What scale length for 3/4 sized guitar?

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
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jonny-mosco
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What scale length for 3/4 sized guitar?

Post by jonny-mosco » Sat Oct 02, 2010 9:25 pm

I'm in the process of ordering a 3/4 sized guitar which will be a travel guitar - the standard scale-length is 620mm, but I've been given the options of 610 or 630 also. What would be the tonal and other implications of the different lengths?

(It will have a cedar top and Indian Rosewood b/s with a double top - yes I know, a little crazy- and a 52mm nut.)

Looking forward to your responses. Thanks.

Jonny

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jonny-mosco
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Re: What scale length for 3/4 sized guitar?

Post by jonny-mosco » Mon Oct 04, 2010 10:13 am

No replies, which is a shame, I could have done with some expert help. I had to confirm the scale-length this morning, I went for 580mm in the end which oddly wasn't mentioned by the maker initially. I thought it would be a good size for a travel guitar and short enough for my children.

I'm hoping it will be possible to tune to 'E' - is that possible with certain strings?

Jonny

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SeanWinkler
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Re: What scale length for 3/4 sized guitar?

Post by SeanWinkler » Mon Oct 04, 2010 10:42 am

LaBella makes strings for fractional guitars to tune to standard pitch, and you should be able to find them online at their site.
Remember Anthony Weller, please help. Contact myself or Aaron Green for details.

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jonny-mosco
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Re: What scale length for 3/4 sized guitar?

Post by jonny-mosco » Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:04 am

Very helpful - thank you. I'll check to see if they send to Europe.

Jonny

simonm
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Re: What scale length for 3/4 sized guitar?

Post by simonm » Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:17 am

Hannabach (Germany - easy from France or the UK) also does any length you want ... you have to dig on their site but its there.
Last edited by simonm on Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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jonny-mosco
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Re: What scale length for 3/4 sized guitar?

Post by jonny-mosco » Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:22 am

Thanks - I use Hannabach Goldin's at the moment and they are easy to source.

Jonny

simonm
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Re: What scale length for 3/4 sized guitar?

Post by simonm » Mon Oct 04, 2010 1:11 pm

Hannabach will basically make you custom sets - tell them the scale length and the tension you want on each string and they make them up - its in the front of their normal catalogue. I have never used their strings myself. A less well known brand outside of Germany is Pyramid. They also supply strings anyway you want. They do lute strings among other things and again you just tell them the length and the tension.

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Vlad Kosulin
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Re: What scale length for 3/4 sized guitar?

Post by Vlad Kosulin » Mon Oct 04, 2010 2:13 pm

May be, high tension is problematic to tune, but my son plays 580mm with regular EJ45 tuned at E. No problems. Actually, strings set faster than on my 650mm.
Regards,
Vlad
(still testing various strings with 2006 Sebastian Stenzel and Olinda OC-300)

Scot Tremblay
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Re: What scale length for 3/4 sized guitar?

Post by Scot Tremblay » Mon Oct 04, 2010 10:56 pm

The string length you suggest is still in the realm of a full size instrument ableit on the short end. Once you get to 560mm and less the the terz guitar (3/4 size) pitch of G and dedicated strings come into play. Most 19th century (early romantic) guitars have a string length of 610 - 630mm (some shorter like one Stauffer model at 597mm) and are tuned to A430-435 but will do fine at modern A440 pitch with appropriate tension strings. They don't have the same sustain as modern instruments and might not be as loud but with modern design and building techniques this will be less obvious. On the positive side the left hand stretches that stumped you before will be a breeze...gotta love it! You shouldn't have issues with intonation as long as your luthier has some experience with shorter string length instruments. The shorter the string length the longer the compensation needed to ensure good intonation. For 620mm the necessary compensation is in the area of 2mm+/-.

Here is a list of strings that I have found work well with shorter string length guitars. It's better to use strings designed for shorter string lengths as often ones designed for 650mm+ can feel soft and sound "thumpy" (for lack of a better word) lacking sustain and a clean tone.

Most of these can be purchased through [ Moderator edit: Direct links to commercial businesses are not allowed. Please do a search for Just Strings] or from the manufacturer or distributor.

La Bella Strings- http://www.labella.com/
Savarez- http://www.savarez.fr/anglais/index.html
Aquila- http://www.aquilacorde.com/ in Europe and http://www.aquilausa.com/ in North America

A. La Bella ERG#7 - Early Romantic Guitar Varnished Gut
B. La Bella ERG#1 - Early Romantic Guitar Nylon
C. La Bella RTG#1 - Early Romantic Guitar Nylon – Terz
D. Savarez 520 B White Traditional Classical Nylon Guitar Strings Low Tension
Work well on Terz or full size guitars

And a few (new to me) selections that have been brought to my attention by the kind folks at Savarez.

