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Greg Edwards69

Why so many short scale basses at the moment?

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For me, the tone of my Mustang is to die for. I am not fazed by scale length, string spacing, weight,  4 or 5 strings (never played more), active or passive. I love all my basses, but man the Mustang sounds so cool - especially playing funk with a plectrum for some reason........ 

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17 hours ago, Frank Blank said:

I spent decades wondering why my bass playing improved so slowly until I picked up my first short scale and realised I should have been playing them all along. I think people are coming round to the fact that full scale basses have precisely no advantages over smaller, lighter, easier to play short scales.

Definitely try one, if we weren’t mid-global health crisis you could probably walk to my house and try mine out!

I'd likely take you up on that offer too.  It would be good to meet a fellow bass nerd in the local area. I am quite intrigued to try one.  As much as I love my current clutch of basses, there are times it get challenging, more so physically than technically.  I had to part ways with my old Warwick Thumb for ergonomic reasons.  A 2-3 hour gig would leave me in pain for days - as great a bass as it was, it wasn't worth the agony it left my back and shoulder in.

9 hours ago, Lfalex v1.1 said:

I'm surprised we haven't had a fanned-fret multi-scale SS bass. Something like 26-32", or whatever the maths dictates. 

Or maybe someone already did and I missed it..

Now that I like the sound of. Could be best of both worlds. Short to medium scale in one instrument. Ibanez make both short scale and fanfret designs - maybe they need a nudge to combine the two.

8 hours ago, Woodinblack said:

Maybe it was for years everyone was making copies of fender Ps and Js, which is why everything was 34", while a lot of the rest of the brands continued with their short and medium scale.

I always wondered, if you have short, medium and long, why is the long most common rather than the medium?

I think you might be onto something.  Fender designs are the most ubiquitous to the point of becoming standard. A bit like MS Word - I'm a graphic designer by trade and you wouldn't believe the number of times customers have asked for the finished design in word format!

It's probably this ubiquitousness (is that a word?) that made long scale the industry standard.

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1 hour ago, P-Belly Evans said:

 I love all my basses, but man the Mustang sounds so cool - especially playing funk with a plectrum for some reason........ 

It worked just fine for Hamish Stuart, who occasionally carried the bass part and is (still) one of the funkiest men on the planet.

15 minutes ago, Greg Edwards69 said:

I'd likely take you up on that offer too.  It would be good to meet a fellow bass nerd in the local area. I am quite intrigued to try one.  As much as I love my current clutch of basses, there are times it get challenging, more so physically than technically.  I had to part ways with my old Warwick Thumb for ergonomic reasons.  A 2-3 hour gig would leave me in pain for days - as great a bass as it was, it wasn't worth the agony it left my back and shoulder in.

 

You could do a lot worse than get yourself a Harley Benton Shortie precision bass.  £80 +/- depending upon the exchange rate which is nothing short of a miracle.  30" scale, sounds like a Precision bass should sound, weighs around 3.2kg if I recall correctly.  If it didn't work out you could flog it for not much less.

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19 hours ago, Greg Edwards69 said:

I'd likely take you up on that offer too.  It would be good to meet a fellow bass nerd in the local area. I am quite intrigued to try one.  As much as I love my current clutch of basses, there are times it get challenging, more so physically than technically.  I had to part ways with my old Warwick Thumb for ergonomic reasons.  A 2-3 hour gig would leave me in pain for days - as great a bass as it was, it wasn't worth the agony it left my back and shoulder in.

I don’t suppose mine are particularly representative of typical short scales but at least you’d get a feel for a 30” neck, drop me a PM if you want to try one, I’m sure we can work something out.

Edited by Frank Blank

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1 hour ago, Paul S said:

It worked just fine for Hamish Stuart, who occasionally carried the bass part and is (still) one of the funkiest men on the planet.

 

Absolutely. One of my faves here..

And the intro by Don Cornelius is pure class

 

 

 

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37 minutes ago, ahpook said:

Middle-ageing bass players with bad backs and aching joints :D

 

Middle-ageing? You youngsters! Now pass me my SG bass for that 3 hour + gig (I think I remember those in pre Covid-19 days).

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Shorter scale brings the rubbery goodness under the hands. 

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If the O.P  wants to specifically know why short scale basses are in vogue at the moment , it is mostly  because this trend is the latest expression of bass players gravitating towards the retrospective and "vintage" . 

For the last twenty-or-so years if you are a hip and happening bass player( or like to think you are..) you have to eschew all that is modern and "hifi" in terms of equipment in favour of vintage-inspired choices that mark the owner out as  one of the cognoscenti. Short scale is irrevocably  associated with ancient times, when bass players sounded mellow and, above all, tasteful. 

Yes, there were twangy short scale players back in the day -Stanley Clarke and Jack Bruce, for example, but for the most part, a dull, thumpy tone with or without a bit of click thrown in was standard fare. And as a bass player , nowadays it is sinful to draw attention to yourself with a bright  strident tone  , apparently. 

The fact that playing a short scale bass after years and years of struggling with  34 inch scale is just about the most fun you can have without taking your clothes off does help too, I must admit. Especially strung  with flats or tapewounds . It is an undeniably great sound. 

