Hi,

I’m considering getting a new bass but here’s my problem.  I’m a petite woman with very very small hands so I do better with a thinner neck.  Are there any models you would recommend?  I’m currently playing a Schecter but have not been that thrilled with it and would like to upgrade. 

Thanks

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I upgraded to an acoustic Breedlove and I just love it but you might not like the size of the body. The sound and looks are wonderful.

Jorn,

 

While most basses are "long" scale (34 inch) there are quite a few popular "short" (30 inch) scale bases. A couple of the famous ones that come to mind are:

  • Fender Mustang
  • Hofner 500/1 (ala Paul McCartney)
  • Gibson Thunderbird *new* (but I think it's a 30.5 scale)

BUT...I have *very* small hands as well. I have long considered getting a short scale bass, but after going and back and forth, I decided to forgo the idea and stick to the normal 30" scale bases for two main reasons: 

  1. More Choice. There are infinitely more makes of the Standard length. This allows you more choices in other features like woods, pickups, neck types, body types, PU configurations, etc. Buying used is more likely, since there is more stock, etc.
  2. More Common. Sometimes you're just 'there' or asked last min to play someone else's Bass. It sucks not being able to or being used to the longer scale.

 

I think some people are going to say that short scale basses don't sound as good, but I think with the heritage of the Mustang and Hofner and how many great tunes were recorded with either, I don't think it's a very point.

 

Ultimately, my best suggestion is to go to the biggest badist music shop near you and play every single bass that you can possibly get your hands on for hours on end. Then when you know what you like and dislike, figure out how to make it work, either buying used, saving up or making certain concessions like name-brand vs. off-market, USA made vs. China etc.

 

While I haven't played this particular model, in you're in for a budget conscious choice, I definitely suggest at least giving the Squire Vintage Modified Mustang a try. It's a short-scale based on the Fender version. I have a few Squire Vintage modified adn they are great. The telecasters that I played with have great necks and feel great in the hands.

 

http://www.fender.com/products/search.php?partno=0328402500

 

One of my other bases is Peavey Grind 4-string with Neck-Thru. It's not a short scale, but this has a *very* thin neck. (Actually on a whole, basses from the J-type model usually on a while have thiner necks, vs. P-types.) Very nice price and in my mind good value. I was really surprised at how thin the neck is at the nut.

 

http://www.peavey.com/products/instruments/bassGuitars/grind/index....

 

The current Fender Mustang Bass is only available in Made in Mexico I think.

 

If you're willing to long scale, then as I said before, any Jazz-type will usually have a smaller neck profile. In that case you won't ever go wrong with a Made in USA Fender Jazz. They hold their value very well and are easy to re-sell.

 

Hope that helps.

 

w.

Wayne, Thanks for the links.  That's really helpful.

 

Hi Jorn,

I have small hands also.  I do recommend what Wayne said about just going to a music store and trying them all out till you find one you like.  That's what I did, and I came across the Ibanez SR500.  It has a very thin neck, and the strings are very easy to fret with its low action, which is what I was looking for.  When I have to stretch my fingers really far, I don't want to also have to press really hard to keep them from buzzing.  I actually ended up getting the SR700 with the Amber finish, because it looked pretty, hehe.  The hardware is the same between the two.  The only real difference is price. If you can get to a guitar store to check it out, I'd highly recommend it. 

Lee

Another vote here for going and trying out some instruments. There are lots of factors to consider (scale length, neck profile, string spacing, etc) but, given that we all have different tastes, there is no substitute for trying things out.

Two bits of advice for bass shopping:

1. Work out what you want to test. Look and feel still have a part to play but it can help to have a few other things to look for. For example, if you sometimes play up the high end of the neck, is it easy to access and properly in tune?

2. Set a budget. Mainly stick around what you can afford but don't be afraid to sample some choices from well below the price (sometimes you find a golden example of a cheap brand) and perhaps one or two that are beyond your price range (just in case you decide you need to wait and save instead of splashing out on something second best right now).

Wulf

Wulf, good advice.  I have to say its always fun to play something a bit above me but I'm a little afraid.  I don't want to pine for something I can't have.  I have to wonder if it is easier for men to buy gear.  I'm a mom with little kids.  I've been playing a bass that I really don't like for a long time because I feel guilty spending money on myself.  It's my husband who has been pushing me to get a new bass.  Meanwhile he has been dreaming at night about ditching his Martin and getting himself a Taylor 916. 

Thanks Lee,

I played a friend's Ibanez and really liked it.  I'm looking forward to going and trying a few.

One big thing for me is intonation on the instrument. I have a couple of basses that I can't seem to adjust to have that.

For some this might not be a big issue but it drives me nuts.

So are you saying it goes out of tune or that you just can't hear the note clearly enough?  I'm curious to know more.

 

What that means is a good instrument once it's tuned will play all the notes on the guitar neck in tune. This is adjustable on guitars but the better ones will not have a problem there.

I'm a brass player long before I became a bass player and intonation on my horn comes from skill developed over years of practice.

 

So bring a tuner to the store and check the tuning with open strings and then on the 12th fret ( same notes E A D G on a 4 string. Add B on a 5 string.

 

How fun... to decide on a new instrument!

You seem to have 2 separate threads on the same question going. Since almost everyone is answering here I'll cross-post.

There's a couple of instruments come to mind:

1) The obvious Fender Jazz, especially the Geddy Lee signature. This has a reputation of having a particularly skinny neck, even by jazz standards, and if you want a full size bass may well be the way to go. I have a J type fitted with Geddy Lee pickups and really like the tone - it's deep, but also carries very well.

2) Fender Mustang or Epi/Gibson EB0/EB3. The shorter scale makes things so much more reachable and less of a struggle, and they can sound great (had a friend with a really battered Fender musicman in the 80s, and it was one of the best bass tones I ever heard).

I don't know if you've addressed technique & stance at all with a view to giving you more reach, but raising the neck higher and bringing your hand further round in front of the fingerboard can extend reach quite a bit. Watch 6 string players for how to reach across a neck that is too wide for a comfy hand span.

I'm really a guitarist who's been playing bass for just a couple of years. I personally find a jazz neck size and profile enormously easier to play with than anything else, and that would be my first recommendation.

Hi everyone,

Thank you so much for all the suggestions and ideas!  Please feel free to add points as you think of them.   I definitely plan to try a bunch of basses before I buy one.  I made the mistake the last time of trying a bass in the store and then ordering from a friend who had a music shop.  The bass that I tried in the store felt nothing like the bass that I have.  Plus I have had nothing but problems with it from the day I bought it.  So your points about going and playing instruments are well taken.

As for the idea of a short scale, I hadn’t thought about it mainly because my problem is not as much with arm reach but more with my finger reach  which is practically child sized.   Does a shorter scale translate to a thinner neck? Or is it just the length of the neck?

A few of the ones you have mentioned I’ve had the opportunity to play (such as an Ibanez and a Hofner).  Both of which I liked for different reasons.  So the more names I can get the better informed I will be in terms of knowing what to ask for when I start shopping.

Someone pointed out the possibility of buying a used instrument.  What are your views on new vs used?  Do you end up buying someone else’s trouble or in your experience is it a safe purchase?

Thanks everyone and keep the suggestions coming.  They have been great!  I’m compiling a list so I have a jumping off point. 

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