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  #1  
Old 08-29-2019, 01:49 AM
Phoenix75 Phoenix75 is offline
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Default 14 fret short scale the same as 12 fret short scale?

I hope this isn't a daft question as I may be over thinking. But is a 12 fret short scale the same same as a 14 fret short scale?

I understand generally for short scale 12 frets that the bridge is moved further away from the sound hole and the 12th fret meets at the body providing a different tone. But say we have an exact same short scale but it has 14 frets does this a) mean the neck length is the same as 12 fret short scale but with 2 extra frets giving shorter fret spacing and b) the 14th fret now meets the body. Do we still have the same tonal characteristics of a 12 fret short scale?

It can get rather confusing. I'm just dealing with one short scale length here to keep things simple.
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Old 08-29-2019, 02:32 AM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is online now
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Hi Phoenix,
Firstly, the only silly questions ar the one's you don't ask.
Secondly, this seems to be quite a common misconception, and there is even a certain (crazy) American Luthier no YouTube that misunderstands this matter.

So, if the scale length of a guitar is, say, 24.75" that is the measurement from the nut to the 12th fret x2. As the saddle is compensated so it is best to use this method.

Now the same applies whether the body meets the fretboard at the 12th, 13th, or 14th fret.

Consider the guitar to have two parts - the neck (and the bridge) and the body. Whereabouts the body gets stuffed on , is neither here nor there - it is just the sound box.

Once upon a time when all was sunshine and flowers, all guitar bodies met the fretboard at the 12th fret.

Then, one day dance band leaders decided to fire the tenor/plectrum banjo players as they were no longer suitable for their "swing" music.
the wanted guitar players in the rhythm section.

Some people like Gibson made guitars that looked a bit like large violins with f-holes and thin necks. And they were good.

People like Martin looked at their flat-top guitars and thought "how can we make them suitable for old banjo players. "Oh, I know, I'll just slice a bit off the body so it meets at the 14th fret and make the neck as thin as possible as they won't want to play solo notes - just four or five string chords.

They too their largest guitar called the "000" and squished it down and called it the "OM" - "Orchestra Model" (with a "plectrum neck - i.e. skinny) - and sent one to a bloke called Perry Bechtel.

They weren't very succesful and were introduced in 1929, but discontinued 1933.

They did the same thing with a D model - a wonderful 12 fret thing called a "dreadnought" (originally designed as a Hawaiian guitar) and that didn;'t work either, but it proved successful for folk music.

So, Gibson got into the flat-top market too - but decided to make them with a shorter scale than the Martin dreadnoughts and are still the same today.

The 12 fret "original" dreadnought (like I use) and the 14 fret dreadnought both have an identical scale (25.4") and so regardless of the body - its the same (but the 12fret is better!)

The OM was reintroduced in around the '90s and gave it the Martin standard scale - 25.4" strangely people wanted this rhythm guitar style for fingerstyle(!)

Gibson Jumbos tend to follow the scale they used on many of their archtop guitars- i.e around 24.75" (varying depending on when and where they ere made). AFAIK the only Gibson guitar that copies the Martin "standard" scale is the Advanced Jumbo, but I may be wrong (it happened in 1954 and again in 1973).

Hope that helps.
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Old 08-29-2019, 07:07 AM
tomiv9 tomiv9 is offline
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Assuming same scale length (in this case short scale), the difference between a 12 fret and 14 fret, is the body of a 12 fret is usually elongated to meet the neck at the 12th fret. So the body shapes are slightly different, with the 12 fret having a larger soundboard. The other option would be to keep body the same and just shift it all up to the 12 fret, which would move both the soundhole and bridge further down on the body. The position of the bridge relative to sound hole changes when you change scale, when you shorten the scale you generally bring the bridge closer to the soundhole. This assumes the total frets/neck length stays the same (typically 20). If you start taking off frets, you can move soundhole closer to end of neck, etc. So there are lots of ways to shift things around, no two the same.
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Last edited by tomiv9; 08-29-2019 at 07:26 AM.
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Old 08-29-2019, 07:26 AM
Mr. Jelly Mr. Jelly is offline
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In todays market, as far as scale length goes, it's immaterial at what fret the guitar body meets the neck.

