Who plays short scale guitars and why?

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by WilburBufferson, Aug 6, 2010.

  1. WilburBufferson

    WilburBufferson Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 11, 2009
    I am wondering whether a 24" scale guitar might fit my fretting hand better? I would say I have average sized hands, not small, but not like Steve Vai or Jimi Hendrix either. All of my guitars are currently 25.5" scale, but I'm looking for any advantage I can get! I have heard that they are easier to play for obvious reasons, but more of a rubbery feel because of the lack of string tension. Are there any other pros and cons?
  2. LeDocteur

    LeDocteur Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    Oct 20, 2009
    I can't comment on a scale that short. I have mostly 25 1/2 necks except for one 24 3/4. It also happens to be a 24 extra jumbo fretter and the topmost frets seem mighty crowded. So if you want to be able to use the entire neck that might be a consideration.

    I use heavier gauge strings on the shorter neck.

    I have average size hands as well and I prefer the roomier 25 1/2 neck. I can't reach some of the crazy chord voicings that some guys can, so I just use alternatives. OTOH I can probably do things that they can't because their fingers are too long.
  3. El Reclusa

    El Reclusa Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 27, 2008
    Kansas City
    It's all subjective, but I've owned and played an old Fender Musicmaster for over half my life, and it rules. Great, great instrument. It's the 24" scale version, not the super-tiny 22.5" one. Those sound generally good to me as well, but the fret spacing is cramped, to say the least. 24" isn't so bad.

    You might try a 25.5" scale guitar top loaded, as opposed to string-through. Added top load holes to my Baja a while back, and it's a nice in-between feel, retains the advantages of the longer scale but plays a lot more like a 24"er. I advice having someone competent do this if you're modding a bridgeplate, and keep the holes rather low on the plate to ensure a sufficient break angle across the saddles.
  4. Mark Davis

    Mark Davis Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 2, 2003
    Bakersfield Ca.
    I have 2 Les Pauls and 2 Teles.

    There isnt that much different in the fret span until you get way up high on the neck then some super jazz chords might be just a tad easier to reach.

    I have real small hands.
  5. cynic79

    cynic79 Tele-Meister

    Dec 18, 2009
    Northern Virginia/DC
    I played a Jaguar the other day, and the overall feel wasn't a world different from my Gibsons. I didn't even realize it was a shorter scale until I looked up the specs on the guitar later.

    Despite the somewhat similar body contours, it felt entirely different from a Strat or Tele when played seated.
  6. beep.click

    beep.click Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 7, 2007
    I can't think of any "cons."

    The only "pro" that would count is, when you play the guitar, does it feel wonderful?

    I own and play all the common scale lengths, and I have "normal" size hands, but I gotta say -- when I pick up my Mustang or my Jaguar, it feels like I just slipped on my favorite jeans.
  7. riverrat

    riverrat TDPRI Member

    Jan 25, 2009
    Chillicothe, MO
    I'll vote for the shorter neck scale

    I have a Fender Jaguar and 2 Gretsch Pro Jets that have the 24.6" scale neck and to me, these are very, very comfortable guitars to play. I also have 3 Logan Custom teles with their 25.5" scale necks and I really prefer the shorter reach. Try one, you might like it.

    Good luck !

  8. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    I have one 24.75 scale (Gibson Melody Maker) and all others are 25.5. Average sized hand, more diminutive fingers. Even so, the pads of my fingers have a rough time getting into the tiny spaces above the 15th fret on a 24.75 scale guitar and 24.0? Forget About It.

    Some guys have adapted to these tiny spaces but if you can get around on a 25.5 scale there's no basis for going smaller. I'd like some longer scale necks, actually. I don't like flaccid detensioned strings.


    Here. Ask yourself this basic question. Do you like scalloped necks and big 6000 sized fretwire? Do you use the fret to define which note you are playing? - Or do you prefer to make a played string make contact with the board wood like the old vintage guys did? If you are a bit of a shredder and never make the strings touch down onto the board wood, then I guess 24.0 might work. Because you can fret each note fine that way and less space is ever needed.

    24.0 and especially 22.5 necks make me think of Tom Hanks and the movie "Big" with Elizabeth Perkins. Remember the baby corn sequence, where Tom tries to eat the baby corns as thought they were big ones? THAT is me on a 24.0 or shorter scale neck. ^)
  9. turbofire327

    turbofire327 Tele-Meister

    Mar 23, 2010
    Laramie, WY
    I have a gretsch jet that is 24.75 and it did feel spongy compared to my strats so I put 11's on it and now I like it again. Some chords are easier but I have big hands so that's not really a problem on the fenders either. I bought the gretsch because I always wanted one not because of the short scale.
  10. portugal

    portugal Tele-Meister

    Feb 8, 2010
    Kansas City, MO
    I love short scale necks. I really love heavy strings and the shorter scale allows me to have the feels of the heavier strings without all of the tension. I also believe that move short scale Fender necks (mustang, jaguar, duosonic, jagstang) tend to be a little chunkier than most telecaster necks which I also really like.

