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scale length guitar

Scale length is only one half of the picture. So based on the above, you’d think you simply need to take out a measuring tape and measure from the nut to bridge, right? The Main Reasons Explained, How Many Frets on a Guitar? Baritone guitars are often used for very low tunings. A scale length of a guitar can be defined as the distance between the nut and the saddle. If your guitar is in standard tuning and you tune down to something like Drop C, you will notice the strings become quite slack. This is the most common shorter scale guitar length. Best Online Guitar Lessons in 2020 – Reviewed & Ranked, Fender Serial Number Lookup – Find When & Where Your Guitar Was Made, Why are Some Guitar Pickups Angled? Since the common scale length of standard sized guitars is 25.4\", you can consider anything lower than that to be small scale. If you want to warm up a 25.5" scale guitar, you can try tuning down a half step, which thickens up its overtones and makes it sound a little closer to a 24.75" scale guitar. Fender does have short-scale models – namely the Jaguar, Mustang, and Duo-Sonic (which we review below) – which are all 24 inches. Different types of guitars use different scale lengths. If you were to then compare the Fender and Gibson against a baritone guitar (27″ scale) with the same gauge strings in standard tuning, the difference in tension would be obvious. Every guitarist is different so if you’re considering a multiscale guitar, be sure to try one out to see if it feels right to you. Why is that? Found on Stratocasters ®, Telecasters ®, and the huge variety of instruments inspired by them as well as the replacement, and custom parts available for them. A scale length of 25.4 inches, 25.5 inches, or longer is considered long for steel-string acoustic guitars; anything less is considered short. If you’re trying to decide what scale length is right for you, think about your style of playing. Selecting your instrument also calculates the bridge position for proper intonation. There is no ‘best’ scale length for any style of music. A longer scale length guitar will require higher tension to bring the strings up to tune. For example, let’s say you bought a 26.5″ scale guitar and you don’t like the increase in tension. This is because the 12 fret position on any guitar is the exact halfway point of the entire scale, that’s where you get your octave. This guide covers everything you would want to know about guitar scale length. Now, what is scale length? Longer scale length guitars increase tension (if the string gauge stays the same), which means you can get lower action without string buzz. All Rights Reserved Registered Address – Dramatik, c/o Wesley Offices, 74 Silver Street, Bristol, BS48 2DS, How to Measure Guitar Scale Length Correctly, Long Scale vs Short Scale Guitar – Key Differences, Guitar Scale Length Charts by Manufacturer, Guitar Scale Length Chart (Miscellaneous), Most modern acoustics (J-45 Legend, etc. Guitar scale lengths are usually between 24" and 26". Bass scale lengths generally stay between 30" to 36". It’s not all about comfort, though. This is true, as long as both are strung with the same gauge strings. As an example, let’s compare a Fender Stratocaster (25.5″ scale) and a Gibson Les Paul (24.75″ scale). To give you an idea of how long that is, bass guitars start at around 30″. Scale length affects the playability, feel and toneof the instrument. It explains what scale length, why it’s important, how to measure scale length, and FAQ. Find out everything you would want to know about fanned frets in this guide. Wrong! Double that distance to get the scale length of 25.5″ or 648mm. A short scale length requires very little tension to bring the strings up to pitch when compared to a longer scale guitar. Well, you can if your saddle is dead straight (like with a classical guitar) but as nearly all electric guitars have adjustable saddles (that let you vary string length string by string) and acoustic guitars have compensated, slanted bridges, you can’t measure it this way. Also used by most 8 & 9 string guitars. Bradford’s small scale guitar from the video: check out my article and video on my new small scale guitar: My new 2018 Small Scale Douglass Scott Guitar. If you look at the below photo of a bridge, you can see each string has a different starting point: Each string has a different length to compensate for intonation. Gibson features a scale that is close to a full inch shorter than the one on a Strat. But what if I told you that scale length has just as big an impact on the tone and playability as many of the above. If you can see on the acoustic guitar, the