Normal vs Multi-scale bass

Hey guys.

Just bringing this topic here to see what do you think about it…

Lately, I was making quite a lot of research about multi-scale/fanned frets basses and wanted to know what do you think about it, and if you have or played a multi-scale instrument before.

For those that aren't familiar with the concept...

The theory behind the multi-scale instruments comes from the piano that, using longer strings for the lower notes and shorter ones in the upper range is part of a greater relationship; the fundamental frequency of a vibrating string is a function of the free vibrating length, the tension within the string and physical mass by length (“gauge”).

  • Higher pitches require…
    • Short vibrating string length
    • Higher string tension
    • Lighter string gauge
  • Lower pitches require…
    • Long vibrating string length
    • Lower string tension
    • Heavier string gauge

Images and explanation came from here

Here you can see a multiscale, fanned frets bass.


Haven’t gotten to play one, but have seen them played. What exactly does fanning the frets do, and do you play it differently than a regular bass?

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The explanation/theory is in the main post, expand the text ‘For those that aren’t familiar with the concept…’ :wink:

If you have any other questions, aside from what is covered there, let me know.
I’ll do my best to clarify it from my no-expert point of view.


I have the Ibanez SRMS-805 multiscale.

This means that the B string is a bit longer at 35" scale length. This is supposed to be enough to make that string sound “better.” Plenty of people say they don’t care about the difference if there is any. I’ll leave that up to your ears. Also, some people prefer short scale 30" basses to 34" basses for the same set of notes on each, so there’s a pretty wide range of possibility and preference there.

In actual practice the fanned frets aren’t that much harder to play. The ones in the center are straight. The low strings up by the head you can see. The only change is that you have to cheat the high (pitched) string fretting toward the bridge a bit due to the fanning. If you forget, you end up fretting in the middle of the fret anyway, so it isn’t such a disaster (if you were pressing hard enough for a middle fret position).

The bigger difference for me is the added scale length. The difference between a 34" scale and a 35" scale length for my hand size means I have to microshift a lot more on this bass compared to my other.

I like playing it because I think the concept is cool and I like the look of something unusual. If I didn’t have it, I don’t think I’d really miss the fanned fret part as far as tone goes.


Oh, yup missed that. Interesting. So it initially passes the logic/reasoning test when you see the explanation, but then my ears on pretty much every great bass player ever on a standard bass yells “gimmick” at me…I’m torn lol

Thanks for your input! Also, one thing about the multiscale is that there aren’t that many string options available, since the longer strings fall into the super-long-scale size (ie: finding nickel strings can be a challenge if you’re into those)

No problem!

Theoretically, fanned frets are more ergonomic, and also the different string tension (based on string lengths and the bridge) helps to have the lower strings in place when you’re detuning and keep a better intonation.

Aside from those aspects, in terms of sound, there’s no much difference.
You’ll have same notes, same pitch with a slightly higher tension on the lower strings.

That does make it a little more challenging to fit. A regular set will have the windings taper down to a smaller size before getting to the nut on the B string. Oops.

I have D’Addario strings on mine. They make plenty of sizes.

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Not against them. Really it comes down to, like any bass, playing it and seeing if you like it. I would try one for sure!

I’ll definitely try/buy a multiscale in the future…
I’m kinda in love with Dingwall’s Combustion sound!

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Yeap, I’m on the same boat.
I’m in the research phase at the moment lol

Oh my, that has a 37" scale length on the B string; it’s 1.5" longer than mine. That will have a much different feel to it.

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The longer the scale, the more different will feel the fanned frets.
But I think it’s a total beauty.

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Yeah, the Combustion 4 (or an Afterburner 4, lol) is one of my dream basses.

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Yeah should have excellent string tension.

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