Long scale or short scale bass guitar?

What is the difference between long scale basses and short scale basses? Here is a guide that explains why and will help you choose the best electric bass for you.

Let’s start by explaining what the scale is, referring to the electric bass guitar. The bass scale is basically the length of the strings, which, in practical terms, means that in the long scale bass the strings are longer (usually 34″ long) and therefore the frets are also further apart from each other. In a short scale bass (31″ long – or less) , however, the strings are shorter and therefore the frets are closer together.

It is easy to understand that with a long scale bass (where the frets are further apart) the fingers will have to spread further to reach frets that are far from each other, while with short scale basses  the frets are closer from each other, making the fingering is easier and with less effort for your left hand.

This is the main reason for the existence of short scale electric basses, to facilitate those who are smaller in size and, consequently, with smaller hands and fingers. Even guitarists who occasionally play bass play better off with short scale basses.

Short scale basses, however, are almost always less incisive in the lower frequencies, which means that the most used basses are mostly long scale basses because they can give the ideal deep bass response,  called  “bottom end or “low end”.

From these basic observations, my opinion is that it is better to choose a long scale bass in general, even if a short scale electric bass, as well as a functional choice, can also be a specific sonic choice.


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