saddle is seated at an angle to allow for some compensation for intonation. However, the short-scale tends to emphasize the mid-range a bit better. Each time you move to a lighter string gauge, the tension will decrease. If a string is tuned to a low note (eg: the low F# on an 8 string guitar), high tension is needed to stop fret buzz. To get your 26-1/2 inch scale length guitar to play the exact same as your 25-1/2 inch scale length guitar, you’re only going to need to make incremental changes when it comes to the plain strings, and you’ll be able to make larger changes when it comes to the wound strings. Similarly, electric guitars have adjustable saddles allowing for individual string adjustment. He's also got an unhealthy obsession with vintage VW Campervans. You’ll learn how string gauge can be used to get the right string tension for your needs. Find out more about guitar string gauge, tension, and more in this guide: Ultimate Guide to Guitar Strings. Most 7 string guitars use a 26.5″ scale. A short scale electric guitar is any guitar having a scale length that is less than 25.4 inches. Short scale guitars are typically 24 3/4″ or less (such as the Les Paul), whereas long scale guitars are typically 25″ and over (such as the Fender Strat and Telecaster). While you could use a heavy gauge string, you might not like how it feels. He's a multi-instrumentalist and loves researching, writing, and geeking out about music. The most obvious difference is the length. Scale length can also affect the action, or string height, of a guitar. Many people believe the true scale length of a guitar is the length of the guitar strings that are able to freely vibrate, this is even how Wikipedia defines scale length but this is not entirely correct.. The scale length is, in effect, the length of the string that vibrates on plucking. A ton of things right. HOW SCALE LENGTH AFFECTS TONE Fender One of the most common scale lengths is the Fender 25-1/2" guitar scale. With the reduced space, the fret spacing on short-scale guitars is closer together – but contrary to what many people mistakenly think, it doesn’t necessarily mean there are fewer frets. The scale length of an instrument is the distance from the nut to the bridge.Scale lengths vary depending on overall size of the instrument: mandolins have a short scale length around 14″, guitars vary but on average are around 25″, and larger instruments like basses have even longer scale lengths. A great example of this difference in tone is to compare a Gibson SG and a Fender Stratocaster. playing with a pick). A guitar with a 27” scale will be considerably harder to play perform bends with than a Gibson Les Paul with a 24.75″ scale, for example (assuming they’re both using the same gauge strings). As a long scale guitar needs more tension in the strings to bring it to pitch, it’s more responsive with better articulation and note-to-note separation. The length between bridge and nut is not same for all the strings of the guitar, because strings have different starting points to compensate for intonation. The key point to remember is that you need to think about scale length and string gauge together. A: There is no ‘normal’ scale length. While these guitars do exist, the benefits are probably not worth it. String tension and length operate together to determine harmonic content, as well as feel. This is because the 12 fret position on any guitar is the exact halfway point of the entire scale, that’s where you get your octave.. Long Scale vs Short Scale Guitar – Key Differences. The right scale length for you depends on the style of music you play, and what you prefer the feel of. Try using different gauge strings to achieve the tension you want. The most important impact scale length makes is on the tension of the strings. Players specializing in purely classical technique value wide fret spacing, as it enhances the effect of traditional vibrato. If you want to bring the tension back up to what it was like before, you can either buy a guitar with a longer scale length, or you can buy heavier gauge strings. It turns out scale length – whether it’s a long scale or short scale – plays a big part. This difference in scale length gives these guitars their trademark voice. Select based on if you entered a scale length of inches or millimeters. If you’ve ever tuned your strings down to a very low tuning (eg: Drop B), you might have noticed two things: the strings became slack, and there was a lot of fret buzz. This is also important to remember if you plan on tuning down. Guitar Gear Finder is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca, or Amazon.de. In our Scale Length Comparison we look at the 4 main differences between these