You know you need a 640 scale when...

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
User avatar
lagartija
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 11410
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 5:37 pm
Location: Western Massachusetts, USA

Re: You know you need a 640 scale when...

Post by lagartija » Wed Aug 19, 2009 3:41 pm

georgejt wrote:
Well, I am again envious of the generously proportioned hands of others. My two hands are more or less identical, at around 5.75 inches (14.5 cm) from pinky tip to index tip, but 9 inches (22.5 cm) from pinky tip to thumb tip. To cope with these short finges I have recently "graduated" from a 650 mm to a 640 mm scale length. Can't say I am finding it much easier at present, but then again I never expected it to. Instead, I just assumed it would mean slightly less stress on the left hand and fewer problems in the long term.

George.
George, if I understand your measurement from above, you are saying that you have a pinky to thumb measurment that exceeds mine by .5". Unless your thumb is as long as your index finger :shock: , then it sounds like a "stretch" problem that may improve as you play. The Villa Lobos piece I was referring to has a lot of chords with barres where you barre with i, skip one fret, then use m and a on the D and B string on the second fret away from the barre (not the fret next to the barre). At first, I could not separate m far enough from i to successfully fret the chord and keep the barre. But I kept trying. The "growth" in the reach of my left hand was obtained just by being persistent. Perhaps you have a similar problem to mine?
When the sun shines, bask.
__/^^^^^o>
Classical Guitar forever!

tree-hugger
Posts: 160
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 1:10 am
Location: Wollongong, Australia

Re: You know you need a 640 scale when...

Post by tree-hugger » Thu Aug 20, 2009 7:24 am

lagartija wrote:George, if I understand your measurement from above, you are saying that you have a pinky to thumb measurment that exceeds mine by .5". Unless your thumb is as long as your index finger :shock: , then it sounds like a "stretch" problem that may improve as you play. The Villa Lobos piece I was referring to has a lot of chords with barres where you barre with i, skip one fret, then use m and a on the D and B string on the second fret away from the barre (not the fret next to the barre). At first, I could not separate m far enough from i to successfully fret the chord and keep the barre. But I kept trying. The "growth" in the reach of my left hand was obtained just by being persistent. Perhaps you have a similar problem to mine?
Lagartija,

I do intend to be persistent, but regardless of how much stretch capacity eventually develops I realise that I will be limited in the pieces that I can play relative to someone with larger hands. My way of dealing with this is to make sure that whatever pieces are within my physical limitations I play as well as possible - just like the old saying about concentrating on enjoying what you have and don't waste time worrying about what you don't have.

The barre you mention - my teacher has me learning to do a similar barre, but I am using the a and c fingers on the B and D strings, playing D and F respectively, while the first finger barres the first fret. Don't know if I could ever manage m and a on the third fret whilst index finger is barring the first.

George.

User avatar
lagartija
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 11410
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 5:37 pm
Location: Western Massachusetts, USA

Re: You know you need a 640 scale when...

Post by lagartija » Thu Aug 20, 2009 6:18 pm

The barre you mention - my teacher has me learning to do a similar barre, but I am using the a and c fingers on the B and D strings, playing D and F respectively, while the first finger barres the first fret. Don't know if I could ever manage m and a on the third fret whilst index finger is barring the first.
If by c you mean the pinky finger, well.... I needed that for the next note -yet one more fret away- and didn't have that as an option! (BTW, this barre is on the 3rd fret)
Anyway, your teacher will keep things within your reach, so to speak. I like a little bit of stretch for a challenge (in all meanings of the word) but I am very happy to have a 645 scale guitar and not larger.
:bye:
When the sun shines, bask.
__/^^^^^o>
Classical Guitar forever!

parkher

Re: You know you need a 640 scale when...

Post by parkher » Sat Sep 05, 2009 11:05 pm

How do you measure the span between the thumb and the pinky?
It is inacurate when keeping the hand up.
If I place it palm down on a sheet of paper and mark with a pencil, it seems I am getting a little bit more than attempting to measure directly the hand.
Anyway, measured on a piece of paper:
- when spread but still quite relaxed (I can keep it that way as long as I want) : 23 cm = 9 and 1/16 inches or so.
- when spread as far as it goes until it almost hurts (without the help of the other hand or the surface on which the paper sheet is placed, of course): 24.5 cm = 9 and 10/16 inches

I manage to play with 1st and 4th fingers on frets 1 and 6 on any two strings (but prefer not to - it requires a very forward-down-right elbow position),
or barre on 1st fret and 4th finger on 5th fret - not very easy, but quite doable.

