From a 630 mm scale to a 590 mm scale or even less?

wil weten
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From a 630 mm scale to a 590 mm scale or even less?

Post by wil weten » Thu May 30, 2019 9:39 am

Many moons ago Anton Wiegers built me a 630 mm scale study guitar with a great voice. We decided for a 630 mm scale as this was the smallest scale that enabled a scandard format body and a49 mm nut and an elevated fret board.

I can play on it with a capo on the third fret. That is to say, I am able to play a (transposed) First position F-barre chord. And I can grasp from an (transposed) F to an A at the first position.

Unfortunately, a full time job and a part-time study proved to be no great combination with my desire to learn and play the guitar, and I decided to let the guitar rest until better times. And when they finally came, I went for some other musical dreams.

After several more or less failed tries , I'm again trying to find my way back to the guitar. So I dug out some simple sheet music and tried to play it. It goes better than expected, maybe because playing the lever harp has helped my fingers to stretch better.

Yes, I could go on playing always with a capo on the third position of my 630 mm scale guitar. Am I correct that this would probably give me a better sound than playing on the first position of a guitar that would better suit my fingers? But I'd like to play duets with another guitarist who doesn't like to use a capo on their guitar and tuning down a minor third and placing the capo on the third fret doesn't feel right to me.

To make a long story short, according to the formula of the EGTA (Ratgeber Gitarrenkauf I), ideally I would need a 570 mm scale guitar. Well, when I put a capo on the first fret of my 630 mm guitar to 'fake' a 580 mm scale guitar and I still couldn't grasp from an (transposed) F to an A at the first position...

I then measured the length of the scale of my 630 scale guitar with a capo on the third position and I was shocked to see that this was 530 mm. So, am I right that in fact, I would need a 530 mm scale guitar to be able to play without a capo?

Would it be a reasonable alternative to buy a 580 or 590 mm guitar (these can be easily found in guitar shops even with a solid top) and play it with the guitar tuned half a tone too low and with a capo on the first position? Then I would have effectively a 530 mm scale guitar with the body of a 580 or 590 mm scale guitar, right?

What would be wisdom in my place? As a granny, I'm afraid my finger, lean and supple as they are, probably aren't going to stretch much, no matter how much I study.

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Re: From a 630 mm scale to a 590 mm scale or even less?

Post by celestemcc » Thu May 30, 2019 1:23 pm

Just a thought... if you visit Daniel Ho Creations online, you'll find a "D Ho 6 String". It's a guitar, tuned E to E, with an unusual shape, but that shape also gives it an impressive sound. The scale of the instrument is 21 inches, ca 533 mm. I've just ordered one myself for a fun instrument I can travel with. I know I'll need to have strap pegs put in to maintain a classical guitar posture... but something like this may suit your needs. Pepe Romero Jr also makes a "guilele" in traditional guitar shape, the scale of that is 20 inches, and the sound is also impressive.
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souldier
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Re: From a 630 mm scale to a 590 mm scale or even less?

Post by souldier » Thu May 30, 2019 1:53 pm

If you have easy access to such an instrument in your local guitar shop, I'd say go for it! There really are no rules, and if it works for you, go for it and see how it turns out. You'll probably just have to experiment with different string tensions to see what works best.
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Michael.N.
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Re: From a 630 mm scale to a 590 mm scale or even less?

Post by Michael.N. » Thu May 30, 2019 2:50 pm

Your 580 / 590 mm scale is roughly at terz guitar scale (tuned a minor third higher than standard). That doesn't mean that you are compelled to play at a minor third higher though. A combination of tuning down and altering the gauge of the strings will give you standard E tuning - if that's what you wish.
You may have to accept that string tension will be a little lower than normal, assuming that you don't wish to play on very thick strings. Of course you will also have to accept that the bass will not sound as deep as a 650 scale full sized guitar. Neither does it have to be 580 scale, 600 or 610 mm is equally valid. There's always a compromise to face with both long and short scale lengths.
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wil weten
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Re: From a 630 mm scale to a 590 mm scale or even less?

Post by wil weten » Fri May 31, 2019 7:40 am

Thanks for your insights, souldier and Michael.
Souldier, I do agree with you I need to go to a guitar shop, but I haven't got one in my neighbourhood, so I want to make a kind of preselection first and then find out which places I'd best go to first. I hope to find an instrument thal looks and sounds a lot like a real classical guitar. Until now I could find some smaller scale guitars with a solid top, but none that are all solid, like my handbuilt 630 mm scale study guitar. And as far as I could listen to online sound clips, none of them even comes close in the richness of sound as mine..