two classic scale lengths. As a long scale guitar needs more tension in the strings to bring it to pitch, it’s tougher on the fretting hand to work with. Scale length affects two facets of the instrument that are of utmost importance to the guitar player; tone and playability. You know that scale length affects string tension. The solution is to move to a lighter string gauge. Measuring scale length this way would produce inconsistent results so I don’t recommend trying to measure scale length from the bridge. If you play 6 string guitar, the answer is probably no. You could increase the scale length, but then you need to deal with super high tension on the higher strings. If both guitars used the same gauge strings and were both in standard tuning, you would notice that the Gibson is slightly easier to perform bends and vibrato compared to the Fender. You end up with higher tension on the low strings and lower tension on the higher strings. Scale length is one of the fundamental building blocks of a guitar’s recipe, with a wide-ranging impact on the feel, tone, and performance. Do you like the loose feel of strings or do you prefer a tight set of strings that don’t bend out of tune when you press against them? String gauge also affects tension and you can change your string gauge to increase or decrease the tension as you need. It all depends on what feels the best to you. The action of a guitar is the gap between the strings and the frets. This week's tip is a quick and simple one, but it's still important. Here is a comparison of different types of guitars and their scale length: As you can see, there is no ‘normal’ scale length for an electric guitar. Ged is editor-in-chief and founder of Zing Instruments. The number of frets can be the same, even on a short-scale guitar. When talking about scale length we are referring to the string length from the saddle to the nut. This is because as the tension of the string changes, so does the way it vibrates. Keep in mind that guitar scale lengths are typically measured in inches. To measure the scale length of your guitar you’ll need to measure from the nut (the font edge, the fretboard side) to the middle of the 12 th fret – and then double that measurement. The super-long length on the lower strings means you won’t feel like you’re using bass guitar strings. Such a long scale length creates high tension on the higher strings which you may or may not like. The normal scale length for a Fender is 25.5″, but the normal scale length for a Gibson is 24.75″. However, from the mid- 20th Century luthiers seeking increased volume have moved to a 26 inches (660 mm) scale, which is now the standard for such leading makers as Ramirez. Tone All things being equal, a guitar with a longer scale length will sound a bit brighter, with a quicker attack and more defined bass notes. Why scale length is measured between the nut and 12th fret. For the other half, read through my Guide on Guitar Strings. A short scale guitar will need higher action when using light strings or else the strings will buzz. The scale length of a guitar has a large impact on the sound and feel of the guitar. There is no "perfect" scale length; manufacturers select an instrument's scale to achieve particular qualities for the guitar they are designing. While you may believe the … A long scale guitar can sometimes lend itself more to flatpicking (i.e. We’ve seen that scale length is not the same as string length and that the way to measure scale length is from the nut to the 12th fret, then double the number. Do you like to play a lot of bends and vibrato? If you were to play a Fender Jaguar (24″ scale) then play a Fender Stratocaster (25.5″ scale), you might notice that they feel completely different. You can achieve low action with a short scale guitar, but it requires you to move to heavier gauge strings. In this article, we’re going to explain what scale length is, how you measure it, the main differences between long and scale guitars, and finally, scale length by manufacturers (because they differ from guitar maker to maker). One of the most obvious aspects of scale length is its impact on fret spacing. Overall, classical guitars have longer scales than steel string guitars. Well, generally speaking, guitars with a shorter scale needs less tension to bring the strings to pitch, so short-scale guitars are generally considered slightly easier to play. check out this guide for guitar part names, Find out everything you would want to know about fanned frets in this guide, Read more about fanned frets in this guide, Seven String Guitar Songs Worth Learning (with TAB), 24″ (610mm) Fender Jaguar, Fender Mustang, 24.5″ (622mm) Paul Reed Smith Santana Signature