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thebrig

Best Strings For A Short Scale Bass?

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Another thread has highlighted the increase in shorties recently and better string quality was mentioned as a possible reason for their growing popularity.

So what are the best strings for a short scale bass nowadays? If there are strings out there that have decent tension and won't sound flabby, I could well be tempted to get myself a Mustang. 🤔

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Have a look at Newtone. I discovered them because they were local(ish) and back in the 90s would custom wide you almost anything so long as you ordered 3 or more sets. I'm currently using their Axiom Bass VI sets on all my short scale Bass VIs. If I was looking for strings for a 4-string short scale I'd ask them which of the short scale sets they do, are the closest to the lowest four in the Axion Bass VI set.

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12 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

Have a look at Newtone. I discovered them because they were local(ish) and back in the 90s would custom wide you almost anything so long as you ordered 3 or more sets. I'm currently using their Axiom Bass VI sets on all my short scale Bass VIs. If I was looking for strings for a 4-string short scale I'd ask them which of the short scale sets they do, are the closest to the lowest four in the Axion Bass VI set.

Thanks for the info, I've just been on the Newtone website and the Axiom Bass VI at £16 a set are the cheapest of all their sets, and much less than what I usually pay for a set of bass strings, so I would be happy to buy them and bin the other two strings.

Do you think they would work well on a Mustang? I tried a one a few years ago and whilst I liked it, the low string tension put me off buying it.

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I've never used Newtone but many sing their praises.

Will you be using rounds or flats?

Labella make a set of 760F-MUS flats specifically for the through body Mustang. I have them and like them.

 

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5 minutes ago, grandad said:

I've never used Newtone but many sing their praises.

Will you be using rounds or flats?

Labella make a set of 760F-MUS flats specifically for the through body Mustang. I have them and like them.

 

I use flats on my P basses which I like, but I'm wondering whether would flats on a short scale would sound a bit dull? 🤔

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I have Status half-wound on my Duesenberg, which seems like a good compromise between thump and definition.

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Another vote for Netwtone here.
LaBella do very nice short scale strings too by all accounts, but with Newtone, they can wind specifically for your needs.
I play 31.5" scale basses and Neil winds a set based around a 0.100 E for me, designed to feel more like a 0.105 set, of that makes sense?
Heavier, hex core I think is the trick ;)
They''re also wound to the exact length I need so the wrap round the tuner doesn't upset the witness point on the nut.
Lots of clever stuff can be done to get the absolute best out of a short scale instrument when you know the right folks ;) 

Eude

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1 hour ago, grandad said:

I've never used Newtone but many sing their praises.

Will you be using rounds or flats?

Labella make a set of 760F-MUS flats specifically for the through body Mustang. I have them and like them.

 

Flats are the deal on a Mustang. 

I like the labellas too, they feel and sound great. Currently I use Fender flats (longscale set, can be used through body) for a more all round semi-modern sound. Both strings are very different, but both are great on a Mustang IMO. 

Edited by SurroundedByManatees

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Newtone are great. Also have used and enjoyed Labella and Status strings on my various medium scale basses if that helps :)

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If you want flats, try out TI Flats too, they are wonderful strings!

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5 minutes ago, eude said:

If you want flats, try out TI Flats too, they are wonderful strings!

Yup.  I fit these on all my basses - 34", 32", 30".  Love the tone, love how they feel under the finger.  Brighter than some flats, just the right tension for my preferences.

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I've just taken some Labella 760F-MUS off my Mustang; they sound great on the Precision but a bit flabby and loose on the Mustang. They need to be heavier guage for a 30" scale.

I'm currently using D'Addario EXL160M medium scale (through-body Mustang) nickel roundwounds. The heavier guage 50-70-85-105 gives better tension and real punch. Liking them. Cheap too.

Yet to try Tomastiks (suspect they will be very loose). 

D'Addario chromes are on the radar for a try...

Go with a heavier guage unless you like floppy, low tension strings.

