Here are some formulas and shapes for five scales. this is often all explained and demonstrated within the video.
The short-scale bass guitar was made popular by guitar makers that wanted to offer a 30″ option for players with smaller hands or arm length. Typical long scale versions have a neck length between the nut and bridge of 34″, which is still the standard for electric bass guitars.
There are extra-long(major) scale bass guitars that have neck lengths up to 36″ and these provide higher string tension, which gives a more defined tone on the lowest string. While some bass guitars have gone longer, some have also gone shorter offering bass guitar scale length with 28″ scale necks, which are perfect for younger players with small hands.
A short-scale bass guitar is popular with adult players, too. Many like them because they are lighter and offer the ability to play fast. The players that switch-hit between guitarists and bassists find them especially user-friendly, because of the shorter neck. To understand why some prefer the shorter neck, it is important to understand scale length.
Scale length refers to the vibrating length of the string, which is determined by the distance between the nut and the bridge. With this in mind, the fret placements are a ratio based on the scale length, so there is more distance between frets on a long scale bass guitar versus less distance between frets on a short-scale bass guitar. This makes it quicker and easier to play a short neck version.
Another difference in long scale and short-scale models is the tonal quality. Because the scale length influences the tonal value due to the tension of the string at a certain pitch, the tonal quality on 5 string bass guitars is enhanced with a longer scale neck because it gives better sound to the lowest string. On short-scale models, the G string will sing out and the tonal quality is perfectly acceptable.
When it comes to choosing the neck length on your bass guitar, the number of strings is an important consideration, besides the size of your hands and arm’s length. The neck on 5 and 6 string bass guitars are wider, so smaller hands should consider a 4 string bass and it is also the reason that many chose a short-scale bass guitar over the longer, and 5 or 6 string models.
Paul McCartney of The Beatles played a short scale bass and it was a large part of the distinctive sound their music had. Some describe the shorter scale guitars as a “plinky” type of tonal quality, although it might be better described as clearer high notes than long scale bass guitars have, the long neck models offer better lower tonal qualities than a short neck does.
Because of the distance between frets on the long scale models, many bass guitarists prefer the short-scale models on 4 string models because they can move much faster between frets and manipulate the neck easier. The longer necks and wider 5 and 6 string bass guitar necks demand quite a stretch for some guitarists, which feels uncomfortable or makes for awkward moves.
There are many different models of short-scale bass guitars on the market and they still remain the most popular 4 string bass guitars for many performers and they are necessary for the younger students. Many manufacturers offer them in a variety of styles and shapes.
Jesse Nash is a seasoned musician that has been helping beginners in bass Scales to the more advanced learners to play the guitar and understand the theories and techniques involved. Jesse has almost 40 years of experience and has picked up many tips and tricks from other artists along the way. Jesse offers a wide range of programs and services to help guitar players achieve their goals.
Short Scale vs Long Scale Bass
When we talk about guitars, bass guitars and other string instruments then the distance between the nut and the bridge is referred to as scale length (but not the neck length).
The standard scale length for basses these days are ‘long-scale’ basses. Thanks to Leo Fender for this as he introduced the Precision Bass in 1951. These days 34” scale is considered to be the standard one as compared to the olden days.
Fender American Professional Precision
Some competitors of Fender like Gibson, Höfner, and some lesser-known ones like the Eko, Framus, or some Japanese manufacturers used to sell basses that were more finger-friendly and with shorter scale lengths. These are known as the ‘short-scale’ basses where these instruments feature a scale-length of less than 31”.
Höfner 500/1 Violin Bass is considered as the most recognizable short-scale bass from the early 60’s.
The 30″ Höfner Violin Bass which was designed by Walter Höfner in 1955, which was given a signature violin shape. This way all those craftsmen who were into manufacturing or constructing musical instruments could conveniently adapt to the processes.
Since a young Paul McCartney showed up on Feb. 6, 1964 on the Ed Sullivan’s stage with his 1961 Höfner “Cavern” bass in hand, it maintained a predominant position in the world of short-scale basses.
Later on, Fender also entered the short-scale game along with Mustang Bass. A level of cult status was attained when they were out of production in 1981. Though it re-entered the market in 2002 and Fender in 2011 again comprised of a version in its Squier line.
So, what’s the reason that short-scale basses didn’t catch on like their 34” cousins?
Determining this exactly is a bit difficult, but two aspects may contribute here-
The boom of short-scale basses was somewhere in the 1960’s. There was a wave of instruments with some poor electronics, low-quality built that produces a hollow and flabby sound.
They came up more promising for kids and children and the short-scale bass earned less reputation from the serious players. This was the reason that more serious players or professionals inclined towards the long-scale basses.
They Are Different- Short Scale vs Long Scale Bass
Which one is more preferred?
- The compact dimensions and lesser distance between the frets, with shorter necks make short-scale basses a favorite of the ones with smaller hands.
- The short scale basses are richer in tone than the long-scale ones.
- The strings are under less tension in small-scale bass than a large-scale bass.
- The distinctive feel and the quality to employ varied techniques offer more flexibility than the long-scale bass. Playing full chords becomes much more convenient when it’s a short-scale bass.
- Long stretches between the notes are easily manageable with a short-scale.
Many companies are into making short-scale basses with new-designs and reissues of classic models. It is a matter of one’s own liking, convenience, and preference when you choose between a short scale and a long scale bass.