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Old 10-11-2007, 10:28 AM
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Default scale length, does it matter?

Aside from the effect on tone, does scale lenght affect playability? Well, obviously a short scale (say 24.8 inch) is easier to play than a long(er) scale like 25.7 inch, when played side by side, but don't your hands get used to the scale length after a while?
Doesn't the short scale difference disappear when all you play is short scale? I'd assume your hands get 'lazy'. A case of 'use it or lose it'.

I used to play electric guitar and thought fretting could be difficult sometimes. Now I play 25.7 inch in standard tuning and I got used to that too. I picked up my strat after years and years recently and played it for a few minutes. It felt like it was strung with rubber bands...

What are your thoughts on this, assuming all your guitars have the same scale length and string gauge?
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Old 10-11-2007, 11:03 AM
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No. Scale is not just a 'get used to' thing. Some tough wide-spreading chords you just could never do it well on a long scale, but you may be able to do it on a short one.
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Old 10-11-2007, 11:09 AM
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There's a difference in tone also. A short scale guitar has more of a snap to it - a more persussive quality that I find works well in swing and blues music, while a log scale guitar has more sustain that I think is more bluegrass friendly.
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Old 10-11-2007, 11:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joost Assink View Post
Aside from the effect on tone, does scale lenght affect playability? Well, obviously a short scale (say 24.8 inch) is easier to play than a long(er) scale like 25.7 inch, when played side by side, but don't your hands get used to the scale length after a while?
Doesn't the short scale difference disappear when all you play is short scale? I'd assume your hands get 'lazy'. A case of 'use it or lose it'.

I used to play electric guitar and thought fretting could be difficult sometimes. Now I play 25.7 inch in standard tuning and I got used to that too. I picked up my strat after years and years recently and played it for a few minutes. It felt like it was strung with rubber bands...

What are your thoughts on this, assuming all your guitars have the same scale length and string gauge?
Scale length does have an affect on the playability of a guitar. Take a standard Martin dreadnought at 25.4 vs. your guitar of 25.7. Although the difference is very minor, you will be notice the difference in that the 25.4 will be easier to "reach" for certain chords or notes on the fretboard, and the tension on the strings will be less therefore it will be easier to bend strings and to a small extent, chord. Because there will be less tension, the tone will be slightly different (given duplicate guitars with the only difference being the scale lengths) - keep in mind the tonal difference is slight. One up side to the longer scale length is voicing in alternate tunings. Guitars with longer scale lengths tend to be able to handle alt tunings better than shorter scale length guitars. Personally, since I 95% of the time play in standard tuning, a guitar with a scale length of 25.4 fits me perfectly.

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Old 10-11-2007, 12:11 PM
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Post I wish mine were all short scale

First, welcome back Joost

Regarding short scale. I own several simply because I have short fingers, which, from watching your videos over the years is definately NOT a factor for you.

I also own standard scale guitars and I do notice when I switch between them. My observation

Short scale:
Easier bends, looser strings, bluesy, easier to reach, seems to break down when strummed
Reference - Santa Cruz OM short scale, Martin 000-18, Huss & Dalton 000 short scale ( 1 3/4 nut ), Martin 000-18EC


Regular scale:
tighter, more articulate, holds up better to strumming ( depending on tonewood )
Reference - Talyor 714CE, Huss & Dalton CM, Martin 000-15


Tone ? - That depends on way to many things. I have never had anyone tell me that my SCGC or my H&D guitars tone was "different" or listen to them and comment, "That sounds like a short scale"

I am actually thinking of selling a standard scale H&D regular scale to fund an 814 short scale.

my experience .... and I am Noooooo expert
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Old 10-11-2007, 12:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by runner2002 View Post
There's a difference in tone also. A short scale guitar has more of a snap to it - a more persussive quality that I find works well in swing and blues music, while a log scale guitar has more sustain that I think is more bluegrass friendly.
That's interesting. I've always described longer scale instruments as having MORE snap and a percussive quality because of the higher tension. Shorter scale guitars feel "floppy" to me.
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Old 10-11-2007, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joost Assink View Post
Aside from the effect on tone, does scale lenght affect playability? Well, obviously a short scale (say 24.8 inch) is easier to play than a long(er) scale like 25.7 inch, when played side by side, but don't your hands get used to the scale length after a while?
Doesn't the short scale difference disappear when all you play is short scale? I'd assume your hands get 'lazy'. A case of 'use it or lose it'.

