Short-Scale Fenders in Style?

Discussion in 'Bass Area; The Bottom Line' started by mcknigs, Jul 9, 2019.

  1. mcknigs

    mcknigs Supporting Member

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    I got interested in short scale Fender basses after hearing a "No Guitar is Safe" interview with the namesake of the JMJ Mustang.

    About a year ago I played a gig where I was the only bassist of three bands not playing a Mustang or Bronco bass.

    One of my best friends has been in love with his Mustang bass recently. I've seen other local bassists normally known to play Ps and Js, playing Mustangs.

    Is what I'm seeing part of a larger surge in interest in short-scale basses? Or is my perception based partly on a bunch of my friends getting old and using smaller basses to save their aching backs?

    FWIW, after hearing the JMJ podcast, I dusted off my rarely-used '78 Musicmaster and put flats on it. I've been digging it.
     
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  2. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    I could probably stand to have one around. I'm not a bass player really, more of a bass owner, but I play well enough to track my demos. I have a MIM Jazz Bass and it's just sort of awkward for me while sitting in my chair at my recording desk. I think a short scale would be cool to have.
     
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  3. GGinMP

    GGinMP Silver Supporting Member

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    The have been some pretty low-priced PJ basses recently, which lowered the bar for people to pick one up. I prefer models like the JMJ with Mustang pickups (and through-body strings/bridge), but that’s a more expensive proposition. I love my CIJ Mustang bass, but those have gone up in price as well.
     
  4. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Member

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    I've been paying attention to this for a bit, as this directly affects what I do.


    I think that's partly it; aging musicians looking for instruments that are more comfortable to play.

    The other reason is that the "vintage rock" and "Mumford & Sons" brand of Americana had a lot of folks looking for vintage instruments or unique ones with character, and a lot of those were short scale. Look at the Eastwood Guitar lineup of basses; a bunch of them are shorties. And they've got "that" sound that fits in those situations.

    Add to that modern builders like Serek, Hilton and the production models of Supro, Chowny, etc.. and you have a ton of options that sound just as focused and huge as their longer scale family.
     
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  5. metropolis_4

    metropolis_4 Member

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    I wonder if part of it also has to do with changing tastes in bass tone.

    The days of bright active bass tone and Bartolini's being in vogue are long gone.

    Tastes these days tend much more towards that round woody push in the lower mids, and short scales lend themselves well to those type of tones
     
  6. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Member

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    I wouldn't go THAT far. That tone is pretty apparent with the country guys that I work with, as they seem to be more "rock n roll" than rock bands nowadays. Plus, that sound is pretty well cemented in the gospel and musical theatre genres.
     
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  7. metropolis_4

    metropolis_4 Member

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    Pardon my hyperbole :)

    There will always be differences in tones specific to certain genres, but you have to admit in general there has been a shift since, say, the late 90s.

    I think there are a lot of styles/genres in vogue today that lend themselves especially well to a short scale tone, that maybe weren't so in vogue in past decades
     
  8. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Member

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    There definitely has been A shift, but I'd say it's closer to the last 5 years or so, when the demand for short scale basses (and appropriately, strings for them) has really gone through the roof. That's when you saw companies actively releasing short scale models again.

    I don't think the tone is nearly as important an aspect of this latest wave of short scales. Having played a number of them, and talking with players, it's more about playability. Unless you want that EB-3 sound, the new short scales are much more versatile than previous, and with bass amp tech now, you can eq nearly everything else.

    You also have to take into consideration that, according to Fender, roughly 50% of the new guitar buying public is female, which is coming into play here as well.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
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  9. metropolis_4

    metropolis_4 Member

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    Good points!

    It seems like the first time they're actually being taken seriously enough that manufacturers are making quality offerings. Versatility and high quality are sort of new concepts for short scales
     
  10. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Member

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    I agree. Even with the ones from Supro and Eastwood (that are based on vintage designs), they’re treated as a legit offering instead of an afterthought.

    Or in the case of the Chowny SWB-1, they built a killer shorty that sounds nothing like a short scale. I’d grab one in a heartbeat.
     
  11. nodepression

    nodepression Member

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    An Ampeg artist based in Nashville told me that short scales were pretty popular down there. This was in December of 2017.
     
  12. thomas4th

    thomas4th Member

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    I'm interested in a short-scale for playability - I have hand/wrist issues aggravated by a job with long computer hours and terrible ergonomics, so my full-scale Yamaha is harder to play than it used to be. They sound nice too.
     
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  13. derekd

    derekd Member

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    Maybe, but I find the P-bass sound has never gone out of style.

    I have Dingwall's version of a J and have it strung with Dunlop Marcus Miller brights for funk and a more present sound. People almost always prefer the P when I bring'em both.
     
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  14. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Member

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    In your case, I wonder how much the appearance of the Dingwall plays, in addition to its sound.

    Brian at Low End Basses cites appearance as one of the main reasons his basses are jazz-inspired.
     
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  15. derekd

    derekd Member

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    Ha!

    You may be right. I hadn't thought of that. People do sometimes listen with their eyes rather than their ears.
     
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  16. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Member

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    Especially if they're the band leader. I usually play an NS Design electric upright bass, and there are a couple MDs in town that won't hire me because they "have to see" an actual string bass.
     
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  17. Help!I'maRock!

    Help!I'maRock! Member

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    I've been playing a Reverend Watt prototype exclusively for 5 years now. I switched from a Precision because of elbow and tendonitis issues. When I got the bass, I remarked that it sounded like the Precision sound in my head instead of the Precision sound I had. It's got more fundamental because the scale length and overtone series are different. I find myself looking at the new Mustangs because of pure consumerism, and I've really found where I want to be on a 30" scale.
     
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  18. tommygunn1986

    tommygunn1986 Member

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    Short scale basses (and guitars for that matter) are definitely in fashion right now. I'm a guitarist that has been playing bass in a band for a year now. When I got asked to join, I specifically bought a full scale (J bass) to differentiate myself from the pack. And yep, we play a lot of gigs where the other band's bassists are playing Mustangs, Broncos, vintage Japanese stuff, etc.
     
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  19. mcknigs

    mcknigs Supporting Member

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    I find this statement interesting and I've heard it elsewhere recently. My understanding has been that, below a certain note, short-scales actually have less fundamental because it's not possible to reproduce the fundamental on a string that short. As I understand it, full scale electric basses have the same problem, but because of the longer scale, the point at which it can no longer reproduce the fundamental is lower on the instrument. This may be wrong, or it may be that both ideas are correct - that short-scale basses have a higher ratio of fundamental to overtones in general, but can't reproduce the fundamentals that longer-scale basses can.
     
  20. Help!I'maRock!

    Help!I'maRock! Member

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    My understanding is that it’s about ratio and note decay. You also need speakers capable of reproducing the fundamental.
     

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