Michael, yesterday I lowered the tension with half a note and put a capo on the first fret in order to mimic a 580 mm scale. The guitar still sounds fine, but the Savarez Aliiance High tension feels like low tension, So low that I won't try to do the same for the second or third position. Yes, I understand that if I go this way, I''ll need strings with a harder tension. Also, I think that I may benefit from an even smaller nut than my current 49 mm one when I would keep on playing on a guitar with a permanently placed capo. I lke carbon strings, so I am lucky that they are rather thin in comparison to nylon. Yes, I understand it's a compromise and my challenge is to find out which elements I should and which I should not compromise on.

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Michael.N.
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Re: From a 630 mm scale to a 590 mm scale or even less?

Post by Michael.N. » Fri May 31, 2019 11:54 am

Don't expect a 580 scale to be as rich in sound as a 630 scale. It's a big difference, 5 cm's. A 630 scale can go on a full sized modern classical (or very near) but with 580 scale the maker is virtually forced to go to a small bodied guitar. That's the important bit that limits bass depth and any perceived sound of a truly full rich sound - at least in comparison to a full sized 650 or 630 scale. All a maker can do is to maximise the lower frequencies as best within the confines of the scale/body size. It means a thin top and a large lower bout, without getting silly about it and producing a very odd looking guitar. At least that's been my experience of making guitars are various scale lengths and body sizes. I could be mistaken but I doubt that I am.
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wil weten
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Re: From a 630 mm scale to a 590 mm scale or even less?

Post by wil weten » Fri May 31, 2019 1:00 pm

Hi Michael, yes, that''s what the builder of my study guitar told me: that with a 630 mm scale he could still make me a full sized body, but not with a smaller scale. So, we then agreed on him building a 630 mm guitar for me. It had already a very nice voice when I got it in 1988 and it has developed into an even more great voice.

I am sure you are right about the bass notes and the richness of sound. What you told me about the bodies of guitars sounds a lot like what I know about the bodies of lever harps...

So, now, I think it's best to go on using a capo on my 630 mm scale guitar.

Thanks, guys, for sharing your thoughts with me.

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Michael.N.
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Re: From a 630 mm scale to a 590 mm scale or even less?

Post by Michael.N. » Fri May 31, 2019 1:49 pm

Yes. The only downside of using a capo is that access to the access to say the 11 th, 12 th and higher frets becomes more limited. That may not matter, dependent on what you are playing.
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wil weten
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Re: From a 630 mm scale to a 590 mm scale or even less?

Post by wil weten » Fri May 31, 2019 2:30 pm

Indeed, Michael playing the higher positions with a capo on the third position is awkward, but until now, this seldom has occurred. My main problem was/is playing with others, but I could solve this with tuning my guitar lower in combination with a capo.

With my current Savarez Alliance High Tension this still works well for the first position in terms of sound and string tension, though I am a bit tempted to look for another set of strings with a bit more tension.

But first, I find out whether my fingers would like to stretch enough for me to let me become more or less comfortable with playing with a capo on the first position.

Otherwise, I'll try and find other strings with a bit more tension that sound well enough to have the guitar lowered a full note with the capo on the second position.

The capo on the third position feels most comfortable, but like you said, position playing is limited. And I can't imagine finding a set of strings sounding and feeling real good when I lower the tuning a minor third.

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Re: From a 630 mm scale to a 590 mm scale or even less?

Post by billchivers » Fri Jun 21, 2019 4:12 am

A few manufacturers make 580mm guitars for children, I played one for 9 months after a fretting-hand injury until I could transition back to 650mm.

Mine is a Katoh MGC40C with solid cedar top and laminated mahogany back and sides. The body is smaller than standard and the nut 48mm. It had some sharp fret ends so I had a fret dress done plus setup. Given its price and body size, the Katoh is fine and it makes a good travel guitar as you can take it with you on a plane. It is tuned EADGBE with high-tension strings, but it actually feels easier to fret than a 650mm with mediums.

I think my Katoh would sell for under $200 in the US, less for the laminated top version, so it might be worth buying one to see whether you can play that size.

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Amy Gaudia
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Re: From a 630 mm scale to a 590 mm scale or even less?

Post by Amy Gaudia » Fri Jun 21, 2019 4:34 am

Hi,
I highly recommend this Raimundo 1492 -610. I had one, and many times compared the sound quality to a Cordoba C7 and it was actually sweeter and definitely VERY comfortable to hold and play.

https://www.guitarfromspain.com/en/spec ... -61cm.html
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Re: From a 630 mm scale to a 590 mm scale or even less?

Post by billchivers » Sat Jun 22, 2019 2:57 am

I should have mentioned above that Katoh sells as "Martinez" in the USA.

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Re: From a 630 mm scale to a 590 mm scale or even less?