E. Savarez Prodige 58 (58-64cm) 540 CS
F. Savarez Prodige Alliance 58 (58-64cm) 540 AS
G. Savarez Prodige 38 (38-55cm) 540 CXS – Excellent Terz guitar strings

H. Aguila Ambra 800 (soon to have a name change, I'm told)

Please note, I don't get any kickback or benefit from any of these suppliers. This is just a copy and paste from some material I send out with my instruments.

To answer your real question, I find 620mm to be a very nice string length. Not too tight and doesn't feel much different than 650mm.
Scot Tremblay Guitars

"One picture is worth a thousand words. So, for me, one good note put where it should be put, will say what it will take some people many notes to say. ~B.B. King, 1986

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jonny-mosco
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Re: What scale length for 3/4 sized guitar?

Post by jonny-mosco » Tue Oct 05, 2010 6:47 am

Thanks Scot - really helpful. Particularly pleased that Savarez 520 B White will be fine, I can also use them on my other guitars. I'll try to always have some as a back up, just in case I find it hard to source the others.

Your advice on 620mm is very interesting, however I had to confirm the length yesterday and went for 580mm, good for a travel guitar and also be playable by my children.

I also play a steel string parlour guitar which is 550mm. Could you advise which strings I could use to tune to E? At the moment it is tuned to G, which is fine, but I'd like to experiment.

Thanks
Jonny

Scot Tremblay
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Re: What scale length for 3/4 sized guitar?

Post by Scot Tremblay » Tue Oct 05, 2010 5:01 pm

My apology to the moderator. I missed that link from the copy and paste. Thank you for removing it.

Jonny, 580mm is a good string length which borders on the Terz range as well. You might be able to tune it to G if you use low tension strings. My Stauffer 8 string that I play most of the time has a string length of 597mm and I it works very well. A little lacking on sustain but that is a good thing for much of the early 19th century material.

If you can find them (your local supplier should be able to order them), try the Savarez 540 CS and 540 AS (E. & F. in my list above). I've tried them on a few shorter string instruments and am thinking of switching to them full time. A great couple sets of strings that the rep told me were originally designed for childrens guitars but found much favor with European early romantic guitar players.

Unfortunately, I know next to nothing about steel string instruments so cannot truthfully advise you on the best strings to use...sorry. maybe someone else with that knowledge will pipe in.
Scot Tremblay Guitars

"One picture is worth a thousand words. So, for me, one good note put where it should be put, will say what it will take some people many notes to say. ~B.B. King, 1986

Joe de V
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Re: What scale length for 3/4 sized guitar?

Post by Joe de V » Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:16 pm

The difference between 610mm (24")and 630mm (24.5") is only 5/16th of an inch- 1inch =25.4mm. It is barely noticable in the separation of the frets but for a person with smaller hand or short fingers it could mean the difference in playing without any difficulty when you need to spread your fingers over 4 frets.One of my guitars is a 7/8 size "Strunal" with a 620mm scale length and a 480mm nut width,i really enjoy the difference when compared to my full size CG with a 650mm scale length and a 52 mm nut width.I do not find or hear any difference in pitch using the standard length CG strings in the smaller scale length instrument.Going down to anything below 610mm scale length is a different proposition and I recommend to check with Just Strings a web string seller that deals in odd size strngs for differenct scale length instruments.

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Re: What scale length for 3/4 sized guitar?

Post by Joe de V » Sat May 20, 2017 2:50 am

in my limited experiemce as a guitar player (since 2002) I find the isssue of scale lenght selection a most important in selecting/buying a new CG.
In the market there are a few large volume manufacturers that comes to mind - like Cordoba and Yamaha who have their own opinion of what scale lenght is the right one for a smaller than the standard CG size. Yamaha has a 7/8 size guitar as well as Cordoba/Yamaha scale length is just under 600mm and Cordoba;s version of their 7/8 size CG carries a 630mm scale length.That is a difference of over 30mm between two insturments identified in the market place as 7/8 size guitars. I have played them both and for me the 630mm scale from Cordoba (Dulce Model) fits my fingering skills much better and in comfort over the smaller under 600mm scale of Yamaha. The Montana label Co. has a smaller size - I think is a 5/8 size guitar- built with a 610mm scale length and the Eastern European made Strunal CG 7/8 size has a 620mm scale length.
You can see the varieties of scale lengths for shorter under the standard 650mm scale used in "full" size CG.The importance factor is going to be playabiity and sound projection. All Other things being equal a bigger box will produce a louder sound but a good player will make a smaller size instrument do as well in a well made smaller size guitar.
All of the named CG listed above can be purchase for under $400. in the current market place.Good Luck and Enjoy whatever guitar you choose.
Remember the scale length of the guitar - the distance of the strings from the Nut to the Saddle is the standard measure for a scale length.It will also determine how far apart the frets on the fret-board are from each other.Of course the closer the frets the easier to reach for players with shorter finger length.
I personlly favor shorter scale lenght guitars over standards size scale lenght of 650mm where I tend to get "finger fatigue" after playing for a 1 hour at a time session.Being comfortable when playing an instrument is of primary importance for a good performance.

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