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Old 09-30-2011, 01:53 PM
lmacmil lmacmil is offline
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Default Scale length effect on tone?

What effect, if any, does scale length have on tone? I know the shorter scale guitars are supposed to be somewhat easier to play due to lower string tension. Is there any downside regarding the sound, volume- or tone-wise? I am looking at OM guitars, fwiw, e.g., Eastman, Larrivee, RK, etc.
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Old 09-30-2011, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by lmacmil View Post
What effect, if any, does scale length have on tone? I know the shorter scale guitars are supposed to be somewhat easier to play due to lower string tension. Is there any downside regarding the sound, volume- or tone-wise? I am looking at OM guitars, fwiw, e.g., Eastman, Larrivee, RK, etc.
On a true short scale there is less volume and less crisp notes (all else being equal).
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Old 09-30-2011, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
On a true short scale there is less volume and less crisp notes (all else being equal).
Although that's true, one can question whether it's noticeable to the average ear.
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Old 09-30-2011, 02:42 PM
Gypsyblue Gypsyblue is offline
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My ears are shot but I still hear more of a deep, piano like quality coming from my guitars with 25 1/2" scales, and I don't hear as much of that quality from my 24 3/4" guitars. I'm talking electric and acoustic guitars.
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Old 09-30-2011, 03:12 PM
donh donh is offline
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Yes, scale length can affect tone. Exactly how and which direction it affects it is strictly up to the guitar in question - everything can go any-which-way.
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Old 09-30-2011, 03:48 PM
zabdart zabdart is offline
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Long-scale guitars should produce more volume and bass response. Observe the string section in any symphony orchestra for a good example of how scale length affects volume and tone.
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Old 09-30-2011, 04:14 PM
mcsmyth9 mcsmyth9 is offline
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Greetings, The difference between a 25.4in scale length and a 24.9in scale length is 2%. The difference in string tension with a set of PB lights is less then 4% . All things being equal. they never are. I've never heard of a comparison of two guitars that were exactly the same in every way except scale length. I'll be the contrarian here and say that is has never been demonstrated to me that short scale means less volume.
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Last edited by mcsmyth9; 09-30-2011 at 04:15 PM. Reason: error
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Old 09-30-2011, 04:15 PM
Jamie9 Jamie9 is offline
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Long-scale guitars should produce more volume and bass response. Observe the string section in any symphony orchestra for a good example of how scale length affects volume and tone.
I'm very very confused
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Old 09-30-2011, 04:16 PM
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The shorter the scale, the greater the inharmonicity. On guitars, overtones are rarely exact multiples of the fundamental frequency but the longer the scale, the closer the overtones will be to fundamental frequency multiples (the lower the magnitude of inharmonicity). There are other factors that also affect inharmonicity like string flexibility.
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Old 09-30-2011, 10:41 PM
zabdart zabdart is offline
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I'm very very confused
Well, did you ever notice how violas have a lower tone than violins... or how cellos have a lower tone than both of them? Longer necks + bigger bodies = more bass response. Simple as that.
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Old 10-01-2011, 12:05 AM
mcsmyth9 mcsmyth9 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zabdart View Post
Well, did you ever notice how violas have a lower tone than violins... or how cellos have a lower tone than both of them? Longer necks + bigger bodies = more bass response. Simple as that.
Hi, If it were as simple as that, a laminate mandocello would have a better bass response than a Guarneri violin. It's bigger and has a longer scale length, but yet it's never as simple as that. Of course it will produce a lower pitch, but a better bass response? I don't think so. In discussing short scale vs. long scale guitars you are still dealing with instruments that are pitched the same. not orchestral instruments that are pitched differently. My Santa Cruz short scale 00 has far more bass response than my long scale beater Dread. Respectfully, in the realm of musical instruments things are never as simple as that.
Regards, Brian
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Old 10-01-2011, 01:36 AM
Tom46 Tom46 is offline
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Couldn't a builder specifically design a top to be more responsive/have more volumn with a shorter scale length?

How would a double top perform with a shorter scale length?
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Old 10-01-2011, 05:31 AM
naolslager naolslager is offline
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I must throw the penalty flag on the word "inharmonicity'. And regarding violins, violas, and cellos. The difference in the body size of the three instruments (or maybe string diameters) probably has more to do with "bass response" than the scale length.

My bet is the average ear is probably indifferent to the scale length of a guitar.

I found myself getting mired in specifications and playing less when it should eb the other way around. As I tell myself: GET BACK TO PLAYING!
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Old 10-01-2011, 05:55 AM
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Quote:
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I must throw the penalty flag on the word "inharmonicity'. ...
I have no idea what you mean by the above sentence and the rest of your post doesn't elaborate in any way that I can see.
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Old 10-01-2011, 06:00 AM
pieterh pieterh is offline
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A guitar builder friend of mine pointed out that electric guitars with string through body as opposed to strings anchored on bridge options on eg Telecaster or Strat etc tend to have a higher tension in the strings due to the increased string length even if the actual vibrating length is unchanged - something to do with the physical properties of the metals and so on.

Not to mention the fact that even if a shorter scale length differs by only ca 2% this difference will be applied to all strings. You only have to loosen one string on a wammy-equipped Strat to realise just how much pull there is on each string as all the others go suddenly sharp!

I have to agree with others who point out that there are other factors at play as well, so if the shorted scale length makes for easier playing (and easier string bending for a given string size) then go for it. I don't experience less volume on shorter scale guitars, on the other hand I do agree that there is a slightly softer quality to the sound - not better, not worse, just different
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