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30" (short scale) J bass?
Old 4th January 2015
  #1
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30" (short scale) J bass?

Hi! Firstly I accept that shorter scale necks are less than optimal - I will get our session bassist on a Sadowsky or Stingray for where it really matters. However, I played bass for years. I tried a variety of full and medium basses and stuck with an Ibanez for its smaller feel. I was never really happy with the sound for funk though.

I'm thinking of taking it back up again sô I can lay down ideas and I just feel the groove better when I'm not struggling to get leverage. I'm a huge fan of the classic 60s and 70s funk (minimal slapping) and basically I'm hoping for some suggestions for the closest I can get with a short scale jazz bass.

Price is no issue, but I'm hoping to delay the custom route until I feel I deserve it! Cheers!
Old 4th January 2015
  #2
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basmartin's Avatar
Warmoth has 30" options for a couple of their designs. If you want a cheaper one, Squier makes a decent Jazz Bass, although with a P-bass pickup in neck position.
Old 4th January 2015
  #3
If you're trying to do funk a 30" scale simply will not work regardless of the type of pickup and electronics you have. The short scale is too flabby to support popping and slapping.
Old 4th January 2015
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
If you're trying to do funk a 30" scale simply will not work regardless of the type of pickup and electronics you have. The short scale is too flabby to support popping and slapping.
I appreciate this is the general consensus, but I figure there is usually an exception to the rule. There have been a few notable funk bass guitarists using short scale necks over the years.

I am 5'1 and my arms are short even for my height, so I simply can't maintain good technique all the way to the bottom on a long neck, otherwise I'd just get a 62 P Bass from the Fender custom shop and just get nice flat strings. The usual trade-off is the lack of fullness behind the lowest notes, but on a long scale neck, I can't keep parallel to the neck and the notes lose sustain and power from my bad finger placement. So for me it's a trade-off either way.

I'm sure most of the famous short scale bassists had fully custom gear, but surely there is something out there still in production. Like I bet an Alembic Series I 30.75" wouldn't be lacking too much compared to a long scale Fender ... that's the kind of thing I'm after, but hopefully better again. Or just the freedom of variety to select from.
Old 4th January 2015
  #5
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This little Mustang sounds pretty good in this guy's hands.
Old 4th January 2015
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by zigziglar View Post


This little Mustang sounds pretty good in this guy's hands.
Your link didn't play. Fixed it or you.

I'll admit that I skipped through it and didn't listen to the whole thing, but that's not what I'd call real funk bass playing. Funk-ish, yes. Kinda funky, sure, I guess. But he didn't employ any of the classic funk techniques like slapping, hammering, or popping - techniques which simply don't work on a short scale. He also didn't play much in the low register and didn't really play with any kind of dynamics, which are essential to real funk bass. He didn't do anything that would really drive a crowd to dance, which is the essence of real funk bass.

And his tone was a bit..... blah. All the real funk bass players I've known have used round wound or half round strings to get the snap and pop. Flatwounds are OK for '60s and early '70s Motown stuff, which is funky, but it's not FUNK - Like Larry Graham, Bobby Vega, Rick James, or Bootsy Collins.

FWIW, Joe Bouchard from BOC was just about exactly your size and he managed just fine with a full scale P bass. Not a funk player though.
Old 4th January 2015
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Your link didn't play. Fixed it or you.
Thanks btw I think this is a 2009 Reissue of a '65 Mustang. They're still made new too. Not sure if they changed at all over the years, but I doubt it. They're all rosewood.
Old 4th January 2015
  #8
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I have a MIJ Fender Mini-P that I record occasionally. It's actually only 28.5 scale, but I use heavy strings (.50 to 1.10) it is not flabby at all, and gives a really nice old school midrange funk sound. It's really a blast to play. It has an overwound P pickup, which contributes to its larger than expected tone. I bought mine sometime in the mid 90s.

