The Acoustic Guitar Forum

Go Back   The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > General Acoustic Guitar Discussion

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 04-29-2019, 08:35 AM
Trevor B. Trevor B. is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Mississauga, Ontario
Posts: 1,028
Default Tone - Short Scale Length vs Long Scale Length

I'd like to get the input of both luthiers and experienced players on the tonal differences between short scale length (25" and less) vs long scale length (25.4 and more).

The theory seems to be that short scale guitars provide fuller, rounder trebles because the strings have less tension on them. Does that mean the bass strings on a short scale guitar will be muddier than on a long scale instrument? I realize there are a host of other variables in the mix and it's really impossible to suggest an "all things being equal" scenario but I'd still like to know if luthiers and players have found any consistent tonal factors resulting from scale length.

Last edited by Trevor B.; 04-29-2019 at 09:45 AM. Reason: Forgot a period.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 04-29-2019, 09:25 AM
Mycroft Mycroft is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Seattle
Posts: 4,574
Default

Generally I find scales between 25" and 24" to be warmer, sweeter, rounder, while 25" to 26" are more protective, brighter, more "snap," more sizzle. I do not notice any lack of definition, "muddiness," in the bass of my shorter-scaled instruments.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 04-29-2019, 09:28 AM
rokdog49 rokdog49 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 8,524
Default

I don't know, but short scale guitars are way easy to play for me.
It's the only reason I would consider a 000-18 over my D18.
__________________
Three is enough for me.

Martin D18
Gibson J45
Eastman E10 00 SS Sunburst
And a Copperburst Tele
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 04-29-2019, 09:30 AM
Willie Voltaire Willie Voltaire is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Austin, Texas
Posts: 5,524
Default

I prefer short scale to long, but I do it entirely because I like the ergonomics and the reduced tension. I donít perceive any consistent tonal characteristics that I would generalize about.

If you downtune a long-scale guitar and add a capo in the first fret, you can imitate the effect of a short-scale. Try it and see if you can hear a difference.
__________________
Gibson LG2, Waterloo WL12, National M2
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 04-29-2019, 09:38 AM
jaymarsch jaymarsch is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: North of the Golden Gate, South of the Redwoods, East of the Pacific and West of the Sierras
Posts: 5,727
Default

I find that scale length is not one of those things that can be singled out as a determining factor where tone is concerned - too many other variables factor in that cannot be dismissed. I am awaiting delivery on a custom built guitar and spent some time discussing with the luthier the tone I wanted along with wanting a 25" scale length. We considered some other factors such as bracing, bridge material and placement in order for me to dial in what I wanted. I also opted for a 14 fret configuration over a 12 fret to keep a certain amount of projection and punch with the decision to go with the 25" scale. So, in my experience, unless you have two identical guitars with the only difference being scale length, I'm still not sure that you would come away with enough information to be useful. I'll be curious to hear a number of luthiers chime in on this one.

Best,
Jayne
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 04-29-2019, 09:39 AM
Trevor B. Trevor B. is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Mississauga, Ontario
Posts: 1,028
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
Generally I find scales between 25" and 24" to be warmer, sweeter, rounder, while 25" to 26" are more protective, brighter, more "snap," more sizzle. I do not notice any lack of definition, "muddiness," in the bass of my shorter-scaled instruments.
What I'm really trying to find out is what scale length is preferable for achieving a bell like tone in the trebles. It may well be that tone woods, top thickness and bracing have more to do with creating bell like trebles than scale length. The bell like trebles on virtually every Greenfield guitar I've ever heard tends to support this assertion. That said, I'm still interested in "gathering info" that goes beyond ease of playing with regard to scale length.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 04-29-2019, 09:52 AM
Trevor B. Trevor B. is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Mississauga, Ontario
Posts: 1,028
Default

Another and perhaps better way to ask the question might be, "What are the factors that produce bell like trebles on a steel string acoustic guitar?".
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 04-29-2019, 10:01 AM
blindboyjimi's Avatar
blindboyjimi blindboyjimi is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: SoCal
Posts: 1,000
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mycroft View Post
Generally I find scales between 25" and 24" to be warmer, sweeter, rounder, while 25" to 26" are more protective, brighter, more "snap," more sizzle. I do not notice any lack of definition, "muddiness," in the bass of my shorter-scaled instruments.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor B. View Post
Another and perhaps better way to ask the question might be, "What are the factors that produce bell like trebles on a steel string acoustic guitar?".
I agree with Mycroft. Itís similar to plucking a string between the sound hole and the bridge vs the sound hole and the fretboard where the strings are looser. But as to your specific ďbell likeĒ then itís the complete interaction. This is also one of the reasons fan frets are popular as you can have warm tone in the treble yet snappy bass, especially as you move to lowered tunings.
__________________
Jim
Guitars from Borges / Fender / Franklin / Gibson / McAlister / Martin / Tippin / Waterloo
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 04-29-2019, 10:16 AM
zmf zmf is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 5,171
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaymarsch View Post
I find that scale length is not one of those things that can be singled out as a determining factor where tone is concerned - too many other variables factor in that cannot be dismissed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor B. View Post
What I'm really trying to find out is what scale length is preferable for achieving a bell like tone in the trebles.
Agree that there are many variables involved. And I'd also like to know what luthiers focus on to get that extra clarity out of a short scale, along with the warm that seems to attend a short scale.