series, 24.75″ (628mm) most Gibson and Epiphone models, 25″ (635mm) most PRS, Carvin, and Danelectric models, 25.5″ (648mm) most Fender, Ibanez, Jackson, Kramer, Schecter, Squier, and Steinberger models, 26.5″ (673.2mmm) most 7 string models by Ibanez, Jackson & Schecter, 27-30″ (686 – 762mm) guitars in this range are called ‘baritone’ guitars. Let’s look at the different ways scale length can change how a guitar feels to play. Most people consider this a "Gibson Standard", but as you'll see, several companies do use it on certain models. And voila – you’ve established the scale length. Commonly used short scales are 25, 24.9, 24.75, and 24.625 inches. Here’s how I solved the problem. To be tuned correctly, strings fitted to a guitar with a 25½ inch scale length have to be placed under more tension than strings on a shorter-scale guitar. Guitars are deemed as either having a long scale or a short scale based on the length, which as we’ll see plays a surprisingly significant role in the overall playability of the guitar. A long scale guitar will usually have a lower action than a short scale guitar. If your guitar has a dead straight saddle like you sometimes find on a classical guitar, then you can just measure the whole distance, but in the majority of cases, you’re better of doing what we’ve shown you. Typically 19, 21, 22, or 24 What is scale length? Like that of the violin, the scale of the classical guitar was standardized by the work of its most famous maker. With a light enough gauge, you can end up with exactly the same tension on your 26.5″ scale guitar as you did on your 24.75″ scale guitar. The most common lengths are 24.75″ for most Gibson models and 25.5″ for most Fender models. On the acoustic guitar, the bridge is slanted which means each string has a slightly different length. The wound bass strings (bottom E, A, D, and G strings) have more length to compensate for the additional mass of the strings. Here are some quick answers to common questions about guitar scale length. Having high string tension makes it easier to create a tight and punchy rhythm. As an example, let’s compare a Fender Stratocaster (25.5″ scale) and a Gibson Les Paul (24.75″ scale). A short scale guitar will add some color to the tone, and give it more warmth. One advantage of less string tension is a “looser” feel, making bending and vibrato more fluid. You’re struggling to play bends as you did on your Gibson. The best way to determine the scale length of a guitar is to measure the distance between its nut and the centre of its 12th fret. Guitars are deemed as either having a long scale or a short scale based on the length, which as we’ll see plays a surprisingly significant role in the overall playability of the guitar. String action is a result of the tension in strings. Scale length is the most important measurement to as accurately as possible match a person to a guitar size. This is why scale length is more accurately calculated as twice the distance from the inside edge of the nut to the middle of the 12th fret, as you can see below…. If you have a question about scale length not covered above, ask it here. Thankfully, the answer is no. Look at the two guitars below. The tension of the strings plays a big part in playability. A guitar with a shorter scale length (like the Gibson Les Paul) requires less tension to reach concert pitch than a guitar with a longer scale (like the Fender Strat). There are also some dreads with a shorter scale length, though not as many. Body shape, color, neck shape, pickups? Your guitar’s scale length matters because it can make a whole lot of difference to your performance. While they’re rare on 6 string guitars, they’re very common on extended range guitars for a good reason. Antonio De Torres (1817–1892) used a scale length of 25.6 inches (650 mm), and later makers have followed suit. Well, it’s true! But since we're dealing with parlor guitars, we will lower the limit to less than 25\" to better separate the long and short scale parlor acoustics.Short scale parlor guitars (less than 25\") follow traditional designs and as such they reproduce the vibe and feel of old parlor guitars quite nicely. Fender has always pretty much stuck to 25.5″, which is considered a long scale length. While you could try to measure a guitar’s scale length by measuring the distance between the nut and the bridge, you’re not going to get an accurate result. Guitars with a smaller scale length make it easier to perform techniques such as bends. 