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Does size matter? Scale length discussion

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Cedarburger, Mar 26, 2021.

  1. Cedarburger

    Cedarburger Tele-Meister

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    Ok, so was messing around with a lot of things lately...I'm kinda all over the place. Been on an amp search, messing around with my guitars, trying to figure out stuff. Tonight I was playing a few guitars back to back. I was messing with my amps, and wanted to try single coils vs hbs. I messed with my Fender Nashville tele, and a couple LPs (Ibanez ART 300, Epi LP Plustop Pro). I thought I loved the Ibanez, but tonight I freaking hated it. It was so uncomfortable to play. The Epi was much better, but I really felt most comfortable with the Fender. Now... understand that I am a beginner...a 57 year old beginner.

    It seems to be a popularly held belief that a shorter scale is easier to play. Is that true? Could it be possible that ergonomically a longer scale could be more comfortable and easier FOR SOME to play? (Even beginners)

    Thanks all.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2021
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  2. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Friend of Leo's

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    Only you can decide what is most comfortable. Length of neck which is also very much a product of the shape of the body which affects reach. Shape of the neck. That’s my first criteria. If the neck feels good in my hand I can accept or modify anything else. Just me? The guitar that fits your hands is the one that is best for you. My opinion. I have long arms and pretty big hands and I struggle on really thin necks. Find what you like by playing as many types as you can. Spend a few hours at the shop, try your friend’s guitar.
     
  3. Dan German

    Dan German Doctor of Teleocity

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    I have the wingspan of an eagle, and big gangly hands. I like a longer scale length. Yes, a shorter scale length has lower string tension, therefore fretting/bending notes takes less effort, but on top of my long arms and fingers, I am also ham-handed. I need a bit of resistance when I play. That said, I switch between 25.5” and 25” scale all the time, plus I sometimes play mandolin. The only time I have trouble is when I try to play different ones back to back. If I had a choice, I would not have any two guitars with the same scale length, so that I can exploit the differences between them.
     
  4. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    It's all moot as soon as you start moving around the neck. If you put a capo at the first fret of a Tele, the scale becomes 24". As for string tension, just go up or down a gauge.
     
  5. Oldsmobum

    Oldsmobum Tele-Holic

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    I have 25.5, 24.75, and 24” scale guitars.

    The guitars I play the most happen to be the 25.5 scale guitars. I love the way these particular guitars sound.

    The guitars I have the most fun playing are 24.75- they seem to play lighting fast.

    To be fair, this could be all down to pickup configuration- almost all of the full scale guitars are single coils of varying types, and almost all of the Gibson scale guitars are humbuckers... I think I just don’t like humbuckers as much.

    I have never warmed up to the 24” scale guitar. It has humbuckers and the strings are too light, and it lives at my girlfriends house. I have been meaning to put some work into it to see if I can warm it up.

    One of my favorites got a full scale length neck that was intended to be temporary, but due to several reasons it never got a Gibson scale conversion neck. I am now afraid to try one because I like it’s current sound so much... I guess I’ll have to build another one.
     
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  6. dreamingtele

    dreamingtele Friend of Leo's

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    To me its just feel, i love 25.5 inch scale guitars. I like the tension, the feel. I like guitars to fight me anyway. Lol.

    but I just bought a Gibson 24.75 scale, and i never knew how comfy it is. But then again, id prefer a long scale. If there ever was a 25.5 inch scale 330, id be all over it. Lol
     
  7. dukewellington

    dukewellington TDPRI Member

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    Scale matters a lot insofar as string gauge and feel go. So yeah, the scale could contribute to making it easier or harder to play, depending on how the scale length, tuning, setup, and string gauge interact. But the gauges and tuning can be changed as scale increases or decreases, they are easily adjusted to mitigate perceived issues in playability. Roger Siminoff has great videos about this.