I used to play electric guitar and thought fretting could be difficult sometimes. Now I play 25.7 inch in standard tuning and I got used to that too. I picked up my strat after years and years recently and played it for a few minutes. It felt like it was strung with rubber bands...

What are your thoughts on this, assuming all your guitars have the same scale length and string gauge?
Scale length does affect playability, but I've found that I can adjust (within reason). For example, I've got a Tacoma baritone with a 29" scale. If I play it a lot, I find that I can do most of the stuff I do on a shorter scale instrument. There are a few limitations, but I can usually compensate.
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Old 10-11-2007, 12:19 PM
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Does it make a difference in "feel"? According the the UMGF String Tension FAQ the difference in tension between "short" (24.9) and "long" 25.5 is five percent. I doubt if I can really feel that but you might.

Does it make a difference in sound? Since Martin is one company that makes both (in similar body sizes and woods) again I'll quote their FAQ when talking about OM and 000 - "This is a bit of an overgeneralizaiton, but many folks think that the OM has more volume and projection due to the longer scale length, and the 000 has a "Blusier" sound and is easier to play."

One reason I prefer long scale (even on my 12 fret 000) is that I down and open tune a lot - that five percent helps make up the difference in tension - particularly noticeable for slide.

The reason I like short scale on my 12 strings is a little less tension, but my next one will be a really long scale (26 or 26.5).
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Old 10-11-2007, 01:00 PM
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Joost, I think your hands and fingers are large/long enough that you can make any reach you need on a long scale, such as your Ryans. I am 5'8" with corresponding hands and fingers. I own a guitar with 24.9 scale length and one with 25.6 scale length. There are fingerings I can accomplish on the shorter scale that I simply cannot on the longer scale.

In addition, there is definitely a difference in the feel of the tension. Vibratto and other nuances are more easy to accomplish on the short scale. On the other hand, I have to be careful that I don't fret the low E string in a lazy manner and cause it to go out of pitch while playing. In addition, the short scale is fine for DADGAD or open G, but that's about it. Of course, this is the very reason for the multi-scale/fanned fret guitars, seen so frequently on Michael Bashkin's or Bruce Sexauer's fine guitars. They are a compromise of both the long and short scale instruments.

Some of the differences in tone can be narrowed by tuning down the longer scale or with set up and string choice. However, I have decided that I really like having both in my arsenal, even though I am not nearly the player that you are.
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Old 10-11-2007, 03:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joost Assink View Post
Aside from the effect on tone, does scale lenght affect playability?
It does. For example, on electric, I find that I have greater ability to play with intonation and bending nuance on short scale than I do on long scale. You can adjust, but you will probably find that you have a "home" scale for certain activities.
Quote:
Well, obviously a short scale (say 24.8 inch) is easier to play than a long(er) scale like 25.7 inch, when played side by side, but don't your hands get used to the scale length after a while?
"Get used to" is a relative term. In my case, I can play either, but I have, medium-length fingers that find long scale to be a stretch. I find certain basic moves to be much harder to accomplish on long scale due to the stretch and the leverage needed as a result. Fast lead playing is usually heavy on muscular memory, and the memories are different for the different scales. Also, if you watch electric players play vibrato on 24.75 and 25.5, you'll often see a difference in their technique brought on by the higher tension of the strings. A player will accomplish much of his vibrato on 24.75 with nothing but wrist motion and the neck will remain relatively stationary. On 25.5, you are much more likely to see elbow involvement and neck motion on vibrato.
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Doesn't the short scale difference disappear when all you play is short scale? I'd assume your hands get 'lazy'. A case of 'use it or lose it'.
I wouldn't know about that because it has been so long since I stuck to one scale.
Quote:
I used to play electric guitar and thought fretting could be difficult sometimes. Now I play 25.7 inch in standard tuning and I got used to that too. I picked up my strat after years and years recently and played it for a few minutes. It felt like it was strung with rubber bands...
A good percentage of the rubber band syndrome could be due to smaller gauge strings and lower action. Of course, the lower tension requires a much more precise touch to accomplish accurate intonation. Slight sideways pressure will change the pitch of the string.
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What are your thoughts on this, assuming all your guitars have the same scale length and string gauge?
I play in three different scales, 24.75, 25, and 25.5. I find that whatever I learn a song in is the most comfortable. I also find that whatever scale I spent the most time on for a particular activity is my home there. For example, I spent about twenty years playing lead electric on 24.75 and that is definitely my home scale for lead work. I learned most of my fingerstyle on 25.5 and, until I need to do a single line linear run, it feels like home. 25 even is a good compromise.

