Scale Length

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
celestemcc
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Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 5:43 pm

Re: Scale Length

Post by celestemcc » Wed Oct 31, 2018 10:32 pm

Actually shorter scale feels less taut to me, given the same tension strings. I use harder tension strings on my 640 than I did on my 664 to achieve a "medium" feel. Definitely subjective.
2015 Connor spruce/Indian rosewood
1978 Ramirez 1a cedar

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Peter Frary
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Location: Honolulu

Re: Scale Length

Post by Peter Frary » Thu Nov 01, 2018 2:37 am

I'm 5'8" and have medium sized hands and play '65 and '92 Ramirez 1-A guitars. No problems with reach but I'd played the '65 1-A since I was 18 and I'm now 64. Your hands adjust and everything works fine. However when I first tried a 650mm scale I was buzzing and muting strings like crazy. Of course after a month or so I got used to the 650 and can easily switch between multiple scales with only a few seconds of transition. No problems jumping on an requinto, ukulele or mandolin either, albeit those instrument took me many months to adjust to. I think the brain struggles at first, learns the new pathways after much practice and everything is automatic after that. However, for classical pieces I prefer the 664—there's a lot more room to get things done. What I find really difficult to adjust to is having more than six strings. A few extra basses and my brain does summersaults...
I play a Tiny Tenor 6 so I look taller on stage!

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guitarseller345645
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Re: Scale Length

Post by guitarseller345645 » Thu Nov 01, 2018 7:27 am

Peter Frary wrote:
Thu Nov 01, 2018 2:37 am
I'm 5'8" and have medium sized hands and play '65 and '92 Ramirez 1-A guitars. No problems with reach but I'd played the '65 1-A since I was 18 and I'm now 64. Your hands adjust and everything works fine. However when I first tried a 650mm scale I was buzzing and muting strings like crazy. Of course after a month or so I got used to the 650 and can easily switch between multiple scales with only a few seconds of transition. No problems jumping on an requinto, ukulele or mandolin either, albeit those instrument took me many months to adjust to. I think the brain struggles at first, learns the new pathways after much practice and everything is automatic after that. However, for classical pieces I prefer the 664—there's a lot more room to get things done. What I find really difficult to adjust to is having more than six strings. A few extra basses and my brain does summersaults...
Hi - I have played 650mm all my life, and can even play pieces with eyes closed. I am very interested in getting a Cordoba Mini II, but am worried that if I play the latter too much I will lose all (muscle) memory on the 650mm, and will not be able to play with my eyes closed. Does that ever happen? Does the brain enable equal ability for both scales? Thanks.

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Peter Frary
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Location: Honolulu

Re: Scale Length

Post by Peter Frary » Thu Nov 01, 2018 8:16 am

I regularly switch between playing a 664 Ramirez, 1-A, 650mm 7-string, Douglas Ching 650mm, Les Paul, Hammer bass, Cordoba Mini R and tenor ukulele without any problems whatsoever. And I don't look at my hands much at all, albeit I like to keep my eyes open so I don't look like I'm sleeping on stage or in videos:

https://www.youtube.com/c/PeterFrary/

As I stated above, after a few weeks or months of "transitional" practice, your brain adapts and you can play different size instruments in sessions or stage back to back without a hitch. I've been playing different size string instruments most of my life so the process is fairly smooth for me. If it's your first go at a different scale, the transition may be longer and more frustrating but I'm sure you'll master it if you don't give up.
I play a Tiny Tenor 6 so I look taller on stage!

soltirefa
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Location: Southern California

Re: Scale Length

Post by soltirefa » Thu Nov 01, 2018 1:38 pm

Something I have noticed in myself -

You begin contemplating a short scale guitar as the solution to your inability to play certain difficult parts in pieces and your brain stops finding solutions on a normal scale (650mm) guitar. It's like you convince yourself you can't do it, so your brain believes it. It's like a computer program. You program it to say "you can't" and the computer acts accordingly.

I remember hearing the story of Roger Bannister who was the first person to break the 4-minute mile. Until that happened people assumed it was impossible to break the 4-minute mile. As soon as Bannister did it, soon after many runners did it also.

Moral of the story - believe that the 650mm guitar is the perfect scale and easier to play than a shorter scale guitar. Suddenly you will experience your brain finding solutions.

celestemcc
Posts: 1298
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 5:43 pm

Re: Scale Length

Post by celestemcc » Thu Nov 01, 2018 2:34 pm

soltirefa wrote:
Thu Nov 01, 2018 1:38 pm
Something I have noticed in myself -

You begin contemplating a short scale guitar as the solution to your inability to play certain difficult parts in pieces and your brain stops finding solutions on a normal scale (650mm) guitar. It's like you convince yourself you can't do it, so your brain believes it. It's like a computer program. You program it to say "you can't" and the computer acts accordingly.

I remember hearing the story of Roger Bannister who was the first person to break the 4-minute mile. Until that happened people assumed it was impossible to break the 4-minute mile. As soon as Bannister did it, soon after many runners did it also.

Moral of the story - believe that the 650mm guitar is the perfect scale and easier to play than a shorter scale guitar. Suddenly you will experience your brain finding solutions.
Um... no. Everyone's different. No need to defend any given scale length... yep, we do adapt (I know this for sure! :D ). But if a smaller scale makes it easier to play, all else being equal, it's not worth the hassle of fighting larger instrument. Classical guitar is difficult enough as it is.
2015 Connor spruce/Indian rosewood
1978 Ramirez 1a cedar

soltirefa
Posts: 2299
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 3:59 am
Location: Southern California

Re: Scale Length

Post by soltirefa » Thu Nov 01, 2018 5:15 pm

Um... no. Everyone's different. No need to defend any given scale length... yep, we do adapt (I know this for sure! :D ). But if a smaller scale makes it easier to play, all else being equal, it's not worth the hassle of fighting larger instrument. Classical guitar is difficult enough as it is.
Fair enough. I will maintain though that while there are no absolutes, the effect of convincing yourself you "can't" does exist.

I have posted this before, but one of the best things that happened when I bought a 630mm guitar is that it made me appreciate my 650s more. I had previously been convincing myself that they were too hard to play and I bought into it. But after playing a 630mm the 650s magically became very playable. Weird.

celestemcc
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Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 5:43 pm

Re: Scale Length

Post by celestemcc » Thu Nov 01, 2018 5:33 pm

It does work that way, doesn't it? My 1a is magically easier to play than before... but I've had 3 years on a 640 scale to improve my technique, so that the 664 seems easier. And it took time to adapt to the smaller scale -- I had to learn not to overshoot and that I could expend less LH energy. The only thing I missed (but don't regret) is the wider string separation -- and I got used to that, also. But now if I play the Ramirez for long, or have lots of barres, wide stretches, etc -- I tire out more easily. And then we know there's more factors than scale at work.

But I'll admit that I don't think, in my case, a 630, eg, would be any better or easier. Vive la difference...
2015 Connor spruce/Indian rosewood
1978 Ramirez 1a cedar

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