35" Extra Long Scale Basses and Higher (Fanned Frets etc) practicalities

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jaymenonjaymenon Frets: 534
I've always felt my hands are way too big to be a serious guitarist - so the larger distances involved with a long scale bass are not a problem.

I have a Vintage AV4+1 - a rather nice bass (J Bass body and P Bass Neck, 34" scale length)

A longer scale length for the low B string however, fascinates me.

Will heavier gauge strings on my 34" bass do the same thing?

Or is the longer scale length a real benefit?

Expert opinions most appreciated.
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Comments

  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 15853
    Construction is far more important than scale length.
    I've had Ultra long scales that sounded nowhere near as good as regular long scale (and some shorter ones)

    I've played some of the £5000 Dingwalls and none of them came close to my old 34 scale Marleaux Consat Custom 5. The B on that bass is just mental.

    But all things being equal - so same woods / construction / pickup etc you might get an advantage from a longer scale. Like the new Ibby headless models - they come in 34 scale and 35 multi. But you'd feel the difference more than hear it.

    String gauge is only half of it. Some string makes just make better B strings than others. Roto B strings are awful. EBs are ok. Dunlops are very good. But after spending hundreds on trying a wide variety, D'Addario Prosteels were the best roundwound low B I found anywhere, and Dunlops the best flatwound. They were surprisingly different and the Prosteels were head and shoulders beyond the others I tried - even other D'addario options.


    The concept of a longer scale is lifted from a piano - the bass notes use a longer string. But in a piano the difference in the scale length is enormous and not just an inch or 2.

    After a decade of really trying this sort of stuff Construction and String Choice trumps scale length every time. So I wouldn't worry about it too much. If an instrument feels good and sounds good - don't over think it.
    Humans will swim in the sea even though there are many corpses in it.  They will not swim in a pool with a corpse in it. 
    Therefore all humans have a water / corpse ratio that is acceptable to them.
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  • jaymenonjaymenon Frets: 534
    Construction is far more important than scale length.
    I've had Ultra long scales that sounded nowhere near as good as regular long scale (and some shorter ones)

    I've played some of the £5000 Dingwalls and none of them came close to my old 34 scale Marleaux Consat Custom 5. The B on that bass is just mental.

    But all things being equal - so same woods / construction / pickup etc you might get an advantage from a longer scale. Like the new Ibby headless models - they come in 34 scale and 35 multi. But you'd feel the difference more than hear it.

    String gauge is only half of it. Some string makes just make better B strings than others. Roto B strings are awful. EBs are ok. Dunlops are very good. But after spending hundreds on trying a wide variety, D'Addario Prosteels were the best roundwound low B I found anywhere, and Dunlops the best flatwound. They were surprisingly different and the Prosteels were head and shoulders beyond the others I tried - even other D'addario options.


    The concept of a longer scale is lifted from a piano - the bass notes use a longer string. But in a piano the difference in the scale length is enormous and not just an inch or 2.

    After a decade of really trying this sort of stuff Construction and String Choice trumps scale length every time. So I wouldn't worry about it too much. If an instrument feels good and sounds good - don't over think it.
    Thank you @fretmeister ;

    That is such a wise and helpful reply.
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  • UnclePsychosisUnclePsychosis Frets: 9538
    I just want to reiterate what Fretmeister said.

    Strings make a huge difference on bass, much bigger than on guitar in my experience. I wish I'd learned that sooner. 
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 9032
    jaymenon said:
    I've always felt my hands are way too big to be a serious guitarist - so, the larger distances involved with a long scale bass are not a problem.
    I find that I can often play widdly shred parts more easily on the Melody strings of a Chapman Stick than on a regular guitar. 

    Hendrix, Vai, Gilbert - hands like shovels. 

    jaymenon said:
    A longer scale length for the low B string however, fascinates me.
    I have a Warwick Streamer Pro Stage One that I rarely use. I go through phases of thinking that I ought to sell it but never get around to it.
    Be seeing you.
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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 15853
    I just want to reiterate what Fretmeister said.

    Strings make a huge difference on bass, much bigger than on guitar in my experience. I wish I'd learned that sooner. 
    I nearly sent my Marleaux back with the stock strings. They were awful.
    Made me hate the bass. New strings but still lifeless and thuddy.

    I just happened to have a set of Prosteels lying about that I was going to put on another bass - and it transformed it. Beautiful deep piano like tone.

    I played that bass for years. Had to go in the end - was too heavy for me after my multiple surgeries.
    Humans will swim in the sea even though there are many corpses in it.  They will not swim in a pool with a corpse in it. 
    Therefore all humans have a water / corpse ratio that is acceptable to them.
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  • SchnozzSchnozz Frets: 1516

    I've played some of the £5000 Dingwalls and none of them came close to my old 34 scale Marleaux Consat Custom 5. The B on that bass is just mental.
    Wonderful basses - I've owned 100 and that was the best. I liked a Bravewood '55 P too and a Kubicki, but the Marleaux was the best.
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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 15853
    I’ll have another one day.

    They reckon they could build me a Betra that is light enough.
    Just need to find £4000 now. 

    After the kids have started and finished university then…
    Humans will swim in the sea even though there are many corpses in it.  They will not swim in a pool with a corpse in it. 
    Therefore all humans have a water / corpse ratio that is acceptable to them.
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  • BlueingreenBlueingreen Frets: 1769
    I haven't played bass much for years so pinch of salt.

    I tried switching to 35" (Lakland 55-94) from my Yamaha Nathan East.  It's a fantastic bass, but once the honeymoon period wore off I still preferred the sound of the Yamaha.

    For me 35" didn't solve the flabby B string issue (it improves it a bit, but it still feels different from the the other 4 strings).  There was also more of a nasal sound on the lighter strings on the Lakland compared to the Yamaha.  Hard to be sure how much of that is scale length and how much other factors.

    If I were playing bass seriously again I'm pretty sure I'd stick to 34".  In fact unless the musical style specifically called for a B string I'd stick to 4 strings.
    “To a man with a hammer every problem looks like a nail.”
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  • GulliverGulliver Frets: 744
    I don't have opinions on best multi-scale basses, but here's a tip that genuinely surprised me whenever I've played a multi-scale 5 string.

    Don't look at the fretboard.   Weirdly, the multi-scale thing works fine if you just use muscle memory - looking at what you're doing just confuses things!
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  • GSPBASSESGSPBASSES Frets: 1878
    tFB Trader
    If you live anywhere near Eastbourne you're more than welcome to drop in and try a five string fan fret, I haven't played it recently and to be honest I can't remember the scale, it was made so long ago. It's either 36 inch to 34 inch or 35 inch to 33 inch, I will dig it out tomorrow and measure of the scale lengths. It's not for sale, but you're more than welcome to come and try it or even take it away and see how you get on with it. I'm also not trying to drum up business,  I'm not taking any commissions for the foreseeable future. I found a photo of it below looking at it I have a feeling it might only be 35 inch to 34 inch scale.


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  • jaymenonjaymenon Frets: 534
    Thanks Graham, very gracious of you - unfortunately I'm a long, long way way, in Carlisle...!
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