Vintage bass and scale question

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Vintage bass and scale question

Post by untune on Thu Mar 18, 2010 6:03 am

Quick one here folks - I've found an old 'Satellite' bass guitar (appears to be from the 70's and in fairly good nick) but as far as I'm aware it's a 3/4 scale. So does that mean it'll be 30" as opposed to 34"? Anyone know if the Satellites were any good? And more importantly, is it possible to put a standard scale neck on the body without much hassle, or would there be a load of intonation problems?

Cheers Smile

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by Warrn on Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:07 am

I don't know about the brand, but I'm fairly sure you'd have intonation problems if you switched the neck. Personally I love short scales, they play much faster just because you can move your hand that much quicker.

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by norfolkngood on Fri Mar 19, 2010 8:05 pm

Agree with Warrn, I wouldn't change the neck unless it's like for like.

Have you tried googling Satellite + bass + guitar to see if anything gets thrown out?

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by Warrn on Fri Mar 19, 2010 9:21 pm

On the subject of short scales, I tried out a Fender Mustang bass today, and oh my is that short scale fast! Seems to have more bunch than a P-bass, too. Something about the short scales I've tried has shown them to be punchier in general than long scales. Try out that Satellite, you may like it!

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by umpdv5000 on Wed Apr 14, 2010 6:07 pm

Hi, I don't know if your still up on this conversation, but I know of the Satellite brand. Satellite are at the low end of the copy instrument market and are fine for a learner or if you are not a serious performing musician. The reason that they are at the low end of the market is because, (a) the wood used in their construction is not select hardwood (which does make a big difference), (b) the pickups are not to pro spec, (c) the frets are not well finished or levelled to enable a professional playing action to be set. You would certainly run into problems if you tried to put a 30" scale neck onto a body that was meant for a 34" scale neck. As for Long Scale v Short Scale, the reason why most basses are 34" scale, is because the tone given off by the string stretched over this distance is tighter and gives off a more pleasing tone. Naturally, most bass players recognise this after trying the different scale sizes and thus most bass players play long scale basses, which inevitably makes manufacturers make more long scale bass'. The Gibson EBO bass died a death of un-popularity because of its short scale neck. This is not to say that you can't achieve a pleasing sound from a short scale bass by using heavier strings to aid the tension factor, and they are nice to get around if you don't have big fingers, but you will never match the sound of a good quality 34" scale bass by using a 30" scale bass. Apologies if this may not be the comments that you are looking for, but as a player, luthier, teacher for over 30+ years, I promise you that it the truth.

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by untune on Wed Apr 14, 2010 6:14 pm

Hi, cheers for your comments, I thought this topic was long gone but I just got an email from it Razz

That's really informative and it's made things much clearer - I never did get the Satellite in the end, it did look pretty low end and probably had some value to someone who collected old instruments, but not much else!

Also nice to see someone relatively local on here, I'm in Bolton Very Happy Not proud of the fact at all Razz

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by umpdv5000 on Wed Apr 14, 2010 6:20 pm

Hi, I used to play with a pro band from Bolton back in the late 70's / early 80's called Springfield Park. The drummer who was the band leader used to live in Brieghtmet his name was Jimmy Bellis. Not been to Bolton in the last 12 months, as I have had no business there.

Regards,

Martin.

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by Warrn on Wed Apr 14, 2010 9:05 pm

I never found shorter scale basses to sound worse than long scale, and I'm almost certain it's entirely based on opinion. The only short scales I have played have sounded great (with the exception of the SG basses).

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by umpdv5000 on Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:56 pm

Warrn wrote:I never found shorter scale basses to sound worse than long scale, and I'm almost certain it's entirely based on opinion. The only short scales I have played have sounded great (with the exception of the SG basses).

I have an old 70's Yamaha SB-35 bass which is 31.5" scale and I love it! It is a delight to play and I can get a really good sound out of it. On the other hand, I have a 70's Fender Precision Bass which is of course 34" scale and there is a notable difference in the basic unamplified sound of these two instruments. Both are top end kit made from quality guitar timbers, but the 34" scale gives a more scooped sound. This is due to the string being stretched tighter over the longer distance, which is common to all 34" scale basses provided that they are built from quality dense hardwood. When you amplify the sound through a pickup, this difference still exists and although you can tweek tone controls to compensate one way or another, you will always find a difference in the way the string responds (especially if you are into slap bass techniques). You don't have to take my word for this, just try out like for like experiments yourself using two opposing scale length basses. However, it is important that you do this with two basses of equal wood quality.




