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Why would anyone play a bass longer than 30" scale?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MakoMan, Nov 29, 2018.


  1. MakoMan

    MakoMan

    Oct 17, 2011
    Ottawa, Canada
    I'm serious about this. I see lots of threads about is it OK to play a short scale but never any from the other perspective. Maybe it's because I only started playing bass 6 years ago in my mid-50s and started on a Squier Jag SS, maybe it's because I get tennis elbow if I play anything longer than a 30" scale on a regular basis, or maybe it's because I'm a lead singer and have to try to play everything without looking down (as best I can LOL!). But I don't get it... why would anyone handicap themselves by playing a bass that is longer than necessary.
    Short scales are easier to play no question. I don't think that's even worth debating. The selection of shorties is better than ever (and there should be more...). String selection is no longer a problem and tension issues can be resolved with the right strings (again it could still be better and will be once everyone switches to short scale :)). Tone is pretty subjective and for God's sake, most personal preferences can be solved by string choices and amp settings.
    So why do you guys play 34"s? Do you like clubbing your lead guitarist and/or singer in the head? Are you challenged by the longer scale? Is it an image thing? Is it tone? Is it Machisomo?
    I used to think it was an image thing, but in the 200+ shows I've played with short scales not one person has ever said 'hey... your bass is too short'. In fact when I tell people I play a shorter scale than normal they are totally mystified by what I am saying.
    So why are you still playing a 34" bass?
     
  2. James Collins

    James Collins

    Mar 25, 2017
    Augusta, GA
    I never had the need to go to a short scale.

    I would have to get a short scale to decide if I liked it.

    I probably will not try one in the near future.

    Edit: I do have a ubass. I prefer my full scale length. It is easier to play.
     
    dab12ax7ef and bassista6 like this.
  3. B-Mac

    B-Mac Sorting Things Out Supporting Member

    I play 30”, 30.25”, 30.5”, 32”, 33.25”, 34”, 35” and the Ibanez Mikro scale which I can’t recall exactly what it is.... my point? Play ‘em all! Variety keeps it interesting for me! ;)
     
    Brookmichael, MCF, RobertUI and 10 others like this.
  4. Well... uhhhh...... everyone is entitled to their opinion. Let’s just leave it there, shall we? Yes. I think that’s a good idea.
     
    edencab, smogg, RobertUI and 17 others like this.
  5. lug

    lug

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    Because 34 is 4 more than 30, duh!
     
    BurnOut, Rilence, dmt and 38 others like this.
  6. Wild_Cat

    Wild_Cat

    Feb 14, 2009
    Montréal, QC
    I play 5- and 6-string basses. A lot of low B strings are floppy as all hell even at 34" (thankfully my Ibanez SRs and EBMM Sterling have great low Bs)... I don't even think any manufacturers even try 30" with those, do they?
     
  7. Kiesel makes their Vader headless, including the 5 and 6, in a 30". I have no clue if they play well at all, though.
     
    MakoMan likes this.
  8. Jaco Taco

    Jaco Taco

    Jul 30, 2012
    Because the vast majority of basses are 34" and that's what people are used to? I mean, I guess if I was a short guy with little hands or something, but that's not the case.
     
    Elusive1, gebass6, Aqualung60 and 2 others like this.
  9. felis

    felis

    Jul 31, 2013
    Midwest, USA
    Probably as many (or more) reasons to play basses longer than 30" as there are for 30" or less.

    I also started playing about 6 years ago with a Jaguar SS. I bought a standard 34" scale bass
    and gave it an honest effort, but like 30" way more. I currently have nine 30" scale basses.
     
  10. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Because.
     
    Herrick, gebass6, Strung_Low and 4 others like this.
  11. AboutSweetSue

    AboutSweetSue

    Sep 29, 2018
    Lebanon, TN
    It’s kinda strange how that question just doesn’t make sense the other way around.
     
    jd56hawk and MakoMan like this.
  12. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    California
    When I started many years ago, there were not very many short scale options. I was told that because I am a woman I should play a smaller instrument, so I bought what I could find and was never very happy with it. Specifically, the E string was floppy and dull-sounding, not what it should be.

    As I mentioned in another thread, I saw a guy with smaller hands than mine tearing up a regular bass and I thought if he could do it, so could I. So I bought a standard scale instrument and was much happier with what I was getting from it. It also opened me up to being able to play just about any bass I might encounter as there were not many people playing short scales back then.

    Now, I know that things have changed and there are much better short scale instruments available nowadays. But that was my reasoning then, and I am not sorry that the lack of better instruments forced me to move toward a standard sized instrument. I'm glad it went that way.
     
  13. PolkaHero

    PolkaHero

    Jan 5, 2002
    Michigan
    Anemic sounding E string especially on the lower notes. Main reason I sold my Gibson EB-3 earlier this year, only short scale bass I owned.
     
    EagleMoon, Aeolian, BigBatch and 11 others like this.
  14. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    California
    So they still do that? Mine was an EB-0. Terrible sound on the E string. The others were not much better. Pretty bass, though.
     
    red_rhino, pbassjbass and MakoMan like this.
  15. AboutSweetSue

    AboutSweetSue

    Sep 29, 2018
    Lebanon, TN
    My Gibson SG has just as much or more character in the low notes than my long scale basses. It may be due to heavy gauge flats with the proper EQ, setup, and playing style though. If you play it anemically, you will get anemic.
     
    Dubsly, B-Mac, J-Mags and 1 other person like this.
  16. MakoMan

    MakoMan

    Oct 17, 2011
    Ottawa, Canada
    In the case of a 5-string... I'll give you that :)
     
  17. MakoMan

    MakoMan

    Oct 17, 2011
    Ottawa, Canada
    We are on the same page!
     
    AboutSweetSue likes this.
  18. MakoMan

    MakoMan

    Oct 17, 2011
    Ottawa, Canada
    Well explained and makes a lot of sense. Appreciate the response.
     
    MDBass and LBS-bass like this.
  19. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    California
    Curious what year yours is? Mind would have been late '60's or early '70's, but I don't know exactly. Sold it a long time ago.
     
  20. MakoMan

    MakoMan

    Oct 17, 2011
    Ottawa, Canada
    With the current available string options and the much wider selection of 30" scale basses it might be a good time to try a shortie again! You could go nostalgic with an SG or try one of the many other options that are currently available :)
     
    LBS-bass likes this.

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