#1
Hi

I wonder what is the real effect of different scale lengths ?

All of the guitars I have inspected were 24.75" ... I know that some other are 25" ... may be there are more scale lengths ... I really don't know how this would affect guitar sound or playability and how this factor should affect my choice of new guitar

Thanx
#3
Basically, go into a shop and try guitars with different scale lengths. The differences are there, but until you try them out, you won't find how they affect you.
#4
I bought a "travel" guitar last week with a scale length of 22.75" (same scale length as a Baby Taylor). Sounds and plays great, but I've noticed the further I go down the fingerboard the more difficult the fingering gets. Less space to move the fingers around down there (each fret shorter than the one before). I can still play there, but it's more difficult than it is on my Seagull or Taylor, which are roomier higher up the neck. I can definitely see why 3/4 size instruments are great for kids though...their small fingers wouldn't have the problems my fat 50 year old fingers have on that fretboard

On the other hand I've never played a "short scale" electric, so don't know how applicable what I just wrote is. Probably still good though
Last edited by TobusRex at Oct 20, 2015,
#5
Longer scale lengths increase the overall length of the strings from the nut to the bridge saddle. Longer strings require more tension to be tuned to the same pitch than shorter strings, which has a couple of advantages. It means that you can tune to lower tunings with lighter strings. It also provides slightly more definition and clarity to the strings, particularly when it comes to the lower strings at higher frets. It also makes the higher frets slightly easier to play as the frets are not quite as closely spaced together, but the difference is very small.

Sometimes having long scale lengths can make it harder to achieve certain chords at the lower frets though, as you need to reach a longer distance to get to the frets you need.
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#6
Quote by mockbel
Hi

I wonder what is the real effect of different scale lengths ?

All of the guitars I have inspected were 24.75" ... I know that some other are 25" ... may be there are more scale lengths ... I really don't know how this would affect guitar sound or playability and how this factor should affect my choice of new guitar



Most Gibsons have a scale length of 24.75" (though on vintage guitars that's often more like 24.6"), but there are some with 25.5" scales, 23.5" scales (Byrdland) and even 27" (Buckethead signature LP). Fenders are usually 25.5" scale, but has produced scales as short as 22.5". PRS and Carvins are often 25" (and sometimes 25.5" and 27") and Agiles range from 24.75" right out to 30".

Different scale lengths change the "elasticity" of the strings, the distance you have to move to bend a note, how tightly "packed" the harmonics are, the impression of "shimmer" or chime of a note, the warmth/thickness of a note, and the response of the low end of the guitar.
#7
Generally it's reckoned that longer scale lengths give a brighter sound while the shorter one give a warmer more mellow tone. dspellman gave a good summary, I'd just add that Fender Jaguars (and the MP short scale) have a 24" (610mm) scales, as does Brian Mays Red Special. John Lennon Rickenbacker (320/325) had a 20.7" (527mm). 7 and 8 stringers start at around 26.5" (673mm). The largest I know of are some Agile and Legator 9 string models which have a whopping 30" scale length. There are great guitarists using all scale lengths , I personally have 24 and 24.75 and often play a 25.5 and move between them without any trouble.
#8
Thanks all

I googled my current Ibanez RG320 and found it to be 25.5" ... I have inspected the LTD EC1000 a couple of weeks ago as I am thinking about buying a new guitar... The LTD is 24.75"

To be honest, I haven't felt inconvenient or something while playing...

It seems like the difference should be in tone and playability but it is very slight... Does scale length has any impact on keeping the guitar in tune longer or something??
#9
It's going to be hard to notice if you just played two completely different guitars. If you get a few more examples, especially ones that are more similar besides the scale length, you'll probably understand the difference better.

Playability doesn't matter much to most people (though some have serious preferences) but the sound difference can be major. In addition, people who downtune heavily often need a longer scale to compensate for lower tension.
#12
Quote by mockbel
Hi

I wonder what is the real effect of different scale lengths ?

All of the guitars I have inspected were 24.75" ... I know that some other are 25" ... may be there are more scale lengths ... I really don't know how this would affect guitar sound or playability and how this factor should affect my choice of new guitar

Thanx



for me since i drop tune everything it's about string tension. on my 24.75's i'll go with a string gauge of .010~.052. on my 25.5's i'll run .009~.042. this way for me the feel is pretty close.

shorter scale also has closer fret spacing. in the upper registers i'm really liking the increased room with the longer scale instead of having to pack my fingers into the closer spacing of a shorter scale guitar.

everybody has different needs.
#13
Quote by ad_works
for me since i drop tune everything it's about string tension. on my 24.75's i'll go with a string gauge of .010~.052. on my 25.5's i'll run .009~.042. this way for me the feel is pretty close.

shorter scale also has closer fret spacing. in the upper registers i'm really liking the increased room with the longer scale instead of having to pack my fingers into the closer spacing of a shorter scale guitar.

everybody has different needs.

In terms of tension, going from 10-52 to 9-42 is overcompensating several times over. That's not a criticism, just interesting to me that that feels similar to you.

What I'm more skeptical about is the matter of fret spacing. On a Jaguar (my go-to example because the difference between that and normal scale length is twice as apparent as that of a Gibson) the distance between the 21st and 22nd frets is more or less 0.4 inches, whereas on a Strat or a Tele it's 0.425. That difference is like, what, a D string? Not substantial.

