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Greg Edwards69

Why so many short scale basses at the moment?

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I played only 32” Fender Jazzes for a while (MIJ). Also 32-34” Dingwall Jazzes, for a bit. Strung with rounds. 

The shorter scale was undeniably easier to play and much more ergonomic overall. The weight was a superb bonus. However I felt that the low end lost something compared to 34”, a lot more midrange twang in the sound as well, and after trying EQ etc (and finding it just didn’t sound how I wanted), eventually I went back to 34” basses because of that. They sound better to me, and still do. 

Edited by funkle

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31 minutes ago, funkle said:

I played only 32” Fender Jazzes for a while (MIJ). Also 32-34” Dingwall Jazzes, for a bit. Strung with rounds. 

The shorter scale was undeniably easier to play and much more ergonomic overall. The weight was a superb bonus. However I felt that the low end lost something compared to 34”, a lot more midrange twang in the sound as well, and after trying EQ etc (and finding it just didn’t sound how I wanted), eventually I went back to 34” basses because of that. They sound better to me, and still do. 

Likely more a case of being the inherent tonal characteristic of those specific basses rather than it having anything to do with the fact that they happened to have a shorter scale length.

If anything the shorter scale length ought to give you more fundamental low end and less harmonic content.

I guess that would be a cautionary tale of making generalizing judgements based on just a few single cases. 

 

Edited by Baloney Balderdash
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1 hour ago, Baloney Balderdash said:

Likely more a case of being the inherent tonal characteristic of those specific basses rather than it having anything to do with the fact that they happened to have a shorter scale length.

If anything the shorter scale length ought to give you more fundamental low end and less harmonic content.

I guess that would be a cautionary tale of making generalizing judgements based on just a few single cases. 

 

Fair enough. I have a sample size of 4 medium scale basses, all with the same tendency, owned for a few years and played regularly, but what do I know, lol....

Joking aside, I’ve played other short scales and medium scales as well. I think the tone is lacking in the ‘piano like’ quality I hear from 34” scale and up. Your mileage may vary - my experience tells me these basses lack something their bigger brethren have. 

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23 minutes ago, funkle said:

Fair enough. I have a sample size of 4 medium scale basses, all with the same tendency, owned for a few years and played regularly, but what do I know, lol....

Joking aside, I’ve played other short scales and medium scales as well. I think the tone is lacking in the ‘piano like’ quality I hear from 34” scale and up. Your mileage may vary - my experience tells me these basses lack something their bigger brethren have. 

The thing about lack of piano like qualities in the tone of the medium scale basses would actually be an observation that would be in line with the theory of a shorter scale length, what I talked about with the mention of lesser amount of harmonic content and more fundamentals,  the rich harmonic content being what contributes to a piano like tone.

The lack of low end that you described in your previous post, quoted in my last reply, is not in line with what you'd typically experience from a bass with a shorter scale though, quite the opposite.

When that is said I once had a 28 5/8" scale bass made out of Warmoth baritone parts with a Seymour Duncan Rickenbacker Neck pickup in the neck position and a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails Strat guitar pickup in the bridge, and it had an incredible clear tone with a quite piano like quality, so there are exceptions to the general rule of a shorter scale resulting in more fundamentals and less harmonics, which I guess was mainly contributed to the specific pickup combination as well as the fact that I used strings of a very light gauge (I forgot which exactly, but I am quite sure the low E was a gauge .090 string), the latter something that contributes to a brighter more harmonically rich tone as well (unfortunately I was stupid enough to sell that bass at some point, which I still regret).

Edited by Baloney Balderdash

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Why so many SS basses at the moment? They’ve lost that ‘beginner’s bass’ monkey, been shown to have really good, fundamental tone for recording and (with my cynic’s hat on) is another avenue for manufacturers to make us buy another bass, so they’re highlighting them (possibly a bit of the emperor’s new clothes, but they’ve got to keep us buying).  I have proper short scale GAS at the moment, but mine came from hearing a tone I really liked in a video and then searching for details on said bass (it was a Serek, but they’re too many £s for my wallet) and then going out and trying some shorties (Epiphone, Gretsch and a Fender JMJ Mustang) before lockdown. Played a Fender Vintera Mustang today and a Wilcock Mullarkey. The latter was fantastic, but the Fender was not bad at all and, at a third of the cost, is a bit of a no brainer.

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All of mine feel and sound very different.

Tokai SG 32" (flats make unknown 15-20 years old) - very smooth, deep sound, bridge PU brings in some treble and grit.

Aria CSB380  32" (flats make unknown possibly been on since 1983) - rich in harmonics.