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I had Labella Mustang strings on my Mustang, which were great. I swapped them to some heavier gauge D’addario medium scale nickel round wounds (50-110 I think) which are long enough to string thru the body. They sound great too! 

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19 hours ago, Paul S said:

Yup.  I fit these on all my basses - 34", 32", 30".  Love the tone, love how they feel under the finger.  Brighter than some flats, just the right tension for my preferences.

May I ask, are the short scale TI's very loose in terms of tension? I noticed that they are the same gauges as the long scale set except for a heavier E string. I use TI's on a 34 inch scale bass and they are  very elastic . I would have thought on a 30inch scale they would be way too slack?

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On 20/10/2020 at 12:30, thebrig said:

...I could well be tempted to get myself a Mustang. 🤔

A mustang with the original style bridge with large plate will need 32" medium scale strings as it is string-thru, but the ones with a standard BBoT will need 30" short scale strings.

I have a few shortscales with various different strings. My favourites for the mustang were TI JF-324 but then I added a JMJ mustang to my collection which came with standard fender 9050L long scale flats which sound and feel great so I kept them on the bass and got a set for y other mustang.

I recently bought a Guild starfire bass which also needs medium scale strings despite haveing 30" scale length. As it comes with roundwounds for some unknown reason I needed to source get some flats for it and ended up with status stainless flats. These are made by picato I believe, and no longer being made so stock will run out at some point which is a shame as they are perfect despite being half the cost of similar strings.

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25 minutes ago, Misdee said:

May I ask, are the short scale TI's very loose in terms of tension? I noticed that they are the same gauges as the long scale set except for a heavier E string. I use TI's on a 34 inch scale bass and they are  very elastic . I would have thought on a 30inch scale they would be way too slack?

That's actually a difficult question to answer.  I'd say they are fairly loose but my 'fairly loose' might be your 'way too slack' as it is so subjective.  They work for me just fine but they might not for you.  All I can suggest is that, if you enjoy the 344s, that you get a set of the 324s and try them.  If you don't get on with them, I'll buy them off you.  At a good used price, obvs. :) 

That wasn't much help, sorry :) 

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I love short scale basses and I've gone through at lot of different strings to find the best ones (I should probably add that I prefer warm, mellow sounding strings).

 

1) My favorite short scale strings:

-Pyramid Gold. Very old school flats with a very unusual "dead" but extremely fat sounding E-string. These are my personal favorite short scale strings but probably not for everyone. They have a very distinct vintage 60s vibe, think Paul McCartney, and they take a very long time to break in (especially the G-string). If you want different gauges than the standard short scale set these are also available as singles in every gauge you can possibly imagine. It might be worth mentioning that I'm not a big fan of the long scale sets. These strings are best for short scale IMO.

-Pyramid Pure Nickel. The fattest, warmest sounding roundwound strings I've ever played. Good selection of sets/gauges, even for short scale. They do take a while to break in though and they go through a rather nasty, clanky phase before they mellow out. But once they're broken in they last forever. Very, VERY warm and mellow sounding strings so probably not for everyone.

-LaBella Deep Talking Flats: Very warm sounding, thumpy old school flats. Very classic, vintage tone but I don't like these on dark sounding basses, it can get a bit muddy. Extremely inconsistent out of the box. Sometimes they are quite mellow and close to broken in, sometimes they are very bright and takes quite a while to mellow out. But on the right bass these are very cool strings for some old school thump. Great with foam mutes. Be aware that these come in regular short scale sets as well as special sets for basses like Höfner, Danelectro, Mustang.

-Pyramid nickelplated or stainless steel roundwounds: Very good strings but not as unique as the other Pyramids mentioned above. More similar to standard stuff like D'Addario XLs, etc. A bit bright for my taste but very good quality strings.

 

2) The short scale strings I've found to be hit or miss:

 

-GHS Balanced Nickels: Extremely inconsistent quality. I've gotten several bad sets where one or two strings went completely dead within days. I'll probably never buy them again because of this which is a shame because they sound really great. Slightly less fat/warm than the Pyramid Pure Nickels but with a "bouncier" feel (probably due to round core vs hex core). I just wish they were more consistent. I've wasted too much money on bad sets with these strings.

 

-TI Jazz Flats: Very hit or miss depending on the bass in my experiece. The gauges are the same as the long scale set except for the E-string which is much heavier gauge. This means that A-D-G is very loose/floppy while the E-string is considerably tighter. The drop in tension from E to A is extreme! On some basses I've found them unplayable. On other basses they've worked better but the huge drop in tension from E to A will probably need you to adjust your playing a bit. They sound absolutely AMAZING but the gauge selection is very strange.

 

-TI Jazz Rounds: Amazing sounding strings but even the TI Jazz Flats are stiff by comparison! Unless you are used to ultra-light strings you will definitely need to adjust your technique with these strings. The E-string is -089!!! That's thinner than most A-strings. They sound absolutely amazing though and have a totally unique, woody, orchestral vibe. A couple of things to be aware of: The ultra-low tension means that on some basses you might not get enough relief even with the truss rod completely loosened. These strings also vibrate with a HUGE amplitude so any problems with the neck/fretwork WILL create buzz. On a perfect neck they sound amazing though, if you can handle the low tension. Truly a unique set of strings. You won't find any other strings that sound even remotely close to these ones. And unlike most other ultra-light short scale strings these actually work great!

 

The short scale strings I've found to be uninspiring:

-D'Addario XL: Not my favourite sound, I'm not a huge fan of the characteristic D'Addario CLANK. Decent quality strings though.

-GHS Brite Flats: Good quality strings but these strings are one of my least favourite strings ever. Kinda like a cross between flats/rounds with the worst from both worlds. But some people seem to like them???

 

The short scale strings I've found to be completely useless junk:

 

-ANY Rotosound short scale strings. They are all far too light gauge and floppy, to the point where they can't even hold a steady pitch. Utterly useless!

-GHS Precision Flats: Also too light/floppy and difficult to intonate because they can't hold a steady pitch. Not nearly as bad as the Rotos though. But they're still useless IMO. Which is a shame because I like the tone.

-Fender 5250: Also far too light and floppy plus they've got that D'Addario CLANK that I'm personally not a huge fan of.

 

Finally it's also worth noting that although all of the sets I've mentioned above are sold as "short scale" the winding lengths can vary a LOT. Some, like the TIs, are meant for short scale basses with tail pieces which means the winding length is closer to medium scale strings from other manufacturers.

When buying short scale strings you must ALWAYS measure your bass from ball ends to nut and make sure the winding length will fit!!!

Also, please note that this is all based on MY personal taste in strings which leans towards warm/mellow. Finding the "best" set of strings is of course highly subjective and will depend on personal taste.

 

 

Edited by S.F.Sorrow

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Another vote here for LaBella flats although I've never tried them on a Mustang cos I've never had one.

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5 hours ago, Paul S said:

That's actually a difficult question to answer.  I'd say they are fairly loose but my 'fairly loose' might be your 'way too slack' as it is so subjective.  They work for me just fine but they might not for you.  All I can suggest is that, if you enjoy the 344s, that you get a set of the 324s and try them.  If you don't get on with them, I'll buy them off you.  At a good used price, obvs. :) 

That wasn't much help, sorry :) 

Thanks for that, I will mull it over. I suppose what I was trying to ask is, do they feel a lot slacker than the long scale set? And yes, you can have first refusal should I get it wrong. 🙂

I am a big fan of TI's,  but as a company TI  are pretty eccentric both in their product range and string gauges.  If they still  made the old Superalloys and offered  Jazz Rounds  in conventional gauges they would sell a lot of strings. 

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My Mustang is wearing the La Bella 760FL-MUS set while my Serek has the Dr Hi Beam stainless steel short scale (which come as the standard rounds on Sereks). Both are great IMHO. The La Bellas have old school thump and a beefy low end, while the Sereks have more snap and ring. Horses for courses,

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👍 Thanks for all the comments and info everyone.

