Should I buy a big-boy bass?

So, beyond the obligatory “yes” that I suspect will come from almost any should I buy another bass?-themed question…

What can y’all tell me about buying a long-scale (i.e., standard 34”) bass vs. just keeping on with my short-scale?

I’m a longtime guitar player; I’ve also played banjo and mandolin. So, when purchasing my very first bass at the beginning of this year, due to the fact that I thought it would be easier for me and because I was going to be sharing the instrument with my young daughter, I decided to get a 30” Gretsch 2220. And, I love it. It’s comfortable to play; I (and apparently my bandmates) like the sound just fine; it’s easy to navigate… What’s not to like?

But I also have this nagging feeling that I ought to have a real standard sized instrument. Maybe it’s because I’m self-conscious and don’t want to look like the noob that I am. Maybe it’s just an excuse to visit the local music shops and spend time on Sweetwater. Maybe it’s something to post on BassBuzz instead of doing what I should be doing — practicing for my upcoming debut live shows. (Heck, to be honest, we are trying to save money, so it’s probably a moot point anyway!) But…

I’d love to hear you guys debate whether or not you think there’s a legitimate reason for me to (eventually) purchase a 34”. Are there sound differences, performance differences, etc. that you’d argue are truly important reasons to “bump up” to a big-boy bass? Or, should I stop typing and go practice on what I’ve got? (Put that way, the answer seems self-evident, but…)

I await your wisdom.


Unless your jonesing for a 5-string, no, no real tonal differences. It’s all about feel and what you like.

But just asking means you’ve already internally decided, so I’m sticking with the obligatory “yes”.


The very first bass I bought to do B2B was the 2220. I got it for all the reasons you listed, exactly.

While it sounded good to me, it didn’t have the piano-like tone I’ve heard from basses all my life. Short scales have a strong fundamental tone but not the overtones a 34” has. I’m not knocking the 2220. Just about everyone who has one loves it.

But it just wasn’t the whole banana for me.

I now own three 34” basses and I couldn’t be happier.

Moral of the story: Go for the sound you love.


A big reason is choice of basses. There are lots of short scale ones to choose but there are more models in the 34” range.

So buying used you limit your options. I started out on a short scale and now play a 34” P Bass. Im 5’ 7” and it’s no problem to play.

So err. Yes


Vic De Angelis of Maneskin rocks a short scale. So does the bassist for Wet Leg. And some dude you may have heard of Paul McCartney.

If you want a fiver then yes, you will want a long scale. I actually reject the term big-boy bass because short scales are big on sound. Do you want to try a long scale? More than happy to make some recommendations.

But is a long scale inherently better than a short scale? Nope.

If you want to change do it for the proper gas reasons, but in and of itself a long scale is a sidegrade.


Unrelated to the thread at hand, you are the only person I’ve heard mention Wet Leg. I keep seeing them on TikTok, and I’m intrigued. But I’ve not heard anyone else mention them.

Related to the thread, yes, buy a full scale. For no other reason than you only have one bass and that’s not enough. :slight_smile:


Yeah, of course, I want one because new bass, but when you say “it’s all about feel and what you like…” the answer (for now) is go practice!


He’s the one guy that I keep reminding myself of — “if it’s good enough for Paul McCartney…” (I’m not familiar with the other guys, but I will look them up).

1 Like

See, that’s the thing… I think I’m honestly so new to the instrument that I just don’t even know what sound I love. Plus, my band (I still can’t believe that’s a thing I can say now!) plays a little bit of everything — Motown, funk, classic rock, country, pop… so it really doesn’t make sense to say, “oh, I need a jazz bass for this sound but a Stingray for this other sound.” In other words, I need one good all-around bass — which I would say the G2220 more or less is. At least, it does what I need it to do right now, which is allow me to play and have fun and sound decent in a live band setting.


You can add Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane, Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones, and Jack Bruce of Cream to the list you know.

I like long scale, but Vic makes me want a Danelecto


That would be a P Bass :sunglasses:


I would agree with that


Yeah, this^^^


OK, so if you’re not missing a sound (like I was), then it all comes down to feel: Go for the feel you like.

Personally, the 2220’s neck was too thin (fretboard to back of neck) for me. It cramped me up bad. But that was my experience only. Again, others who own one love it.

So if you like how yours sounds and feels, congrats, you just talked yourself out of buying another bass.

Now go practice for your gig. :wink:


P Bass fills a lot of musical spaces without a lot of fussing around. It’s the salt of basses, makes a lot of music better.


As someone else who came from a short scale and “graduated” to standard scale, I do not recommend it. If you are routinely switching back and forth between instruments, it makes more sense to keep their scale differential as close as possible to eachother. You might eventually get used to them all, but much like going to the gym and doing different lifts all the time, some of your time will be spent readjusting to the variations instead of progressing.
Edit: if you have a better reason than just doing it because you think you should, feel free to go for it


Apparently, I’m a Wet Leg fan. I like it!

They are charming. The music is written by the two ladies, who apparently expect no one to like their songs.

The bass is a Fender Mustang, which is a short scale P bass.

If you want a good all around bass it would actually be a Jazz bass, lol. That said I could not think of a reason not to get a P bass.

I love short scale bass, as the matter of fact on is being commissioned right now. You can get some thumpy tone as well as lightweight package, what’s not to like.

Many pros play short scales full time JMJ is a great example.

1 Like