#1
Do any of our regulars here in the bass guitar forums use a short scale bass for a main axe?

I know a few people really hate the shortened scale for what it does to the tone. Now that I'm playing a lot more, however, I'm really starting to notice the difficulties a full size bass is giving me as a pretty small person. I have proper form, i do stretches, and yet my hands consistantly (read every time I play) cramp and hurt from the strain of playing, this is especially so on my p-bass, where the neck is thicker.

note--I've had my technique regularly evaluated by a very experienced and well trained instructor and he sees absolutely nothing ergonomically wrong with it.

Problem is, I prefere the substantial feel of that p-bass neck over my jazz, despite the pain it brings me. I'm also really sick of the limited reach of my small hands. So I've been up in the air on whether I should go for a bass with just a slimmer neck (like the geddy), a bass with a slimmer neck and a short scale, or a bass with a short scale and a more conventional neck (since I like the heft despite its effects on me). Would a short scale even help anything? I don't know how to evaluate how much of my pain comes from thickness and how much comes from stretching across the fingerboard to reach notes my little pinky has trouble hitting.

I have, of course, tried some short scales in store, but you can't really get a feel for the effects of long term playing from a store demo.

So anyone in the same boat? Or does anyone using a short scale have some commentary for me on how great they can be? Or even some helpful advice on how to properly evaluate what is going on with my hands? All help is of course greatly appreciated.
#2
Quote by tjhome28
How long have you been playing?
It may just be a case of strengthening your fingers.


Bass guitar on and off for about 8 years lol, I played double bass for 6 years, starting three years before I picked up the bass guitar. It's just for the last 18 mos or so that I've really gotten into my bass guitar after not playing anything but regular guitar for most of college (about 3 years). Lot's of time periods there, I hope that makes sense.

For all practical purposes, let's say 18mos of playing (and ignore the prior experience). Seems to me plunty of time to build up hand strength, my fretting hand is actually much more muscular than my plucking hand ( the muscle between thumb and index finger is probably 25%-35% larger than on the other hand) if that's any indication of how much strength I've built up.
#3
What size double bass do you use? Where abouts in your hand does the cramp occur?

It might be that you're using too much pressure in your fretting hand.
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#4
Nutter, I don't play double bass anymore, just bass guitar now. I did use a normal 3/4 size when I played it.

A lot of my cramping occurs in the muscle between my thumb and index finger, I guess simply pushing too hard makes sense, I hadn't really thought about that. That muscle--along with the muscle along the pinky side of my hand--also feels painfully stretched, however, when I'm reaching far(more than one finger per fret) with my pinky or ring finger, not just when I'm frettin hard with my index finger, so that's why I thought the scale of the bass might be part of my trouble.

Any tips on reducing pressure? I can't get proper sustain if I let up at all; my basses are set up properly, and I fret just behind each fret where the sustain is greatest, so I don't think those are the problems.

I guess a double bass background might help explain why I push too hard on the bass guitar... I feel so dumb for not even thinking about this.
#5
Here's an idea, you could string a 3/4 length A-D-G-C, or alternativly use thicker strings, like the heaviest from a five string set, that might help the tone. Although i don't know what the problem with the tone is in the firstplace,as i've never played a 3/4 length.
#6
TS, what gauge strings are you using? Perhaps a venture into Medium-Light or even Light strings might be an idea.

I would definately say that you have no trouble with a normal bass guitar after years of double bass lol.
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#7
I am currently using d'addarios hybrid packs that have "soft tops and regular bottoms" or .045, .065, .085, and .105. I was going to try putting some flatwounds on my p-bass to experiment with my tone, and they happen to be super light gauge, so I'll have to do that, readjust my action, and get back to everyone on how well that works. Thanks for the suggestions nutter. Even If I don't like the flatwounds I can still see if a lighter guage works much better for me.

I'm still curious on if anyone here uses a short scale. I noticed a lot of hollow and semi hollow basses have shorter scales, anyone a big fan?
#8
hey dullsilver_mike

As you can see from my sig, I am a Short-Scale user, my main bass being a Mustang re-issue.
I occasionally had the issues you talked about, and I don't discriminate against basses due to scale, although sustain can be a problem with them I think. The advantage of them is ease of use and speed, this is especially true with the Mustang, as it has a glossed neck, it also has a slightly chunkier neck than some Jazzes I've played, so you may find it comfortable, here's a link to the review I wrote about mine on this very site:

http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/reviews/bass_guitars/fender/mustang_bass/index.html

there's also pics of mine on my profile, it's much more fetching than the fiesta red one in my opinion.

However, if you are considering a short-scale, I'd avoid the epihone and gibson SG styled ones, because they neck dive to buggery and sound horrible, I've also had nothing but truoble from my old 32inch Ibanez, something liek the GK, but the name atm escapes me and Im in a bit of a rush, sorry

if you have any questions, feel free to PM me, I'm around most days, so you should get a quick reply

Quote by the humanity
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#9
Quote by skippy_moogoose
hey dullsilver_mike

As you can see from my sig, I am a Short-Scale user, my main bass being a Mustang re-issue.
I occasionally had the issues you talked about, and I don't discriminate against basses due to scale, although sustain can be a problem with them I think. The advantage of them is ease of use and speed, this is especially true with the Mustang, as it has a glossed neck, it also has a slightly chunkier neck than some Jazzes I've played, so you may find it comfortable, here's a link to the review I wrote about mine on this very site:

http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/reviews/bass_guitars/fender/mustang_bass/index.html

there's also pics of mine on my profile, it's much more fetching than the fiesta red one in my opinion.

