Scale length

Kevin Brown

New member
Messages
2
G'day Gentlemen

First post here so please be gentle with me.  :)

Simple question:

Scale length how does it affect tone?
If the wood (body neck and fingerboard) was kept the same how would changing the scale length of the neck affect the tone of the instrument?

I am considering a VW in Mahogany fixed bridge with P90, or Mahogany Thinline with P90's.  I am aiming towards Gibson Junior type sound... Think Leslie West (Mountain)

As I know that Gibson use a 24'' 3/4 scale length I was wondering how a 25'' 1/2 scale would affect the tone.

I would be interested to hear anyones view on the subject.

Cheers

Kevin


 

Rick

Senior member
Messages
4,509
Yes, scale length affects tone very much.  In fact, it's huge.

Shorter scale will be perceived as thicker and creamier, or more muddy, depending on your ears.
Longer scale will be brighter, tighter and more focused.

Only way to know what you like is to build your Gibsony type guitar.  Then try a Fender tele/strat type guitar.

My view, is that I like both, though I seem more inclined to the tele type of scale length for it's more bell like tone.  To each his own.  Also, I find the gibson length too lose.  So I guess it also depends on your finger strength.  But that develops over time.
 

jw5150

New member
Messages
5
Don't forget that tone starts with your hands.

The scale can change the tone a little bit but nothing different gauge strings or a knob tweak can't overcome. The scale affects playability more than anything else. If you've got smaller hands than it's more comfortable. If you've got larger hands than obviously go with the longer scale.
 

Alfang

Senior member
Messages
2,596
I have heard and also believe, that the gibson scale (24 3/4) is gonna play and sound( see below) about the same as tuning a 25 1/2 scale down a half a step.

Except that the sound is realy a half step lower. 24 3/4 and 25 1/2 (lowered 1/2) will be easier to bend strings and have a more mellow growel.

Hard to believe 3/4 of an inch is such a big deal.
 

Rick

Senior member
Messages
4,509
The question was, how does scale length affect tone.  I play both shorter and longer scale guitars, and all things being equal, it's a huge difference.  No matter what strings I put on or how much I eq them, I can really tell a difference.  But that's just my ears, and of course, other people may have different experiences.  One of the purposes of the different scale lengths, is in fact, to get a different tone quality.

Of course, if you have really small hands then a 25.5 would make no sense for you.
 

Alfang

Senior member
Messages
2,596
Rick, I understood the question fully thankyou very much. If you didn't get it, you figure it out. I was simply making a comparison between two similar tones and feels. the "tone of 24 3/4 is the same as a 25 1/2 tuned down half a step, whats so hard to figure out?

The so called purpose of the diferent scale lengths probably has more to do with random selection than any tonal purpose. Both the 25 1/2 and 24 3/4 scale length originated before the term Tone was invented,

and why would small hands be any different for a 25.5 scale vs 24.75?  the difference is so small it does not matter.

And by the way, I agree with your first post on this thread
 

tfarny

Senior member
Messages
4,481
agree with above (it matters, shorter is thicker longer is brighter), but I do think the distance between frets is noticeably different to the hands, and a worthy point of comparison. I recently started tuning down to Eb, and I agree it's comparable bending and tone-wise (string gauge being the same). If you think 3/4" is a small difference, think about the probably 1 millimeter or so that separates a 7 1/2 radius from a 16" radius or the incredibly small differences in fret height that guitarists microanalyze to death (which also matters).

To the OP: If you wanna make it play like a gibson, and you prefer gibsons, get a 24 3/4 neck, no reason not to.
 

DiMitriR33

Senior member
Messages
604
Rick said:
The question was, how does scale length affect tone.  I play both shorter and longer scale guitars, and all things being equal, it's a huge difference.  No matter what strings I put on or how much I eq them, I can really tell a difference.  But that's just my ears, and of course, other people may have different experiences.  One of the purposes of the different scale lengths, is in fact, to get a different tone quality.

Of course, if you have really small hands then a 25.5 would make no sense for you.

i thought the answers were satisfactory. if he was looking for the physics behind it there are many reasons and none realy worth knowing. just a matter of preference.
 

Kevin Brown

New member
Messages
2
Thank you all for your replies.


What I am getting from all the replies is that the scale can have a very dramatic affect on overall sound.  But there also seems to be a personal preference involved.

I like the 25'' scale of my PRS.  I also have an old Tokai strat type that I play a great deal... What I am after is a Gibson P90 equipped junior sound with a VW body, wishful thinking?? 

For the record I have hands that could be used as the front shovel on a JCB.... so maybe the longer scale length suits me better.  I tune the strat down a half step, have for years (OK I heard SRV and Jimmy Hendrix did it so I had too .........sorry), this is the first time I have heard that the it makes a 25.5 scale sound like a 24.75 scale - learn something new everyday. 

I think I will go with a 25.5" neck rather than the 24.75.  It will be more like what I am used to.... I agree with tfarny the difference between corresponding frets in the two scales is noticeable, particularly in the higher register of the neck..  I can always tune down a half step to give it a more mellow growl.....

Thank you all for taking the time to reply...
I will think on this some more...
When I finally decide and start the build I will post some pictures.

Cheers

Kevin




 

Funky Phil

Senior member
Messages
324
I know it's a bit of a technicality, but...

The reduction in tension going from a 25.5" to a 24.75" is about 6%

The reduction in tension going from a 9's set to a 10's set is about 18%

The reduction in tension when tuning down one semi-tone is about 12%

I guess that's why some string manufacturers make 9.5 and 10.5 gauges  :dontknow:
 

tfarny

Senior member
Messages
4,481
You mean the "increase" in tension from 9s to 10s, right? very interesting. I'm using 10.5s tuned to Eb on my #1 axe right now.
 
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