Short Scale?

Discussion in 'Bass Area; The Bottom Line' started by Will Nova, Dec 6, 2017.


  1. Will Nova

    Will Nova Member

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    Hi Guys!
    I’m a guitarist but I’m looking to get into bass. My favs are Justin Chancellor, John Stiratt, Colin Greenwood, JPJ and Squire...
    I stumbled across Fender Musicmaster Basses and I’m curious: what’s the advantages or disadvantages of a short scale. I’m thinking it looks comfortable and I can probably get a solid grasp on the neck for riffs. Please let me know. Thanks!
     
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  2. StratoCraig

    StratoCraig Member

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    I don't think any of the bassists you mentioned play short scale instruments, at least not primarily. I've seen photos of Stirratt with a Hofner that might be short scale (hard to tell), but most of the time he seems to play Fenders or Fender copies, mostly Precision or Jazz style.

    There's nothing wrong with short scale, though sustain will probably not be as good as a longer-scale instrument. The Musicmaster Bass isn't really a typical short-scale bass, though, and I wouldn't recommend it in general. It was a cheap student instrument (I had one back around 1980), and the factory pickup is actually a six-pole guitar pickup, not a bass pickup. The Musicmaster, like its modern (and even cheaper) descendent the Squier Bronco, has a distinctive sound that some people like, but it's not a typical bass sound.

    If you're interested in short scale basses simply for physical comfort, then based on the musicians you mentioned, I'd suggest trying the current model of the Fender Mustang PJ Bass. It feels good and sounds good. The Squier Jaguar Special SS bass is also probably worth checking out, though I haven't tried it myself. Other short scale basses such as the Gibson SG bass or the Hofner Beatle bass are cool in their own way, but they probably aren't what you're looking for.
     
  3. joshinthecity

    joshinthecity Member

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    Here's the Squire SS next to a full size
    <a data-flickr-embed="true" href="" title="Finn&#x27;s mini-bass for Xmas, next to Daddy&#x27;s :)"><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4539/38792948862_2e5a134b50_z.jpg" width="427" height="640" alt="Finn&#x27;s mini-bass for Xmas, next to Daddy&#x27;s :)"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
     
  4. nmiller

    nmiller Drowning in lap steels Silver Supporting Member

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    I like short-scale basses because they have limited sustain. You get more of a low-end thump at the start of each note, which helps to define each pluck when you play the same note several times in a row. They're very easy to record as a result. They can also be a little easier on the hands, but unless you're playing chords, the difference is pretty small.

    The original Musicmaster is a classic short-scale bass, aimed at folks on a budget but not cheaply built at all. It has more brightness and clarity to the sound than most other Fender basses, but Fenders tend to sound pretty dark. The Musicmaster fits right in with many modern-sounding basses. If you want something closer to a P-bass sound, check out the Mustang.
     
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  5. s2y

    s2y Member

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    Without going custom, many stock short scale have modest ergonomics, namely a short top horn and poor bridge placement. This leads to a similar first position reach of long scale basses and potentially some neck dive.

    I'm only 5'5" and at home on a 35" scale 6 string bass. The key for me is using ergonomic technique to the letter. Prior to that, I used to get a lot of fatigue when I'd grab a 5 string.
     
  6. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Member

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    I personally play an Ibanez Mirko GSRM20 bass (on which I swapped the stock pickups with a EMG Geezer Butler P/J set) as my main, which is not only a short scale bass, but actually a sub short scale bass, with a scale length of just 28,6".

    The one bass I've ever owned that is without competition the most comfortable for me to play.

    Started out with playing a regular 34" scale bass, which was my main for years, but also owned a couple of short scale 30" basses since.

    Of those the Jerry Jones Longhorn (kind of a high end/high quality clone of a Danelectro Longhorn 30" scale bass) I owned comes in on a close second place in terms of playabillity after my Mikro.

    For me at least there are really no trade offs by playing short scales, only advantages in terms of increased comfort and playabillity.

    Generally speaking though, compared to a similar set up and stringed regular 34" scale bass, short scales tend to have less string tension as well as they tone wise seem to emphasis the lower harmonic content of notes more, relatively speaking, where 34" scale basses tend to have a more linear harmonic content, often making short scale basses prone to sound more boomy, which isn't necessarily a bad thing though, depending on what kind of tone you are aiming for.

    Also the tonal differences between short scales and regular 34" scale basses can largely be countered, if one should wish so, by strings and pickups choice as well as EQ'ing.

    Point being: I can only give my warmest recommendations for you to acquire a short scale bass.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017
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  7. Will Nova

    Will Nova Member

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    Thanks for all the great feedback guys! My main attraction to it was comfortability; I’ve got arthritis and often I get cramped on my Ibanez Iceman 4 string...The 70s Musicmaster seemed like a quality build
     
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  8. Dr Bonkers

    Dr Bonkers Supporting Member

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    Seriously, check out the Fender Squier VM Jaguar Short Scale bass. One of the best feeling short scale basses I ever played.
     
  9. s2y

    s2y Member

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    Iceman probably has some bad neck dive. That kills my hands faster than anything. Double check the short scale before buying since some might also have neck dive due to short top horn and bridge placement.
     