Hofner HCT Violin 30" (flats Labella 760FHB2) - the most hi-fi sounding.

2 Squire Mustangs  30" (flats Labella 760F-MUS) - sort of P bass I would say.

I think you can get all sorts of sounding SSs, just the same as long scales.

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It seems sensible for people who have differing opinions to amicably disagree. As long as people with short scale or medium scales are happy, it’s all good. 

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Different basses sound different.

But in the context of a band sound they all sound like bass guitars.

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1 hour ago, ezbass said:

Why so many SS basses at the moment? They’ve lost that ‘beginner’s bass’ monkey, been shown to have really good, fundamental tone for recording and (with my cynic’s hat on) is another avenue for manufacturers to make us buy another bass, so they’re highlighting them (possibly a bit of the emperor’s new clothes, but they’ve got to keep us buying).  I have proper short scale GAS at the moment, but mine came from hearing a tone I really liked in a video and then searching for details on said bass (it was a Serek, but they’re too many £s for my wallet) and then going out and trying some shorties (Epiphone, Gretsch and a Fender JMJ Mustang) before lockdown. Played a Fender Vintera Mustang today and a Wilcock Mullarkey. The latter was fantastic, but the Fender was not bad at all and, at a third of the cost, is a bit of a no brainer.

Can't sing the praises of my Vintera Mustang tone enough. Been trying to get to grips with my new 5 string recently, so have avoided playing my other basses (as recommended by the good folk here on BC). Gave in today and had a cheeky blast on the Mustang....still produces an absolute wow moment when I dig in with a plectrum. 

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I have had  short scale since 2002 and whilst I also have a long scale 4 string I prefer the tone and playability of the short scale bass. I think I would be loath to go with  5 stringer and low B on a short scale as I like a bit of tension on the strings but I would still like to try one.

 

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3 shorties and 3 long scales (counting a 33” Rick as a longy) in my armoury. The 3 shorties sound different to each other as do the long scale. I tend to find the shorties  do help speed and ease of playing but the long scale are better when I want to dig in. Element of string tension, neck width and finger style playing comes into the equation I guess.

My first bass was a 30” but then didn’t play another for over 30 years....glad I got the opportunity to get familiar again.

Edited by martthebass

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I spent an afternoon playing with/jamming on a Mustang in a random studio 'somewhere in mid Wales' in 84 or 85.

It was huge fun, and when I saw a Jag SS 18 months ago I had to try it out. Yes, it was funTM so I got it.

Not sure I would like longer than 34" but I have long fingers and at 6'2" guitars and shorties look a bit small on me...

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18 minutes ago, Stub Mandrel said:

I spent an afternoon playing with/jamming on a Mustang in a random studio 'somewhere in mid Wales' in 84 or 85.

It was huge fun, and when I saw a Jag SS 18 months ago I had to try it out. Yes, it was funTM so I got it.

Not sure I would like longer than 34" but I have long fingers and at 6'2" guitars and shorties look a bit small on me...

I am 6'4" and I use a 28,6" Ibanez Mikro Bass as my main instrument.

I don't think it looks silly, and even if it did I wouldn't care, cause I prefer playing that over anything else.

Playing music tends to get a lot easier when you use your ears instead of eyes.

I honestly don't get the "I better stop doing what I enjoy cause someone might think I'll look silly doing it" mentality. 

Edited by Baloney Balderdash
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Just now, Baloney Balderdash said:

I am 6'4" and I got a 28,6" Ibanez Mikro Bass as my main instrument.

I don't think it look silly, and even if it did I wouldn't care, cause I prefer playing that over anything else.

If you are playing music it is advised to use your ears not your eyes.  

A mate of mine is 6' 7" or 8". He plays an EB2...... Just hope doesn't drop it..... 

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Although, to be fair, EB-2s are massive and heavy!

I'm 6' 1" and often play shorties, love the Rivoli for blues and rock'n'roll. Even the synthy, subby pop artist I work with thought it was too fat sounding, but then he likes the T-bird, and even the Rumblekat for more laid back shows. Talk about splitting hairs!

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I haven't noticed too many active short scales. Chownys mebbe? Been thinking about putting a pre in my Ibanez TMB 30. Need to see if there's room for a battery.

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9 hours ago, King Tut said:

I haven't noticed too many active short scales. Chownys mebbe? Been thinking about putting a pre in my Ibanez TMB 30. Need to see if there's room for a battery.

I have an active 2 EQ Warwick Corvette 30" Short Scale, lovely bass, not seen many around

Edited by Adee
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10 hours ago, King Tut said:

I haven't noticed too many active short scales. Chownys mebbe? Been thinking about putting a pre in my Ibanez TMB 30. Need to see if there's room for a battery.