Old 4th January 2015
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Porto View Post
I have a MIJ Fender Mini-P that I record occasionally. It's actually only 28.5 scale, but I use heavy strings (.50 to 1.10) it is not flabby at all, and gives a really nice old school midrange funk sound. It's really a blast to play. It has an overwound P pickup, which contributes to its larger than expected tone. I bought mine sometime in the mid 90s.

Do you do thumb-pop/hammer/snap style funk on it?
Old 4th January 2015
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Porto View Post
I have a MIJ Fender Mini-P that I record occasionally. It's actually only 28.5 scale, but I use heavy strings (.50 to 1.10) it is not flabby at all, and gives a really nice old school midrange funk sound. It's really a blast to play. It has an overwound P pickup, which contributes to its larger than expected tone. I bought mine sometime in the mid 90s.

Thanks for chiming in. That bass is just what I want :D Now to Google my heart out! So far, all I've found in short scale (or shorter) are vintage Fender Musicmaster (Mustang)'s. The 65' reissues sound good to me for that style, but I'd love a short scale Precision Bass!
Old 5th January 2015
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Do you do thumb-pop/hammer/snap style funk on it?
I know this wasn't for me, but btw I mostly play Tower of Power or early Jarmioquai style of funk where the bass lines are hardly ever slapped. I know some of it could be classified as Acid Jazz, but still. That being said, I'd prefer the option to slap occasionally without it sounding crap.

Ultimately, I pretty much suck at slap anyway, so I'd just get the idea down then get it dubbed by a full sized ... bassist haha.
Old 5th January 2015
  #12
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One of the bass shops in my capital city have insisted that the Fender Classic Player RASCAL Bass is the closest I will get to a passive MIJ Jazz in short scale. Anyone have any experience with the Rascal?
Old 5th January 2015
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zigziglar View Post
One of the bass shops in my capital city have insisted that the Fender Classic Player RASCAL Bass is the closest I will get to a passive MIJ Jazz in short scale. Anyone have any experience with the Rascal?
I'd never seen those before…pretty neat. I want one in 28.5" scale… :-)
The choice of pickups is a bit strange, I dunno how I feel about that…seems it would make it hard to find an exact fit to replace them with, why couldn't they have just put normal single coils in?

I will say that I play a Schecter Hellcat VI (30" scale bass VI), and I have that loaded with Lace Alumitone pickups…especially when you use the "in between" pickup settings you can get a real good P style thump going on. It wouldn't be my first choice for slap, but I don't think most people would be able to tell sonically that it isn't a traditional electric bass in other contexts.

I too find 34" scale basses often uncomfortable to play, and being that I am not a bass player by way of career…30" and 32" basses are it for me.

I think you're more likely to find what you're looking for across "beginner" lines such as Squier, Rondomusic.com, etc..or Warmoth, if you are looking to spend a lot of money.

I personally would suggest something like that and maybe upgrade the electronics and put a good setup on it, at least over the Rascal model.
Old 5th January 2015
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by zigziglar View Post
One of the bass shops in my capital city have insisted that the Fender Classic Player RASCAL Bass is the closest I will get to a passive MIJ Jazz in short scale. Anyone have any experience with the Rascal?

I hadn't seen that before - it's absolutely hilarious! You can see what it is, right? It's Fender's take on a Dano!

FWIW, Danelectro made some of the few short scale basses that actually worked pretty well and saw a fair amount of use in the studio, although often as a second bass doubling a more conventional instrument.
Old 5th January 2015
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kslight View Post
I'd never seen those before…pretty neat. I want one in 28.5" scale… :-)
The choice of pickups is a bit strange, I dunno how I feel about that…seems it would make it hard to find an exact fit to replace them with, why couldn't they have just put normal single coils in?

I will say that I play a Schecter Hellcat VI (30" scale bass VI), and I have that loaded with Lace Alumitone pickups…especially when you use the "in between" pickup settings you can get a real good P style thump going on. It wouldn't be my first choice for slap, but I don't think most people would be able to tell sonically that it isn't a traditional electric bass in other contexts.

I too find 34" scale basses often uncomfortable to play, and being that I am not a bass player by way of career…30" and 32" basses are it for me.

