Short-Scale Tips

Making the switch to short scale is a painless and pretty immediate transition.  Here are a few quick tips that will help your journey into short-scale bass world even more successful and enjoyable…

Choose the right strings!!!

Short scale string choice can be a bit of a minefield, much more so than with long-scale.  Please take the time to read my String Choice article here where I share my findings so far.  It’ll save you hours, and money!! 😉

Tune your E-string flat!

What????!!!!!  Yes, you read that right – tune your ‘E’ string very slightly flat, and I mean VERY slightly.  See picture below…

Tune E Flat

The reason is, because of the generally lower tension of short-scale strings, the pitch will often rise a tiny bit when the string is played, only really noticeable on the E string (even at that, most people wouldn’t notice it at all).  This is true of even long-scale basses, and Stu Hamm, for example, recommends tuning the entire bass slightly flat on sessions to compensate.

Use a lighter touch

Whilst not completely necessary, you will find on short-scale basses you’ll get a much more beautiful tone if you relax and ease-up just a little on the amount of digging-in you do.  Don’t get me wrong – short-scale basses will handle any amount of digging in you throw at them, I just find you’ll just burn up energy needlessly and the sound produced is MUCH better if you don’t!!

That’s about it!!!! 🙂

Now go and enjoy your smaller, easier-to-play, lighter bass – you won’t look back!


8 Responses to “Short-Scale Tips”

  1. Bruce Moyes 22nd June 2017 at 9:36 am Permalink

    Our singer wants us to tune down from concert to Eb. In your experience will this effect the performance of the SWB-1 active bass and if yes how?

    • Scott Pope 15th October 2020 at 2:20 am Permalink

      Occasionally, the guys in a band I played bass for in the early ’90’s get together for a “reunion” at our drummer’s cabin by a river. After cooking out, fishing, etc., we all jam on our old favourite tunes. After (mumble) years, our lead singer asks us to tune down 1/2 step. I use GHS Balanced Pure Nickel strings to tune my short scale bass down to Eb-Ab-Db-Gb because the pure nickel wrap has just a little more mass for the same diameters, therefore a little more tension than conventional nickel plated steel round wounds. They feel good under the fingers, are flexible enough to still have good tone, and stay stable at the lower tuning.

  2. Mike Norman 16th December 2016 at 1:14 am Permalink

    I’m a guitar player who wants to learn a little bass to become a better musician and also to record bass parts for demos etc.

    Don’t have a large budget I’ve tried some long scale (34 inch) basses and finding it tough. Played on a couple of Revelation basses. Awesome sounding but not sure how well I’ll be able to play them. Small hands and all that…

    What is your opinion on the Squier Vintage Modified Short Scale bass? Hoping to pick one up 2nd hand if possible. It has a PJ configuration which is what I’m after.
    Are there any other budget Short Scale PJ basses you know of that are decent?

    Is a PJ configuration worth while on a short scale? From what I’ve seen I think the Jazz bridge pickup is closer to the bridge than it would be on a 34 inch instrument,

    Thanks for your help.

    Mike Norman

    • Steve 28th July 2017 at 10:58 am Permalink

      HI MIKE,

      You might consider picking up a starter Chowney SWB-1 bass from Scott. He has a pretty varied inventory and probably several that he can sell in stock. The price is very low. He plays them on all his videos and I don’t think you can get a much better sound on a short scale bass for the money…


    • John Armstrong 4th July 2018 at 7:40 pm Permalink

      Ever considered a Hofner Violin Bass, this is short scale, very light, cost new £300.00

      Just bought one and very pleased with it. Also I have a Gibson EB bass, short scale, this plays well.

      Hope this is of interest. Regards. John Armstrong

    • Mike 25th December 2018 at 3:13 am Permalink

      I’ve had a Jag SS for two years. It plays well and sounds good. The Rotosound 77 strings and the Fender originals have that “blooming” sound mentioned in the string comments. The neck p/u is OK but the bridge p/u is pathetic. I’ve ordered the LaBella ss strings (105’s) and plan to upgrade the pickups. It is also head-heavy so I plan to upgrade to “lite” tuners. Sounds like a lot of changes, but it’s light weight and easy playability make for a good platform.

  3. Kenny Carter 2nd November 2016 at 10:33 pm Permalink

    what kind of sting do you think i should use i do allot of slap and pop. and do you plan on making any more hand held custom bass with the temolo system . I plan on getting one for Chistmas

  4. Daniel 24th April 2016 at 8:05 am Permalink

    Using all ways to communicate, I would be interested in any cancellations you receive.
    Dan VanBuskirk

    Did I mention that I work with your sister or cousin Susan Whitely here in San Diego?

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