Anyway, my contribution: The tension difference between your average Fender and your average Gibson fitted with the same strings is about 1lb per string; the difference between 10-46 strings and 11-49 strings, which is eminently noticeable, is about 2-3lb per string, assuming everything is E standard tuning. To answer OP's most recent question, lower tensions can cause tuning issues because under normal conditions (i.e. a lot of tension) the load the string puts on windings around the tuning posts and suchlike tends to help straighten everything out, but I don't believe 0.75" scale length difference would have a noticeable effect here, and if it did it would be a far smaller factor than a whole host of other things.

As far as playability is concerned, yes, there is a noticeable difference. It's not a big difference, and again, other factors (such as space between bridge and tailpiece - note that this does not affect string tension, but it does affect feel) will often have a bigger effect. The way I see it, it wouldn't affect my guitar-buying choices, but it might affect my string-buying choices. On a normal Fender scale length, I don't like 10-46 but I can cope, on a Gibson the string is just a tad too loose to be where I want it to be on the upstroke, and I can't comfortably hold back on my strumming enough to make the low E sound in tune. I prefer 11-49 regardless. As a matter of principle I would say I prefer 25.5" because it's tighter, but the right strings on any scale length will make it a non-issue.

As far as tone is concerned, I imagine there is some difference, but I couldn't comment on how great it is because of the five electrics I've owned in my life, the three 25.5" ones have been a Squier Affinity Strat, an LTD superstrat with a licensed Floyd and a brass-saddled Fender Telecaster, the 24.75" was an Epiphone SG, and the 24" was a Squier Jaguar. Too many differences to make meaningful judgements based purely on scale length.
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Last edited by K33nbl4d3 at Oct 20, 2015,
#15
24.75" and 25.5" arr interchangeable to me.

However, I don't like the fender 24" short scales, it gets a little crammed on the upper frets.

I have not had enough time on a longer scale (>25.5") to comment on that. Nor do I have the desire/need to own one.
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#16
Just a comment on string gauge as noted by K33nbl4d3. The difference between 24.75 and 25.5 is about half a fret, or a 1/4 tone. OTOH, the difference in tension between a 0.09 and a 0.10 string is almost equivalent a full tone (two frets), so changes string gauges for these two scale lengths is indeed substantial overkill. Even with a 24" scale it is overcompensation to some extent.
Last edited by Tony Done at Oct 22, 2015,
#17
Thanks guys... so much info gathered from this thread !

So at the end, it has an effect but not to the extent that should worry me when buying a new guitar knowing that I plan in standard tuning 80% of time and just Eb 20%... never played other tuning !
#18
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#19
made a typo up there earlier. aplogies.

to clarify:

25.5" scale .009~.042 tuned down to D standard.
24.75" scale .010~.046 tuned down to D standard.

not sure what was meant about the "over-compensating" thing though. anyway, this works for me.

do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.
Last edited by ad_works at Oct 22, 2015,
#20
Quote by ad_works
not sure what was meant about the "over-compensating" thing though. anyway, this works for me.

Just that 24.75 with 10-46 will give you somewhat more tension than 25.5 with 9-42 For me, 9-42 in D standard is well into the damp spaghetti range; I'm far too sloppy to play on strings that light, so the comment is solely to do with tension, I can say nothing about the feel.

Quote by mockbel
So at the end, it has an effect but not to the extent that should worry me when buying a new guitar knowing that I plan in standard tuning 80% of time and just Eb 20%... never played other tuning !

Pretty much. The effect is noticeable, but not significant.
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Last edited by K33nbl4d3 at Oct 22, 2015,
#21
Quote by K33nbl4d3
Just that 24.75 with 10-46 will give you somewhat more tension than 25.5 with 9-42 For me, 9-42 in D standard is well into the damp spaghetti range; I'm far too sloppy to play on strings that light, so the comment is solely to do with tension, I can say nothing about the feel.


agreed -certainly not for everyone. after 33 years i can't remember how i got this way but it works for me. i play very fast (death metal type shredding) and light, and with a 2mm pick with the lowest possible action. the 9's and the 25.5" scale are where i want to be, and the 10's are for my shorter guitars

thanks for the reply.
Last edited by ad_works at Oct 22, 2015,
#22
scale length is probably one of the biggest factors in a guitar, EASILY. it affects the tone, the string tension, the response, the harmonics, the build of the guitar, how it plays.

scale length is immensely important to all players in all genres.
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#24
Quote by ad_works
for me since i drop tune everything it's about string tension. on my 24.75's i'll go with a string gauge of .010~.052. on my 25.5's i'll run .009~.042. this way for me the feel is pretty close.

shorter scale also has closer fret spacing. in the upper registers i'm really liking the increased room with the longer scale instead of having to pack my fingers into the closer spacing of a shorter scale guitar.



I do pretty much the same in terms of strings, though I think I'm using 10-46 rather than 10-52s. It's not *just* a string tension issue in terms of playability; the scale also affects how far across the fretboard you have to push a string to get the same bend change. And despite what *seem* to be trivial differences in the width of the upper frets, I notice whatever extra real estate is there.
#25
Quote by dspellman
I do pretty much the same in terms of strings, though I think I'm using 10-46 rather than 10-52s. It's not *just* a string tension issue in terms of playability; the scale also affects how far across the fretboard you have to push a string to get the same bend change. And despite what *seem* to be trivial differences in the width of the upper frets, I notice whatever extra real estate is there.



yeah, i made a typo that i fixed .010 ~.046 is correct.

i prefer "long" scale and with 24 jumbo frets, i'll take all the real estate i can get in the upper registers.

saw an interview recently with gary holt of exodus/slayer and he stated that as he is getting older he prefers a shorter scale guitar these days because he doesn't have to stretch out as far. i'm around his age and i seem to be going the other way.