Edited by Misdee
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I’m come to short scale basses (a MIJ Mustang) as I’ve got older and it’s a brilliant sounding bit of kit - like a smaller, lighter and more comfortable than a P bass.

It does have a sound that’s distinct from a P tho - a tiny bit thinner and more midrangy perhaps, and a tighter low end? - but very comparable and very useful.

Mine weighs something like 3.5kg and is nicely balanced so it’s a doddle for long gigs or even longer rehearsals.

I’ve not recorded with it (other than some live YouTube things from gigs I’ve done) but I’m very happy that it lets me play and sound like me easily enough.

Im not about to swap completely to short scales but they are useful and likeable basses I think. 

Edited by bassbiscuits

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14 hours ago, Misdee said:

If the O.P  wants to specifically know why short scale basses are in vogue at the moment , it is mostly  because this trend is the latest expression of bass players gravitating towards the retrospective and "vintage" . 

For the last twenty-or-so years if you are a hip and happening bass player( or like to think you are..) you have to eschew all that is modern and "hifi" in terms of equipment in favour of vintage-inspired choices that mark the owner out as  one of the cognoscenti. Short scale is irrevocably  associated with ancient times, when bass players sounded mellow and, above all, tasteful. 

Yes, there were twangy short scale players back in the day -Stanley Clarke and Jack Bruce, for example, but for the most part, a dull, thumpy tone with or without a bit of click thrown in was standard fare. And as a bass player , nowadays it is sinful to draw attention to yourself with a bright  strident tone  , apparently. 

The fact that playing a short scale bass after years and years of struggling with  34 inch scale is just about the most fun you can have without taking your clothes off does help too, I must admit. Especially strung  with flats or tapewounds . It is an undeniably great sound. 

Great answer which pretty much aligns with my thinking. Although I hadn’t thought of the retrospective angle. Regardless of the ergonomic, comfort and playability benefits which I’m intrigued by, it definitely seems to be en vogue or “fashionable” hence the likes of sire, Warwick, and musicman offering shortscale models. I just wonder if it’s a trend that’s here to stay or a passing fad. 

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1 hour ago, Greg Edwards69 said:

Great answer which pretty much aligns with my thinking. Although I hadn’t thought of the retrospective angle. Regardless of the ergonomic, comfort and playability benefits which I’m intrigued by, it definitely seems to be en vogue or “fashionable” hence the likes of sire, Warwick, and musicman offering shortscale models. I just wonder if it’s a trend that’s here to stay or a passing fad. 

I think it is safe to say that while it is very doubtful that short scale basses remains as hip and popular as they are now forever people and guitar/bass manufactures have finally opened their eyes to short scale basses not necessarily being cheap beginner second class basses of poor quality that aren't really real basses or viable for serious/professional gigging and recording (even if bass players like Mike Watt, Jack Bruce, Paul McCartney and Stanley Clarke proved so long ago), that they are as much real instruments as their bigger brothers, and that they offer some unique tonal possibilities and got some advantages in playing comfort/playabillity over regular 34" scale basses.

So I think it is safe to say that short scale basses are definitely here to stay, and while not very likely remaining the current hot new hip thing forever I am quite sure that they will continue to be considerably more common forward on than they historically used to be, keeping the status they have achieved now as instruments serious/professional bass players will have no issues using for gigs and recordings, or even as their main bass, and at least would want to have at least one of in their arsenal, and therefor will continue to be something the big guitar/bass manufactures will find necessary to have offers in their product line in order to accommodate, just as is the case with for example 5 string basses, they too had their turn as the latest fashion among bass players, but they still pretty much has kept their status as being a standard inventory item among serious bass players (even in these times where old fashioned 4 string basses seems to be where the trend is at).

I even think the current hype has been necessary in order to remove the stigma short scale basses historically has been labeled and associated with in order for them to become more widely and commonly accepted as viable serious and real professional instruments.

 

Edited by Baloney Balderdash

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The other side of the coin is whether longer than standard scale ( ie 34 inch)  basses could ever become a trend. 

The answer is no, because they are a lot harder to play, but they do offer as different a tonal palette as short scale basses do. Anthony Jackson , for example, favours 36 inch scale for his basses  not because it tightens up his low B but because it changes the timbre of the notes, adding more harmonic content to the sound. But longer scales will never be widely adopted because they require a better technique and are likely to make most players sound worse than sound better. Nor  is tighter string tension and wider fret spacing as appealing a tactile experience for most folks.  By comparison , switching to short scale  is more fun and easy. That is the biggest part of their appeal. 

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36 minutes ago, Baloney Balderdash said:

I even think the current hype has been necessary in order to remove the stigma short scale basses historically has been labeled and associated with in order for them to become more widely and commonly accepted as viable serious and real professional instruments.

The stigma is well and truly still there with every reviewer using the words,  fun, small, diminutive, makes me smile, for guitarists and drummers or little people with small hands .... all that aside, I love short scales, I have three and I have a small hand so I'll fit in just fine lol !! 

