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Greg Edwards69

Why so many short scale basses at the moment?

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8 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

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?

Not quite. A different sound, sometimes darker, sometimes not, just different. No better or worse than a bigger bass, just different. I haven't measured the harmonic content but I wouldn't describe it as lacking anything, if anything the sound is, generally speaking, richer in the lows and low mids, so a different harmonic profile but not one that is lacking any harmonic content. 

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23 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

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?

Very basically and in general, yes, that seems to pretty much sum up what to expect from a short scale bass.

Though instead of using negations, as you did, to describe the general tone characteristics of a short scale bass it could be formulated as deeper, thumpier, with heavier emphasis on the fundamentals. 

When that is said depending on the specific bass model, pickups, strings and other gear that might influence on the tone some short scale basses will have a brighter and more harmonically rich tone than some 34" scale basses.

And depending on the specific bass model, mainly neck dimensions, the players physics, mainly hand size, as well as personal preferences, some 34" scale basses will be easier to play for some people than some short scale basses.

 

Edited by Baloney Balderdash
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52 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

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?

I would agree that the above applies in your more common or garden factory made bass, i.e. when comparing a Mustang to a Precision bass. As soon as you talk about hand made basses, none of that can really be applied as you're not comparing apples with apples.
I would argue that, just for example, a 30" 5 string Serek would likely have a better B string than a 34" factory made Fender Jazz 5 string.

Just my 2p ;)
Eude

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2 minutes ago, eude said:

I would agree that the above applies in your more common or garden factory made bass, i.e. when comparing a Mustang to a Precision bass. As soon as you talk about hand made basses, none of that can really be applied as you're not comparing apples with apples.
I would argue that, just for example, a 30" 5 string Serek would likely have a better B string than a 34" factory made Fender Jazz 5 string.

Just my 2p ;)
Eude

Understood - but I'm guessing that doesn't come cheaply i.e. it's going to be more than 2p? 😁

Edited by Al Krow

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I'm not convinced string length makes any overwhelming difference when we are talking such small differences.

Whether I play Bb on the e-string sixth fret or a-string first fret on a standard bass the difference in sound is very subtle.

Yet the difference in the vibrating string length and gauge are significantly bigger than between a 34" and 28" scale basses.

The short scale bass may be lighter, but it's also going to be considerably stiffer (stiffness varies by the third power of length, other things being equal) so with the right choice of string gauge it could actually be brighter sounding. After all, who has noticed guitars (or mandolins) that lack brightness...

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35 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

it's going to be more than 2p? 😁

Ha ha, significantly, sadly.
However, I think with the increasing costs of US factory made Fenders, their Professional II and Ultra branded basses are actually in the same ball park!

Eude

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One of the reasons short scales are so popular is Fender have made a vested interest in promoting and pushing short scale basses. They’re revamped the line up, released Squier versions and stuck them in the hands of many of their endorsing artists. On a less cynical note home recordist and the like might find a short scale an easy transition from guitar etc if they’re wanting to nab a bass that’s comfortable to play and easier on the left hand. 
I have a Mustang (JMJ) and love it. It’s got a P bass like quality to it and I agree with @funkle that it doesnt have the same low end as my 34” scale p bass but it has a quality of its own. I can hear the difference in the lows from my ‘regular’ scale p bass. It’s not a negative and the Mustang brings a nice quality of its own while retaining that familiar p sound. It plays really well with octave down/synth. I should be notes that the Mustang has less wood, a nice chunky neck, a slightly thicker headstock etc so it has its own build ‘quirks’ and let’s face it is a different bass to my bigger p so I wouldn’t expect them to sound the same.  I also owned/gigged a hollow body shortie years ago and loved the warmth it had especially with the neck position ‘mud bucker’ pick up. It was another ‘colour’ and while not ideal on every song for that band it has its place and filled out that sonic space that only a hollow short scale can. 

Edited by krispn
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One thing that's coming across loud and clear is that we're seeing a fundamental re-calibration in the minds of players AND manufacturers towards short-scale basses.  For example, I posted earlier about my latest bass, a s-s SBMM 'Ray.  There's a growing fan club for these on Talkbass and a number of owners also have (or have had) standard-scale MM 'Rays or the 3-times more expensive MM s-s.  These players rate the £695 SBMM bass as so close to the others as makes no real difference in terms of how it feels, sounds and looks (unless you spot the slight difference in size).  In fact, some even state that the tones of the SBMM's fabulous passive pup are how the others should sound!  As always these opinions are subjective/personal - but it certainly makes you think.

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my Shukers are medium scale 32' and feel right.

My Rob Allen Mouse, and Snapdragon folding bass are short scale. And feel right.

The 'normal' 34' (and above) feel cumbersome for me.

Yes I'm a shortarse :D 

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1 hour ago, MacDaddy said:

my Shukers are medium scale 32' and feel right.

My Rob Allen Mouse, and Snapdragon folding bass are short scale. And feel right.

The 'normal' 34' (and above) feel cumbersome for me.