I have a Spector Shorty USA which has Aguilar pick-ups and an OBP-2.

 

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I'm 6'2", cronky shoulder, arthriticky fingers. I was playing my rather lovely Jazz a few years ago and decided it was not an ideal experience. Now I have a Mustang and Jag SS and I only have GAS for shorties. I can play much more twiddly stuff now, but I have to keep it to myself when with the band...

Tall guys can play guitars (much shorter than a bass), ukes, mandolins, banjos. Suzi Quattro plays a bass which is probably taller than she is. If your fingers can reach the notes, it really doesn't matter.

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13 hours ago, P-Belly Evans said:

A mate of mine is 6' 7" or 8". He plays an EB2...... Just hope doesn't drop it..... 

Many years ago, when I had mine (and they were cheap and unfashionable) it dropped off the strap with the ensuing headstock impact.   It bounced and amazingly no damage.  Then again I am only 5'3" so far gentler drop :)

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18 hours ago, Baloney Balderdash said:

I am 6'4" and I use a 28,6" Ibanez Mikro Bass as my main instrument.

I don't think it looks silly, and even if it did I wouldn't care, cause I prefer playing that over anything else.

Playing music tends to get a lot easier when you use your ears instead of eyes.

I honestly don't get the "I better stop doing what I enjoy cause someone might think I'll look silly doing it" mentality. 

Oh so serious!

I have a Hohner B2 which is about as tiny as a bass can get without being a 'compact'. Plus various mandolins and things, even a uke...

They all look silly, but I don't care 🙂

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I remember when I bought my Mustang nearly 15 years ago, it was really hard finding a short scale that was cool looking. There were some Hofners, but that has never been what I'd call "cool" (YMMV!) and vintage Gibsons have never been in my price range. The only 'stangs made at that time were Japanese models which were around £800 plus import tax. I managed to get a cheap 76 USA Mustang off eBay for about £500 that was in terrible condition and repainted it. 

 

Then a couple of years later the Jag SS came out and then so did the Gretsch electromatic basses (2202?). Cheap short scales that gave people something to try that also looked a bit unusual. I think they sold really well and gave a lot of confidence to the market to start doing more interesting short scales that don't have to be clones of the longer scale catalogue but shrunk. 

 

Happy to be proven wrong, this is just how I saw the SS market expand. 

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On 19/10/2020 at 23:33, Greg Edwards69 said:

As the title really. I’m neither for or against short scale - indeed,  my first bass was a no name beaten up short scale jazz-ish copy I bought of a mate for £35 so I’m not adverse to them.

I know they've been around since the 60s, but I’m seeing more and more of them lately and even big brands not associated with short scale are getting in the act, such as Sire, musicman, Ibanez and even Jackson. 

Is it the royal blood or Justin mendelson effect, is it just a passing fad, should I join in?

I think it has to do with the changing perception of short scale basses.

To elaborate further, if you look back to the 70s a lot of budget basses were short scale, there was Kay, Jedson, Columbus and a couple of others, pretty much all of the output from Kay, Jedson and Columbus was poorly made junk, microphonic pickups, cheaper than cheap machine heads, dreadful bridges, terrible electrics.  

Even Fender during that period in time seemed to treat the short scale with a degree of contempt with the (IMO) dreadful Musicmaster bass that was usually put together from the leftover parts from other models like for example the strat pickup that was under the black pickup cover.

Then there was the false perception that short scale automatically meant mud, this was largely a result of the kind of basses that were short scale that were available , the above mentioned basses were tonally limited due to their cheap electronics combined with the flatwound strings and the poor amplification of the time, this perception was not helped by the Gibson EB0 and EB3 that had massively overwound pickups and the trend of those times for short scale basses to be hollow or semi hollow.

Fast forward to nowadays and the sands of time have helped for those perceptions to be largely forgotten, a lot of the people now playing bass don't have memories of learning on those dreadful cheap basses of the 70's and the short scale basses that are around nowadays are far superior because to put it simply people expect better nowadays and it is now possible to make better instruments nowadays and so people are trying these basses and finding that they are actually more comfortable to play than long scale basses (for most people ymmv etc) and actually sound pretty damn good which of course drives demand for more short scale basses.

Controversial perhaps but I would be willing to bet that the Squier Jaguar ss bass has played a large part in the resurgance of the short scale 

 

 

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Useful thread! From comments I've seen on here and elsewhere, would it be fair to summarise as follows:

Short scales - can be easier to play, but lower string tension across the length of the neck means, in general,  a more "rubbery" / "dark" / less harmonically rich tone than standard 34" or longer scale basses?

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