I was discouraged to play the short scale bass

Hi! So I am a guitar player for about 6 months now and I really want to learn how to play bass. I have a specific one that I already like after a few research but really can’t find it anywhere in our country even the secondhand one would do.
Anyway, when I talk to people about trying to find the bass that I want, they immediately shake their heads and will aggressively discourage me from buying a short scale bass. They will say “you will eventually play the standard scale bass, why even start on a short scale bass?”
I am totally lost right now, (although I also have a bass that I want if I do decide on going for a long scale instead) I just feel that I won’t be able to enjoy playing bass if I immediately jump to the standard scale.
what should I do?

(btw , short scale bass is a bit hard to find where I am from :frowning: )


What works for other people, might not work for you (and the other way 'round).

The best advice is typically to try and get your hands on different basses and see/experience how they feel for you. Do you like how it sits on your lap? Is it too heavy when you play it standing and with a strap? How does it feel in your hands? How is it looking down onto the fretboard? Do you need to stretch out and “hurt” your wrist reaching for those lowest frets? etc etc. It is important that you get along with your bass really well (not the guy who had an opinion on short scale basses)!

Also, nobody said that you could only have one bass :grin: A lot of us acquire basses, like them, play them; then get another bass, and another; find out what is good and bad with all these basses; sell those we don’t quite gel with; find yet other basses; and so on - it’s often a long process of learning to understand what is important in an instrument for you!


People tend to feel they should get a short scale for lots of reasons. There’s plenty of great reasons to get one, including simply “I want one.” There’s nothing wrong with shorties.

But there are also some bad reasons to buy one:

  • You feel you have to because you are afraid a full scale will be too big.
  • You think you have small hands/are a smaller person and so should get a smaller bass.
  • You think they will be easier to play.

All of those are fallacies. And a lot of bass players are used to combating those fallacies. Even though you are used to guitar, this does not imply a full scale bass will be too big for you. They are different instruments, and are played differently.

In the end, you should try a few instruments, and just go by which feels best to you.


Get the bass that you want to play! :heart:

By the way the “standard” is called long scale. The measurement is arbitrary, it was set by Leo Fender (I think) as the maximum length that was still “comfortable.” If you have played a bunch of guitar, you know that some axes are longer, shorter, nobody cares really.

Short scale is like standard scale but without the first two frets. You can use a capo on the second fret, then tune down and see what happens on a long scale bass.

Have you ever wondered, whether those people who champion the long scale bass can also play beyond the second fret? Hm? I think they do play the majority of stuff higher up on the neck… :smiling_imp:

Have fun!


What is the source of the discouraging advice you’ve been given about starting on short scale?

  • Was a it from a non-bass player? Then ignore it and get a short scale bass… decide for yourself if you like it.

  • Was it from a bass player that has never actually tried short scale bass? Then ignore it and get a short scale bass… decide for yourself if you like it.

  • Was it from a bass player that has tried short scale and eventually decided that it wasn’t for them? Then ignore it and get a short scale bass… decide for yourself if you like it.

  • Was it from your spoon as you were eating breakfast one morning? Then ignore it, seek psychiatric help and, after you’re released from the mental institution, get a short scale bass… decide for yourself if you like it…

You probably see where I’m going with this, yeah? :slightly_smiling_face:


the last one made me laugh so much :rofl:
and most of the people who discouraged me from getting the short scale bass were seasoned ( I think) bass players… so not much with the pep talk and just straight up discouragement. :face_exhaling:


I will definitely muster up the courage to try different bass at the shop before I buy one.
Most of the time, I go alone when purchasing instruments like my first guitar… I touched one that I liked (based on research) did a few strums and said “i’ll take it” :sweat_smile:


That’s the best plan.


This is the most important part. You wouldn’t buy a car without trying it out.

Personal story related to the subject: I had developed a fascination with the Music Man basses. Watched YouTube reviews. Looked at Sweetwater’s bass section like it was PornHub (candles lit, Yoko Ono music playing, the works).

They finally got one in at my local Guitar Center in the config, color and string count that I had decided on. I went to play it and…

hated it.

I hated pretty much everything about it. I hated the ergonomics, the sound, the feel. Even the color I thought I wanted looked terrible in person. I’m not saying it’s a bad bass, but for the music and way I play, the guitar just didn’t work for me in any way, shape or form. And it wasn’t through lack of effort, mind you. I tried it on multiple amps, I played through every song I knew. I tried adjusting everything about myself that I could. I spent 2 hours trying to like the guitar. Trying to convince myself that I was wrong and this was actually a guitar I wanted.

