Re: Short Scale Basses


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Posted by Scott Bassett on January 27, 2001 at 16:38:54:

In Reply to: Short Scale Basses posted by DJ on January 24, 2001 at 14:31:02:

There are more possibilities than you may think. It depends on what kind of sound you are after. I have several short scale basses, most of which are common on the used market.
1. If you want a very deep growl for classic rock (like Cream), look for a used Gibson EBO or EB3. I have one that was refinished by the prior owner, so it went for less than a premium price, but the sound is still vintage EBO. You could also (almost) duplicate the sound with one of the 70's Ibanez "lawsuit" copies of the EB3. Another possibility in a new bass would be the Epiphone re-issue of the EBO at about $250 new.
2. If you are looking for a brighter sound (like a Rickenbacker, for example), you may want to seek out a used Aluminum-neck Kramer "The Duke" bass. They look like a Steinberger, but use standard strings (the tuners are standard tuners, but located at the base of the body). There seems to be at least one at most large used instrument shops. They are so rugged that they will likely be dug out of the earth 10,000 years from now in nearly playable condition.
3. A Fender Mustang or Musicmaster would be a good choice for a classic single-coil sound. Mustangs are the pricier or the two, but I have seen decent Musicmasters in the $350 range. You will never lose money on one of these if you decide to sell it later. On the very low end, there is a Squier Bronco Bass that sells new for as low as $130 on the web, choice of red or black. I've played a few in stores. Tone is OK and workmanship is nothing to write home about, but the examples I played were very comfortable. A variation on this theme (tone wise) might be the early 70's Italian-made Vox Panther Bass with a short-scale and very thin "toothpick" neck which makes long reaches even easier.
4. The Danelectro Longhorn is a 30" scale inexpensive bass. It does now come in an upgraded version (Longhorn Pro) with an adjustable bridge and upgraded tuners and hardware for a bit more, but probably worth it. It appears to be a solid body, but has a large hollow cavity that gives it a "woody" sound that some like for vintage rock and blues. If you play oldies, this may be the sound you want. A caution is that if you like to tweak the setup, you can't adjust the truss rod without removing the neck.
5. Both Sam Ash and Musicians Friend sell their privately branded versions (Carlo Robelli and Rogue) versions of a Korean-made violin style bass with a 30" scale. Probably decent instruments (and very attractive in appearance, if you like that style), but with little or no resale value.
6. Gretsch has their budget Electromatic brand (like Guild has DeArmond) and they offer a short-scale solid-body that usually sells for about $250 in the large chains like Guitar Center. Right now, GC has it on sale for $200 new. It has a single humbucker. I played one, and its tone seems similar to the Epiphone EBO re-issue, perhaps a bit brighter.
7. In a very short scale, National Guitars of Chicago made in the early to mid-60's and distributed under the Supro and Airline (Ward's) labels what is called a "Pocket Bass." It has a guitar-like scale (about 26") and a very woody, almost upright sound from its combination of neck dual coil and bridge piezo pickups. A few are available on-line if you search at www.gbase.com. I have one and enjoy playing it. A bonus is that its retro look sparks a great deal of interest.
8. Even shorter (and a whole different animal) is the fretless 18" scale DeArmond Ashbory bass. It used silicone rubber strings. I tried playing one. The sound was huge, deep, and even more upright-like than the pocket bass. But it requires major changes in technique. I would think it would be great for a swing band.
9. DeArmond offers two short-scale basses: The semi-hollow Starfire and the solid body Jet Star. Both have 30.75" scale necks.
10. Landing Guitars makes custom short scale basses that look very nice. I think it is www.landingbass.com




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