here's my main players, medium scale Fernandes 25th Anniversary
  8. B-Mac

    B-Mac Sorting Things Out Supporting Member

    I own 35” scale to Mikro scale
    Solid body, hollow body, semi-hollow, chambered, ABG, 4 string, 5 string, 8 string octave course, 10 string octave course, fretted & unfretted.

    I’m just a lowly bedroom bass hacker, but I love mixing it up. Keeps it interesting for me. Maybe not the best thing to do but it keeps me playing

    Two of my favorite medium scale basses are my Dean Radiant ABG and my Eastwood Backlund Rocker Box

    Medium is definitely comfortable for me especially ofpf. 34” I generally use Simandl til about the 6th fret

    E1CED424-27BD-4891-8C99-3ADB99B960AF. 698649A7-3A33-49B6-8AE3-9462D7F000B5.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
  9. TerenceE

    TerenceE Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2015
    There’s a medium scale 32” thumb I’ve been looking at. Maybe I should try it out !
    B-Mac and Sid the Kid like this.
  10. walking Bass

    walking Bass Supporting Member

    May 24, 2005
    Northern California
    I started with a Gibson EB-2 in '64 and currently play an American Performer Mustang, Gibson SG, Rob Alllen MB-2 (fretless) and a Sadowsky NYC. I don't find the scale length really matters much to me as much as I expected. On the other hand my Ken Smith 5 string feels much different - it's not longer than either the MB-2 or NYC, but it feel like it because of the greater width.
    BassHappy likes this.
  11. steelbed45

    steelbed45 TRemington Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2011
    Nolanville, TX
    My transition to 32" scale was the same as yours - it extended my one finger per fret technique to the first position. It always seemed odd to have 1-3-4 fingering for only one position.

    The 32" bass I play today was made by Jerome Little - a very cool guy in Austin who is known more for building Torzal basses.

    You personally gave me advice on string selection after I had made the switch. Thank you.
    chupacerveza, BassmanM and BassHappy like this.
  12. BlacknWhite

    BlacknWhite Supporting Member

    I've seen those Eastwood JJ's a couple times now and they look pretty cool. You have me gasing again... dammit
    Nebula24 likes this.
  13. singlemalt

    singlemalt Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2007
    White Salmon, WA
    My Peavey Cirrus is 35”.

    I have longscale and Super Series Dingwall four string with the fanned fret multi scale lengths.

    The AB -1 runs 36”-34”, the Super series about 35”-32”.

    I’m sold on the multi scale, fanned fret experience. Balance across the board and clarity of pitch are just two things I really like. Playing, I forget about the fanned frets, it’s not a big deal.

    I notice string spacing more, so I only have 19mm basses.
    Larchi, BassmanM, smogg and 4 others like this.
  14. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I'm all for people playing what works for them, Id just suggest that, for some of us (huge hands), 34 inches is the greenest pasture. Perhaps because I've put so much manure on that one.
  15. bordinco90


    Dec 7, 2011
    SW Louisiana
    I have not. I've tried 35 inch as well as 32 inch scale basses. My hands prefer the feel of a 34 inch scale bass for some reason. Could be a mental thing.
  16. Love your custom builds @BassHappy. Haven’t see you posting in the LC for a while.

    I currently have from a uke bass to an electric upright and have had a 3/4 sized acoustic upright. Wish I still had it. I guess I like mixing things up also. The 2 basses I just walked in the garage from working on are 32” and 30” scale. I also have 2 each of 32” and 30” scale basses. Several 34”, one or two 35” scale and whatever Rickenbacker is, 33 1/2” I think. Yes, I’m mentally ill. :laugh::help:

    Oh, and if or when I start another bass after these 2 I’d like to try a fanned fret. See? Sick!
    BassHappy and B-Mac like this.
  17. I went the other direction to multi scale 37-34 inch Dingwall and can never go back.

    Coming from only Jazz Bass this was a not a transition much at all for me. The frets are small Banjo frets so the smaller wire is almost like playing a fretless, it is so smooth and effortless to play.

    I never look at my frets with them angled, my claw just naturally lands where it needs to be using the 1, 3, 4 fingering. Will occasionally glance at the markers on the top of the neck as a quick reference, but once the bass is picked up I never see the frets until it is back on its stand.

    Now them parallel frets... them things are not natural, weird ol' speedbumps.

  18. 2F/2F


    May 26, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    34" is fine.

    30" is fine too.

    Haven't tried 32".

    Built a 36" slab P for a B-E-A-D bass, because I could never stand the way 5 strings look, or the way the low B sounds or feels on 34" ones.

    I wouldn't ever give up 34" scale, because that would mean giving up standard Ps, Js, G&Ls, and Music Mans. Nope; ain't gonna do that!
    Anders Barfod and Groove Doctor like this.
  19. el_Bajo_Verde


    May 18, 2016
    To each his own. I'm a 35" and up guy
  20. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    All my Roscoes are 35", so there ya go.
    The electric upright is 41", but that's a different thing altogether...
    Pbassmanca and BassHappy like this.

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