Bass String Scale Length Explained

A simple beginners guide to strings for your bass guitar.

Ultimate Guitar
Ever bought a set of bass strings for your long scale bass and found them to be too short? Or bought a set for your short scale bass and found they are so long you could strangle a giraffe with them?... Annoying isn't it! This is due to the fact that most basses have two different scale lengths - the Bass scale length (length in inches from bridge to top nut) and the String scale length (length in inches from the ball end of the string being used to where the string crosses the top nut). The string scale length is the measurement that refers to the length of string you will need to fit your bass correctly. This can differ from the bass scale length as some basses are strung through the back of the body which can add up to 2 inches of extra string needed in order for the strings to fit the bass. For Example - if you have a 34" long scale bass that is strung through the body, if the body of the bass is 2" thick, you would need a 36" string scale length (ball end to start of silk wrap/taper). To be exact you need to measure the strings NOT the bass. Here's a few easy steps to find out your Bass' String Scale Length: 1) Simply fit the strings to the bridge or thread them through the back of the bass as required. 2) Pull the string tight up to the top nut, 3) Mark the string where is crosses the nut, 4) Remove the string from the bass and measure in inches. This will give you the physical string scale length you will need. Alternatively, before taking off your old set, simply mark the string with a pen where it crosses the nut and measure them when you remove them. Manufacturers scale lengths do differ from brand to brand so please be careful to check before you buy. If in any doubt get in contact and I will see if I can help. Sam

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    I made this mistake on a long scale acoustic bass once. Because most acoustic basses are short scale, I just bought a set of strings that said 'acoustic' on them thinking they would fit. I was wrong...