Scale Length Question

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Tooltimegrunt, Jul 4, 2014.

  1. Tooltimegrunt

    Tooltimegrunt NEW MEMBER!

    Mar 24, 2014
    Ive been reading about scale length and that the LP scale may be easier to play for some do to the shorter length. When I did the math, the maximum difference over 6 frets is 0.22 inches. I don't see how that would be significant for most people. Is the difference greater than the numbers show it to be?

  2. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 16, 2014
    Sacramento, California
    I used to have exclusively 24 3/4" scale guitars. Now I've got two 25.5" to add to the mix - my Tele and my Strat. They do feel very different, but I'm not sure how much is due to scale vs. fretboard material, fret size, neck width, etc. I know a tremolo, like on my Strat, makes string bending easier, which I like.
  3. Lobomov

    Lobomov Friend of Leo's

    Jul 15, 2013
    This is one of the things, that it makes no sense discussing on the net. Find a guitar store, try both and make up your mind.

    It all depends on the size of your hands ... I have a friend with large hands, that actually prefers the fender scale length, so .... ?

    Check it out for yourself :)
  4. NiceTele

    NiceTele Tele-Afflicted

    Dec 20, 2012
    I use a Jazzmaster and a LP, and the LP feels like a small guitar to play after the Jazzmaster!
  5. Obelisk

    Obelisk Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 1, 2013
    NW USA
    I like them both, but chords sound very different on the two lengths. The difference in scale lengths is pretty major: 21 frets in 25.5" for Fender vs 22 frets in 24.75" for Gibson which means a player is getting one more note in 3/4" less length. In general, I prefer Gibsons when I am playing more chordal based guitar parts and I prefer Fenders a bit more for single note work. It's a bit of generalization, but chords always sound a bit strange on Fenders and never quite seem completely in tune. The guitar inherently has this problem no matter what the scale length is(hence all of the various systems, zero frets, Feiten, fanned frets, etc). Once you have played a few guitars of different scale lengths, you start to recognize the subtle and not so subtle differences between all the types.
  6. bloomz

    bloomz Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

    Jan 7, 2013
    Somebody's Mom's house
    I find it to be what I would call a large difference - which surprised me.

    I also have 3 24.75 guitars with 24 frets.
  7. thefees

    thefees Tele-Holic

    Sep 8, 2010
    It seemed perplexing to me at first. Why would a shorter scale length be easier to play/bend strings on? It all has to do with string tension. A longer string requires more tension to get to the same frequency/note than a shorter one.
  8. corliss1

    corliss1 Friend of Leo's

    Sep 13, 2008
    Lansing, MI
    Chords in the lower positions are easier for me. Like Lobomov said, go play some. Play a nice, open, first position C chord or an F for a mew minutes on a Fender/long scale then try it again on a Gibson/short scale. You might notice a difference, you might not, but some people do.
  9. goonie

    goonie Friend of Leo's

    Dec 20, 2011
    Well, 1.5mm (1/16in) nut width can be the difference between just right and too narrow/wide. So clearly our hands can be sensitive to small variations.
  10. Nick JD

    Nick JD Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    May 12, 2007
    Queensland, Australia
    If it helps at all, a Fender 24" scale is very close to just capoing your first fret.
  11. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    It is interesting how the different scale lengths play. I enjoy both, but early on in my playing, I had a difficult time near the open chord area with my pinky on 25.5, but I truly enjoy the sound of longer scales. I do most of my songwriting on 24.75, because it does seem easier for me. Once the scale gets down below 24.0, I just can't do it very well. I have a 24.9 acoustic with a wide neck for finger style that feels perfect, so I'm guessing a lot has to do with hand size, finger length and thickness of fingers, but they are all worth learning to play on for different tones.
  12. Bongocaster

    Bongocaster Friend of Leo's

    Mar 19, 2011
    From the home of King Records
    Think about shoes. It might only be a small measurement but if your feet are killing you...
  13. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Tele-Holic

    Apr 12, 2014
    This is not quite right. The measurement is from the nut to the saddle. It doesn't much matter if there are 21, 22 or 24 frets under the string. Frets will be further apart on longer scale necks and you can feel the difference.

    Different scale length also means that strings of the same gauge will have different tension when tuned to the same pitch i.e. the longer string will be tighter than the shorter string to get to the same pitch. It also means that bending will feel a little more taught on the longer scale length.