Yes I'm a shortarse :D 

No better reason for choosing a shortarsescale bass ☺️

Edited by scrumpymike

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1 minute ago, scrumpymike said:

No better reason for choosing a shortarsescale bass ☺️

and proof that just a couple of inches does make a difference ;) 

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It’s also worth saying depending on how I string my short scale I can coax a fine range of sounds from it. Roundwound strings and a pick it’s can be a nasty punk rock machine, flats, foam and a plectrum it can tic-tac all day long and my fav in the country band I gigged it in was old rounds tone rolled back a touch and it was the perfect combination of p like thump and comfortable enough on the shoulder and left hand for those one note per beat songs - man those country songs can get ‘busy’ on the left hand!

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2 hours ago, MacDaddy said:

 

Yes I'm a shortarse :D 

Strangely enough a local branch of SA ( Shortarses Anonymous)  has just started in Tenby. It's run by a Miss S. White and is actively recruiting new members as it currently only has seven members.

 

I'll get my coat 🤐

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Would all the self confessed SAs on this thread please stand up and be counted? Oh sorry, my bad, you already are...

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1 hour ago, JohnDaBass said:

Well @Al Krow looks as if our black humour has prematurely killed this thread😂.

It deserved to be a short thread. I couldn't ever see it reaching any great heights.

Btw - please use the term colour-ly challenged in relation to our humour, going forward.

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23 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

It deserved to be a short thread. I couldn't ever see it reaching any great heights.

Btw - please use the term colour-ly challenged in relation to our humour, going forward.

Surely .....

It deserved to be a short thread. I couldn't ever see it reaching any great lengths.

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8 minutes ago, 3below said:

Surely .....

It deserved to be a short thread. I couldn't ever see it reaching any great lengths.

I don't want to come across as being short with you about this, but may I politely suggest that whilst you would be generally correct, you aren't here in the context of Snow White and her 7 trusty axe men?

Or perhaps more appropriately put as "Ms Snow-also-colour-ly-challenged"? 

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Perhaps we could compromise by saying it wasn't going to scale any great heights? 

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16 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

I don't want to come across as being short with you about this, but may I politely suggest that whilst you would be generally correct, you aren't here in the context of Snow White and her 7 trusty axe men?

Or perhaps more appropriately put as "Ms Snow-also-colour-ly-challenged"? 

Being vertically challenged at my 5'3" it will be quite unlikely that you are short with me :)  I was merely alluding back to the Short scale nature of the thread, hence using the word length.

Edited by 3below

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1 hour ago, 3below said:

Being vertically challenged at my 5'3" it will be quite unlikely that you are short with me :)  I was merely alluding back to the Short scale nature of the thread, hence using the word length.

Yeah fair. Defo no need to go to any great lengths on this entire matter, I agree.

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After about 25 years playing on and off, mainly 6 or 5 strings that are 34/35 in I've been really taken by the idea of a short scale. My reasons: I only really play at home now and always had small hands so although I can play standard basses no issues recently I've just wanted something I can pickup and play a bit more effortlessly. Also the more I'm trying to get certain lines under my hand from some of my influences just found the shorter scale helped. The other two were the more general availability of good value instruments as a way into short scale, and a 5 string which was important to me. I think it helps that some name players are out there promoting them like Evan Marien, Tim LeFebvre, Ron Mullarky. Finally I have young children that one aged 5 1/2 is showing interest and wanted something that could have a plonk about on for fun. 

I've ended up with an Ibanez TMB35 that I'm very happy with and with some mods is becoming my favourite bass to practise on and play. And tbh I've wanted to get my first custom build after playing for so many years and I think it's going to be a short scale as I love it so much. 

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1 hour ago, Mikey D said:

I've ended up with an Ibanez TMB35 that I'm very happy with and with some mods is becoming my favourite bass to practise on and play. And tbh I've wanted to get my first custom build after playing for so many years and I think it's going to be a short scale as I love it so much. 

Yep, if you factor in custom builds, the choice is limited only by your imagination!  Maruszczyk have a decent choice of s-s designs - both stock and made to order - and their online configurator lets you personalise your design (not the basic body shape but there are loads of those on offer) and displays a very realistic image of what you've designed.  The Cazpar is their only dedicated s-s design but they also do s-s versions of the Elwood with either a solid or chambered body.  I've had a few of both and very good they were too.  You're effectively getting a custom build for around half what you'd pay a 'boutique' luthier/builder.

Or you could commission our very own AndyJr or Jabba to build you one.  Here are my two shorties from Andy:

http://BiZnhqIl.jpg

http://RLM2-front.png

These are my go-to gigging basses and I could not be more pleased with them.  Custom-built s-s?  DO IT!!

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I think there are a few reasons why short scale basses are popular at the moment.

A few years ago, short scales were kind of associated as budget instruments, and with either that Hofner/McCartney sound or that old bassy (muddy?) Gibson tone, which fell out of favour when extended range, hi fi basses became popular.  Builders like Callowhill, Serek, and Wilcock have been making short scales that are high end and can sound as good in the extended range as any other bass.

It also helps that players like Tim Lefebvre, Evan Marien, Kevin Scott, and Justin Meldal Johnsen have been playing short scales a lot. That increases their popularity in the same way that Pino helped cause a resurgence in flatwound strung Precisions.

 

 

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