Why aren't Multiscale guitars more Popular?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by DugT, Jan 22, 2021.

  1. Allan Allan

    Allan Allan Tele-Afflicted

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    I thought The topic shifted to total string length.
     
  2. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    The whole length of the string from ball end to tuner is under tension, so if higher tension improves the tone/feel of the lower strings, we address the entire length.
     
  3. Allan Allan

    Allan Allan Tele-Afflicted

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    Scale is not the same as total string length. Scale is nut to bridge, total string is tuner to whatever the anchor is.

    Total string length direct affect tension, tension changes pitch. Scale changes tension at pitch.

    You're all mixed up six days from sundown.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2021
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  4. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    Right. The string is under tension for it's whole length. If you need to increase the tension for a given scale, at a certain pitch for a specific gauge, the way to raise the tension is increase the total length. (WRONG The longer the total length, the more tension required to achieve the pitch WRONG).
    I should have said : "the longer the vibrating string segment,the more tension required to achieve the pitch"

    Edited to correct MY mistake.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2021
  5. Allan Allan

    Allan Allan Tele-Afflicted

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    I don't think it works that way. You increase tension at a scale with different gauge strings. If you increase tension you increase pitch.

    Show me a string tension calculator that asks for total string length.
     
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  6. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    Try to follow this:
    You have a solidbody. It has a 25.5" scale. There is 1.5" of string from the bridge to the ball end and 1.5" of string (say on the low "E" string) of string between the nut and the tuning post.
    Good so far? The two segments...at the bridge and at the nut, are under tension, right? The string is laying across the bridge and laying across the nut. The total length under tension is 28.5"
    The nut and bridge limit the vibration length, and the pitch is determined by the frequency of vibration. To achieve that pitch, the entire string is brought to a tension that creates a specific frequency between the nut and bridge.
    Now consider an archtop guitar. Say an L-5 that has roughly the same scale, say 25". There's still about 1.5" between the nut and the tuning post, but now we have 5" between the bridge and the tailpiece. The string is under tension for 31.5" You know that 5" of string behind the bridge isn't slack, right? It's under tension, but it's not affecting the frequency of the string's vibration.

    Consider these comments from other sources, one a forum and one the Gretsch website:

    "Frequensator Tailpiece ? - Epiphone Electrics - Gibson ...
    Epiphone used them to change the tension on the strings. By making the bass strings longer through the tailpiece, the tension is higher and stiffer, making for a "tighter" bottom end sound, while the shorter top strings would have looser tension and therefore easier to play solos on the higher strings and upper frets of the instrument."

    "The "Chromatic II Tailpiece" is an exclusive Gretsch feature. The tailpiece is designed to compensate for differing string gauges, thereby reducing tension and equalizing playing finger pressure. The tailpiece makes playing easier with uniform finger action."


    The problem here is that the terms are wrong. The word tension is misused. The reason is obvious. The entire string is under the tension necessary to achieve a certain pitch, but the length of the string affects the flexibility and compliance of the string.

    Tension is measured as the "weight of pull" on the string. Flexibility and compliance are the resistance of the string to deflection. Two different measurements. The longer the total length of the string (which slides over the nut and bridge, right? The string isn't locked down at the nut or bridge) the LESS flexible it feels.

    Counterintuitive, right? You'd think the longer string would be MORE flexible. But it isn't. That's because the longer the string, the more mass is under tension ... not more tension measured from nut to bridge, but the same tension exerted over a greater length.

    This whole "tension" argument is doomed (on an amateur level) by two things:

    First, the string tension charts and calculators provided by a few manufacturers and publishes by all the string retailers are not intended to be data useful for scientific research ... it's simplified information compiled to facilitate commerce ... these charts make it easier for customers to select merchandise.

    The test strings aren't on guitars, they are on devices engineered to anchor a string on one end and attach it to a measuring device at the other to "weigh" the tension when a certain pitch is achieved. These test mechanisms don't measure deflection, they just measure tension.

    Second: musicians, manufacturers (see Gretsch website quote above) and even luthiers mix technical and colloquial terms into the debate. That causes misunderstanding. Unfortunately, nearly all of these debates are elementary and superficial. An engineer could devise a study, or an engineering student write a thesis, that could accurately describe all the factors in play when real instruments are strung, tuned and played. I gather it's been done ... feel free to search the internet for doctoral theses on the subject.

    It's not in a string manufacturer's best interest to go into much detail in the data they provide; and players don't really need more specific information regarding the science surrounding instrument strings. With what info is easily available, a musician can choose and purchase suitable strings.

    I have, among my collection of guitars, a solidbody guitar and a hollowbody archtop (with same 25.5" scale, equipped with frequensator tailpiece), sporting identical 12-52 nickle wound strings. It's trivially easy to play both instruments and notice that the feel of the strings on the archtop is vastly different. The low strings are stiff, and the vibration of the three lower strings seem "tighter". That observation can be misinterpreted as "higher tension", but that would be wrong terminology. Still, "stiffer" is what you feel, and the sound of those string reflect that impression.