I think you're more likely to find what you're looking for across "beginner" lines such as Squier, Rondomusic.com, etc..or Warmoth, if you are looking to spend a lot of money.

I personally would suggest something like that and maybe upgrade the electronics and put a good setup on it, at least over the Rascal model.
Thanks for the post. How are those SX brand basses anyway? I see they have a 3/4 P bass for next to nothing.

I joined talkbass and received a PM from someone offering a used Landing custom 30" jazz bass, so that could very well be too good an opportunity to pass up I think.
Old 5th January 2015
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zigziglar View Post
Thanks for the post. How are those SX brand basses anyway? I see they have a 3/4 P bass for next to nothing.

I joined talkbass and received a PM from someone offering a used Landing custom 30" jazz bass, so that could very well be too good an opportunity to pass up I think.
I've never owned an SX bass but I've owned other products from that site and they are ok...not amazing but not a total POS either. With the right electronics and hardware they could be a pretty good player.
Old 5th January 2015
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Danelectro made some of the few short scale basses that actually worked pretty well and saw a fair amount of use in the studio, although often as a second bass doubling a more conventional instrument.
Wish I still had mine. It fit with acoustic guitars -- coffeehouse-type gigs -- much better than any of my bigger basses, and was great for tuba-esque parts.
Old 6th January 2015
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kslight View Post
I've never owned an SX bass but I've owned other products from that site and they are ok...not amazing but not a total POS either. With the right electronics and hardware they could be a pretty good player.
Cool. I'm definitely open to giving the SX 3/4 Bass a go. Here's one in a local online store.

They REALLY look like a student guitar haha. I know it's not a jazz in any way, but more of a Precision Jr knock off.

That being said, I'm very much leaning towards just putting a few extra hundred towards the Landing custom. It's a L30T with active EMG pick ups. Ideally, I'd like passives, but this is a great bass in all respects from what I've read.

Also worth noting is that there is likely to be a 30" Modern Player series Fender Jazz bass released in the coming months. Here's a preview of it.
Old 6th January 2015
  #19
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Did you all know that this bass existed?

It's on the Fender official production line in Japan and is a 30" SS Jazz Bass ... I'm rather curious!
Old 6th January 2015
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zigziglar View Post
Did you all know that this bass existed?

It's on the Fender official production line in Japan and is a 30" SS Jazz Bass ... I'm rather curious!
There's also this: Ibanez GSRM20 Mikro Electric Bass, Light Green Metallic
Old 6th January 2015
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kslight View Post
The starlight blue model of that looks exactly like what I used to play before I gave it away to the bassist in one of my bands! He loved it haha he is 6'3 with a foot worth of afro too and it was an amusing image.
Old 6th January 2015
  #22
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I would totally buy one but I wish it looked more like a guitar than a bass. I would tune it like a tenor an octave down.
Old 6th January 2015
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kslight View Post
I would totally buy one but I wish it looked more like a guitar than a bass. I would tune it like a tenor an octave down.
You mean an octave down from a guitar, like a piccolo bass? If so, that would indeed be awesome. Obviously not so much as a Rhythm bass in a rock band, but for some funky solo work, it would groove!
Old 6th January 2015
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
If you're trying to do funk a 30" scale simply will not work regardless of the type of pickup and electronics you have. The short scale is too flabby to support popping and slapping.
I wonder where you got that meme from. Here's a 30" scale one played by Scott Whitley. He plays 30-90 roundwound strings (the bass was made by Brian Eastwood):





Old 6th January 2015
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tinderwet View Post
I wonder where you got that meme from. Here's a 30" scale one played by Scott Whitley. He plays 30-90 roundwound strings (the bass was made by Brian Eastwood):





Yeah Scott is a beast, although I've only really seen him get groovy when slapping - not that it sounds bad!

Essex (SX) sell a version of his custom bass - I'm not sure if it would sound the same though.

Sounds like very little flab to me in those videos.

