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  1. #1
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    Default Full Scale v Short Scale Bass

    With the help of Jamplay and YouTube, my kids (ages 12 & 10) and I have learned to play guitar and have a blast jamming in the basement. Now we want to add bass to the mix, so I'm looking for advice to purchase a beginner bass that the three of us can share. I've found a few that are appealing (leaning towards a Squire Vintage Modified Jaguar), but I am concerned that my 10 year old may have trouble with a full size bass. She is 10 years old, but she is small for her age (smaller than most 7 year olds) and has short arms/small hands. With practice and patience, can a 10 year old handle a full scale bass or would I be better off picking up a short scale bass? Will a short scale bass play/feel like a real instrument or will I be getting a toy that I'll want to upgrade quickly? Any thoughts/advice are appreciated.

  2. #2
    Premium Member kirklander's Avatar
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    I'm not a bass player per se, but I own a Fender Jazz bass (full scale) to learn on. I tried out a few short scale basses and in particular really liked the Gibson SG bass. I settled for the Fender because it was 1/3 the cost. Although I don't own or play a short-scale bass, I didn't find it lacking in tone, and found it very playable. Aside from the slightly narrower frets, the strings are not as taut since they're shorter in length. Both make make it slightly easier to play--especially for a guitar player. How the action is set up can make a big difference as well. Personally, I wouldn't hesitate to buy a short-scale bass. Keep in mind that whether it will feel like a toy probably depends more on the make/model, and sometimes the particular instrument.

    I'm sure that with time, patience, and practice--as you said--a child can learn the play on the long-scale, but maybe your daughter would have less of a fight with a short scale. Jack Bruce (Cream) didn't seem to think it was a toy.

    Just my 2

  3. #3
    Premium Member vikingblues's Avatar
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    Short scale bass can sound fine - and is much less of a stretch for the fingers. I use one due to joint pains in my hands if they get worked too hard. I use a Hofner Violin Bass occasionally - used to play Fender Jazz style basses and the Hofner Violin is soooooo much easier to play!.

    The better quality short scale bass guitars will certainly feel just like a real instrument.
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  4. #4
    JamPlay Instructor Danny.Morris's Avatar
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    Fender Jaguar and Mustang basses are short scale and sound great.A Hofner (Paul McCartney) Beatle bass is also good. all are short scale and easier for some younger hands..Gibson EBIII like jack Bruce played in the Cream daze also good (short scale)..

  5. #5

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    Minor point of clarification: Fender makes a short scale Jaguar, but they also come in a 34" (full scale) length. Doesn't particularly matter but, you know, pedantry...

    Quote Originally Posted by Danny.Morris View Post
    Fender Jaguar and Mustang basses are short scale and sound great.A Hofner (Paul McCartney) Beatle bass is also good. all are short scale and easier for some younger hands..Gibson EBIII like jack Bruce played in the Cream daze also good (short scale)..

  6. #6
    Moderator AaronMiller's Avatar
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    I don't have any advice but just wanted to say how awesome it is that you are learning with your kids! Gives me the warm and fuzzies! :-)

  7. #7
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    Can they? You bet. Take a look at that YouTube video of North Korean children playing full sized classical guitars.

    I had a Fender Vintage Modified Jaguar Special for a while - loved it but had to send it back when my van blew a tire. I'll pick one up again one of these days. My fingers have stretched enough from the guitar that I could play 'open' hand position all the way down to the first four frets no problem.

    Having said all that - will it be easier for your kids to learn on a short-scale? Almost undoubtedly. As long as you realize you're going to buying a replacement for them at some point when their arms grow there's no reason not to go with the shorter scale length, and there's some good budget friendly ones out there (Ibanez has a P/J style short scale, forget the model).

  8. #8
    Premium Member mista.snowman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mouser9169 View Post
    (Ibanez has a P/J style short scale, forget the model).


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  9. #9

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    A few thoughts:

    I have small hands for a guy (my wife's hands are the same size as mine) and play a full-scale (34") bass. That said, I'd guess that would be quite a bit of a stretch for a 10 year-old girl.
    That leads me to think you'd do well to go with a short-scale instrument. I definitely don't think a short scale bass has to be toy like. Paul McCartney played a short-scale bass in the Beatles so if it's good enough for him...

    Here are a few possibilities:


    I'd love to hear what you with and how you like it. Good luck to you and your kids!


    Quote Originally Posted by mmgarrett View Post
    With practice and patience, can a 10 year old handle a full scale bass or would I be better off picking up a short scale bass? Will a short scale bass play/feel like a real instrument or will I be getting a toy that I'll want to upgrade quickly? Any thoughts/advice are appreciated.

 

 

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