693mm SCALE, THE NEW 650mm ?

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693mm SCALE, THE NEW 650mm ?

Post by GuitarsWeB » Tue May 29, 2018 8:29 pm

Post by James Lister » Thursday 24 May 2018, 03:30 am

BethFR wrote: ↑Wednesday 23 May 2018, 13:49 pm
GuitarsWeB wrote: ↑Tuesday 22 May 2018, 07:45 am
A 615mm scale is basically like placing a capo on the frist fret of a 650mm. There's a big difference there, but not that much between 650mm and 665mm, the difference being measured from the 1st fret to the say 5th or 5th fret.
This advice has always baffled me. Because you haven't in fact moved every fret just a little bit closer together, you've just chopped off the first fret on a regular fretboard. I'm not a luthier and perhaps I'm misunderstanding what happens when you shorten the scale. In any case, I never found playing with capo 1 solved my particular hand anatomy problem, and it does not sound good to me.
In terms of distance between frets, putting a capo on the first fret of a 650mm scale guitar will give you the same effect as having a shorter scale guitar (613.5mm to be precise).

For reference, here's a chart showing the fret positions for a number of common (and a few less common) scale lengths:

Scales01.jpg (88.63 KiB) Viewed 40 times
From this you can calculate the distance between the 1st and 5th frets (long stretch) or the 1st and 6th frets (very long stretch) for each scale length:

Scales02.jpg (22.84 KiB) Viewed 40 times
If you now measure your hand stretch from 1st to pinky (as mentioned above, thumb is much less relevant), you'll get some idea of what you're capable of managing on each scale. Note that my left hand measures 155mm from 1st finger to pinky, yet I find 1st to 6th fret stretch VERY difficult on a 650mm scale guitar.

So if you look at the difference between a 650mm scale and a 640mm scale you will see that you only gain a couple of millimeters. This isn't much, but it can be enough to make a difference. The difference between a 650mm scale and a 613.5mm scale (capo at 1st fret) for a 1st to 5th fret stretch is 7.1mm, which should be really noticeable.

I'm currently finishing off the French polish on a commission for a 613.5mm scale guitar. This is the shortest scale guitar I've made (excluding a 3/4 size I made for my daughter some years ago), so I'm very interested to see how it feels and sounds.

As has already been discussed, scale length is not the only factor affecting playability, but it is certainly a significant one. Others include nut width (strictly speaking - string spacing at the nut), action (at both nut and 12th fret), relief, neck profile, fingerboard profile (radiussed or flat), and string tension.


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