I've taken the plunge and have a Mustang on the way to me, but I still can't decide what strings to try on it. 🤔

The style of music I will be playing is "old-school" R&B/Pub rock covering bands like Dr Feelgood, Nine Below Zero, The Inmates, The Pirates, etc.

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One thing to consider is that while thicker gauge strings will have more tension they will also feel relatively stiffer on the short scale (especially as you move up the fretboard and the active string length gets shorter) than they would on a long scale bass, so it's a question of finding the right balance, as in lower tension strings will still feel stiffer on a short scale bass than strings with the same tension on a long scale bass (which is also the reason why typically gauged guitar strings won't feel like spaghetti on a guitar, even if the tension is much lower then on a bass, and why baritone guitars usually will have higher tension strings than a guitar, but still lower than bass strings typically would have).

Personally I prefer gauge .095 to .040 on a 30" scale bass, but I would say that gauge .100 to .045 probably is a good compromise, for me a gauge .105 low E string will feel way to stiff on such a short scale (this stiffness will also result in a thudier tone compared to lower gauge strings).

Also as long as we are talking roundwound strings I never experienced any issues with cutting long scale strings to size, as long as you remember to make an abrupt bend above the cutting point and make sure to make a clean cut.

Don't try this on flatwound strings though.

Edited by Baloney Balderdash

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21 minutes ago, Baloney Balderdash said:

One thing to consider is that while thicker gauge strings will have more tension they will also feel relatively stiffer on the short scale (especially as you move up the fretboard and the active string length gets shorter) than they would on a long scale bass, so it's a question of finding the right balance, as in lower tension strings will still feel stiffer on a short scale bass than strings with the same tension on a long scale bass.

Please forgive me if I've got the "wrong end of the stick" here, but I thought that the shorter scale length resulted in looser strings, not stiffer 🤔

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2 hours ago, thebrig said:

Please forgive me if I've got the "wrong end of the stick" here, but I thought that the shorter scale length resulted in looser strings, not stiffer 🤔

I realize that my initial reply could have been formulated much clearer and in fact got quite messy, with a lot of bracketed sentences and such, so don't blame you if you found it hard to wrap you head around (try read it again though, I think it really does explain why tension does not equal with sense of stiffness), as I said a shorter scale will result in lower tension of the strings, yes, but that lower tension will still feel stiffer on the shorter scale length than a similar string gauge and tension would on a longer scale length.

As I said think of it, guitar strings on a guitar don't actually feel like complete spaghetti (believe me same gauge and tension of the strings of an instrument with a regular bass scale length would), even if they usually are of much lower tension than strings on a bass, longer scaled baritone guitars will usually have a much higher string tension than a guitar, but still lower tension than strings typically will have on a bass, for this exact reason.

It's physics really, as the strings got less length to be flexible in they will feel less flexible, aka stiffer, like if you lay out a wooden stick between two points on a short distance it will still be relatively rigid, but if you lie out the same piece of wood between two points further away from each other the wooden stick will get more flexible, and thereby easier to bend when you expose it to a force, and at a certain distance between the two points it will even start to bend just by the force of it's own weight (though the thicker the stick the more rigid it will be relatively to the distance between the two mentioned points).

That's why necks on short scale instruments are usually also more stable than those of longer scaled instruments. 

Not many seems to take this into account, but as said it is basic physics, and I can confirm from own first hand experience with string instruments of all kind of different scales that this in fact also is effectively true in practice. 

Tension does not equal stiffness, tension influences on stiffness, yes, but so does scale length, hence, as I said in my initial post, it's a question of finding the right balance between those factors, respectively being the relation between scale length/string gauge and stiffness/tension. 

Edited by Baloney Balderdash

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1 hour ago, thebrig said:

👍 Thanks for all the comments and info everyone.

I've taken the plunge and have a Mustang on the way to me, but I still can't decide what strings to try on it. 🤔

The style of music I will be playing is "old-school" R&B/Pub rock covering bands like Dr Feelgood, Nine Below Zero, The Inmates, The Pirates, etc.

I think you'll love the La Bellas.

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