Bob
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Old 10-11-2007, 04:30 PM
re17 re17 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freeman View Post
According the the UMGF String Tension FAQ the difference in tension between "short" (24.9) and "long" 25.5 is five percent.
Definitely noticeable. I often find myself unintentionally bending the sixth (low E) string on my short-scale Taylor and my Peavey electric, something that doesn't happen on my regular-scale guitars.

Richard
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Old 10-11-2007, 05:01 PM
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I find that I prefer long-scale acoustics and short scale electrics. My Schecter is actually a short-scale, not long-scale as previously reported.
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Old 10-11-2007, 05:10 PM
Jeff M Jeff M is offline
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Yep.
Makes a difference in feel (and tone.)
It may be only a 5 % differnce in string tension, but it is a 5% that is very noticeable.
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Old 10-11-2007, 05:41 PM
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Different people require and/or appreciate a short scale for a variety of reasons. I have chronic arthritis & tendonitis and am now playing exclusively on a 24" scale parlor guitar from Larrivée.

Even my 24.75" custom guitars from Mark Blanchard (which, ahem, are for sale if anyone is interested) were becoming unmanagable to play. The benefits for me are probably about 90% due to closer frets and 10% due to less string tension. Certain chords which challenged my hand/fingers stretch on the 24.75" scale are quite easy on the 24" scale.

I find that DADGAD on the 24" scale is quite managable, as well, despite the reduced string tension...although I do like to have high-ratio Gotohs to help manage the tuning issue at this scale.

The 24" scale is saving a lot of wear and tear on my left elbow and wrist...and none of us are getting any younger!

Cons:

1) Potential for tuning issues in altered/lowered tuning scenarios. You may have to experiment with different string gauges, and I would recommend that you use the newest Gotoh 510 "Delta Series" tuners, which have the 1:21 ratio.

2) If you have large fingers and play way up the neck you may have some cramped finger positions, compared to a standard scale guitar.

3) If you don't effect any string changes, the strings will have less tension. This can be a good or a bad thing. Depending on your right-hand attack you may have to raise the action slightly (compared to your standard scale guitar) because the strings will vibrate in a slightly larger arc, but remember that you won't have to work as hard to fret...based on the same lowered tension. This may be a wash for you...it is for me.

Pros:

1) Ease of playing, in regards to the lower string tension, and also in the slightly closer fret-to-fret distances of the short scale guitar. I have many chord shapes (in DADGAD) that are much less effort with a short scale guitar...and this can all really make a big difference when dealing with chronic tendinitis. Fretting is much easier.

2) For fingerstyle playing, the lowered tension also allows for more expressive playing (with less work!). On a standard scale there is little tonal impact when using standard classical vibrato technique. On a short scale guitar the reduced tension makes this technique more pronounced, tonally. String bends are easier too, if you use this kind of technique in your playing.

3) Breaking strings is much less likely with the reduced tension of a short scale guitar.

There may be more thoughts I would have on this topic, but the above is what comes to mind initially.

Hope this helps...
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Last edited by Larry Pattis; 10-11-2007 at 07:14 PM. Reason: additional thoughts...
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Old 10-11-2007, 08:58 PM
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I miss the volume on a shorter scale guitar, but I think as I get older I think I’ll probably switch to a short scale for ease of play.

I don't have tendonitis, but I think it’s lurking sometimes, and for me it’s almost always about stretches. I went through a faze a few years ago where I was playing a lot of three note per string patterns... my hands were threatening all the time. Once I got back not playing with little no stretches and I felt a lot better. No more ten dollar chords for me.
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