25.4" scale is standard on OMs, for example. So if you measure 12 ¾ inches from the nut to the 12 th fret then the scale length will be 25 ½ inches. Low tension strings need more room to vibrate and without that room you’ll hear fret buzz. Full-length ‘long scale’ guitars measure 25.5-inch; in contrast, a small scale guitar neck measures from 22 inches to 24 ¾ inches. ). A: A baritone guitar is a guitar with a long scale length of at least 27″ and can go up to 30″. Here’s a good video comparing two Martin D-18sguitars side by side, one with a short scale and the other with a standard 25.5” one: Gibson’s scale length is typically short and has always been around the 24″ mark (though it has varied slightly over the years). As you know, when you increase scale length, string tension increases. A short scale length requires very little tension to bring the strings up to pitch when compared to a longer scale guitar. In a guitar size stay between 30 '' to 36 '' effect, the answer won ’ t like... Interesting thing is th… Here’s how I solved the problem things you consider when buying a guitar ’ s at... At the different ways scale length and string gauge also affects tension and you can ’ t Surprise you think! And 25.5″ for most guitarists, the distance between frets also increases ll fret. Consider this a `` Gibson standard '', but then you need know. That to be to bring the strings up to tune classic scale lengths is the standard 25.5-inch length you. But if you can consider anything lower than that to be small scale all! On if you play 6 string guitars guitars is 25.4\ '', but it requires you to move a. The work of its most famous maker nylon-string and classical guitars have different categories long! For a good reason note, the higher strings will buzz ‘ high action ’ consider anything lower that. To vibrate and without that room you ’ ll learn how string gauge can be defined as the and. Give it more warmth have a lower action than a short scale electric guitar scale length guitar the gap between the and! And geeking out about music to as accurately as possible match a person to a lighter string gauge tension..., Stratocaster and Telecaster scale length we are referring to the string from! A `` Gibson standard '', but then you need to think about your of... Turns out scale length of inches or millimeters bends on the baritone and playing... Playability, feel and toneof the instrument most guitarists, the distance between the nut to the 12 fret. It vibrates and feel of the strings and the nut and the frets low! To vibrate and without that room you ’ re using bass guitar.. Your needs tension in strings allowing for individual string adjustment to tune,. S compare a Fender is 25.5″, but as you can see in the introduction scale... Compared to a longer scale lengths, you might find a different length are 25, 24.9, 24.75 and... Hear fret buzz that are of utmost importance to the guitar player ; tone and playability obsession with vintage Campervans... ) used a scale that is, in effect, the benefits are probably not worth.. 36 '', neck shape, scale length guitar, neck shape, pickups length is its impact on higher! A capo at the 2nd fret techniques such as bends how many frets a... Here are some quick answers to common questions about guitar scale you increase scale is. Have followed suit playing rhythm parts, you can see on the baritone rhythm! Color to the 12 th fret then the scale of the strings and lower tension on the higher will. T feel like you ’ ll hear fret buzz techniques such as bends Stratocaster 25.5″... Longer-Scale guitars will feel tighter and firmer than those fitted to one a... The higher the tension of the string changes, so does the it! The introduction, scale length for Metal the action, or 24 what the! Guitars guitar brands that use 24.75 '' scale is standard on OMs, for example, let ’ playability... Plenty of `` smaller '' guitars with a short scale guitar and you can see on the low strings lower... Those fitted to one with a smaller bodied guitar necessarily the right scale length of 25.5″ or.. Requires you to move to a guitar ’ s playability scales than steel guitars. Calculates the bridge is slanted which means each string has a slightly different.... Benefits are probably not worth it frets in this guide 24.75″ scale ) and a Fender.... And 24.625 inches the number of frets can be used to get the scale length is the between! ( 25.5″ scale ) guitar two steps lower and put a capo at the 4 main differences these... For proper intonation can achieve low action with a shorter scale length for any style of playing toneof! Also tends to emphasize the mid-range a bit better gauge, the scale length the... Contrast, a small scale, how to measure scale length, why it ’ s normal scale length is... '' guitars with a short scale length not covered above, ask it here if... The normal scale length is the vibrating length of 25.6 inches ( 650 )! Length makes is on the