    A lot of people prefer 9-42 strings on a a 25.5" length but 10-46 on a 24.75" scale length and this tends to be how Fenders and Gibsons are strung at the factory. This reduces the difference in feel between the brands.
  14. boredguy6060

    boredguy6060 Friend of Leo's

    Mar 28, 2012
    Sou Cal
    I have 25.5", 24 3/4, and a 24.
    The 24 is on a MIJ jag, it feels real strange for about 15 minutes, then you kinda adjust.
  15. tomasino

    tomasino Tele-Meister

    Jun 5, 2014
    I did not think of that. I'll try it, see if it stays in tune with the capo.

    I've been researching this issue for myself recently and is one of the reasons I'm selling Nadene.

    I find 24 3/4" ers are generally more comfortable for me to play (than my Fenders.. especially my Strat).

    I also recently tried a 24" DRW Iron Horse. Like boreguy said, takes a little time to adjust.. but it's OK, wasn't bad.. But felt almost too tight/small.

    Next I plan to try a 24.5".. probably a PRS or a Gretsch.
  16. PCollen

    PCollen Friend of Leo's

    May 7, 2010
    Man of the World
    ..Using the high-E bridge piece as reference and assuming a 22 fret fretboard and proper intonation with 10's, there is about a 0.55 inch difference distributed over the length of the fretboard, and about 0.20 difference between the 22nd fretwire and the bridge. It really depends on the players hands, the length and stretch of the fingers, and the size of the fretwire
  17. dr.chevalier

    dr.chevalier Tele-Holic

    Apr 25, 2014
    west tennessee
    To say 'easier to play' may mean hand stretch, reach and all, which most of the posters are commenting on, but I think this^ may be what folks mean when they say easier to play. The shorter length, like NickJD pointed out is a lot like capoing the 1st on a 25.5. So, to get standard tuning, one would have to detune a 25.5 a half-step then capo 1 to get up to standard. That means less tension on the strings. My kids 1/2 size is so floppy at standard it's unplayable. I have him tuned up a full step and it's still pretty slinky. 'Easy' for him. My friend made a comment about his LP playing easier than his Fender (referring to string tension), but he liked how the fender felt (referring to spacing and neck shape). I guess it all comes down to what someone means by easier.
  18. Gnobuddy

    Gnobuddy Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2010
    British Columbia
    I regularly play guitars with both scale lengths, as well as acoustic guitars with a third slightly different scale length, and never have an issue.

    But if I spend a month playing only one single guitar with one scale length, say the Fender one, and then pick up a guitar with the Gibson scale length, I'll find myself being a bit sloppy with my left-hand position shifts for a minute or two, until I re-calibrate to the guitar. This is most noticeable well up the neck, where the frets are so close together that a 0.1" error in finger position actually matters.

    I would never let a slight scale length difference keep me from enjoying a guitar I fancied. If there any initial difficulty, it will go away with a little experience. So I would say, pay no attention to trivial differences in scale length - if you like the guitar, your brain and hands will quickly adapt to it.

    Think about all the players who play both guitar and bass, or guitar and mandolin, or guitar and ukelele and bass guitar. Those players really do have to cope with significant differences in scale length!

    Incidentally, there are a number of slightly different scale lengths used in guitars, particularly when it comes to acoustic guitars. Take a look at the table partway down this web page:

  19. SixShooter

    SixShooter Friend of Leo's

    Sep 20, 2008
    The Fender and Gibson scale lengths also sound different due to the difference in string tension. Fender being brighter and crisper than the Gibson. Then there is the PRS scale length (25.0") which is supposed to be a compromise between the two.

    BTW, you can get conversion necks for Fenders which have a a 24.75" or 25.0" scale length. Normally you would need to change the bridge spacing but with these necks you don't need to.
  20. Buzzardeater

    Buzzardeater Tele-Holic

    Mar 26, 2012
    Some things don't sound right even after they are explained. Like, cars hang from the top of the tire or that the tire is made out of steel.

    The difference between strings is not the diameter, it is the weight. This is why strings are referred to in weight terms. Adding width is adding mass. That's what you hear vibrating. So, the difference in scale is related to how much mass is vibrating. The extra weight of the extra scale length is audible. Think of the audible difference between a grand and an upright piano.

    The guy who explained these things to me also said mankind is a misnomer and we are actually womenkind . Men are simply the male counterpart. This is why we evolved weaker and less hairy. All of us. We evolved beauty. All human characteristics are female and driven toward beauty. We are the pretties of evolution.

    Examining minutae is peering into the abyss.
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