Advice on guitar size

CliffP
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Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:38 pm
Location: St. Charles, MO, USA

Advice on guitar size

Post by CliffP » Tue Feb 21, 2017 2:14 am

I'm just beginning to play again after a long time away, actually starting over again, and bought a Sigma Martin CS-3 and I find that it's very hard for these 70 year old fingers to span 4 frets and so I'm wondering it a smaller guitar might be more comfortable. I've read some of the posts about guitar scale and measured mine to be 650. Looking at the posts, I've measured the span from pinkie to index fingertips when held in a comfortable position as if I were on the neck and the dimension is 110mm. Stretched the dimension is 160mm. Looking at information on the posts it's suggested that a 650 is the proper scale but the 650 I have is very difficult to reach 4 frets so I think a smaller scale would be more comfortable. Thus I've got a couple of questions.

First, what scale works best with the 110mm dimension? Second, can I find a guitar of such a scale for around $300? Since I'm just getting started I don't want to go nuts on the purchase and yes, I know that the dollars can make a difference. I'm a fly fisher and have gone from $50 rods to $900 rods and now make bamboo rods which can be much more. In rods the dollars can matter and I assume that the same is true in guitars.

Thanks for your advice.

Pat Dodson
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Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2014 11:32 am
Location: United Kingdom

Re: Advice on guitar size

Post by Pat Dodson » Tue Feb 21, 2017 11:46 am

If you put a capo at the first fret then the scale length of your Sigma will become 613mm which might give you some feel for whether you will benefit. There are drawbacks to using this as a regular solution but it might work for you.

For $300 dollars you should be able to find a Córdoba Dolce or Alhambra Senorita 1c which have solid tops, 630/635 ish scales and slightly narrower nuts

Some youngsters who still feel immortal tend to poopoo the idea of short scale and warn about difficulties of resale. But for some of us with smaller or older hands short scale can be a real blessing. Although the difference in scale lengths of 630-640, nuts of 50 mm or so and slightly thinner necks may only be small percentage differences they do add to something significant and helpful.

Good hunting!

Jack Douglas
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Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2015 2:37 am
Location: Ashland, Va

Re: Advice on guitar size

Post by Jack Douglas » Tue Feb 21, 2017 1:14 pm

At 70 myself I can affirm that a shorter scale length helps with hand comfort. I had a 640 scale that made a big difference. My current 647 scale is also comfortable.
The 'action' can also affect playability. You might check the treble and bass string heights at the 12th fret. If the treble is higher than 3 mm and the bass much over 4 mm (can be a bit higher if you play hard).
In addition the nut width and string spacing along with the neck profile can dramatically affect the playability.
Like a well made bamboo fly rod the same applies for guitars. You might enjoy a Luthier made guitar. Spend a little extra!
Jack
Last edited by Jack Douglas on Tue Feb 21, 2017 2:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Hauser III 2014!

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souldier
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Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2015 4:45 pm

Re: Advice on guitar size

Post by souldier » Tue Feb 21, 2017 2:20 pm

I used to be really particular with scale length, but have learned through experience that other factors such as neck shape, neck thickness, action, etc. play a bigger role than scale length. Scale length can be important if you have extra small hands. My hands are quite smaller than average, but not ultra small.

If you feel 650 is really too long, I personally feel 640 doesn't make a big difference (and I've owned 2 different 640 guitars that felt very different from each other). If you really want to benefit from a shorter scale, I think 630 is the way to go. If you have ultra small hands, then you can look into something even shorter, but I personally wouldn't recommend anything lower than 630 for an adult. As suggested above, I'd look into Cordoba's smaller size guitar options as they fit your budget and are decent quality.
"Success grants its rewards to a few, but is the dream of the multitudes.
Excellence is available to all, but is accepted only by a few." - Christopher Parkening

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bear
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Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2012 10:55 pm
Location: Massachusetts