    To do a remotely scientific comparison, both guitars would have to be identical. So, a better comparison is two Strats, one with a reverse headstock. I no longer own the reverse headstock example, but when comparing the two years ago, same style instrument, same strings, the difference in feel ... string compliance, bendability, stiffer feel on lower strings, more controlled sound on lower strings, was clearly evident. Same scale, same pitch. The difference ... length of string from nut to tuner.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2021
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  7. DugT

    DugT Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm almost positive of this: No matter how long a string is the same tension is required along the entire length of the string to achieve a specific pitch from the string between the nut and the bridge. The distance between the nut and the tuner is irrelevant.

    I'm almost as confident in this: The longer a string is, the more elastic it will feel. For example, it is easier to deflect a long string two inches than it is to deflect a short string two inches.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2021
  8. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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  9. reckless meanie

    reckless meanie Tele-Holic

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    Because they look stupid.
     
  10. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    The pitch is determined by the frequency of vibration, nothing else. Tension is required to achieve that frequency. Tension describes the weight of the pull on the string. Long or short, same weight, same tension. That's not the issue.

    A longer SCALE requires more tension to get the same pitch. That's obvious, right?
    A longer string vibrating from nut to bridge has a greater mass, at whatever tension the scale requires than a shorter string on the same scale.

    The scale is nut to bridge.
    The pitch is frequency from nut to bridge.
    The string is under tension through it's entire length. I'm not saying a longer string is under greater tension, same scale, I'm saying a longer string has more mass than a shorter string, so the pliability, compliance, resistance to deflection, changes.

    The only way to get this is to just try instruments that demonstrate the phenomenon. That's why inventors came up with frequensator and finger style tailpieces. See pics.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Allan Allan

    Allan Allan Tele-Afflicted

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    I don't have to assume anything. Like I already said, I have two instruments, same scale wildly different total string length. There isn't a difference.

    Also, you start off trying to compare 25.5" scale to 25" scale so I stopped reading. That's apples to oranges right off the bat. I'm pretty much done here.
     

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  12. Allan Allan

    Allan Allan Tele-Afflicted

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    Okay, I got over myself and read your argument. I still think the tension/elasticity/feel is the same no matter how much string is outside of the playable areas. I don't know, this is basically a tonewood debate at this point. You feel one thing I feel another when we play our respective guitars and that's fine.
     
  13. billy logan

    billy logan Tele-Meister

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    more food for thought. Players of headless basses and guitar, e.g., Steinberger, what say you?
    [almost typed "headless players" whew]

    Ukulele bass. Some have a scale length around 20". The tuning post arrangement pictured might hint at an effort to make the lowest-pitched string feel stiffer, less floppy>
    [​IMG]
    btw i HAVE heard a group get a good sound w/ukulele bass.


    below- Must be a reason the unusual bass strings are not just unassuming neighbors of the low-E string>
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2021
  14. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    Bye.
     
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  15. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    Cool. The guys who invented Frequensator and Finger Tailpieces where deaf and deluded, too. Convenient pics courteously provided:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  16. maxvintage

    maxvintage Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have a multiscale five string bass, Dingwall, that's really great--the multiscale thing is really ideal for a five string bass, because it eliminates the floppy low B, and the other great thing is string tension is extremely even from string to string, so all the strings "behave" the same way; they feel the same. Before I got it I didn't realize how much I was compensating as I went from high to low strings. it's obviously not necessary, but I found it to be really Ideal. The bass goes from a 37 inch scale to a 34.

    Never tried a multiscale guitar, but they seem like they'd have the same advantage. Depending on the kind of chords you play, they could be a tough adjustment.

    Most of the multiscale guitars out there seem to be aimed at shredders, which is not my thing
     
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  17. maxvintage

    maxvintage Poster Extraordinaire

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    Alternatively, the guitars which did NOT have "frequinsator" tailpieces were terrible?
     
  18. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    They serve a purpose. (Has nothing to do with intonation. You already knew that, right?) If you don't need to feel "rigid" lower strings, or hear the tone thereof, you don't need them. I need the couple of frequensators I have (on L-5 clones), but I have no "Finger" tailpieces. My friend from Beaumont has a Howard Roberts with a finger tailpiece... it works well for what it is, IMO.

    Wait 'til somebody wants to debate the L-5 adjustable tension tailpiece that adjusts up and down to put pressure on the strings toward the body of the guitar. Seems to violate the laws of physics ... and it works great, does what it claims ... changes the feel of the strings ... mysteriously.
    I think it has something to do with "break angle"
    That one is on the real L-5.
     
  19. AAT65

    AAT65 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I guess if you had a specific set of strings in mind and understood exactly what their non-ideal characteristics were that made them impossible to intonate perfectly on a standard guitar then you could design a fretboard that was intonated better across the fretboard — but I think it would look more like one of those squiggly “tempered” fretboards than like fanned frets. Fanned fret guitars just have a different scale length for each string but the intonation adjustment is primarily tweaking the scale length. So I remain unconvinced I am afraid.

    (I’m not trying to give you a hard time btw — I’m sure your friend explains this very convincingly, maybe has even convinced himself it’s so, but I don’t see the physics supporting the assertion.)
     
  20. NoTeleBob

    NoTeleBob Tele-Afflicted

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    Let's forget about the fanned frets for a moment, the Union Rep would like to speak to him about taking the bass player's job away. We're filing a grievance as you read this.

    That dude has some serious multi-coordination. My brain doesn't track like that.

    Then this schtuff is really going to blow your mind:

    [​IMG]
     
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