I was having a chat with the Luthier from Landing and he explained that flabbiness is not really a problem in SS basses nowadays, not where a decent Luthier is concerned anyway.
Old 6th January 2015
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zigziglar View Post
You mean an octave down from a guitar, like a piccolo bass? If so, that would indeed be awesome. Obviously not so much as a Rhythm bass in a rock band, but for some funky solo work, it would groove!
No. A piccolo bass is usually an octave up from bass, so just a 4 string long scale guitar.

What I wanna do would probably be about a fifth above bass, like a 4 string baritone of sorts.

My main axe is the bass VI, but I don't really need all the low notes...I just like the way higher notes sound on thick strings.
Old 6th January 2015
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zigziglar View Post
Essex (SX) sell a version of his custom bass - I'm not sure if it would sound the same though.


The body of it looks like a Spector (and thus, also like a Warwick Streamer), without the curve of the original.



It has a J size pickup and an MM style bridge pickup with steel pole pieces, most of these tend to be cheaply made and noisy. The naming similarity seems to be just an accident to me. Anyway, if you want that kind of sound, just use two (preferably humbucking) jazz pickups into a preamp. Fresh roundwounds will also help. Scott just recently changed to a pair of EMG J pickups from the previously used DiMarzio Model Js, and he uses an EMG preamp.

Not sure how much you want to spend on this, a possible route would be to get a Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar or a Modern Player Jazz short scale. The latter has a hi-mass bridge to begin with, and you can always do the pickup swap and/or add a preamp.

There's also the Warwick Corvette short scale, that comes in both passive and active versions. This might not require any mods: Rockbass Corvette 4 30” (short scale)
Old 6th January 2015
  #28
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Thanks for posting. How can you identify whether or not the bass has a high mass bridge? I'm looking at this MIJ SS J Bass.

I haven't seen any of the Modern Player SS Jay's in Australia yet. I'm always happy with Japanese Fenders.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tinderwet View Post


The body of it looks like a Spector (and thus, also like a Warwick Streamer), without the curve of the original.



It has a J size pickup and an MM style bridge pickup with steel pole pieces, most of these tend to be cheaply made and noisy. The naming similarity seems to be just an accident to me. Anyway, if you want that kind of sound, just use two (preferably humbucking) jazz pickups into a preamp. Fresh roundwounds will also help. Scott just recently changed to a pair of EMG J pickups from the previously used DiMarzio Model Js, and he uses an EMG preamp.

Not sure how much you want to spend on this, a possible route would be to get a Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar or a Modern Player Jazz short scale. The latter has a hi-mass bridge to begin with, and you can always do the pickup swap and/or add a preamp.

There's also the Warwick Corvette short scale, that comes in both passive and active versions. This might not require any mods: Rockbass Corvette 4 30” (short scale)
Old 6th January 2015
  #29
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Did I miss anyone mentioning the Squier Jaguar Bass SS?

When I was shopping for a 30" bass, this got more recommendations than anything else. It is freakin' gorgeous but I think it's Battery Operated.
Old 6th January 2015
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zigziglar View Post
Thanks for posting. How can you identify whether or not the bass has a high mass bridge?
You're welcome. The high-mass bridges are those die cast ones (zinc alloy), that are thicker and heavier than the usual bent metal ones most Fenders come with. The new Modern Player short scale has a high-mass one that looks pretty much like a Leo Quan Badass bridge:



These tend to emphasize the high end in the vibrating strings better, due to the better decoupling from the (wooden) body. These are slight differences though, some people simply prefer them because they feel less flimsy and might be a bit more practical in some circumstances. The saddles move in slots, so it's better protected from getting a setup with overly angled saddles, or the occasional sideways bump and de-tuning, when you play light strings very hard.

Another common hi-mass design is the one that resembles the Gotoh 201:



It's a bit simpler and it has only grooves for the saddle screws, no slots. These are direct replacements for the stock Fender bridges.

The Japanese Jazz you linked has the stock bent steel bridge, which is just an L-shaped piece of sheet metal.



Traditionalists will never want to upgrade it. If you hit one with a hammer, it'll only bend and not break, like the zinc alloy.
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