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carol m

Different Scale Lengths

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carol m    64

Can anyone tell us what are the advantages or disadvantages of different scale lengths?

It must make a difference to something but no-one ever says what that is, or why it matters.

Thanks in advance. :)

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tinsmith    2

Well, I'll tell ya, I started taking lessons. I started bring my lil EPI LP cause it was small, easy to carry.

When it came to practicing some of the stuff, high on the neck, my fat lil snausage finger/pinky had a hard time, clarity wise.

I switched to my Strat, which has a longer scale & those notes were much clearer.

I use the Strat more anyway.....I like the feel of the neck better.

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karcey    42

I've heard that different scale lengths require different string tensions too. Which would mean that shorter scale lengths are going to be either softer or harder on the fingers. Is this a myth?

I haven't any experience here, except that my banjo mandolin is short, and it's tough on the fingers.

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pHGTRSpider    32

Hi Carol,

Maybe this will answer the question you're posing?

"All other things being equal, increasing the scale length of an instrument requires an increase in string tension for a given pitch."

So if you like to drop-tune any string it won't be so "rattley" if you use a longer scale length guitar, is one example of the principle.

Here's another, a child's 1/2 or 3/4 guitar has less string tension for the same notes on a full size acoustic, so it's easier for them to play.

cheers,

pH

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carol m    64

Thanks for the interesting replies.

It's odd that Karcey's small instrument is hard on the fingers and yet a 3/4 guitar is easy on the fingers - maybe other factors make a difference?

I had an idea that longer scale length gave more sustain and better tone but i don't know if that's true. I saw a guitar that had strings that were 'through' in some way to be anchored well back in the body of the guitar (it may have been a lapsteel) and they said that was good for sustain. I'm only curious..... in case anyone thinks I'm coming down with GAS or anything :) - my GAS is only at the normal base line level currently - keeping an eye out, but hands firmly in the pockets.

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mattz196    15

I really don't have any guitar in my sites. But why do you want a short scale Martin? - the short scale part I mean.

It's not that I specifically wanted a short scale guitar but the Martins in the 000 size I like the 000 28 and the Clapton 000 are all short scale I think.

Probably more the smaller size, and a bit of extra width at the nut that appeal to me the most, the couple that I have tried just seem so sort of comfortable if that makes sense.

Someone here is sure to own a short scale guitar and chime in with a players opinion. I would think that maybe even the Ayers guitar of Kirk's is short scale.

And be the way your secret is safe with us , which one do really want , come on fess up :leadguitar:

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eddiez152    129

Carol m,

Both Karcey and pHGTR got good points.

The short scale guitar is easier on the fingers because of less tension required on the strings. Not to be confused by the mandolin from hell. Which is a finger

destroyer. When you get the strings that short and higher pitch, things begin to hurt like hell when playing too long. Of course lets not forget that your pulling on two at a time on a mando.

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karcey    42

So that's where I was wrong Eddie. The mando is a different instrument. It's the one which used to leave permanent grooves on the ends of my fingers.

I have a small guitar here for the grandkids to play around with. Keeps them away from mine. Never realised that the strings were softer. Actually I've never really bothered to keep it tuned anyway. Thing I see now is that the short guitar doesn't have the volume of the full size one.

So is shorter scale length just another way of saying smaller guitar. Or do people make full size guitars with a shorter scale length? And why do people want one anyway?

Carol, you're guilty of all this. I'd never even thought about it before, now you've got me wondering what I'm missing out on.

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starsailor    20

Interesting subject, I haven't got a Mandolin but I have a Balalaika, it's about the same scale as a Mando, to be honest it's a complete cheese grater as far as fingers go, the strings are steel but vey thin, it does hammer them a bit, the smallest scale instrument I have is a Ukelele, the downside to it is there's not a lot of room for manouvre but it's comfortable to play and easy to get around. I think that's part of the key to Small scale it's partly a comfort thing, if you have smaller hands etc. it's just nicer to use than a full scale electric or a jumbo Acoustic, apparently tones also a factor too, I've found a couple of articles about it, one from a musician and maker, the other from a musician expanding on the plusses and minusses of different scales and why different musicians choose them or avoid them.

http://www.hillguitar.com/website/news/tech_notes/short_scale.html

http://www.guitarnoise.com/lesson/scale-length-explained/

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carol m    64

Carol, you're guilty of all this. I'd never even thought about it before, now you've got me wondering what I'm missing out on.

That's alright, Karcey, any time. It's no trouble at all.

Matt: I really don't have my eye on any particular guitar, but I've been thinking about a resonator for a while, but I already have guitars I don't play very well, so it's only a vague interest at the moment - there are 2 at the local store though...:)

Now I'm wondering if I don't in fact need a short scale, cedar top lefty instead/as well - not much chance of that! Voice from the kitchen: 'Tell her she's dreaming!'

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karcey    42

I've found a couple of articles about it, one from a musician and maker, the other from a musician expanding on the plusses and minusses of different scales and why different musicians choose them or avoid them.

Good explanations. I'm not going to rush out to buy one, but I'll be interested to try one next time I have the chance to see if I can pick any difference.

Thanks.

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tinsmith    2

Having both, I will say, the Strat is more comfortable for me to play & I love the feel of the neck. With the right amp it sounds awesome. With the amp I have, I don't care for it when I'm using slide, but it great for regular overdriven sound.

The EPI LP however, sounds utterly fantastic with my amp & slide.

The sound of the humbuckers is more distorted & gritty......overall, a great sound.

I am not as comfortable playing it than the Strat, except for slide & Southern Rock shtuff.

The Strat is sound is more pure, but can rise to the occasion with a nice amp & the playability is better...a more comfortable guitar IMHO.

The Strat scale is longer..

The Epi is shorter.

Edited by tinsmith

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pHGTRSpider    32

Hey there Gang,

the 2nd link from Star Sailor is spot on. Thanks for the link. I'm going to measure all the string lengths on my axes, might change which ones I tune down.

cheers

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