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38 minutes ago, Adee said:

The stigma is well and truly still there with every reviewer using the words,  fun, small, diminutive, makes me smile, for guitarists and drummers or little people with small hands .... all that aside, I love short scales, I have three and I have a small hand so I'll fit in just fine lol !! 

Perhaps they are still commonly viewed as as novelty, just for fun, or beginner instruments, but the fact that several big guitar/bass manufactures are now offering production short scale bass models that cost 1000$+ is definitely a sign that they have become much more widely accepted as serious instruments than they used to, very few people would spend several thousand dollars on a toy, at least not enough people to make such a production viable, and certainly not beginner players. 

And I mean the whole notion, commonly believed or not, that they are toys/beginner instruments just by default of them being short scale is just totally absurd when you got someone like Stanley Clarke, generally acknowledged as an absolute virtuous legend on bass, having a short scale bass that cost several thousand dollars as his main instrument.

 

Edited by Baloney Balderdash
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45 minutes ago, Misdee said:

The other side of the coin is whether longer than standard scale ( ie 34 inch)  basses could ever become a trend. 

The answer is no, because they are a lot harder to play, but they do offer as different a tonal palette as short scale basses do. Anthony Jackson , for example, favours 36 inch scale for his basses  not because it tightens up his low B but because it changes the timbre of the notes, adding more harmonic content to the sound. But longer scales will never be widely adopted because they require a better technique and are likely to make most players sound worse than sound better. Nor  is tighter string tension and wider fret spacing as appealing a tactile experience for most folks.  By comparison , switching to short scale  is more fun and easy. That is the biggest part of their appeal. 

And yet 5 string basses was the new hot trend once among bass players.

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The answer for me is is that apart from being physically easier they are a lot of fun to play. I like the different, more rubbery sound compared to a long scale. My Mustang also works really well with effects. My Precision is still getting plenty of game time as it can do some things the JMJ can't. It's nice to have a choice. i know they are quite faddy but that's what made me try one  to see what all the fuss is about. It's certainly a different world to my first short scale which was an horrendous Avon EB0 copy.

 

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Given this revival in interest in short scale basses (there was a time when British “beat” groups played nothing else - Hofner and Epi. Rivoli) I am surprised that the new management of Gibson who have been pursuing reissues of classics relentlessly haven’t woken up to the idea of relaunching the EB2 or a Rivoli. It must  be an easy option, they make 335 bodies, they make EBO necks, mudbucker pickups, and 3 point bridges they just need a pot of glue and a screwdriver to stick it all together. The ridiculous prices second hand ones sell for now is surely an indication of the interest and a potential market.

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58 minutes ago, Baloney Balderdash said:

And yet 5 string basses was the new hot trend once among bass players.

I play 34" scale 5-string basses in one band and 30" scale Bass VIs in the other.

There is no trend.

Just the right instruments for the band sound.

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5 minutes ago, Grahambythesea said:

 I am surprised that the new management of Gibson who have been pursuing reissues of classics relentlessly haven’t woken up to the idea of relaunching the EB2 or a Rivoli.

Well, gibson never really liked basses, and lets face it they will sell 10 different coloured les pauls for every bass.

Having said that, they make all of 3 basses, 2 of them are 30.4" and only one (the thunderbird) is 34", so they never really bought into long scale

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1 hour ago, Baloney Balderdash said:

And yet 5 string basses was the new hot trend once among bass players.

They still are amoungst me.

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I think that the muddy sounds of the early Gibbos made it easy for Fender to become market leaders and establish their 34" scale as the industry standard.  All I've played for the last few years are s-s basses so it's just brilliant for me that there's so much extra choice now, especially in the mid price range.  I recently added a SBMM s-s 'Ray to my collection.  It would be incredibly good at any price but for £695 it's a steal.  Now that more players are taking s-s basses seriously, so are the manufacturers.

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For me its the left hand comfort and the weight advantages that make the difference. I have a Mustang and a Serek, both 30" scales and super easy to play.  I also have a beat up Alembic Spoiler with a medium scale (32") which is not especially light but is also fun. Less fun is a Shergold Marathon I recently bought in a wave of 70's/80s Factory records nostalgia (I am a big fan of A Certain Ratio) with a chunky neck and 34" scale. I intend to keep it as they are very hard to get hold of and one day I just might want to play in a band that it fits in, but I simply do not pick it up over my short/medium scales.

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4 hours ago, Grahambythesea said:

I am surprised that the new management of Gibson who have been pursuing reissues of classics relentlessly haven’t woken up to the idea of relaunching the EB2 or a Rivoli. It must  be an easy option, they make 335 bodies, they make EBO necks, mudbucker pickups, and 3 point bridges they just need a pot of glue and a screwdriver to stick it all together. The ridiculous prices second hand ones sell for now is surely an indication of the interest and a potential market.

Amen, brother!

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Seems to me that Gibson have inherited a priceless legacy - second only to Fender's - and pi55ed it up against a wall.  And I was one of their biggest fans btw having gigged a couple of beautiful Les Paul Triumph basses for years followed by a SG reissue.

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