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Shortarses and basses


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At probably not quite 5'7" I'm occasionally a little conscious of my height. Especially as basses tend to accentuate human shortness...

 

I've recently developed an unexpected hankering for a Ric but have always assumed that they were slightly longer scale than my usual Fenders and might look a little ungainly. I now realize that they are actually of a touch shorter scale - so am getting round to the idea of splurging for one.

 

But am I alone in this awareness of my short-arsedness? I'd also really like a semi-acoustic but whenever I look at a Jack Casady I suspect I'm going to look like a child who's stolen an adult's instrument.

 

It probably doesn't help that many of the bassists I saw when first going to gigs were disproprtionately lanky (Manics, Suede, Pulp) - although at least I could see them from the stalls... 

 

 

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Never stopped me. At 5'6" I'm shorter than you, but for most of the 90s my main bass was a 36" Overwater Original as seen here:

 

Optimum-1997.jpg

 

And here with a more conventional scale, but larger bodied Warwick StarBass II:

 

1897921-832586093423799-2048414035-n.jpg

Edited by BigRedX
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Welcome to many a female bass player's world! I've come to believe that most musical instruments, not just basses, were originally designed for tall, strong male players. I guess it's a bit too late to try and fight the situation now, so you either confine yourself to small-bodied, short scale basses, or say to hell with that and play whatever bass makes you happy.

If the size or the weight of the bass, or the length of its neck, doesn't affect your comfort while you play, just play what you like. It's not the size of the player that matters, it's how good he or she is at playing... :)

Edited by Silvia Bluejay
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A guitarist mate of mine who’s about 5’6” or 5’7” played bass on a gig when the bassist was unavailable and played an Epiphone Thunderbird. He said it felt like he was trying to do the Waltz all the way through the gig.

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29 minutes ago, Dankology said:

At probably not quite 5'7" I'm occasionally a little conscious of my height. Especially as basses tend to accentuate human shortness...

I used to feel the same way. I saw a band onstage once and the bass player looked about the same height as me. His Precision looked far too big for him (particularly the headstock). Although I was a guitarist at the time, I was leaning towards picking up the bass as the band I was in was struggling to find a reliable one, while we'd had plenty of interest from guitarists better than me. The sight of that bass dwarfing that player put me off. Years later, I found out from a mutual friend that the bassist in question was shorter than my 5'7" and around the same time I discovered headless basses. 

 

I now play a Sterling Ray34HH and don't care if it looks too big on me (I don't think it does) as there are many other things that people will pick on first - grey hair, white beard, dodgy wardrobe, inconsistent backing vocals.... 😀

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3 minutes ago, Franticsmurf said:

I think it might be down to a wide angle lens used on some of the shots, which exaggerates the neck and headstock. 

 

So you're saying I should lie down near the side of the stage?

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I'm also 5'6" with small hands.  Back in the '60s I learnt on a short scale Framus Star bass which suited me well.  When I returned to playing many years later I opted for a full scale Jap Precision on which i cut my teeth.  I then remember buying a 5-string Fender Jazz from USA Ebay, the one with 5 tuners in a row.  Firstly the neck was so wide it was almost impossible for me to play and the G tuner was so far away that I couldn't reach to tune it.  Needless to say it went back on Ebay fairly quickly.

 

A full size 34" scale bass is the business.  If it was all right for Suzi Quatro then it's all right for me.  Over the past 30 years many 34" scale basses have come and gone however more recently I've been trying various short scale versions but they just don't feel right.  My muscle memory has adjusted to the 34" scale so they just feel slightly dinky.  They've all gone too apart from the Rob Allen Mouse which just sounds so good although I have to watch where my fingers are all the time otherwise I over-reach. Not good when playing to an audience.  Anyone know of a comparable 34" Fretless which could replace it? 

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I'm 5' 4" and although I've tended to choose smaller bodied basses because I find them more comfortable to play, I never gave my height: bass size ratio a moment's thought.

My main instrument is double bass, which is 6" taller than I am - never gave that a moment's thought either.

 

As @obbm pointed out, Suzi Quattro spent most of her career dwarfed by a Precision but was still the coolest bassist on the planet at the time.

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26 minutes ago, TheRev said:

I'm 5' 4" and although I've tended to choose smaller bodied basses because I find them more comfortable to play, I never gave my height: bass size ratio a moment's thought.