In the end, I put it back. Then I figured, as long as I’m playing guitars I don’t like I might as well try the guitar I’ve always just dismissed and never once played: the P-bass (Don’t judge me).

…and I loved it. I loved the simplicity. The legendary mix cutting through sound was perfect right off the bat. It was such a night and day difference. I’ve stuck with variations on J-basses so far because I felt they were more versatile but hot dang the P-bass just sounded good without any tweaking at all. It’s just a pick it up and play guitar and I love that.

So that is my story. One trip to Guitar Center completely changed my entire viewpoint towards multiple basses.


Sorry, but that had me smiling. Could mean you were done in 30 seconds, or they had to kick you out as they wanted to close the store :grin:

For now…


Oh for sure. Who knows? Maybe once I’ve hit my “learn all my favorite Joe Dart bass lines” goal I might have a different opinion on them.


Nah. :rofl:

The exact same thing happend for me with Warwicks. Except I am dense and I had to buy two of them before admitting it.


I’ve got a Blackstar Travel bass with a scale length of 24" which I’m happy with apart from difficulty in getting the E string consistently in tune - the short scale makes it difficult for the string to stretch enough and this affects tuning (apparently - I’m no expert). I just wanted to try playing bass and the one I chose was more or less as a companion to my Blackstar ST travel guitar. I find playing a short scale bass very comfortable and rewarding being a casual home only player. And I’ve now ordered an Ibanez TMB Talman bass - scale length 30" - to continue with my venture into learning and playing bass. Short scale bass is just a personal choice for me - not based on any great knowledge of bass guitars in general.


If it’s the scale length that you are afraid then it’s not the reason to worry about… It’s like me saying I’m a bass player but I don’t want to get into the guitar because it has 6 strings and weird B string tuning.

For the record I can play a few songs on guitars and mustered up the courage to own a few dozen Strats.

Get your short scale if you want but for the right reason and not because you are afraid of the scale length.


Lemme fight these people!

I love short scales.
The problem in getting one is you’ll need to try it out.
There are a ton of short scales out there and they all do very different things and sound and feel very different.
The new Fender Mustangs with their P-J pickup arrangement can sound pretty tight and punchy, while the Mustangs they made in the 90s (usually Japan made) have a much looser, mellower vintage sound and feel.
Other brands will have a different things they do and don’t do.

I say go for the short scale!
When I saw Meshell Ndegeocello live, Brandon Meldal Johnson (also the music director for Beck for a long stretch and just a killer bassist in general) was on bass, and his instrument for the entire set (which was amazing and funky and soulful and so huge sounding) was a little short scale.

They are rad, they are legit and you may love it.
But play a few to see what’s out there!

Or just order a bunch online and send back the ones you don’t like??
(I’m joking here… sorry they’re not more available.)


Jack Bruce of Cream, Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones, Sir Paul of the Beatles; short scale has a lot of players. Right now Vic DeAngelis of the rock group Maneskin is showing what a short scale can do.

Try some different basses out and see what feels good. If you choose short scale you’ll be in good company. I started out with long scale, but recently picked up a short scale and just am in love with the ergonomics. I am a better player on a short scale than a standard bass.

See what works for you.


Easy playability is personal to each player. What works for one doesn’t necessarily translate to another.

That said, in my experience, short scales are generally easier to play. Fretting on the first five frets is definitely easier to do. Also, the relatively lower tension of the strings on a short scale tends to make it easier to fret anywhere on the neck.

Shorties don’t all have the same body size or shape, so that’s a playability variable that can only be gauged by the player.

I have two shorties at the moment: a hotrod Sire U5 and an SBMM. They feel distinctly different from one another (to say nothing about their different tones). They also prompt me to want to play different songs on each, or the same songs, differently. Regardless, they are super-easy to play.

It’s always best to try any bass(es) you think will suit you. That’s the meat of the matter, and the proof is always in the pudding.

How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?


Hopefully, you can find a music store with both short and long scale basses available to try. I did that when shopping for my first bass, and I’m short scale for life now. Embrace technological and ergonomic improvement.


I did. A 1979 Citroen CX. Man that car was kick ass! It was like driving in a La-Z-Boy.


Are these in a different shed?