    The only problem is, they don't really twang. Also, if you want to convert a normal telecaster to a shortscale, you can do so by using a Jagmaster or Classic Vibe Series Squier duosonic. Both are considered "conversion" necks, so you can do it and everything will still intonate!
  11. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Sep 19, 2005
    There's actually a short scale forum but watch yourself over there. It's a blood thirsty lot that pretty much thinks the entire world sucks. Well, except for themselves I suppose. Too bad. There's a lot of good info others could benefit from.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2010
  12. Tdot

    Tdot Poster Extraordinaire

    I have 25.5" (Tele, Strat), 24.75" (Dot, SG, MM), and 24" (Mustang). I don't have the talent or skill to tell the difference in the scale, but I do notice the difference in neck shapes and sizes. You may be surprised at the difference a thin or fat or V neck will make in the way you handle the fretboard.

    I love the overall small feel of my Mustang (I bet a Squier DuoSonic would be fun), and Melody Maker. And the 1-vol 1-tone, knobs.
  13. rcole_sooner

    rcole_sooner Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Feb 12, 2010
    Norman, OK
    I got two Les Pauls and one Jackson Fusion, and I play them because they sound awesome.
  14. BelairPlayer

    BelairPlayer Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 22, 2010
    I have really small hands. I find it nearly impossible to wrap my thumb around on the sixth string while cleanly forming a chord on the other strings a la Hendrix on Castles Made of Sand, etc. Short scales don't fix this.
    I also find it hard to get a wide fret span for big voicings a la Eric Johnson, or many common jazz grips. The advantage that short scale brings here is so trivial I would describe it as non-existent.
    Short scales are much more elastic. Whether that's any better for smaller hands is debatable. Certainly I'd think it would be better for weaker hands (beginners, smaller kids), but that advantage would surely be short lived.
  15. soulpatch

    soulpatch TDPRI Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    La Mesa, CA
    That's very interesting

    I am an obvious novice but I practice a lot on my acoustic with medium strings and I always hit the board wood. I tried a teacher lately and he was telling me I needed to retrain myself to hit the frets....it just doesn't feel right to me and I prefer to not be right up against the fret.
    Anyway, sorry for the hi-jack but that is the first I have seen this referenced.
  16. WilburBufferson

    WilburBufferson Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 11, 2009
    This is really good insight. Thank you all for your thoughts. Telenator, I laughed out loud at your comment...too funny. And Boris, you've reminded about 'note articulation' as part of the equation. I am definitely not a shredder, and like the feel of the pads of my fingers digging into the board a bit. To the others, what I have heard you say is don't forget about the neck shape. On this point, I just got a Baja Tele and am loving the bigger neck more and more -- I find it helps me get more leverage, and keeps my thumb in a good spot.

    I was toying with the idea of getting a hardtail Jaguar -- mainly because I like how the body feels. I bought a Jazzmaster last year, but couldn't bond with its sound and lack of sustain. But I thought to myself, WOW, this body shape, I could really sit for hours and play this thing! It sat better on my lap, and importantly, had the arm and belly contours. It was like sitting down at the table to eat dinner -- very comfy.

    If I had the time, I would build one of these Telemasters that people have been talking about around here, but I am overseas and don't have the ability to tinker too much with parts. I would take the guts off of a Baja Telecaster, and stick it into a JM body and that would be that!
  17. stratman323

    stratman323 Banned

    Apr 19, 2010
    London, UK
    I have quite small hands, so I like slim necks. The Fender US62RI Strats are a pretty good example of the sort of neck that works best for me & are the most comfortable to play.

    I can deal with the 24.75" scale on my LP & 335 - they're very different guitars to a Strat or Tele, & the scale length is part of that. But short scale on a Fender? :eek: Noooooooo!

    I bought a Jaguar a year or so ago (24"), & it's about the only guitar purchase I've ever made that I can't explain, to myself or anyone else. The short scale robs it of the classic Fender noises, & the fretboard seems more crowded at the top end without being any easier to play at the bottom end.

    The sound is non-descript - both a Tele & a Strat blow it away. The controls are unnecessarily complicated, & the extra complications make it a much harder beast to drive. The trem is rubbish - need I go on? How Leo could have considered this to be an improvement over the Strat I really cannot imagine.

    15 or so years ago I had an old Musicmaster with 22.5" scale length. This was even worse - it felt like a toy & it didn't give me any kind of classic Fender tone.

    To me, it's simple - a Fender needs a 25.5" scale to give it it's Fenderyness. Anything else is a compromise. If you don't like the sound of Fenders, maybe you'll like something like a Jaguar.
  18. KBing

    KBing Tele-Meister

    Oct 21, 2009
    NJ (Exit 4)
    I bought a Mustang as my first guitar when I was 12 because I had really small hands and it fit me well.

    I still have it and love the feel and sound when I play it.

    Here's a sample of the Mustang in action recently.

  19. limbe

    limbe Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 4, 2009
    The real test is to try to play "Every Breath You Take" by The Police.
    My first good guitar was a Telecaster so I got used to the 25.5" scale.
    In hindsight I should probably gone with the smaller scale since I am a small guy.I must confess though that I like Telecasters more than any other guitars.
  20. Solcat

    Solcat Tele-Meister

    Nov 12, 2006
    Los Angeles
    I am playing a Rondo 24" telecaster the most right now, pretty comfy with my short fingers
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