Re: Advice on guitar size

Post by bear » Tue Feb 21, 2017 2:23 pm

CliffP wrote:I'm just beginning to play again after a long time away, actually starting over again, and bought a Sigma Martin CS-3 and I find that it's very hard for these 70 year old fingers to span 4 frets and so I'm wondering it a smaller guitar might be more comfortable. I've read some of the posts about guitar scale and measured mine to be 650. Looking at the posts, I've measured the span from pinkie to index fingertips when held in a comfortable position as if I were on the neck and the dimension is 110mm. Stretched the dimension is 160mm. Looking at information on the posts it's suggested that a 650 is the proper scale but the 650 I have is very difficult to reach 4 frets so I think a smaller scale would be more comfortable. Thus I've got a couple of questions.

First, what scale works best with the 110mm dimension? Second, can I find a guitar of such a scale for around $300? Since I'm just getting started I don't want to go nuts on the purchase and yes, I know that the dollars can make a difference. I'm a fly fisher and have gone from $50 rods to $900 rods and now make bamboo rods which can be much more. In rods the dollars can matter and I assume that the same is true in guitars.

Thanks for your advice.
Spend the kids inheritance. I agree with both Pat and Jack. Finding a 640 for 300. might take some patience and hunting. I had mine made for me. I have a "Boxers knuckle" on my pinky and although mu hands are big, the pinky doesn't stretch. I've had to teach myself to move more. "Django" Reinhardt, didn't have use of 2 of his fingers and watching videos of him helped.
The 52mm nut has also helped because my fingers are not as flexible as they once were. When looking at guitars I pay attention to the thickness of the neck. My Ramirez and Rodriguez have the same scale and nut width but the Ramirez was a little more difficult to play at first. The neck is a little thicker.
By the way, my wife is about 4'10" and I don't think he pinky is more than an inch long. She can play anything but is more comfortable with a Cordoba Requinto 580mm.
Regarding a capo, personally, I don't like them. However, many find them useful in shortening the scale. They are inexpensive and if you already own a cg, give it a shot.
2013 Jeff Medlin '37 Hauser 640mm sp
2006 Michele Della Guistina Concert 10 string 650mm ce
2005 Jose Ramirez 4E 650mm ce
2005 Manuel Rodriguez Model C3F 650mm sp
2003 Manuel Rodriguez Model D 650mm ce

Joe de V
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Location: Northern California USA

Re: Advice on guitar size

Post by Joe de V » Tue Feb 21, 2017 4:12 pm

Welcome to the short-scale club for older players. At age 85 I cannot comfortable play a 650mm scale guitar. After approx. 30 to 35 minutes of playing my 650 mm scale guitars i suffer what I call "finger fatigue". I have done a lot of practice finding out why is this - besides the age factor -
I have determined ( as it applies to me ) that measuring the spread of your fretting hand from thumb to pinky is not really a true to life indication of the ability to play a full standard scale of 650 mm for the following reasons.
1-The thumb does not participate in the actual playing of any strings. It is the key "support" of the instrument while playing at any given position but only the index finger spread to the pinky finger are the fingers that are involved in the fretting.
2- When we play at the fret-board the need to slightly bent the fingers takes away a very slight spread distance which could result in shortening the ability to reach and additional fret location on the board. Try this test yourself and find out.
My solution for the above was to find a good instrument with a shorter scale length. At present I have three CG with a 630 , 640, and 643 scale length that does the "trick" for making me comfortable in playing and at a longer period of time at every session.
Hope this help to give you some possible solution to your comfort-paying issue. Good Luck.

CliffP
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:38 pm
Location: St. Charles, MO, USA

Re: Advice on guitar size

Post by CliffP » Fri Mar 03, 2017 11:55 pm

Thanks folks, this was my first posting on this forum and you've been extremely helpful. I used forums to learn to make bamboo fly rods and found they were wonderful sources of wisdom and information and I'm so glad to see that this is the case here. Once again, thanks to you all.

Cliff

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