I've been playing bass in my bedroom for a while now. I have a pretty but pretty crappy 1970s Yamaha semi-acoustic (SA70, I think). I've been thinking of branching out into some new styles and techniques (slap, dub/reggae etc.) Physically and because of its old electrics, my bass isn't good for much apart from the soul/Motown style lines I play with my fingers. The bass isn't 'bassy' enough for reggae and slapping it isn't feasible either and its beginning to feel limiting.

So I had a look at various P and Jazz bass clones. And briefly tried playing a few. The frets seemed miles apart and the strings felt unwieldy.

Does anyone have experience of switching to a long-scale bass? Are there any tips or tricks you can share? Also any recommendations of suitable instruments would be very welcome.

  • I'm surprised you can't get it bassy enough for reggae. music.stackexchange.com/questions/4212/… suggests that short-scale basses are less trebly. Have you considered running it through an amp modeler like the Zoom B1 to boost the signal and get some tone?
    – slim
    Dec 5, 2011 at 13:35
  • I think the lack of 'bassiness' has more to do with the ancient pickups and electrics although that question also mentions the 'flappy' attack and lack of sustain my poor old bass suffers from. I have tried running it through various different bits of software, the signal from the amp isn't great but while it is possible to transform the sound somewhat, the physical limitations of the instrument itself seems to have a greater negative impact.
    – immutabl
    Dec 5, 2011 at 13:56
  • Fair enough. After reading the answers to that question, I bought a Gretsch short-scale, and I love it. No idea how suitable it is for slapping, but it's definitely capable of dubby reggae bass.
    – slim
    Dec 5, 2011 at 14:10
  • I wish I could afford a Gretsch :-(
    – immutabl
    Dec 5, 2011 at 14:57
  • 1
    Do you happen to still have the SA70 by chance?
    – user2690
    Jul 30, 2012 at 21:19

3 Answers 3


I switched when I first started as a kid, and my advice is to just go for it. If you are used to playing with four fingers on your left hand (i.e., assuming your left hand is on the neck) then you may have to re-learn the low neck positions where you typically don't use all four fingers unless you have a good stretch, but beyond that it is really no different. And you will learn to appreciate the longer scale for better sound in general and longer sustain.

Have fun!


On the full-scale bass, warm up your hands and fingers by starting out playing scales and patterns at the 5th fret. Then repeat the same scales and patterns starting at the 4th fret, then the 3rd, then the 2nd, then the 1st, then in open position. You'll gradually increase your reach and strengthen your hand and finger muscles.


My main advise when switching to a regular / long scale bass from a short scale would be to avoid stretching too much with your fretting hand.

I try to play one finger per fret when I'm playing above the 5th fret but when you're down below the 5th move your hand instead of stretching.

For example when going from a low F (1st fret on the E string) to an octave up (3rd fret on the D string) maybe use your index finger for the low F and pinky for the octave instead of index on the low F and ring finger on the octave.

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