  10. 9fingers

    9fingers Supporting Member

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    Great sounds too, this is a "real" bass! Mine is just a touch neck heavy (not bad, but I am quite sensitive to that), so I have Hipshot Ultralite tuners I will install.
    Edit: I put the Ultralite tuners on it today and the slight neck heavy is totally cured.

    Another option is the Les Paul shaped Electromatic by Gretsch. Light weight, easy to play and no neck dive on the one I played.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
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  11. Befuddled

    Befuddled Member

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    My first and only bass is a fender MIJ Mustang short scale bass - received it set up with flat wounds and its been a great deal so far. I am also hugely annoyed by neck dive and luckily this one doesn't suffer very much from that, but I don't think I would roll the dice again. They are always popping up used for pretty good prices for such a unique instrument.

    Compared to the other classic basses I have tried, the more narrow nut width is much more comfortable for me. There's only four strings, how much space do you need on the fingerboard, really! lol.

    I use it for muted, staccato, funky picked lines and it sounds perfect.
     
  12. GGinMP

    GGinMP Supporting Member

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    I love my MIJ Mustang Competition bass with La Bella flats. The open low E is a big mushy, but otherwise it sounds great and it's very comfortable for someone used to guitar. I like the Duncan Mustang pickup, but it's pretty easy to find PJ Mustangs for not a lot of cash.
     
  13. mjtripper

    mjtripper Supporting Member

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    Fender has p and j bass models in medium 32” scale for the Japanese market that pop up in the states often enough. I’m mainly a guitar player and have rather small hands. These are perfect for me and the build quality is very good.
     
  14. Thor

    Thor Member

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    I also put on the Hipshot ultralites on the Squire Jag PJ and love them. Of course, you end up paying almost as much for the tuners as for the bass!
     
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  15. mojah

    mojah Member

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    What about the ibanez talman tmb30? It looks a bit bigger than the Mirko.. I've just started really playing bass after staring at my vintage mustang for 12 years. It's got these really small oval p bass staggered pickups. Playing with a desperate for bass player will take anyone that breathes group this week. If I dig it I'm probably going to buy a cheaper short scale bass and keep my mustang home.. Kinda looking at the Ibanez or the Squire VM Jag. Any info - opining? Thanks..
     
  16. 9fingers

    9fingers Supporting Member

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    I just "finished up" my Candy Apple Red Squire VM Jag SS last night and have been playing a LOT today. It is a just-fine bass stock, but a few tweaks really brought it to life. As I said above, I put the Hipshot Ultralite tuners on it, which totally cured the moderate neck dive it had (MF has the best price on these, the 1/2" shaft ones). I got a very nice heavy bridge from an eBay shop in China for 5 or 6 bucks shipped that is about twice as heavy as stock and has tracks for the height screws to ride in. The bridge J pickup was very OK but a bit weak in output, so I put a Bill Lawrence/Wilde J-45 noiseless J in the bridge (about $70 incl shipping). The stock P pickup is fabulous. I put D'Addario Short Scale Regular Light Chromes on it (from Bassstringsonline). I have a total of about $350 in it, including purchase price of the bass.
    I did a good setup and it plays great The satin finish on the neck feels wonderful. I did a thorough check of the fretwork while the strings were off and it is amazingly good, with nice fret end work. The wiring inside is not the neatest but it works fine. It has 250K Alpha mini pots and a good solid jack.
    It sounds HUGE! It is right up there with my much more expensive full scale basses. I recommend it highly, with or without the mods! It is a totally gig-worthy instrument. (Sweetwater has a good deal on the Fender Urban short scale bass gigbag that fits it well).
     
  17. soundchaser59

    soundchaser59 Supporting Member

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    I just did a no-brainer and bought this MIM Fender Mustang PJ.......but it was $399 shipped a few days ago when I bought it, they must have just taken the sale price down yesterday.
    https://www.adorama.com/femustbas.html?EmailPrice=T&utm_source=rflaid98220
    I will play it for a while before I decide if it needs any mods, but I am interested in the Hipshot Tuners. Were those a R&R "drop in" tuner for your Jag? I'll probably do it if I don't have to make any new holes, if they will simply drop in place of the stock tuners. I think I'll be ok with the stock 4 saddle bridge, and will live with the pickups for a while, they don't sound too bad. I'm only using the Mustang for my own home recording tracks, I am not a good enough bass player to gig (that's what my guitar is for). But I do have a very keen ear for pitch, as does my luthier, and I need the Mustang to be and stay in perfect tune.

    Was the head weight the only reason you switched tuners?

    I need to figure out which strings I'm going to use. I have small hands and short fingers, and I've gotten used to the EB flats 50-105 I have on the (full scale) 62 Jazz RI. I do a lot of sliding and I hate it when I get too much finger noise in my recorded tracks, but I still would like to be able to have clarity and occasional brightness in the sound. And I do not have a soft touch, so I'm afraid to go too light on the string gauge. Do the flats and rounds play the same as far as tension and tautness of the strings? Does a 100 flat wound have the same tension and tautness as a 100 round wound? The low E is the hardest one for me to play tight and crisp.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018

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