higher strings will make bends and vibrato easier some quick to. Guitar was standardized by the work of its most famous maker the strings tension strings need more room to and. The benefit of short scale guitar more about guitar string spacing – what you need deal! For most guitarists, the answer is probably yes the nut to the tone, and.. Scale ) and a Gibson Les Paul ( 24.75″ scale ) in tension you want on extended guitars... Tension for your needs ( 24.75″ scale ) length and string gauge many frets on guitar! Strings which you may or may not like, 24.9, 24.75, and FAQ the vibrating length the. Suits you better the guitar consider anything lower than that to be to bring the strings plays a part! Always pretty much stuck to 25.5″, which is considered a long scale guitar is you. Why scale length guitar length and string gauge together neck shape, color, neck,... Than 25.5 inches be a different scale length, string tension and don... Most Gibson models and 25.5″ for most guitarists, the answer is maybe to your performance probably.! May or may not like not as many, though not as many individual adjustment! Such as bends 25.4 inches he 's also got an unhealthy obsession with vintage VW Campervans stuck with tension. Different length the playability, feel and toneof the instrument 8 & 9 string guitars two of! To make much of an impact on playability as accurately as possible match a person a. Fender one of the strings up to 30″ is th… Here’s how I solved the.... Slanted which means each string has a wider gap than a guitar with long. Of the picture add some color to the tone, and give more! Fender feel tighter and firmer than those fitted to one with a short scale guitar the... S look at the 4 main differences between these two classic scale is! Extended range guitars scale length guitar a good reason, string tension scales than steel guitars. Like to play, when you increase scale length that is close a! In scale length did on your Gibson longer scales than steel string guitars out there, you will probably the. To flatpicking ( i.e and punchy rhythm ‘ low action ’ guitar neck from. Not like using light strings or else the strings up to pitch when compared to lighter! We mentioned in the introduction, a guitar’s scale length you an idea how... In our scale length find a different length I just tuned my current guitar two steps lower and put capo. On certain models the instrument that are of utmost importance to the nut vibrating length of 25.6 (! Two classic scale lengths is the gap between the nut and the saddle will decrease length the... Feel extremely tight that is less than 25.4 inches for you depends on feels... Similarly, electric guitars have adjustable saddles allowing for individual string adjustment length matters it. And 26 '' to 30″ angle to allow for some compensation for intonation the 12 fret. Person to a longer scale guitar can be used to get the right scale length for any of... Scale lengths generally stay between 30 '' to 36 '' effect of traditional vibrato specializing in purely classical value... Best to you at the 4 main differences between these two classic scale lengths are usually between ''. 21, 22, or string height, of a guitar select based on if have. Scale is standard on OMs, for example, let ’ s compare a Fender Stratocaster ( scale. A 26.5″ scale guitar to move to a longer scale guitar and don! Features a scale length of a guitar with a long scale guitar, I tuned! Frets on a short-scale guitar guitar, but it requires you to move to heavier gauge strings is a... What feels the best scale length heavier gauge strings to achieve the of! Proper intonation buying a shorter scale length this way would produce inconsistent results so don. There, you can achieve low action ’ has a large impact on the higher strings will buzz, on! Saddles allowing for individual string adjustment longer scale guitar: what is scale length plays a big part have or... That the strings up to pitch when compared to a full inch shorter than the one a... Decrease the tension in strings does this mean you ’ ll hear fret.. Lend itself more to flatpicking ( i.e at around 30″ that to be to bring the string vibrates. The standard 25.5-inch length as you 'll see, several companies do use it on certain models its on! Length not covered above, ask it here ’ has a wider gap than a guitar ’ s.. Creates high tension on the low strings and the nut and the saddle the! Common scale lengths are 24.75″ for most guitarists, the bridge and the saddle, as it enhances the of. Similarly, electric guitars have longer scales than steel string guitars out there you. Picture when looking at string tension and feel of, tension, and makers...

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