    I like longer scale instruments with more space between the frets because I have hands like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. OTOH I dont get cramped into smaller scales easily so could go either way. I also like to fight my guitar so I play heavier strings and higher action. This feels more natural and suits my style.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2021
  8. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I greatly prefer 25 1/2 inch scale guitars.
    My 4 working guitars are all long scale.
    I like the string tension and livlier tone.
    Shorter scales are nice too.
    I generally don't gig with them, though.
     
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  9. wrathfuldeity

    wrathfuldeity Tele-Afflicted

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    Despite having small hands, prefer 25.5 with 1.75 nut due to the tone...also single coils. Have sold off all other shorter scale and hb's.
     
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  10. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    The idea that shorter scale has less string tension only works until it gets so slack that you have to go up a gauge, then there is actually more tension.

    For example, I use 9s on my 25.5 guitars, but they would not stay in tune on my 24.75 guitars. So I need 10s, which on that scale feel tighter than the 9s on the 25.5s.
     
  11. gimmeatele

    gimmeatele Tele-Afflicted

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    I can certainly say I feel the difference when switching between a Gibson and a fender while playing, shorter scale seems to take a few minutes to adjust too
     
  12. bettyseldest

    bettyseldest Friend of Leo's

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    I'm equally at home with Fender and Gibson scale lengths. I could not tell you what the scale of my non Fender or Gibson style guitars are (Rickenbacker, Yamaha, Patrick Eggle, Washburn, Burns, Jackson) but they all feel good. I have not tried the 24" Mustang scale. A friend has the Rickenbacker John Lennon C325, which has a 20.75" scale. I cannot play it, it just feels wrong. Yet my baritone uke at 19" and solid body electric uke bass at 21" are great. You may or may not have issues with a particular scale length. Just try a few and see what feels good to you. Also bear in mind that other factors such as neck profile and string guage may impact upon how you feel about a particular guitar.
     
  13. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    I've played pretty much all over the years and strings are the key. I had a 325 clone for example and 12s were the answer for 21.5. I built a 24 Esquire and 11s give it the snap you'd expect. My favorites from over the years are 23", Byrdland, 25" Dano and 27" Fender Subsonic. All play different, require different strings but I dig them. I will have to say that single coils usually like 25.5 and above though my thinline has a neck humbucker and my Strat a bridge humbucker. Just depends, if I dig the feel or sound, I like it
     
  14. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    I play instruments with scale lengths between 13½" and 34". The 18¾" and 22¾" guitar are fun to play.
     
  15. kbold

    kbold Friend of Leo's

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    I think you would need a set of 11's or 12's to make a 24" sound right.
    You already know they're too light, so that's the fix (IMO).

    If that doesn't do it for you ... perhaps fit some HB sized P90 pickups.
     
  16. ping-ping-clicka

    ping-ping-clicka Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    long scale/ shorter scale each/all have different string tensions ,that's why I switched to a mini strat with a twenty four inch scale , which is the same as my lap steel.
     
  17. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

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    It’s a variety of factors. As mentioned the shorter has less string tension but you somewhat offset that with lighter string gauges.
    There’s also the fretboard radius. Most Fenders are either 7.25 or 9.5” while a Les Paul is 12”. Then there’s the common neck profiles: Fender has dozens and Gibson relatively few. Then there the players own physical characteristics: hand/finger size, strength. Etc.

    Bottom line: what feels best, easiest to you?
     
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  18. 985plowboy

    985plowboy Friend of Leo's

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    Just know that what you are experiencing is not unusual and that you will be alright.
     
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  19. DekeDog

    DekeDog Tele-Afflicted

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    I prefer a shorter scale, but it really makes no difference to me.
     
  20. Fuelish

    Fuelish Tele-Holic

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    I have no preference, really, although I do have one 24" scale guitar that's a lil awkward to play at the highest frets ....but part of that is that it's also got 24 frets, so my sausage fingers make it a tight squeeze up there. It's easy enough to adapt. I did buy a short scale bass for fun, figuring short scale on a bass might make the transition from guitar to bass a lil easier, but, I can't tell, I still stink at bass. Fun to have around, though.
     
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