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4. Short or long scale?

Shortscale

Fender SQ Jaguar Special SS

Not every bass is the same! The differences can start as early as the neck. Instruments with a shorter neck are called short scale basses. These are well suited for beginners, children and teens. They are comparatively easy to play, because the frets are spaced closer to each other. The length of the neck varies from one manufacturer to another. 30 inches (762 mm) is a common short scale measure. While the tone of these instruments can be surprisingly round and fat, it often possesses less definition and clarity. This phenomenon is caused by the reduced tension of the strings due to the shorter length.

Longscale

Fender American Elite Precision Bass Ash

Long scale basses are the common standard, measuring 34 inches (864 mm) from the nut to the bridge. Due to the longer neck, the player needs to spread his/her fingers further apart to reach wide intervals, which can be difficult for beginners and children. However, these instruments generally produce a more defined, edgy tone than short scale basses. They also weigh more. Due to the longer neck, the leverage of the head may be more noticeable—this is known as top-heaviness.

Extra Longscale

Traben Array Limited-5

Extra long scale basses measuring 35" (889 mm) or 36“ (914 mm), which are made by companies such as Lakland, Fodera and others, have even longer necks. The most significant result is a very strong B string on five string models. This comes at the cost of added difficulty in reaching the lowest frets.

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