Many 12 fret guitars are built with the bridge further back than 14 fret guitars which puts the bridge more to the center of the sound board. This effects the tone of the guitar more than at what fret the body and neck meet.

I suggest looking at the bridge placement on the guitars you judge to educate yourself.
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Old 08-29-2019, 07:50 AM
jaymarsch jaymarsch is offline
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Only over time have I come to notice the differences that matter to me in regards to scale length and 12 fret vs 14 fret guitars.
I have a long scale (25.4) 12 fret guitar - very sweet voice but has a nice bass due to other elements in the guitar's design.
I also own a short scale (25) 14 fret small sloped shoulder and in discussions with the maker, I was contemplating getting it as a 12 fret but wanted a bit more punch and drive on that guitar and less, I guess you could say, "focused sweetness". It is a strong strummer as well as sounding wonderful fingerpicked. My 14 fret cedar topped 00 is also long scale and has a nice warm, sweet and focused sound to it. I love putting it in dropped tunings and it is sounds especially great when playing lead. Not much of a strummer though.

All this to say that scale length and 12 vs 14 frets are just parts of the larger equation and it will vary from guitar to guitar and maker to maker. Definitely play a bunch of guitars if you can that have varied scale lengths in both 12 and 14 fret and see what you discover for your own ears and hands.

As far as asking the question goes - it is a confusing matter and I didn't have a clue about it until I began asking other guitar folks.

Best,
Jayne

Last edited by jaymarsch; 08-29-2019 at 07:51 AM. Reason: Fixed grammar
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Old 08-29-2019, 08:32 AM
mercy mercy is offline
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The simple answer is Yes
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Old 08-29-2019, 08:44 AM
jaymarsch jaymarsch is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mercy View Post
The simple answer is Yes
Indeed it is mercy! My answer below is the more complex, storyteller-at-heart version.

Best,
Jayne
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Old 08-29-2019, 08:45 AM
Mycroft Mycroft is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phoenix75 View Post
I hope this isn't a daft question as I may be over thinking. But is a 12 fret short scale the same same as a 14 fret short scale?

I understand generally for short scale 12 frets that the bridge is moved further away from the sound hole and the 12th fret meets at the body providing a different tone. But say we have an exact same short scale but it has 14 frets does this a) mean the neck length is the same as 12 fret short scale but with 2 extra frets giving shorter fret spacing and b) the 14th fret now meets the body. Do we still have the same tonal characteristics of a 12 fret short scale?

It can get rather confusing. I'm just dealing with one short scale length here to keep things simple.
Assuming the same scale length, a 14 fret guitar will have a longer neck than a 12 fret guitar, because the neck must be longer to accommodate the extra 2 frets clear of the body. This is done in a combination of two ways. Shortening the body of the guitar, so it only reaches the 14th fret instead of the 12th, or moving the bridge toward the soundhole. Either one (or a combination of both) changes the tonal profile the guitar produces. The question of if one is better than the other is a matter of opinion and taste.
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Old 08-29-2019, 12:25 PM
paulzoom paulzoom is offline
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No, they are two different.
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  #10  
Old 09-01-2019, 05:35 AM
Phoenix75 Phoenix75 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
Assuming the same scale length, a 14 fret guitar will have a longer neck than a 12 fret guitar, because the neck must be longer to accommodate the extra 2 frets clear of the body. This is done in a combination of two ways. Shortening the body of the guitar, so it only reaches the 14th fret instead of the 12th, or moving the bridge toward the soundhole. Either one (or a combination of both) changes the tonal profile the guitar produces. The question of if one is better than the other is a matter of opinion and taste.
Thanks for all your answers really helpful. I appreciate that. I was wondering if the 12 and 14 frets playing necks where the same length. So a 12 fret has a shorter neck than a 14 fret generally.
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Old 09-01-2019, 07:07 AM
massimo massimo is offline
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Silly remark here - just in case...
Scale being equal, longer neck only means here that that part of the fretboard that is "outboards" of the neck joint is longer, not that spacing of the frets on the fingerboard is any wider. That spacing is only determined by the scale length, irrespective of the fingerboard joining the soundbox at the 12th, 13th or 14th fret.
Silly admittedly, I know...
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