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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by umpdv5000 on Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:05 pm

Oh I forgot to add... its not that I am saying that short scale basses don't sound as good as long scale basses, as this is as you say, a matter of opinion. However, it would seem an un-arguable fact that the world and its dog seem to prefer long scale basses over short scale basses. Can you give a different explanation to mine as to why this is so?

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by Warrn on Thu Apr 15, 2010 3:03 pm

From what I've seen, the instruments people buy are almost always based on what their favorite guitarist/bassist uses, not how they sound/feel. Were short scale basses ever popular? I don't think I've ever seen a professional musician use one. I find that rather unfortunate, since most of the short scales I've played have been higher end models that sound gorgeous. I've never really compared the sound between an equally nice long scale and short scale, but I've also never seen a short scale that uses the same pickups as a long scale so even then I'm not sure how to properly compare since the pickups have their own voice. However, if I were given a choice, I would pick a short scale Fender Mustang over a long scale Fender P-bass or J-bass. To me, the Mustang sounds better than either. But I'm known for being a bit unusual with my preferences.

In short, no, I can't really give you a reason that isn't speculation. I understand what you're saying better now that you've given more detail though. I know I have four "medium" scale basses, the three Westone Rails and my Dimension IV are all 32.25", and I certainly love playing them, but my 34" instruments outnumber them two to one. I also have one that's 35". I can adapt pretty quickly to whichever I pick up, and it's fun switching around which I practice with since everything has its own sound. Is it strange that I prefer to swap instruments around as opposed to picking a sound and sticking to it?

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by bowenjaybee on Fri Apr 16, 2010 6:39 pm

Warrn wrote:I don't think I've ever seen a professional musician use one.


Maybe not so much today but I'm sure Jack Bruce used a short scale SG Bass in his Cream days in the 60's

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by umpdv5000 on Sat Apr 17, 2010 2:35 am

Your absolutely right. Jack Bruce did use an EBO Short Scale Bass when he was with Cream.

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by Warrn on Sat Apr 17, 2010 3:19 am

In that case I guess I've seen it and just didn't notice.

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by corsair on Sat Apr 17, 2010 4:52 am

..... because no-one cares what the bassist is playing????!!

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by Warrn on Sat Apr 17, 2010 8:39 am

No one cares what the bassist is playing unless it's not a Fender/Gibson/Ibanez... and they really, really want to know when you gig with a Rail.

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by umpdv5000 on Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:39 am

corsair wrote:..... because no-one cares what the bassist is playing????!!

Ha Ha, that's probably truer than you think, and even truer of numpty guitar players.

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by umpdv5000 on Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:48 am

Warrn wrote:No one cares what the bassist is playing unless it's not a Fender/Gibson/Ibanez... and they really, really want to know when you gig with a Rail.

Is that something to do with Trains?

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by THEBARRON on Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:50 am

umpdv5000 wrote:
Warrn wrote:No one cares what the bassist is playing unless it's not a Fender/Gibson/Ibanez... and they really, really want to know when you gig with a Rail.

Is that something to do with Trains?




ha ha...

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by Warrn on Sat Apr 17, 2010 4:18 pm

Westone Rail basses. EVERYONE stops and stares and asks "what the hell is that?"

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by umpdv5000 on Sat Apr 17, 2010 6:34 pm

Yes, the Westone Rail Bass is certainly looks a bit of a concept but it's not the first bass to have a sliding pickup. The Gibson Grabber Bass from the 70's had a sliding pickup and was another one of Gibson's flops at the time, but is very collectable these days.

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by Warrn on Sat Apr 17, 2010 11:40 pm

Well, I gig my Rails, and boy do they get a lot of attention!

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by umpdv5000 on Sun Apr 18, 2010 10:10 am

I can't say that I have ever come across a Westone Rail Bass in the flesh to pick up and evaluate, but looking at the photo's of them, I would suspect that they may suffer from resonance problems with just the two bars connecting between the bridge and neck. What sort of music do you play when you gig?

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by caucajun on Sun Apr 18, 2010 10:13 am

Warrn wrote: I don't think I've ever seen a professional musician use one.

bill wymann of the stones . what did he use? mustangs? musicmaster basses?

i know i've seen Tina Weymouth of the talking heads using a short scale fender.

down in my neighborhood (south La.), the gibson EBO bass was a favorite among swamp pop musicians all through the 70s and 80s.


Last edited by caucajun on Sun Apr 18, 2010 10:20 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : fergot sumpm')

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

Post by Warrn on Sun Apr 18, 2010 3:50 pm

The Rails have plenty of resonance, as the rails are tuned steel and designed to be musical. What I played at the time was pop punk, but I'll play just about anything if I end up in a band playing something else. Metal is probably outside my abilities since I play fingerstyle, but other than that I play whatever I feel like, really.

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Re: Vintage bass and scale question

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