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Old 10-10-2009, 07:24 AM
Wadcutter Wadcutter is offline
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Default What Exactly Is A "Short Scale?"

I've got the hots for a Seagull Mini Jumbo. Seagull's website shows this particular model sporting a 24.84" scale. Is this a "short scale?" I have heard somewhere along the line that short scale guitars are easier to fret (less string tension) and the space between the frets is closer than a "regular scale" guitar. Any of this true? Any "cons" to the short scale?
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Old 10-10-2009, 07:31 AM
NAFIGATOR NAFIGATOR is offline
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In general anything under 25" is called a short scale. Short scale guitars are indeed are a little easier to fret. Also, they are a bit easier to play if you move around finger board a lot. Some people with previous hand/ shoulder injuries find short scale easier to play. The drawback of short scale is a reduced volume due to lesser tension of strings. However the volume heavily depends on the particular guitar.

Overall, unless you are a pro-class player or very sensitive .6" difference between "standard scale" and what this Seagull has will most likely not be very noticeable.
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Old 10-10-2009, 07:32 AM
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Brent Hutto Brent Hutto is offline
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A lot of guitars have scale lengths around 25.4"-25.5" and almost as many have scale lengths around 24.7"-24.9" or so. Some people use the term "short scale" to distinguish between these but to me they play, sound and feel so similar that it's hardly worth having a special term for that little 3/4" (max.) difference.

There are also some guitars with scale lengths around 24.0" but not near as many as the other lengths. For my part, the term "short scale" means guitars of around 24 inches or shorter because that's a pretty noticeable difference. I'm probably unusual in that usage around here, though.

Finally, there are a few instruments with almost any scale length you can imagine from 22" or less all the way up to 26" or more but those are rare enough that they really aren't considered standard guitars.

If you're used to a 25.4" scale guitar and switch to a 24.8" one you'll probably notice a difference. To me it's not night and day but it feels different. Sound-wise, I've never heard two guitars with different scale lengths that were otherwise identical and a 3/4" difference spread over the entire length of the string isn't going to make as much difference as the construction and setup of the guitar or the type of strings. Where I notice it mostly is that the frets get a little more crowded up around 10th, 11th, 12th on the 24.8" scale guitars.

P.S. My two "good" steel-string guitars have scale lengths of 24.8" and 24.9" while my nylon-string classical guitar is 26". I find them all comfortable.
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Old 10-10-2009, 07:48 AM
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I played that guitar in a shop not long ago. i want one too. I was looking for something small, able to take some jostling around because i want to take it to work to play on my break, i drive a truck. I was looking at a martin backpacker, but i was tremendously underimpressed. that seagull you're talking about has fretwire that's about 10 notches above the backpacker in quality. plus, the guy was gonna throw in a xtra thick gig bag forfree, because i had concerns about stress cracks, exposure to heat and cold etc. it was priced around 200.00 about the same as the martin,but way superior in quality. as far as the distance betwee frets, it wouldn't be that hard to get used to, just for something to play an hour a day.Had good sound, too, and I'm a jumbo size guitar fan
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Old 10-10-2009, 08:56 AM
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Larry Pattis Larry Pattis is offline
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There is no proper definition (with actual parameters) as to what constitutes a "short-scale" guitar.

Martin's 24.9" scale (Gibson's 24.75") used to be their standard, and the 25.4" was thought of as a long-scale.

Now it's the opposite, since 25.4" (or 25.5") has become more of the industry standard, LaSiDo/Seagull excepted.

I personally consider anything under 25.4" a short-scale (25.25" or less)...but I then would always list the actual number in inches (or millimeters).

These days, without the actual number, just using the term "short-scale" does not provide much information about a particular guitar.

With any short-scale (compared to any longer scale) the distance from nut to saddle is shorter, as is the space between every fret. There is lower string tension (with any given string gauge) as you go shorter and shorter. I find that while I might use lights on a standard scale guitar, once I get all the way down to 24" I prefer mediums, or the strings become a bit too floppy.

Some would say that dropped tunings become more difficult as you go shorter (due to the floppy-string problem), but with the proper string-gauge choices this is rather easy to deal with.
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Old 10-10-2009, 09:01 AM
Howard Emerson Howard Emerson is offline
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Don't get me started.

HE
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Old 10-10-2009, 09:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Emerson View Post
Don't get me started.

HE

I tried to start and finish for you, Howard.

Shall we try to impose the 24.9" = "standard scale" rule, based on a good and proper understanding of history?

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Old 10-10-2009, 09:15 AM
Shadowraptor Shadowraptor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Pattis View Post
I tried to start and finish for you, Howard.

Shall we try to impose the 24.9" = "standard scale" rule, based on a good and proper understanding of history?

Then we would have to redefine 3/4 scale, 1/2 scale etc. Oy ....
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Old 10-10-2009, 09:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadowraptor View Post
Then we would have to redefine 3/4 scale, 1/2 scale etc. Oy ....
Actually, there is also no proper/accepted definition as to what the terms "1/2 sized guitar" or "3/4 sized guitar" (or scale) means.

When one is looking at such guitars, if they really want to understand what they are seeing (or hearing), then you also have to get actual numbers for scale-length, etc...otherwise, it's just a name which does not communicate full information.
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Old 10-10-2009, 10:28 AM
brian a. brian a. is offline
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Since the scale length and string tension Q's have been discussed, let's consider fret spacing for a second. The difference in string length is approximately 1/2" (.5") between a 24.9" scale and a 25.4" scale. That becomes 1/4" (.25") from the nut to the 12th fret. That is approximately .0208333" (or rounded = .021") as an average difference in fret spacing - more at the lower frets and less at the higher frets. A typical light gauge G-3rd string is about .025". So the average difference in fret spacing is about the width of your 3rd string - more at the lower frets and less at the higher frets.

The best way I have found to compare these two scale lengths is to compare models such as the Collings OM to the Collings OMSS and the Martin OM-18GE to the Martin 000-18GE and the Santa Cruz OM to the Santa Cruz OMSS. In these guitars I can feel a difference in string tension, but I don't hear a difference in tone or volume.
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Old 10-10-2009, 10:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wadcutter View Post
...Any of this true? Any "cons" to the short scale?
Hi WC...
There is truth there to what you heard, and as to cons I'm not sure until the scale becomes so short that it affects the amount of tone an instrument can produce (especially if the instrument is too lightly strung or overbuilt).

I owned a Seagull for a few years, and the action on it with .012 (light strings) was about as low as the action on my main guitar (25.4'' scale) which wears .011 strings (custom light). It played very easily, yet had great tone. I know the frets are a tiny bit closer on the Seagull, but don't recall being able to do any 7 fret spans...it's not that much closer.

I also could not tune it down to CGCGCD without changing the weight of strings to a heavier gauge set or it would rattle a bit.

I currently own a multi-scale guitar (a Bashkin OM fanned fret) which has the top string with a scale of 25'' and the bottom string with 25.75 inches. The other strings fall into line between those two points...here's a view of it which shows the offset...



The bass is very distinct yet not overbalanced, and the trebles are very sweet and take vibrato and bends more easily. And I can tune it down to CGCGCD without it flopping without changing string sets...

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Old 10-10-2009, 10:34 AM
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I'm a fan of HO -
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Old 10-10-2009, 09:36 PM
Wadcutter Wadcutter is offline
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Thanks for all the replies friends, much appreciated.
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