Post by simonm » Sat Jun 22, 2019 10:20 am

wil weten wrote:
Thu May 30, 2019 9:39 am
...
To make a long story short, according to the formula of the EGTA (Ratgeber Gitarrenkauf I), ideally I would need a 570 mm scale guitar. Well, when I put a capo on the first fret of my 630 mm guitar to 'fake' a 580 mm scale guitar and I still couldn't grasp from an (transposed) F to an A at the first position...
...
As you know the EGTA, if you are looking for a cheap guitar to try look here: http://www.egta-d.de/page/aktuelles_git ... _2015.html It lists the winners of their 2015 competition for student guitars. There will be a new list in the not too distant future as the current edition of the competition is running. I don't know if they ran a competition in 2017.

wil weten
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Re: From a 630 mm scale to a 590 mm scale or even less?

Post by wil weten » Sat Jun 22, 2019 12:13 pm

Hi Simon, yes, thanks for chiming in. I already found the information from 1991 onwards (every two years).

The newest report being for 2019-2020. Five manufacturers sent in 28 guitars. Only of two manufacturers (Granada and La Mancha) got through the test with one or more of the sent in models being recommended. Have a look at: http://www.egta-d.de/page/media/pdf/Art ... 9-2020.pdf
I think it's relevant that according to the report the sent in guitars have improved in the course of time.
For the competition of 2017-2018, three manufacturers sent in guitars and only two got through (La Mancha and Hellweg).
For the competition of 2015-2016, two manufacturers sent in guitars and only one got through (La Mancha)
For the competition of 2013-2014, four manufacturers sent in guitars and trhee got through (La Mancha,, Hopf and Artesano)
For the competition of 2011-2012, four manufacturers sent in guitars and two got through (La Mancha and Hellweg)
For the competition of 2010-2011, six manufacturers sent in guitars and two got through (Hellweg and Höfner)


For the results of a list of EGTA-competitions, have a look at: http://www.egta-d.de/page/gitarrenbauwettbewerb.html
By the way, I feel very fortunate to be able to read German, but I guess Google Translate nowadays can get everybody a more or less understandable translation into one's mother tongue.

I guess one of the requirements for the competition would be that the guitars must be cheap. The most expensive one costs just about 320 euro. Even now that I know that these La Mancha's are built in China, I still have a problem to believe this could be really decent guitars for this price. I guess they provide great value for money for starting guitar pupils.

Neither of the winning guitars is all solid, though. The better ones do have a solid soundboard, but no solid back and sides. Perhaps this would not be audible anyway for guitars with a signifcantly smaller body. I listened to some soundclips at the big German T. music shop (the one that ends with ...mann). My own all solid 63 cm scale guitar sounds much fuller and richer than these entry level guitars, but perhaps it may also have something to do with soundclips perhaps being playedn by people who usually play acoustic guitar instead of classical guitar . Or perhaps it has something to do with the recording equipment. Or perhaps I just need to understand that I need to find a balance between playability and sound.

By the way, the EGTA was significantly more enthousiastic about the sound of the 63 scale La Mancha Guitars than of the 59 scale La Mancha Guitars. But then, I alreay have a fine guitar with a 63 cm scale.

wil weten
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Re: From a 630 mm scale to a 590 mm scale or even less?

Post by wil weten » Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:30 pm

Update.

As the proof of the pudding is in the eating, after 'faking' a smaller scale with a capo, I finally decided to try a La Mancha 59-N. This is a simple guitar with a solid cedar soundboard, a 590 mm scale and a 45mm nut. It comes with Savarez Alliance Cantiga High Tension

By the way, with a little embarassment I have to say, that I found out my first guitar which I thought had a 630 mm scale, had a 620 mm scale... So, the new guitar is 30 mm shorter and the body is signifcantly shorter and flatter.

As the 49 mm nut of my first guitar was still rather large for me, I decided for the extra small (45 mm) nut. The standard nut for La Mancha 59 is 49 mm.

The guitar arrived some days ago, so I am still in my trial period (I've got 30 days money back guarantee, though in fact this is a 14 days money back, as after that period I would have to pay for the transporting costs back). I simply love it! It's very comfortable to play and I like its sound. Of course, one should not compare it to the great sound of my luthier built other guitar, but then, it is way cheaper and it sounds really nice. I bet it would even sound better with other strings (I'm thinking of trying La Bella Vivace Carbon Strings with medium tension), but the strings the guitar came with are neat enough for the moment.

I was afraid the sound of the instrument would be too soft to be able to play duets with another guitarist, but I'm glad to say, playing together with a full scale guitar works just fine (fortunately, the other guitarist doesn't play very loud, so your mileage may vary).

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