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Scale Length

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(@hyperborea)
Prominent Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 827
Topic starter  

Do those of you who play both long (Fender) and short (Gibson) scale guitars find it difficult to switch back and forth? Is there an adjustment period when you switch? Any change in technique?

I currently play a long scale (25 1/2") Godin LGX-3 (mahogany body in a vaguely Strat shape with 3 single coils) and am thinking about a short scale LP style guitar.

Thanks

Pop music is about stealing pocket money from children. - Ian Anderson


   
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(@kingpatzer)
Noble Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 2171
 

I never really have a problem with changing scale lengths. But different neck widths really mess with me.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST


   
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(@boxboy)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1221
 

like kingpatzer, I found other factors more of a hurdle:
the fretboard radius and the height of the action proved more of a challenge than the scale.
those factors took months to get used to in my case (as a novice), but now i can bop back and forth with little trouble.
:)

Don


   
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(@rahul)
Famed Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 2736
 

Jumbo frets are the things to watch out for, if you have been playing on vintage ones.

As far as scale length, it doesn't take much time to adjust.


   
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(@causnorign)
Honorable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 554
 

I never even notice the scale length when I'm playing.


   
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(@noteboat)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

Scale length definately affects me. I stick to long scale, because that's right between my acoustics (25.4) and classicals (25.6)

I can play a short scale without any trouble if I'm improvising, but if I'm reading... well, it doesn't feel right. On a long scale, I can jump from one position to another without even a glance at the neck. On short scales I'm not so certain, and I have to look; taking your eyes of the music is always a bad idea.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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(@vic-lewis-vl)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 10264
 

Maybe I'm good at adapting, but I don't seem to have any problem adjusting between acoustic, electric and bass with the differing scale lengths.... then again, I don't read music, so I do have to keep looking at the neck to see where I am.

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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 vink
(@vink)
Prominent Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 722
 

I was just recently asking my teacher the same thing .. at home, most of the time I play on my Carvin which has the Gibson scale length, but I also have a MIM strat that I take to the lessons. He thought I should be able to adapt, but I seem to have a little harder time with the stretches on the strat.

Interestingly, I don't have much difficulty if I switch to the bass; maybe because the strings feel different.

--vink
"Life is either an adventure or nothing" -- Helen Keller


   
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(@citizennoir)
Noble Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1247
 

I play Fender Strats and an Ovation Custom Balladeer acoustic.

They all have a long scale length.

I'm very comfortable with that, as I'm around 6'4" or so.

I had an old 60's Gibbo SG that had the 60's slim taper neck....
Had a real hard time switching to that one.
Especially if I was playing in the band (standing and singing).
I usually don't look at the guitar when I play, and as others mentioned, my muscle memory would have me jamming my hand into the headstock on slide ups to open chords or such.
And the frets seemed pretty cramped to me.

I can switch easily from my 'modern C shape' neck on my 88 Strat to the Monster V profile on my Ovation.
Oddly enough, going from my 'C' neck Strat to my 'U' shaped neck Strat can be 'uncomfortable' for a couple songs.

The C neck Strat has 'Med. Jumbo' frets, and the 'U neck' Strat has real vintage frets.
That was never a problem for me.
Though I prefer the vintage frets.

Les Paul necks seem to be 'short' to me as well.
335's for some reason seem better to me.

I like long, FAT necks.

Though, perhaps as I've always speculated...
If I had had enough money to buy a LP in the begining like I wanted....
I'd probably like short scale necks and humbuckers. :P

Ken

"The man who has begun to live more seriously within
begins to live more simply without"
-Ernest Hemingway

"A genuine individual is an outright nuisance in a factory"
-Orson Welles


   
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 vink
(@vink)
Prominent Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 722
 

Though, perhaps as I've always speculated...
If I had had enough money to buy a LP in the begining like I wanted....
I'd probably like short scale necks and humbuckers. :P
Ken

You know, I have to agree with this line of thinking. I think it goes something like this:
Q: What is the best guitar for playing blues?
A: The one you have

:-)

--vink
"Life is either an adventure or nothing" -- Helen Keller


   
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(@musica23)
Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 277
 

Just today I was feeling that my playing was way off, and I was wondering if it had anything to do with going from my '81 Aria Pro II (very thin neck, played it yesterday) to my Gibson SG (very fat, wide neck). The scale length differences never seem to bother me, but I discovered that it definitely takes time (an hour or two minimum) for me to adjust to a different neck size. FWIW... :D

Love and Peace or Else,
CC


   
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(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5582
 

I have a Gibson LP & SG with the shorter scale, Fender Strat, Tele, Squier Tele and '51 with the longer scale. I actually prefer the shorter scale for two reasons: I do not have large hands and find long stretches uncomfortable. I can experience pain with long stretches down low on the guitar near the nut. So I like the shorter scale. But also, your strings are not as taut with the shorter scale, they feel "bouncy" or rubbery compared to the long scale feeling very stiff to me. I like this spongy type feel. I am not a shredder type player, if I was I think I would prefer the longer scale, the strings do not wobble as much. I think this is why the majority of super fast players prefer the long scale. But for a slower Blues type bender like me, the short scale is better. It has more feel and you can pull dynamics out of the strings far easier.

But that is me. :D

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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(@citizennoir)
Noble Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1247
 

Yeah, most people agree that you have to 'fight' a Fender to play it well.
Ritchie Blackmore actually switched to a Strat because they are notoriously difficult to play.

I remember the first time someone at band practice let me use their Les Paul.
I was absolutely AMAZED at how easy it was to play.
The strings were SO slack and yet not 'loose'.
And the HB's were so powerful. 8)
Quite a departure from my Strat.

My old SG though....
What a strange guitar it is.
A short scale length, and yet, devoid of the slack smoothness Gibsons usually enjoy.
The strings were very taught on that guitar.
You usually hear me put that guitar down....
It's not a condemnation of SG's, it was just THAT guitar.
A strange one to be sure.

Now, I have to have some 'fight back' in my strings.
If they are to 'easy' (and I can set my Strats up to play SO EASY these days), I'll overbend the strings, or have a hard time
bending in tune.
In fact, I'll play the guitar so hard that it will almost all sound out of tune :roll:
Which is strange because I'm well known for having a light touch with my playing.

Ken

"The man who has begun to live more seriously within
begins to live more simply without"
-Ernest Hemingway

"A genuine individual is an outright nuisance in a factory"
-Orson Welles


   
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(@ignar-hillstrom)
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Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5349
 

I play a kiddy's guitar. You're all just talking about long scales and even longer scales. :P


   
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(@citizennoir)
Noble Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1247
 

I play a kiddy's guitar. You're all just talking about long scales and even longer scales. :P

My son Lucius' Gretsch.
Actually, it's not a bad little guitar :wink:

Ken

"The man who has begun to live more seriously within
begins to live more simply without"
-Ernest Hemingway

"A genuine individual is an outright nuisance in a factory"
-Orson Welles


   
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