On piano, I can play all the 10ths, although the worst of them C#-F - just barely, also G#-C is quite difficult,
I can hit the all white ones not only with the thumb from the side, but also from above, but with no room to spare, with quite spread out and tense hand.
So chromatic scales in tenths or longer fast walking tenth runs are painful - no time to relax the hand in between the notes.
I can also play octaves on piano with piano fingers 2-5 = guitar fingers 1-4
But all the above is with the left hand only, the right hand cannot play tenths or octaves with 2-5 fingers, that is because the span of the left hand increased gradually with stretching and I did no stretching of the right hand.

Perhaps piano is a good indicator do I need 640 mm scale or not?


If my calculations are right, the 640 mm scale reduces the stretch between frets 1-6 by 2.37 mm and between 1-5 by 1.95 mm,
but at the higher positions there is less room left for fingers by:
on 9th fret - 0.35 mm
on 12th fret - 0.3 mm
on 15th fret - 0.25 mm
on 19th fret - 0.2 mm - I don't think I ever played on 19th, though.

So 2 mm gain is probably more noticeable than 0.3 mm loss, therefore 640mm scale perhaps is a good solution for those who need it.

But do I need it?

Until now I was always playing 650 mm, never occured to me that I might need 640 until I saw here this 9 inch rule
I am thinking about getting Pavan TP-30 spruce top, so I could choose TP-30-64 instead but I'd rather have the regular one if I don't really need 640.

Sor-Head

Re: 650 mm with capo is 615 mm

Post by Sor-Head » Sun Sep 06, 2009 6:47 am

AsturiasFan wrote:-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A 650 mm guitar with a capo behind the first fret has an effective scale length of 615 mm.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In another thread, Michael N kindly gave the link http://www.stewmac.com/FretCalculator to compute distances between frets.

Use the fret calculator to get the tables for the 650 mm and 615 mm scales. Be sure to use the 12 frets, mm
and acoustic options. Removing the first row of the 650 mm table, equivalent to putting a capo behind the first fret, gives a table that is extremely close to the 615 mm table.

If you get no benefit from putting a capo on a 650 and tuning back down to standard, then it seems going to a shorter scale would be pointless.
Quite so. Unless you had a narrower fingerboard as well.

papazian

Re: You know you need a 640 scale when...

Post by papazian » Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:03 pm

davidinla wrote:I have hands on the smaller side of average and started to think I might get a smaller scale guitar one day and then a funny thing happened. I was playing something for my teacher and he said that I should consider getting a 664mm guitar next time. I looked at him and said no one has ever accused me of having large hands before. We compared hands and ours were the same (he plays a 640mm). He said, you have fat fingers and a wide palm and my need the extra size to get your hands into tight positions up the neck. I laughed and said "fat fingers?" He said, OK, well wide pads at the tips of your fingers. He went on to say that the hand will always stretch for long reaches but you can't make your fingers thinner.

You know you need a 640 scale when you don't have "fat fingers."


David
David,
Thanks for the reassurance. My hands--width and pads--are like yours. I think I could use a larger scale guitar--perhaps a 660-664 to get into tight positions.

Best,
Gene.

Joe de V

Re: You know you need a 640 scale when...

Post by Joe de V » Fri Oct 23, 2009 11:06 pm

When I first started learning my first guitar scale length was 650mm. I have a "cxrippled" anular finger in my fretting hand and decided to "move-down"
to a shorter scale length. It did help and in the meantime my anular "bad-finger" improved to where I can use the 650mm instrument with some extra effort.
The short story is that now I own several guitars ranging from a short 535mm all the way up to the 650mm and I still enjoy the smaller scales (630mm-610"-587mm)
guitars and play them as much as any of my three 650mm that I own.
My point being that if the music and volume sounds just right for the piece being play a small scale guitar can be a lot of fun to play and keep around.
Note: None of my instruments have "laminated-tops" so that in a smaller instrument in particular the quality it appears to be of great importance.

parkher

Re: You know you need a 640 scale when...

Post by parkher » Tue Nov 03, 2009 8:50 am

I propose this way to measure perhaps more consistently the span between the pinkie and the thumb.
I believe it is quite a precise way, although may produce somewhat higher numbers:

put the hand on the top of the neck next to the fretboard, place the end of the pinkie right at the edge of the nut where fretboard begins,
allow the three middle fingers to drop down onto the strings and stretch the pinkie and the thumb alongside the fretboard on the top of the neck, you may even press down the hand, if you think you can get a better distance, check again if the pinkie did not shift, mark where the thumb ends.

My thumb ends right in the middle of the 9-th fret (on 650 mm guitar). The span is 24.8 cm = 9 3/4 inches

Now, I found a post by someone somewhere: "my hand spans 8.25 inches (21 cm). I play a 664 mm instrument, which is perfectly comfortable"
So not sure if I really need 640 mm

User avatar
lagartija
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 11410
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 5:37 pm
Location: Western Massachusetts, USA

Re: You know you need a 640 scale when...

