You know you need a 640 scale when...

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
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Cary W
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Location: North of Montreal

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

Post by Cary W » Sat Nov 14, 2009 3:07 am

guitarwoman wrote: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?
I also play the Yamaha GC31. With my last teacher I learned to increase my reach through relaxation and better arm positioning.

I just measured my reach from thumb to pinky after outlining on a piece of paper..at full stretch 247mm or 9 3/4 inches.

Some reaches are just plain difficult on the guitar..you really have to contort yourself to get them.

By the way, Ana Vidovic seems to have worked out ways of doing it..is she playing a shorter scale?
2008 Yamaha GC31C Indian/cedar D'Addario EJ46
1987 Yamaha GC-3 Indian/cedar D'Addario EJ45

Bonita

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

Post by Bonita » Mon Nov 16, 2009 3:16 am

Hello everyone, I now have a picture of my hands that I will post, it is a little weird looking but shows the rather remarkable diffeence in the stretch of my two hands.

The left hand is in the rear of the picture. You can also see the sloping to the thumb shape of my i, m, and a on my right hand; this length is quite long enough to get a solid nail sound out of the strings.

No, this is not a picture of zombie hands.... :lol:

Image

Pixels3d

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

Post by Pixels3d » Sat Nov 21, 2009 8:37 pm

HAHA! Nope- not Zombie hands. Not green enough. I too have relatively small hands and am considering a 640 -but perhaps with work my hand span will also stretch. Thanks for posting that!

guitarwoman wrote:Hello everyone, I now have a picture of my hands that I will post, it is a little weird looking but shows the rather remarkable diffeence in the stretch of my two hands.

The left hand is in the rear of the picture. You can also see the sloping to the thumb shape of my i, m, and a on my right hand; this length is quite long enough to get a solid nail sound out of the strings.

No, this is not a picture of zombie hands.... :lol:

Image

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

Post by simonm » Fri Nov 27, 2009 8:10 pm

guitarwoman wrote: Can a 10mm difference (650 vs 640) make such a real difference?
I don't think so. That equates to about 2mm less between the first position and the 5th fret. I reckon you need to go to 630 before its really significant but that is from the perspective of someone who has no problem with the 650. However, at a certain point it will be necessary to get different strings as string tension assumes specific scale lengths.

Pixels3d

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

Post by Pixels3d » Fri Dec 04, 2009 7:04 am

I tried a 630 mm at Guitar Solo in San Francisco, California a few weeks back. It seemed really short- coming from my 654 mm Montalvo! It was very noticeable.

There is a chord in the second half of Romanza that requires (for me) a really maximal stretch- Finger 1 on the 5th fret 2nd string, 2 on the 6th fret third and 4th on the 9th fret first string. I've been placing my fingers in that position 3 or 4 times a day- and it is getting easier on my 654 mm! Anything beyond that would require a shorter guitar. It is the only thing preventing me from playing the entire piece at a 102 bpm. Right now it takes a few seconds to grab the chord

Jay

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

Post by Jay » Sat Mar 12, 2011 10:51 pm

Interesting topic
The main concern i have about smaller scale guitars is having to go from playing a 640mm for a few months or a year and go back to a full scale.
are the stretches still doable?

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

Post by FHC » Sat Mar 12, 2011 10:53 pm

How about a full-scale classical but with a smaller body size--something akin to the inexpensive La Patrie Motif?

Glenn

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

Post by Glenn » Sun Apr 10, 2011 3:11 pm

I've played a 640mm from Kenny Hill and did not find them any much easier to play then a 650mm. Expanded, pinky to thumb streched out is just over 8.5 inches.

What matters more imo is thickness of neck and action. Low action + slim thickness = easy play.
Last edited by Glenn on Tue Apr 12, 2011 12:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by hillguitar » Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:06 pm

At the risk of repeating myself, as I believe I've posted this before somewhere, ergonomics are indeed a combination of all the geometries involved. The string length may be a conceptual shorthand way of addressing this, which is deceptive. The way a player's hand interacts with the guitar relates to the string length and the neck profile [shape], string height/setup and string tension - as well as what the player brings to the guitar: hand shape, size and finger length etc etc - and what kind of shape are you in?

Every hand every guitar are different. When we generalize, we try to organize in a systematic way in order to minimize variations so we don't go insane with the choices.

From an experiential perspective, we've received feedback from smaller players, players with smaller hands, players with restricted movement and players with none of those that indicates they find our shorter scale instruments 640, 630, 628, 615 easier to play than 650. Sometimes these guitars will have smaller body sizes, and that may also be helpful.

While a 640mm fingerboard reduces the fret spacing only 5mm above the 12 fret, some people find this to make a real difference in what previously was either a painful or difficult stretch. In addition there is a reduction of string tension in the shorter scale, taking less effort to press the string. Without any degrading of audio quality we've perceived between a 650 and 640, we find generally there is very little to be concerned about, and if it makes playing easier...

LD
Hill Guitar Company
Ben Lomond, CA 95005

droll

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

Post by droll » Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:53 pm

My own thought on this topic is that a 640 (or 630,) may not only make certain chords easier but, I think more importantly, reduces the amount of tension between the LH fingers consistently, putting aside other factors which work against shorter scales like sausage fingers, etc.

Although I can make most of the everyday reaches I need to make on a 650 I often "feel" the muscular exertion required to make them. I would wager that a modest number of mm's could noticeably reduce that feeling and allow the fingers to move more fluidly overall.

I've been thinking about maybe getting a 630 for that reason, apart from being able to better negotiate those fewer knuckle-buster stretches.

doug

ace1112

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

Post by ace1112 » Thu May 19, 2011 5:27 pm

you know you need a 654 or larger when
thumb: 7 1/2 cm
I: 10 1/2 cm
M:11 cm
A: 10 1/4 cm
I never knew being born with a bigger left hand than right (by about 1 1/4 cm) would come in "handy" until i started playing

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

Post by Robin » Tue May 24, 2011 1:25 pm

It was brought to my attention in the last year or so that it might be to my advantage to try a smaller guitar. I have been playing a 650mm, full size Amalio Burguet 1A. I love it--it is so sweet and warm--but I was running into technical roadblocks that I just couldn't seem to work my way around. Things like LH finger 4 inaccuracy, over use of my LH thumb (I developed a trigger thumb at one point), excessive tension in my left shoulder and slow development of my ability to change finger and fret postions. I did a considerable amount of directed technical work which reaped improvement but then I stalled again.

I finally gave in and bought a Cordoba Dolce--a 7/8 size guitar with a 630mm scale (my cost about $260) to see if this would indeed help. I've only been working with it for several weeks but it seems the smaller scale is helping me to meet the criteria of my technical work. I still have alot of work to do learning to "undo" the unneccesary muscle tension but I can now isolate and relax muscle groups as I concentrate on using only needed muscles and readjust my LH hand/finger positions. It is a work in progress but I can see that the smaller size gives me an advantage. I was also surprised to find that the smaller body fit much more comfortably than the full size body. (I'm 5'4'' and I don't have long legs or arms. My bone structure is small to medium). As far as playing pieces, it has taken awhile to get used to--I over reach everything--but as I'm getting used to it, I find some of the LH 4 inaccuracy is just fixing itself and there is much less hand/arm tension.

This guitar is certainly no comparison to my Burguet but I can get a nice tone and good volume out of it. If I continue to like it, I'll begin to save for an upgrade in the future.


Robin
So much music, so little time.

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

Post by Tomzooki » Sun Aug 07, 2011 10:40 pm

I plan to eventually buy a 640 scale guitar. I made an attempt yesterday to work again on Un Sueno en la Floresta by Barrios, a piece I played while studying at Conservatory, but it is too much a torture... I am a 5'3'' woman with:
P = 59 mm
I = 72 mm
M = 76 mm
A = 73 mm
P = 61 mm
Pinky to thumb max span = 230 mm

I always succeed to not think too much about the unfairness of having more physical difficulties to play some pieces than most others, but yesterday I was very frustrated by my left hand, which not only is little, but also weak. I am far from having an athlete genetic... I was already dreaming about getting a Kenny Hill performance guitar. He makes them also in 640 mm...
Miodrag Zerdoner 8 string Stauffer-Legnani
Benoît Raby, Engelmann sp/Ziricote
11-strings alto guitar by Heikki Rousu, sp/indonesian RW

silvastudio

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

Post by silvastudio » Thu Aug 18, 2011 11:37 pm

I have a 640 scale and find that it just fits....feels right and I enjoy playing.

tomjtx

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

Post by tomjtx » Sat Aug 20, 2011 5:40 pm

As some have pointed out , the scale length is only part of the equation.
To me, just as important is the distance between the 6th and 1st string in the lower positions. If a Gmajor chord is uncomfortable the strings are too far apart for your hand.

A 650 length with a distance of 42 between the 2 E's is much easier to play than a 640 with a 44-45 spacing for me.

A radius fret board is also essential for me.
Steve Connor typical set up is 42 at the nut and 58 at the bridge with a radiuses fretboard. His guitars are perfect for my hands.
Toni Muller is similar but usually does 43 at the nut and this is also great for my left hand.

I think the key is to find some guitars that are easy for you to play and then find out the measurements.
And don't forget the frets :-)
I like low frets and find high frets are hard to play. Other players find just the opposite.

I have not heard a loss of volume even with a 630 scale.
One of my students has a 630 Byers and it seems louder than her husband's 650 Byers.

This summer I spent hours with friends comparing 640 and 650 Toni Muller guitars. They were both canons. Only the person playing could identify the 640 by feel, not by volume. They were the same.

I had been considering ordering my Connor and Muller with 640 until this summer. The 650, properly set up, was very easy to play.

Tom

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