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Why isn't 33" scale more popular?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by tleebassist11, Jul 28, 2017.

  1. tleebassist11

    tleebassist11 Taylor Lee

    Dec 21, 2011
    Endorsing: Fodera, DR Strings
    Hello Talkbass buds,

    I am just throwing my opinion out there to possibly help anyone in there decision to purchase a short scale bass. Over the past several years I have owned several 33" scale Basses. I have also seen some TB'ers claim that short scale Basses affect the tone, sustain, and overall "size" of the notes in the lower register.
    In my experience, the playability of the 33" scale outweighs any negative claims that can be made about them. Ever since I have converted to 33, my tendonits has not been present at all, and I feel that technically I am able to spend more time on the instrument practicing stretches, and scales that previously would not have been possible.
    On the tone side of things I have noticed that a B string at 33 will not feel as taught as what some are used to, but with proper technique and eq'ing I have never noticed less presence in the lower register.
    I am very fortunate to play Fodera and I know that largely basing my experience with 33" scale off of their Basses is hard because not everyone can get their hands on one! All in all, I think all of my bass brethren should at least take a minute to try out a 33" scale bass if one ever passes them by! Especially if you can just sit down and try a 33" Fo, then you will see what life is all about!
    Just my rant for today.
    God bless!
    Omnisphere, el_Bajo_Verde and Templar like this.
  2. saltydude


    Aug 15, 2011
    boston CANADA
    From what I understand 33" is not short scale. Not even sure what it's considered knowing 32" is typically referred to as medium. Perhaps it's just so close to 34 manufacturers just use that as an industry standard. One inch is so marginal of a difference that people probably just go with a medium 32 or shorter to notice any significant change in playability???

    Edit: I do agree with your philosophy however. I primarily rock the Medium 32"'s myself.
    Sartori, joebar, lfmn16 and 3 others like this.
  3. lowendblues

    lowendblues Supporting Member

    Oct 8, 2004
    The Rickenbacker 4003 is 33.25".

    mine sounds pretty good.
  4. BassWaffle


    Apr 10, 2011
    Yeah, I think it's mostly because of how similar it is to 34". If a company is going to put the work in to offer a different scale instrument, it makes sense as far as manufacturing goes to make something markedly different than a long scale. I have a 31" bass and I love it, a full short scale might be too small for me. I'm glad basses do exist at all these scale lengths
    MobileHolmes and tleebassist11 like this.
  5. Funkinthetrunk

    Funkinthetrunk Registered User Supporting Member

    I admire you players that can tell differences like that. I have a 32" 34" and 35" basses and my mind / fingers can't tell any differences between them.
  6. IGB-RC GRSL_1.jpg

    33" Aria Pro II IGB-RC

    IGB-RC GRSL | ITEMS(製品情報) | Aria Guitars

    The minor difference between std. long-scale and this 33" design makes a fantastic difference insofar as playability.
    I've had numerous 32", I can't feel right playing them.

    This build, OTOH, is ergonomic, light, comfortable, and fast as a Ferrari.
    Great work on this Japanese-built instrument; besides the scale there are numerous qualities which make it an outstanding bass.

    I would absolutely consider having a bass built in 33" scale in the future.
    Its a perfect compromise between Long-Medium-and Short scale options.
  7. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    The old Multivox Marvel basses scaled in at between 33 and 34 inches. I have an as yet unidentified old bass neck that does the same.

    I would not be surprised to learn that a less than 34"mensure in some part is dictated by the overall design of the instrument.
  8. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    33" is just the end of the line in terms of established lengths that people look at. 34 is standard. 35" and 30" are quite common. 32" is medium scale and there are precious few of those.

    By the time folks have gone through those 4 scales there aren't many folks who haven't found an ideal scale. Thus. asside from Rics, you don't see many 33", 33'ish, 36", etc...
  9. MobileHolmes

    MobileHolmes I used to be BassoP

    Nov 4, 2006
    I agree with Saltydude and BassWaffle- it just isn't different enough to justify for most companies. There are some folks who make 33s (Ibanez, The above Aria, Rick, Many custom builders including Fodera). All of my basses but one are 34, and the other is 30 or thereabouts (maybe 30.5?). Even at 4 inches, I don't notice a huge difference.
  10. Eminor3rd

    Eminor3rd BLAAAAARRGGHH!!

    Feb 10, 2008
    I don't know about everyone else, but I've never picked up a 34" bass and thought, "man, I wish this were just like one inch shorter!"

    I'm not saying there's anything wrong with 33" scale, I just don't think the need for it has occurred to most players.
    Gord_oh, Eikari, MobileHolmes and 2 others like this.
  11. No, you are interpreting things incorrectly!

    For those who find (like myself) that a Medium scale 32" or a Short Scale 30" bass is not comfortable, a 33" represents IMO a very happy medium between those.

    Its not a case of "man, I wish this were just like one inch shorter!" that was added by you.

    All of my basses except the Aria I listed are long-scale. I've had some superb medium scale basses including a Birdsong and a Jerry Jones, a German Hofner Club, and even an Ampeg Dan Armstrong. All of which were outstanding basses, but not a fit for me. They were sold.
    The 33' scale feels just like a long-scale, its difference is in ergonomics and the tight feel of the body in playing positions.
    Otherwise, it might as well be long-scale in sound and feel.
    Eminor3rd likes this.
  12. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    As mentioned above, 33" (+1/4") is an extremely popular scale length.
    Sartori, Manticore and dutchwife like this.
  13. Pbassmanca

    Pbassmanca In the pocket n' thumpy. So woody, so greasy...

    I think it really depends on how big your body and hands are and how tall you are. If your a smaller person then a 32" scale length will likely feel a bit more comfy. If you look at a big guy like Chuck Rainey, he makes a 34" scale length vintage P bass look like a short scale.......
  14. BassBuzzRS


    Oct 18, 2005
    I now have a 32, 33, 34 and a 35". Favorite scale is 33 with 34 second. For me, the 34" is a normal car, the 33 is a sports car, the 32 is a go cart but the 35 is a van. Hehe :)
  15. Inara

    Inara Fierce Fun Fretless Female

    Jun 12, 2017
    Seattle, WA USA
    Scott Devine (of Scott's Bass Lessons) has 33" scale on his signature bass models from Overwater:

    Overwater - Scott Devine Bass Guitar
    J Series Scott Devine Model « «

    I may end up trying one of these. Starting to get some left hand issues as I'm getting older. I left 35" scales behind a number of years ago, but my 34"s are starting to cause similar strain.
  16. Maybe I wouldn't have to hop around playing 5 fret span scales if I had a short scale but I love my Cirrus. Would I really notice a difference?
  17. Paul McCartneys Hofner Violin bass and Jack Bruce's SG bass were shortys.
  18. The SG bass looks awesome
  19. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    I don't know the reason. But I imagine it's pretty much the opposite reason that 35" scale is not more popular.
  20. Pbassmanca

    Pbassmanca In the pocket n' thumpy. So woody, so greasy...

    I have a medium scale length (32") Squier vintage modified tele Bass , that I bought off a customer of mine's son when I was working at their house. When I saw the bassI actually had no idea that it was medium-scale even when I played it the first couple times. It really didn't occur to me that there was anything different about it from a normal bass. It was only until I actually looked up the model and noticed it was a medium scale length that I thought about it. I'm not a huge guy, and I pretty much only use standard scale length p&j bases on my gigs, but I can tell you that when I'm sitting on the couch watching TV with my wife and noodling away, that slightly shorter scale length of 32 inches is actually noticeably more comfortable. I just need to do a new wiring harness in this bass and put my Seymour Duncan Antiquity 2 single coil and the medium scale La Bella 760 FS flats that I ordered, and this bass will be coming with me to some shows this summer!
    BassHappy likes this.

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