Post by lagartija » Tue Nov 03, 2009 1:38 pm

parkher wrote:
put the hand on the top of the neck next to the fretboard, place the end of the pinkie right at the edge of the nut where fretboard begins,
allow the three middle fingers to drop down onto the strings and stretch the pinkie and the thumb alongside the fretboard on the top of the neck, you may even press down the hand, if you think you can get a better distance, check again if the pinkie did not shift, mark where the thumb ends.

My thumb ends right in the middle of the 9-th fret (on 650 mm guitar). The span is 24.8 cm = 9 3/4 inches

Now, I found a post by someone somewhere: "my hand spans 8.25 inches (21 cm). I play a 664 mm instrument, which is perfectly comfortable"
So not sure if I really need 640 mm
WOW! Your hand is really big! My measurement according to your method: thumb is 1/8" past the 7th fret wire on a 645 scale guitar.
When the sun shines, bask.
__/^^^^^o>
Classical Guitar forever!

parkher

Re: You know you need a 640 scale when...

Post by parkher » Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:10 am

I certainly would not say that my hand is really bing, I think it is quite small.
I am green with envy of people with larger hands - I barely can reach 10ths on piano, stretching with pain,
and others can do so with relaxed hand.

40k/year

Re: You know you need a 640 scale when...

Post by 40k/year » Fri Nov 13, 2009 5:00 pm

Howdy, Any inners? I'm a Rook(can I play?)
Enjoying this thread and am responding to queries as re: Builders who create 640, 630 scale instruments.
Kenny Hill makes 640s and, he introduced himself to me at SBGS weekend last spring in Cal., saying: "The first thing I'd do is put you into a 640!" If you check his website I believe you'll find he has just made a "parlor" size 630, first-time "prototype"(?) and has/had it for offering.
My reaction, of course, was to accept the challenge and reciprocate with a challenge to a dual. Alas, I thought better of that(what the hell does 640 mean!?). Now that he has wakened me a bit, and having Goog'd
the topic...Kenny is correct. I, too, am beginning the beautiful search for a Guit built to my needs (Geezer/Pain). I'll take a 240 scale on a cigarbox if she sounds beautiful. He is a delightful guy.

I have GAS (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome)

User avatar
Erik Zurcher
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 17260
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 8:38 pm
Location: The Hague, Netherlands

Re: You know you need a 640 scale when...

Post by Erik Zurcher » Fri Nov 13, 2009 9:12 pm

Hi 40k/year,
As a new member will you introduce yourself here? viewforum.php?f=28
Reedition Domingo Esteso by Conde Hermanos 2004; Kenny Hill, model Barcelona 2001
"While you try to master classical guitar, prepare for a slave's life: the guitar will forever be your master and you its slave".

Bonita

Re: You know you need a 640 scale when...

Post by Bonita » Fri Nov 13, 2009 11:07 pm

I thought I'd come back to this thread to add another wrinkle in my CG journey.

I thought I needed a short scale as my hands are quite small.

But after coming back to the CG for the umpteenth time and playing regularly since May, my left had stretch has gotten bigger, much bigger than my right hand. I don't have a digital camera, if I did I would take a picture, it is quite amusing. I actually noticed it when I over-reached a position a few times.

My current teacher said I would be "lazy" going to short scale.

My new darling (Yamaha GC-31) is standard scale but with a somewhat flattened neck from front to back, which increases its playability for me.

Has anyone else ever experienced this increased stretch in their left hands?

User avatar
lagartija
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 11410
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 5:37 pm
Location: Western Massachusetts, USA

Re: You know you need a 640 scale when...

Post by lagartija » Sat Nov 14, 2009 2:29 am

Yup! I had the same experience; after a few months, I was overreaching on some of the earlier pieces I learned because my left hand had stretched out a lot from the time I played them last. It is like the kid who has a growth spurt and starts hitting his head on the door frame... just doesn't realize how big he got! :lol:
When the sun shines, bask.
__/^^^^^o>
Classical Guitar forever!

AsturiasFan

Re: You know you need a 640 scale when...

Post by AsturiasFan » Sat Nov 14, 2009 2:38 am

guitarwoman wrote:I thought I'd come back to this thread to add another wrinkle in my CG journey. Has anyone else ever experienced this increased stretch in their left hands?
My guitar teacher said that Ted Green said that by playing stretchy chords your hand's can grow. I think my teacher may have paraphrased somewhat incorrectly but you get the idea. My stretch seems to be quite fixed. However, my tendons are getting stronger so stretches are getting easier by becoming less painful to form. Tendons become thicker with use. Sometimes I will practice on a difficult stretch chord and after months it will suddenly become easy just because I finally discovered the proper position of the hand/wrist.

Return to “Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists”