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Alembic Club » Alembic Basses & Guitars » Archive: 2007 » Archive through January 09, 2007 » Anyone playing different scale length basses? « Previous Next »

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Username: frank_orlando

Post Number: 71
Registered: 8-2002
Posted on Saturday, January 06, 2007 - 10:34 pm:   Edit Post

Greetings. I find myself owning and loving a number of Alembic and non-Alembic basses in various scales. I have 30.5" 32" and 34". Does anyone have any issues with playing different scale basses? Does it impact your playing? I hear some players say that they find switching from one scale to another affects their playing even if it is not during the same gig. I personally don't have a problem, even during a gig, but I was curious to hear from others on this. I find it more noticable switching from a 24 fret neck to a 19 regardless of scale length. I do have to work a bit harder on a 34" since I have small hands but I don't even think about it while I'm playing. Thanks! Frank
Intermediate Member
Username: hieronymous

Post Number: 102
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Saturday, January 06, 2007 - 11:04 pm:   Edit Post

I don't have any trouble switching. For a while I had basses that were 28 1/2", 30", 32", 34", and 36". Right now I think I'm only really playing a 30" Gibson, Fender Bass VI & Alembic baritone, and basically 34" scale Alembic fretless and Rickenbackers. I wonder if it comes from playing both guitar and bass from an early age?
Senior Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 700
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Saturday, January 06, 2007 - 11:52 pm:   Edit Post

I would have to agree with you hieronymous, I switch between, 30", 34" and standard guitar during a practice session and don't have any problems.

The scale difference is noticeable but I don't find it affects my playing. I do find that the guitar becomes easier to articulate if I practice on that after I've done my bass playing. It stretches my fingers out more.
Senior Member
Username: keith_h

Post Number: 656
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 5:10 am:   Edit Post

I have no problems switching between 30.5" and 34" fretted or fretless. I also dabble with guitar.

Username: hankster

Post Number: 86
Registered: 6-2004
Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 5:36 am:   Edit Post

I often switch between my 30.75 Stanley, a 34" Stingray, and an NS upright electric bass without any issue. I think that having practiced enough on each of them at some point "sets" the muscle memory.

Senior Member
Username: ajdover

Post Number: 447
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 6:06 am:   Edit Post

I just bought a Stanley Clarke Signature Standard with a short scale. What I've noticed is that I'm able to play faster, e.g., more notes easier, as well as play chords easier. I don't notice any difficulty switching between long and short scales - you just have approach them differently and plan ahead. Also, I've noticed that even standard gauge strings seem to be more "floppy" than on long scales - I've sure there's physics involved here, but I'm glad I can get standard gauges and still get the feel string-wise I'm after (I use light gauge DR Hi Beams on all my long scale basses).


P.S. The two octave neck is no biggie for me on a short scale.
Senior Member
Username: dannobasso

Post Number: 436
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 6:27 am:   Edit Post

I switch between short, medium, long and 35", wide, narrow, 7 fretless as well as 22 and 24 fret guitars including 7 string. The key for me is to ( similar to Rick) to play each in rotation fairly regularly. I approach each instrument as being different, some set up differently for a different sound and purpose. ie strats with a higher action for more bite in bending etc. Echoing Alan, I could play noticably faster on a short scale. All my stage basses with Doomtree are 34 set necks so for covers or jamming I switch to short and medium to give them all some stage time. I think variety improves your ability to adapt to any instrument that is handed to you. Not everyone is going to hand you an Alembic at an open jam.
Senior Member
Username: ajdover

Post Number: 448
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 6:33 am:   Edit Post

"Not everyone is going to hand you an Alembic at an open jam."

- Dannobasso, 7 Jan 07


It's been my experience that no one in their right mind is going to hand you an Alembic at any jam, simply because no one else will have one! That and the fact that they don't want someone to damage it irreparably! :-)


(Message edited by ajdover on January 07, 2007)
Senior Member
Username: dannobasso

Post Number: 437
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 10:38 am:   Edit Post

I heartily agree. Funny thing though, I always handed over one of mine when the situation demanded it. Most were afraid but some guys were jazzed by it. Of course there were criteria: no belts, no cigarettes, no "metal" jewelery and " you break it, you bought it!
The most telling thing is how accurate Alembics are and how someone else sound on them. They are real truth detectors on technique.

Congrats on yournew SC and thank you for your service.
Senior Member
Username: 811952

Post Number: 945
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 10:46 am:   Edit Post

I hand people my Alembic at open jams. The reaction in interesting, to say the least. It's a bass, dammit! That said, if I sense a vibe that they are going to be careless and/or reckless, then no, I don't let them touch it. If nobody ever gets to play ours, then how will they know they want one of their own?

As for the scale length thing, I play 34" and 35" scale basses, and have owned short and medium scale basses. The only difference I discern between the 34 and 35 is a bit of string tension. When I pickup a short of medium scale instrument and find sometimes I overshoot my target until I've warmed up to the thing. I don't believe you can possibly go wrong by playing as wide a variety of instruments as possible on as regular a basis as possible.

Possible (and possibly its variants) are possibly going to be my word of the day today, possibly.

Username: 5stringho

Post Number: 68
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 6:04 pm:   Edit Post

Maybe I'm a Wuss, but the only Basses I've gotten rid of in the past are a Modulus Quantum 5 and a LakLand 5. I didn't have any problems switching between them and another 5, or between a 4 or 6-string bass, but with RMI (repetitive motion injuries, Carpal tunnel, tendonitis, stuff like that) I find the 35"scale uncomfortable. I just prefer a 34" scale. Like Danno said, practice them all on a fairly steady rotation, and even though I only have 34's, I try to start the night with a 4 to warm up. Play what ya got, Have Fun!!! The 'Ho....
Advanced Member
Username: inthelows

Post Number: 271
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 6:05 pm:   Edit Post

Starting on longer scale basses you stretch out a little more or adjust your hand positioning some-what. I find like others, short scale lend themselves to some faster playing.
I think comfort defines the extent of your reach and the size of your hand and technique of what you play defines the rest.
I play upright bass, electric basses and guitars and down to mandolin. Each animal is different and the mental approach on each differs with them.
On really long scale basses my reach is limited so my hand moves. Speed is determined by how fast my hand moves. On mandolin, fingers are so close that often two fingers cover six strings. I actually pay more attention on the clean picking of notes.
My 2cents
Advanced Member
Username: the_8_string_king

Post Number: 329
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 7:08 pm:   Edit Post

Yeah, I've just never had trouble switching between various instruments of different scale lengths; I can pretty much go from one to another -although, perhaps predictably, it's easier to go from a longer scale to a shorter than the other way around, I think.

And if I know I'm gonna play bass and guitar, I'll almost always play the bass first; then, when I switch to guitar, the reduced scale length makes it incredibly easy to play (compared to what I just played).

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