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Author Topic: Long neck vs short neck basses . . . what's the difference?  (Read 23736 times)
Mean Bone
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« on: April 15, 2008, 07:07:21 PM »

Below is a picture of a short neck bass by Birdsong ( www.birdsongguitars.com ).  The neck is 31" long with 24 frets.  What do you lose or gain going to a short neck?
 
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MB
If there is no creator, there are no inalienable rights.

Birdsong C-144 . . . the wait is torture!
rfclef
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« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2008, 10:51:31 PM »

Well, there are others who are smarter than me and could probably answer better... but:

My Birdsong should be done within a couple weeks... and I cannot wait.  I am a relatively large guy, with long Kevin McHale arms and King Louie hands...  All my basses are short scale.  With a short scale, you get frets not so distantly spaced, and a lot of times a lighter axe.  In a poorly made short scale, you might lose sound quality on the low E, but that happens on any poorly made bass...  I love my shorties...  here is the link to my Birdsong... scroll down to 8C-117... Can't wait.
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Bobby
My other Bass is a Tuba...
Bassist for "Cry of Stones"
www.myspace.com/cryofstones

Basses do not "gently weep"... they will rattle the walls, lay the foundation, soothe the body and the mind, or bellow in fury as they strike you down with a bat'leth, but they do not "gently weep"...
2bhumble (Dave)
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« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2008, 07:12:54 AM »

I am pretty sure the only real difference is the length in short scale vs. long scale. I believe the tone might be a bit more defined also on the long scale but it is not a real noticable difference.
The standard which was used by Leo Fender is a scale length of 34".
Short scale is 30" and is popular with players with smaller hands. Paul McCartney's Hofner was a short scale.
They also make an extra long scale length which is 35", 35.5", and 36". The extra long scale is for basses that are 5 string or more.
I am not positive of this but I think the longer the scale the more string tension there is also.


« Last Edit: April 17, 2008, 09:08:46 AM by 2bhumble (Dave) » Logged

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rfclef
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« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2008, 10:00:49 AM »

...  here is the link to my Birdsong... scroll down to 8C-117... Can't wait.


DOH! 

http://www.birdsongguitars.com/client.htm
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Bobby
My other Bass is a Tuba...
Bassist for "Cry of Stones"
www.myspace.com/cryofstones

Basses do not "gently weep"... they will rattle the walls, lay the foundation, soothe the body and the mind, or bellow in fury as they strike you down with a bat'leth, but they do not "gently weep"...
Mean Bone
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« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2008, 11:09:22 AM »

My Birdsong should be done within a couple weeks... and I cannot wait.

I can see why.  Looks like it'll be gorgeous!



I am not positive of this but I think the longer the scale the less string tension there is also.

Dave, seems like it would be the opposite.  If the strings are shorter on the short scale wouldn't you need less tension to get the equivalent low note of the longer string on the long scale?

I have no clue since I don't have one.  rfclef can you chime in?

If you could not see whether the bassist was playing a short or long scale could you listen and tell the difference?
« Last Edit: April 16, 2008, 11:17:40 AM by Mean Bone » Logged

MB
If there is no creator, there are no inalienable rights.

Birdsong C-144 . . . the wait is torture!
rfclef
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« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2008, 11:37:08 AM »



I am not positive of this but I think the longer the scale the less string tension there is also.

Dave, seems like it would be the opposite.  If the strings are shorter on the short scale wouldn't you need less tension to get the equivalent low note of the longer string on the long scale?

I have no clue since I don't have one.  rfclef can you chime in?
[/quote]

All other things (material, thivkness, tension, etc) being equal, a longer string (or bar or tube, depending on the instrument) is needed to make a lower sound, as a longer object will vibrate slower, all things being equal, and therefore produce a lower frequency.  If you make the string shorter, the tension must be reduced to make it vibrate slower to produce the same sound as the longer string.  No sweat to a point.  After that point, you start hearing "floppy string" sound.  A well made shorty has no problem putting a nice fat E out there...  Scott is also making a 5 string that he says sounds great.  There is a point however (I do not know where) that the lower note is not going to be as good on the shorter string... 
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Bobby
My other Bass is a Tuba...
Bassist for "Cry of Stones"
www.myspace.com/cryofstones

Basses do not "gently weep"... they will rattle the walls, lay the foundation, soothe the body and the mind, or bellow in fury as they strike you down with a bat'leth, but they do not "gently weep"...
2bhumble (Dave)
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« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2008, 12:43:15 PM »

Duh, Thanks for correcting me rfclef.
The problem is I was trying to think and type at the same time. It is much like trying to walk while chewing bubble gum. For me that can be a difficult combination of events to try and handle all at once.  Huh
But you were right, the longer the scale the more tension required for a standard 440 tune.
I also corrected my original post.  Roll Eyes
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No Jesus--No Peace
Know Jesus--Know Peace