My Froggy H12 is rather amazing in producing what sound like bell-like trebles up the neck. I've come to conclusion that there's a hidden amplifier somewhere on the guitar.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 04-29-2019, 10:23 AM
opencee opencee is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Left
Posts: 536
Default

As someone who plays in open tunings, all the way down to C on the sixth string, I prefer long scale. The added string tension of long scale gives me more sonic stability in the bass strings without moving up in string weight. That low C can get kind of sloppy sounding on my short scale guitar, but is better on my longer scale guitars.

I like the power and snap in long scale. To me, short scale does seem to offer less definition in certain styles of playing, especially mine. Short scale is fun and comfortable, but when I play, it often sounds a little thin and mushy, especially when compared side-by-side with a similar long scale guitar.

In my journey to find small guitars that make me happy, I've done a lot of comparison shopping. The closest I've gotten to checking all the boxes in the sub-OM size is my Custom Shop 00-18 with long scale. Long scale on that little body is punchy, full-toned, and with good definition, even in lower tunings.


opencee

.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 04-29-2019, 11:06 AM
Trevor B. Trevor B. is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Mississauga, Ontario
Posts: 1,028
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by zmf View Post

My Froggy H12 is rather amazing in producing what sound like bell-like trebles up the neck. I've come to conclusion that there's a hidden amplifier somewhere on the guitar.
If you find it please let me know the make and model.

I have a solid wood Crafter GLXE 3000sk with a 25.6" scale length (Engelmann over EIR) and the trebles are bell like in the lower register but thin out noticeably higher up the neck, especially at the octave.
My PRS Private Stock Angelus (Adirondack over Cocobolo) has a 25.25 scale length and the trebles are more consistent all the way up the neck.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 04-29-2019, 11:40 AM
Howard Emerson Howard Emerson is offline
AGF Sponsor
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Huntington Station, New York
Posts: 6,130
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor B. View Post
I'd like to get the input of both luthiers and experienced players on the tonal differences between short scale length (25" and less) vs long scale length (25.4 and more).

The theory seems to be that short scale guitars provide fuller, rounder trebles because the strings have less tension on them. Does that mean the bass strings on a short scale guitar will be muddier than on a long scale instrument? I realize there are a host of other variables in the mix and it's really impossible to suggest an "all things being equal" scenario but I'd still like to know if luthiers and players have found any consistent tonal factors resulting from scale length.
Hi Trevor,
I have no clue as to what you're actually hearing in your head, so I'll give you an actual audio w/video example, and you put your best adjectives forward. Dead, strident, tinny, fat, round, etc, whatever.



I think it's the best place to start a real conversation.

Best regards,
Howard Emerson
__________________
My New Website!
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 04-29-2019, 11:48 AM
zmf zmf is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 5,171
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Emerson View Post
Howard -- Don't know if you'll take this as a compliment -- so I'll say in advance that it is -- you're one of the most patient, measured guitarists I've heard.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 04-29-2019, 12:09 PM
Howard Emerson Howard Emerson is offline
AGF Sponsor
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Huntington Station, New York
Posts: 6,130
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by zmf View Post
Howard -- Don't know if you'll take this as a compliment -- so I'll say in advance that it is -- you're one of the most patient, measured guitarists I've heard.
Well thanks, but it's solely because I was playing to a click track.

:-)

Now what about those trebles?

HE
__________________
My New Website!
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 04-29-2019, 12:43 PM
Haasome's Avatar
Haasome Haasome is offline
Charter Picker
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 7,823
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Emerson View Post
Hi Trevor,
I have no clue as to what you're actually hearing in your head, so I'll give you an actual audio w/video example, and you put your best adjectives forward. Dead, strident, tinny, fat, round, etc, whatever.



I think it's the best place to start a real conversation.

Best regards,
Howard Emerson
I love it Howard. Great arrangement of Number 3. Iíll have to slow it down to watch what youíre playing, but that hits a sweet spot. Thanks.
__________________
Paul
Reply With Quote
Reply

  The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > General Acoustic Guitar Discussion

Tags
scale length, tonal factors, tone

Thread Tools



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 08:43 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, The Acoustic Guitar Forum
vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=