As scale length increases, the distance between frets also increases. A: Metal guitarists tend to prefer longer scale lengths (eg: 26.5″ or higher) due to the increased string tension. Once you’ve discovered the value, double it. Fender has always pretty much stuck to 25.5″, which is considered a long scale length. Scale length affects two facets of the instrument that are of utmost importance to the guitar player; tone and playability. Look at the two guitars below. Nylon-string and classical guitars have different categories of long and short scale, most are longer than 25.5 inches. Guitar scale length is only one half of the picture when looking at string tension. One of the most obvious aspects of scale length is its impact on fret spacing. It all depends on what feels the best to you. This greatly reduced the tension on the strings, lowered the string height at the new first position, and effectively reduced the scale length from 650mm to 520mm. If your guitar is in standard tuning and you tune down to something like Drop C, you will notice the strings become quite slack. Well, it’s true! Scale length plays a big part in a guitar’s playability. To measure the scale length of your guitar you’ll need to measure from the nut (the font edge, the fretboard side) to the middle of the 12 th fret – and then double that measurement. playing with a pick). The longer the scale length, the higher the tension needs to be to bring the string up to pitch. Baritone guitars are often used for very low tunings. The solution is to move to a lighter string gauge. There is no ‘best’ scale length for any style of music. Guitars are deemed as either having a long scale or a short scale based on the length, which as we’ll see plays a surprisingly significant role in the overall playability of the guitar. A long scale guitar can sometimes lend itself more to flatpicking (i.e. A guitar with a 27” scale will be considerably harder to play perform bends with than a Gibson Les Paul with a 24.75″ scale, for example (assuming they’re both using the same gauge strings). As a long scale guitar needs more tension in the strings to bring it to pitch, it’s more responsive with better articulation and note-to-note separation. For most guitarists, the fret spacing isn’t going to make much of an impact on playability. The scale length is the vibrating length of the strings. This is because the 12 fret position on any guitar is the exact halfway point of the entire scale, that’s where you get your octave. And voila – you’ve established the scale length. A long scale guitar will usually have a lower action than a short scale guitar. If you’re trying to decide what scale length is right for you, think about your style of playing. Guitars with a smaller scale length make it easier to perform techniques such as bends. The scale length of an instrument is the distance from the nut to the bridge.Scale lengths vary depending on overall size of the instrument: mandolins have a short scale length around 14″, guitars vary but on average are around 25″, and larger instruments like basses have even longer scale lengths. A ton of things right. But since we're dealing with parlor guitars, we will lower the limit to less than 25\" to better separate the long and short scale parlor acoustics.Short scale parlor guitars (less than 25\") follow traditional designs and as such they reproduce the vibe and feel of old parlor guitars quite nicely. While you could use a heavy gauge string, you might not like how it feels. The long scale guitar also tends to have more volume, especially strumming. If your guitar has a dead straight saddle like you sometimes find on a classical guitar, then you can just measure the whole distance, but in the majority of cases, you’re better of doing what we’ve shown you. One advantage of less string tension is a “looser” feel, making bending and vibrato more fluid. With the reduced space, the fret spacing on short-scale guitars is closer together – but contrary to what many people mistakenly think, it doesn’t necessarily mean there are fewer frets. Try using different gauge strings to achieve the tension you want. Tone All things being equal, a guitar with a longer scale length will sound a bit brighter, with a quicker attack and more defined bass notes. You could increase the scale length, but then you need to deal with super high tension on the higher strings. As a long scale guitar needs more tension in the strings to bring it to pitch, it’s tougher on the fretting hand to work with. Ged is editor-in-chief and founder of Zing Instruments. Double that distance to get the scale length of 25.5″ or 648mm. Epiphone (most models) ESP (Eclipse, Viper, some other … If a string is tuned to a low note (eg: the low F# on an 8 string guitar), high tension is needed to stop fret buzz. The normal scale length for a Fender is 25.5″, but the normal scale length for a Gibson is 24.75″. While you may believe the … If you play 7 string guitar, the answer is maybe. If both guitars used the same gauge strings and were both in standard tuning, you would notice that the Gibson is slightly easier to perform bends and vibrato compared to the Fender. The right scale length for you depends on the style of music you play, and what you prefer the feel of. Well, generally speaking, guitars with a shorter scale needs less tension to bring the strings to pitch, so short-scale guitars are generally considered slightly easier to play. Do you like the loose feel of strings or do you prefer a tight set of strings that don’t bend out of tune when you press against them? If you were to then compare the Fender and Gibson against a baritone guitar (27″ scale) with the same gauge strings in standard tuning, the difference in tension would be obvious. The tension of the strings plays a big part in playability. The most common lengths are 24.75″ for most Gibson models and 25.5″ for most Fender models. So based on the above, you’d think you simply need to take out a measuring tape and measure from the nut to bridge, right? Such a long scale length creates high tension on the higher strings which you may or may not like. The below photo gives a rough comparison of different scale guitars so you can see the change in fret distance: While you might not notice any difference between similar scale guitars, you would definitely notice it on a baritone guitar or a Fender Jaguar. A guitar with ‘high action’ has a wider gap than a guitar with ‘low action’. Secondly, don't le… This is also important to remember if you plan on tuning down. Different types of guitars use different scale lengths. Thankfully, the answer is no. If you want to warm up a 25.5" scale guitar, you can try tuning down a half step, which thickens up its overtones and makes it sound a little closer to a 24.75" scale guitar. When talking about scale length we are referring to the string length from the saddle to the nut. Wrong! For the other half, read through my Guide on Guitar Strings. Strings on longer-scale guitars will feel tighter and firmer than those fitted to one with a short scale. If you’ve ever tuned your strings down to a very low tuning (eg: Drop B), you might have noticed two things: the strings became slack, and there was a lot of fret buzz. This is true, as long as both are strung with the same gauge strings. Scale length is the most important measurement to as accurately as possible match a person to a guitar size. Once you establish scale length you can see who that guitar may be suitable for by using the appropriate charts below or near the top of this page. String gauge also affects tension and you can change your string gauge to increase or decrease the tension as you need. Body shape, color, neck shape, pickups? Select based on if you entered a scale length of inches or millimeters. Q: What is the best scale length for metal? All Rights Reserved Registered Address – Dramatik, c/o Wesley Offices, 74 Silver Street, Bristol, BS48 2DS, How to Measure Guitar Scale Length Correctly, Long Scale vs Short Scale Guitar – Key Differences, Guitar Scale Length Charts by Manufacturer, Guitar Scale Length Chart (Miscellaneous), Most modern acoustics (J-45 Legend, etc. As you know, when you increase scale length, string tension increases. The scale length of any guitar is the distance between the bridge and the nut. The 25-1/2" produces a rich, strong, bell-like tone, and defined low-end. Find out more about guitar string gauge, tension, and more in this guide: Ultimate Guide to Guitar Strings. You’re struggling to play bends as you did on your Gibson. In this article, we’re going to explain what scale length is, how you measure it, the main differences between long and scale guitars, and finally, scale length by manufacturers (because they differ from guitar maker to maker). Having high string tension makes it easier to create a tight and punchy rhythm. He's also got an unhealthy obsession with vintage VW Campervans. The best way to determine the scale length of a guitar is to measure the distance between its nut and the centre of its 12th fret. This guide covers everything you would want to know about guitar scale length. Each time you move to a lighter string gauge, the tension will decrease. To get your 26-1/2 inch scale length guitar to play the exact same as your 25-1/2 inch scale length guitar, you’re only going to need to make incremental changes when it comes to the plain strings, and you’ll be able to make larger changes when it comes to the wound strings. There is no "perfect" scale length; manufacturers select an instrument's scale to achieve particular qualities for the guitar they are designing. The benefit of short scale guitar is that you don’t need to extend your arm much. There are also some dreads with a shorter scale length, though not as many. The length between bridge and nut is not same for all the strings of the guitar, because strings have different starting points to compensate for intonation. Different brands and models use different scale lengths. Antonio De Torres (1817–1892) used a scale length of 25.6 inches (650 mm), and later makers have followed suit. check out this guide for guitar part names, Find out everything you would want to know about fanned frets in this guide, Read more about fanned frets in this guide, Seven String Guitar Songs Worth Learning (with TAB), 24″ (610mm) Fender Jaguar, Fender Mustang, 24.5″ (622mm) Paul Reed Smith Santana Signature series, 24.75″ (628mm) most Gibson and Epiphone models, 25″ (635mm) most PRS, Carvin, and Danelectric models, 25.5″ (648mm) most Fender, Ibanez, Jackson, Kramer, Schecter, Squier, and Steinberger models, 26.5″ (673.2mmm) most 7 string models by Ibanez, Jackson & Schecter, 27-30″ (686 – 762mm) guitars in this range are called ‘baritone’ guitars. Many people believe the true scale length of a guitar is the length of the guitar strings that are able to freely vibrate, this is even how Wikipedia defines scale length but this is not entirely correct.. Like that of the violin, the scale of the classical guitar was standardized by the work of its most famous maker. The most important impact scale length makes is on the tension of the strings. Longer scale length guitars increase tension (if the string gauge stays the same), which means you can get lower action without string buzz. Best Online Guitar Lessons in 2020 – Reviewed & Ranked, Fender Serial Number Lookup – Find When & Where Your Guitar Was Made, Why are Some Guitar Pickups Angled? Short scale guitars are typically 24 3/4″ or less (such as the Les Paul), whereas long scale guitars are typically 25″ and over (such as the Fender Strat and Telecaster). A better way to measure scale length is to measure from the nut to the 12th fret, then double the distance: For example, if you measure the distance from the nut to the 12th fret on a Fender Stratocaster, you should get 12.75″ or 324mm. Here is a comparison of different types of guitars and their scale length: As you can see, there is no ‘normal’ scale length for an electric guitar. A: A baritone guitar is a guitar with a long scale length of at least 27″ and can go up to 30″. The Answer Won’t Surprise You, Guitar String Spacing – What You Need to Know, ©2020 - What is small scale? It explains what scale length, why it’s important, how to measure scale length, and FAQ. The number of frets can be the same, even on a short-scale guitar. Commonly used short scales are 25, 24.9, 24.75, and 24.625 inches. You would find it much harder to perform bends on the baritone and rhythm playing would feel extremely tight. Guitar brands that use 24.75" scale. You end up with higher tension on the low strings and lower tension on the higher strings. It turns out scale length – whether it’s a long scale or short scale – plays a big part. That means you can’t just measure from the nut to the saddle, as each string will be a different length! Scale length is one of the fundamental building blocks of a guitar’s recipe, with a wide-ranging impact on the feel, tone, and performance. Found on Stratocasters ®, Telecasters ®, and the huge variety of instruments inspired by them as well as the replacement, and custom parts available for them. This is because as the tension of the string changes, so does the way it vibrates. If you were to play a Fender Jaguar (24″ scale) then play a Fender Stratocaster (25.5″ scale), you might notice that they feel completely different. Don’t confuse scale length with a smaller bodied guitar necessarily. You’ll learn how string gauge can be used to get the right string tension for your needs. Measuring scale length this way would produce inconsistent results so I don’t recommend trying to measure scale length from the bridge. This is because the 12 fret position on any guitar is the exact halfway point of the entire scale, that’s where you get your octave.. Long Scale vs Short Scale Guitar – Key Differences. Low tension strings need more room to vibrate and without that room you’ll hear fret buzz. This is why scale length is more accurately calculated as twice the distance from the inside edge of the nut to the middle of the 12th fret, as you can see below…. Scale length can also affect the action, or string height, of a guitar. A short scale guitar will need higher action when using light strings or else the strings will buzz. If you have a question about scale length not covered above, ask it here. Find out everything you would want to know about fanned frets in this guide. If you look at the below photo of a bridge, you can see each string has a different starting point: Each string has a different length to compensate for intonation. There are plenty of "smaller" guitars with a long scale length. So if you measure 12 ¾ inches from the nut to the 12 th fret then the scale length will be 25 ½ inches. However, from the mid- 20th Century luthiers seeking increased volume have moved to a 26 inches (660 mm) scale, which is now the standard for such leading makers as Ramirez. Even with two seemingly identical guitars; same construction, same neck profile, fretboard radius, hardware and pickups, the same type of gauge strings, you’ll still play differently on each if they’re made to 24.75’’ and 25.5’’ scale lengths respectively. But what if I told you that scale length has just as big an impact on the tone and playability as many of the above. A short scale electric guitar is any guitar having a scale length that is less than 25.4 inches. Keep in mind that guitar scale lengths are typically measured in inches. If you play 6 string guitar, the answer is probably no. Similarly, electric guitars have adjustable saddles allowing for individual string adjustment. Full-length ‘long scale’ guitars measure 25.5-inch; in contrast, a small scale guitar neck measures from 22 inches to 24 ¾ inches. For example, let’s say you bought a 26.5″ scale guitar and you don’t like the increase in tension. Bass scale lengths generally stay between 30" to 36". Typically 19, 21, 22, or 24 What is scale length? Scale length is only one half of the picture. Since the common scale length of standard sized guitars is 25.4\", you can consider anything lower than that to be small scale. 25.4" scale is standard on OMs, for example. With a light enough gauge, you can end up with exactly the same tension on your 26.5″ scale guitar as you did on your 24.75″ scale guitar. If you can see on the acoustic guitar, the saddle is seated at an angle to allow for some compensation for intonation. The scale length of a guitar is, in common parlance, the distance between the nut and the bridge, or the length that the strings freely vibrate, but if you try to measure this distance you’ll quickly notice you’ll run into some trouble. A short scale guitar will add some color to the tone, and give it more warmth. But if you have small or large hands, you might find a different scale length guitar suits you better. What are the typical things you consider when buying a guitar? Guitar scale lengths are usually between 24" and 26". Most 7 string guitars use a 26.5″ scale. Let’s look at the different ways scale length can change how a guitar feels to play. ‘Scale length’ is a term used to refer to the length of the freely vibrating section of any open string on a guitar, from the nut to the saddle on the bridge. How do Fender and Gibson scale lengths compare? While these guitars do exist, the benefits are probably not worth it. When strumming chords or playing rhythm parts, you would notice that the strings on the Fender feel tighter. Every guitarist is different so if you’re considering a multiscale guitar, be sure to try one out to see if it feels right to you. If you want to bring the tension back up to what it was like before, you can either buy a guitar with a longer scale length, or you can buy heavier gauge strings. The other half is string gauge. The wound bass strings (bottom E, A, D, and G strings) have more length to compensate for the additional mass of the strings. The Main Reasons Explained, How Many Frets on a Guitar? As mentioned in the introduction, scale length is the distance between the bridgeand the nut of a guitar. You know that scale length affects string tension. A short scale length requires very little tension to bring the strings up to pitch when compared to a longer scale guitar. Why scale length is measured between the nut and 12th fret. The tension of the strings plays a big part in playability. The shorter scale length on the higher strings will make bends and vibrato easier. If you use a lower tuning (eg: Drop C), a longer scale length means you don’t need to buy super heavy gauge strings. However, the short-scale tends to emphasize the mid-range a bit better. Q: What is a guitar’s normal scale length? To give you an idea of how long that is, bass guitars start at around 30″. You can achieve low action with a short scale guitar, but it requires you to move to heavier gauge strings. As an example, let’s compare a Fender Stratocaster (25.5″ scale) and a Gibson Les Paul (24.75″ scale). Well, you can if your saddle is dead straight (like with a classical guitar) but as nearly all electric guitars have adjustable saddles (that let you vary string length string by string) and acoustic guitars have compensated, slanted bridges, you can’t measure it this way. This affects playability. A scale length of 25.4 inches, 25.5 inches, or longer is considered long for steel-string acoustic guitars; anything less is considered short. A short scale length requires very little tension to bring the strings up to pitch when compared to a longer scale guitar. The super-long length on the lower strings means you won’t feel like you’re using bass guitar strings. The scale length is, in effect, the length of the string that vibrates on plucking. This is the most common shorter scale guitar length. As an example, let’s compare a Fender Stratocaster (25.5″ scale) and a Gibson Les Paul (24.75″ scale). This difference in scale length gives these guitars their trademark voice. Scale length affects the playability of the guitar due to the differences in tension the strings are subject to based on the length of string that is able to vibrate. String action is a result of the tension in strings. Guitars are deemed as either having a long scale or a short scale based on the length, which as we’ll see plays a surprisingly significant role in the overall playability of the guitar. Generally a short scale length gives you slightly lower tension, which can aid playability, though the overall setup is at least as important as the scale itself. This week's tip is a quick and simple one, but it's still important. A guitar’s scale length is the distance between the nut and the bridge (check out this guide for guitar part names and what they do). While they’re rare on 6 string guitars, they’re very common on extended range guitars for a good reason. Players specializing in purely classical technique value wide fret spacing, as it enhances the effect of traditional vibrato. The reduced spacing can benefit players with narrow or short fingers, whereas if you have thick or long fingers you’ll want that bit extra space that a long scale will give you. While you could try to measure a guitar’s scale length by measuring the distance between the nut and the bridge, you’re not going to get an accurate result. The action of a guitar is the gap between the strings and the frets. Here’s how I solved the problem. ). Now, what is scale length? A guitar with a shorter scale length (like the Gibson Les Paul) requires less tension to reach concert pitch than a guitar with a longer scale (like the Fender Strat). Scale length affects the playability, feel and toneof the instrument. Most people consider this a "Gibson Standard", but as you'll see, several companies do use it on certain models. Do you like to play a lot of bends and vibrato? The most obvious difference is the length. HOW SCALE LENGTH AFFECTS TONE Fender One of the most common scale lengths is the Fender 25-1/2" guitar scale. He's a multi-instrumentalist and loves researching, writing, and geeking out about music. First you need to be aware that scale length for any named fractional size varies and can often overlapaccording to guitar type, makers style, players custom preferences, construction periods through history and anything else you can think of. Scale Length Affects Feel, Playability AND Tone — Haze Guitars It’s not all about comfort, though. Read more about fanned frets in this guide. The scale length of a guitar has a large impact on the sound and feel of the guitar. The key point to remember is that you need to think about scale length and string gauge together. A longer scale length guitar will require higher tension to bring the strings up to tune. A: There is no ‘normal’ scale length. Fender does have short-scale models – namely the Jaguar, Mustang, and Duo-Sonic (which we review below) – which are all 24 inches. Guitar Gear Finder is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to,,, or Gibson features a scale that is close to a full inch shorter than the one on a Strat. If you play 8 or 9 string guitar, the answer is probably yes. To be tuned correctly, strings fitted to a guitar with a 25½ inch scale length have to be placed under more tension than strings on a shorter-scale guitar. A great example of this difference in tone is to compare a Gibson SG and a Fender Stratocaster. Also used by most 8 & 9 string guitars. Guitars, including bass guitars, generally employ a single scale length for all of the instrument's strings, though the employed scale length varies significantly between manufacturers (electric guitar scale typically falls between 24" and 25.5"). While there are regular 8 and 9 string guitars out there, you will probably prefer the tension and feel of a multiscale guitar. The lower strings have a long scale length (eg: 28″) and progressively become shorter towards the higher strings (eg: 25.5″). Multiscale guitars offer a different solution. A scale length of a guitar can be defined as the distance between the nut and the saddle. The chances are you’ve seen a guitar like the one below and wondered what it was all about: The above guitar is a ‘fanned frets’ or multiscale guitar. Your guitar’s scale length matters because it can make a whole lot of difference to your performance. Instead buying a shorter scale guitar, I just tuned my current guitar two steps lower and put a capo at the 2nd fret. As we mentioned in the introduction, a guitar’s scale length plays a big part in its overall playability. The interesting thing is th… Does this mean you’re stuck with high tension strings on long scale guitars? Please note, the fret calculator will not convert scale lengths, you can use our measurement converter to convert your scale length. String tension and length operate together to determine harmonic content, as well as feel.