Satan doesn't really care if you are a Christian,
as long as you don't act like one.
rfclef
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« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2008, 01:02:25 PM »

Duh, Thanks for correcting me rfclef.
The problem is I was trying to think and type at the same time. It is much like trying to walk while chewing bubble gum. For me that can be a difficult combination of events to try and handle all at once.  Huh

No sweat.  As a music teacher, I get to fool around with sound and such stuff, and I have always been fascinated by by the physics of sound and the origins of instruments and such.  Sometime I'll tell you how that fascination  and a lack of brains led to the broken front tooth in my mouth... Roll Eyes
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Bobby
My other Bass is a Tuba...
Bassist for "Cry of Stones"
www.myspace.com/cryofstones

Basses do not "gently weep"... they will rattle the walls, lay the foundation, soothe the body and the mind, or bellow in fury as they strike you down with a bat'leth, but they do not "gently weep"...
tony c
I drive the bus ...
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« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2008, 07:41:43 PM »

A famous bass player with incredibly big hands and long fingers, Stanley Clarke, uses a short 30" scale bass.  Why?  Because he likes it.  A little history from Stanley's website:

He had also invented two new instruments: the piccolo bass and the tenor bass.  The piccolo bass, built to his specifications by New York luthier Carl Thompson, is tuned one octave higher than the traditional electric bass guitar.  The tenor bass is a standard Alembic bass tuned up one fourth higher than standard

Both, I believe, are at 30" scale length.

I imagine that chording would also be easier, but since I don't own one, I'm not sure.

tony c
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OldBassDude
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« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2008, 07:07:33 AM »

I agree with Dave.  If the E string (or anything else) sounds bad on a short scale, it's probably because it's a lousy bass, not because it's a short scale.

Short scale basses are great for smaller people, especially kids, just starting out.  My daughter started playing on a Daisy Rock 30" butterfly bass at age 12.  At the time, she was a tiny thing with small hands for whom a standard 34" scale was difficult to play.  The shorter and thinner neck, close frets, and lighter weight were perfect for her at the time.  I was really surprised how good it sounded and how well it played.   She used to lug it around in a Coffin Case.  Unfortunately, apparently Daisy Rock doesn't make the butterfly bass anymore. 

My daughter is now 16.  About six months ago, when I bought my Cirrus, she was ready to move to a more "adult" bass (her words, not mine) and she inherited my Ibanez BTB-400 (which, like the Cirrus, is a 35").  She has grown quite a bit and now has no problem with the 35" Ibanez.  I think that if it didn't look so "girly", she would have happily continued playing the Daisy Rock.

One thing about the short scale basses, the close frets make you quite a bit faster.  They are a blast to play.  If my arthritis gets worse, I may end up playing her Daisy Rock butterfly myself!
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Mean Bone
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« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2008, 12:15:34 PM »

There are two bass guitar stores in Atlanta.  I gotta get by there next time I'm up and try one out. 

The smaller size really excites me as I have trouble spreading my fingers trying to cover four frets.  Could be just newbie growth pains but still I'd like to see how the shorter scale plays.
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MB
If there is no creator, there are no inalienable rights.

Birdsong C-144 . . . the wait is torture!
oldrookie
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« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2008, 07:15:24 PM »

There are two bass guitar stores in Atlanta.  I gotta get by there next time I'm up and try one out. 

The smaller size really excites me as I have trouble spreading my fingers trying to cover four frets.  Could be just newbie growth pains but still I'd like to see how the shorter scale plays.

I have a Brice HVB 600, pretty much the same as  Rfclef's beloved beatle bass.  It is a 30" scale.  I have two 34" scale basses as well.  It is definitely easier to cover four frets with the Brice.  I sometimes cover five with the same stretch when I decide to play the Brice after playing the others.  I really like the smaller scale basses.

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rjohnsongroove
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« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2008, 09:22:34 PM »

I started out on a short scale Kingston. 
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spiritbass
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« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2008, 06:38:30 AM »

I started out on a short scale Kingston. 

So did I, it was a blonde 'beatle-style' bass. Very high action, but I made it work. I think this model from Landing is pretty nifty. It's available in 30.5 or 32" scale:



Ken
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Ken

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Redbyrd
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« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2008, 07:45:46 AM »

the picture I have as my icon/avatar is of the bass I got for my wife. It's a short-scale Galveston Hofner clone. My wife is only five feet tall, so she wasn't able to do much with my full sized basses, and since she was interested in learning, I figured a short-scale hollow body would be good for her. I don't mind the short scale until I pick up my normal bass right afterwords and my hands don't want to go to the right spots because of the size difference. I like the sound of the Galveston, but to me, it seems like a toy.... I'm a good sized guy, and the short scale feels odd to me, but that's just me.
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