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Scale length

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Postby Ande » March 8th, 2010, 3:37 pm

How long is yours? I've been trying basses in the shops this weekend, and am not sure what I like.

My hands are medium/small, but a long scale 34" seems to fit fine. I'll be tuning down to C standard, so am even wondering if a longer scale could be fun...

Thoughts? As mentioned on another thread, I'm looking for an instrument that holds its own in a melodic metal sort of sound...


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Postby Nuno » March 9th, 2010, 5:10 am

I have a Jazz Bass so it is 34".

It is almost the standard (by considering there are many JB and Precision). 5 strings can use longer scales (basically it is due to the 5 string). And there are many good shorter scales, for example, the "Beatle bass".

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Postby slejhamer » March 9th, 2010, 6:21 am

In my opinion, the string spacing and neck profile are bigger factors than scale length if we're talking comfort and playability relative to your hand size. For example, a 34" scale Fender Geddy Lee Jazz neck doesn't feel anything like the typical 34" Fender Precision neck. Some 34" Ibanez necks are super skinny. My favorite 34" scale neck is on the MusicMan Sterling bass, but the chunky V-shaped neck on my 31.5" Birdsong is a dream to play.

For down-tuning, you'll lose a lot of string tension. A longer neck will help make up for that; shorter scale necks will have less tension (all else being equal.)

Also your string choice will be a factor, as different makes have different tension. Downtuning with Ernie Ball Slinkies might give you a case of fret buzz if you don't raise the action or go up a gauge or so. You might find higher-tension Rotosounds better for what you're doing.
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Postby Laz » March 9th, 2010, 9:19 am

If you tune down to C, consider using the bottom 4 strings from a 5 string set (B-E-A-D). Otherwise, they'll be awfully floppy.

Scale length is an important part of the feel. Hand size and strength are the biggest factors. 34" is pretty much the standard, and I would stick with that unless you have a need to change.
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Postby Minotaur » March 9th, 2010, 10:28 am

I have short fingers, but I take XL gloves; I take a 33" sleeve; and I have a 34" scale bass. No problem except that I have to hop my ring finger to position 3. It's not a big deal, because I know in time it will stretch, and I'm learning how to compensate. I have no problem reaching the first fret, mainly because I keep the bass up high. I just didn't want a short scale.
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Postby Crow » March 9th, 2010, 10:58 am

I started on bass with a 30" (Framus Star-Bass), graduated to 34" (Fender Telecaster bass, Kramer DMZ) with no problem, and hope someday to move to a long-scale six-string. I have long fingers (XL gloves only), but I think most players can adapt to longer scale lengths if they care to.

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Postby jwmartin » March 9th, 2010, 10:59 pm

All mine are 34" length. I have long fingers and when I've played a shorter scale (Beatle bass), it felt like a toy.
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