However, if you are considering a short-scale, I'd avoid the epihone and gibson SG styled ones, because they neck dive to buggery and sound horrible, I've also had nothing but truoble from my old 32inch Ibanez, something liek the GK, but the name atm escapes me and Im in a bit of a rush, sorry

if you have any questions, feel free to PM me, I'm around most days, so you should get a quick reply



thanks for the input, I'll check out the pic and review. Also, maybe I'm a bandwagon jumper, but the ol UG forums have already instilled a healthy fear of gibson/epi basses in me I was more curious about the mustang, and the hollow/semi hollow ibanezes (I'm too poor to even look at the hofners or Gretsches).
#10
no worries, Personally I think the Mustang is the best short-scale, but Im probably a tad biased, aha

but, being a CIJ fender, ur guaranteed quality, so not TOO biased

hope u find the review helpful,and like I say, any questions, let me know
Quote by the humanity
I'm just joking Moog. you know nothing can tear our friendship apart, not even the fact we are miles apart, I am right there beside you, yelling, "Chug it, ya little wimp!"
#11
I have an old Musicmaster, and I love it. It's way better than my other Squier Pbass. People will say you'll have a problem going from short-scale to normal-scale, but I never do. As far as sound, it's got a old school, roundish tone. It's also got a strat pickup. I find that blasphemous.
#12
The pain may be something to do with bringing the thumb over the top of the neck while playing, a lot of guitar players do it, but it can muck up your hand if you do it on bass
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Quote by DisarmGoliath
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#13
Pain from playing is more than often a problem with technique, not the bass. Especially from what you're saying about the area of pain. It seems that you are pressing too hard and those would be the muscles that would start to ache. So, I have three suggestions for you. 1) Loosen up, play lighter. 2) Buy light gauge strings and see if that helps. 3) Try the Simandl method, which is basically pairing up two fingers to use as one unit, like you did on upright. That'll cut down on strain.

Try those three things before considering a short scale bass.
#14
Quote by ChemicalFire
The pain may be something to do with bringing the thumb over the top of the neck while playing, a lot of guitar players do it, but it can muck up your hand if you do it on bass


As I read through the first couple of posts in this thread, that's exactly what occurred to me.

I've said it before, I probably have one of the smaller sets of hands on this forum, and yet I manage a Precision and MM without issue. My bass teacher, who is a absolute pro also has smaller hands.

The three things that helped me were:

Make sure there was always a gap between my hand and the fretboard (G string side). This ensured my thumb landed correctly on the back of the neck.

I don't use heavier gauge strings as a arule.

Make sure you tuck your arm (fretting) close to your body and not out from your body like a guitarist.
#15
I've never had good luck with short scale basses. My first bass was a Danelectro longhorn reissue (which by the way is the crappiest bass I've ever played), and its sound was very...dull. Of course, the fact that it was hollow and made out of plywood and masonite didn't help. I've played a short scale Ibanez hollowbody and a Mustang bass at my local music store, and while the Mustang was ok, the Ibanez was pretty dull-sounding. My main problem with short scale basses, though, is that the string tension is really loose; the strings tend to rattle quite a bit. However, this is all opinion, and everybody likes different things.

Before you consider buying a new bass, try putting on lighter gauge strings and lowering the action a little bit; you may just be using too much pressure.
Just remember...

"If we can hit that bullseye, the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate."


#16
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
It seems that you are pressing too hard and those would be the muscles that would start to ache. So, I have three suggestions for you. 1) Loosen up, play lighter. 2) Buy light gauge strings and see if that helps. 3) Try the Simandl method, which is basically pairing up two fingers to use as one unit, like you did on upright. That'll cut down on strain.

Try those three things before considering a short scale bass.


Thanks a ton jazz and anarkee, I'm careful to pivot my thumb towards the center of the back of the neck, but haven't really paid attention to my arm position and had actually been using two fingers ( ring and pinky) as one less and less, for some reason I was under the impression that it was bad technique on the bass guitar, and trying to break it.

I'll stop steering away from that, focus on my arm position and definately try out some lighter gauge strings.

I know it seems elementary, but any good tips for just loosening up? I'm not the best player, so I get a little tense just focusing on fretting and rhythmic accuracy.
#17
Warm up. It's incredibly important. Do some exercises, whatever, just to warm up your muscles before you play or practise.
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#18
yeah, if your coming in and it's been cold outside, what i sometimes do is wash my hands with warm water, just to get the feeling back a little. Kind of pedantic, but i do it sometimes.

Also, when you pick up your bass, don't launch straight in to the hardest riff you can think of, just take it slow for 5-10 mins beforehand.