My main instrument is double bass, which is 6" taller than I am - never gave that a moment's thought either.

 

As @obbm pointed out, Suzi Quattro spent most of her career dwarfed by a Precision but was still the coolest bassist on the planet at the time.

Know exactly what you mean about body size. I get on well with Precisions but not Jazzes. The only J I ever felt at home with was a Lakland DJ4. Also like MM Sterling’s, USA original version,  but not Stingrays. Never got on with my DB, far too physical.

 

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4 hours ago, Dankology said:

I'm occasionally a little conscious of my height.

If you need a smaller bass to stop doing that then that's what you should do.

 

Obviously shorter people play full size basses and the relative sizes reinforce the relative scale. Either that's a problem for you or it isn't.

 

If your fingers can handle the regular scale you can cheat by playing a 2+2 to shrink the headstock a little.

 

Smaller body bass same deal. But look out for neck dive.

 

Then you could still feel short standing next to a tall guitarist.

 

If you get a headless bass you could look like a short bassist over compensating.

 

Better to stop feeling short I guess.

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I'm 5 foot 8 so by most standards quite short. A jack Casady is fine. It does have a bigger body than most basses but it's light and feels good. I've never had or felt a need for short scale or smaller bodies basses, I just play what I like. Precision basses also shouldn't look silly on you.

 

I do like the look of a big bass though and found that white basses look "bigger" in outdoor gigs.

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I'm 6'5" as well, and I play a teeny tiny headless Status S2 Classic :lol:

Before I got the Status, I mostly played a Warwick Streamer LX5 which has a very compact body and short headstock, so it would also look small on me.

I'm not just tall, but also uh... quite "big-boned". So I guess almost any bass guitar would look smallish on me. 

 

Pic below is 9 years and 20 kgs ago :$

84594823_Jeroen2.thumb.jpg.12bc632cc845a669fe30630d844e36bd.jpg

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17 hours ago, obbm said:

Know exactly what you mean about body size. I get on well with Precisions but not Jazzes. The only J I ever felt at home with was a Lakland DJ4. Also like MM Sterling’s, USA original version,  but not Stingrays. Never got on with my DB, far too physical.

 

Ha! Same here. Always fancied a Jazz but couldn't get on with what felt like a stretched out body.  I ended up with an EBMM Sterling....

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@Dankologyi’m 5’6” and I have Fender Precisions & Jazz’s (4 and 5 string). I also have small bodied Sadowsky’s and a Ric 4003S. All feel good to me but I’m aware that the Fenders look bigger on me than the Sadowsky’s and the Ric. It used to bother me but I’m now at the age where I don’t give a stinky poo. The 4003S looks smaller than the regular 4003 due to the lack of binding on the body and the contouring. Maybe something to consider. I believe we’re both playing on the same bill with our respective bands on Sunday 26th June in Blackburn. I’ll bring the Ric along if you like for you to try it out.

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I'm 5'6" or thereabouts and a right lardy fatbum to boot. I play the Warwick Lee Sklar sig model and don't feel it's too unwieldy. To be honest, I've never given it much thought, so I may well obsess about it from now on.

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I'm another short @rse at 5'7" who played for 30 odd years with 34" basses and found that some of them a struggle depending on the model, the worst being a natural through neck B.C. Rich Mockingbird I had in the late 80's when I was young and hairy, but the lack of top horn meant that it hung in such a way that I couldn't reach the first fret!

 

A few years ago nerve damage in my wrist almost ended my playing days altogether until I tried a 30" short scale and it was a revelation, playing became totally effortless and the lower frets were in easy reach. Since then I've sold off all my 34" basses and having been through several short scales I've now found the ones that suit my needs. Whenever I pick up a 34" bass these days they feel unnecessarily large and cumbersome to the point of being virtually unplayable.

 

There has been a resurgence of short scales in recent years and I don't think it's a passing fad, I think they're back for good and are no longer seen as anachronistic oddities by most. Forget the misconception that they're for kids, beginners, guitarists or whatever, they're serious instruments in their own right and a number of name brands are introducing higher spec models to go alongside the cheaper options. Definitely something to consider for anyone struggling with 34"+ behemoths! 

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