Shorter Scale Guitars?

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
robkay15
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2019 2:27 pm

Shorter Scale Guitars?

Post by robkay15 » Sat Feb 02, 2019 10:28 am

From reading on the internet its seems that a shorter scale guitar requires less effort to play as the frets are slightly closer together, does anyone have any thoughts on this?
Rob

User avatar
petermc61
Posts: 6737
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2012 12:11 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Shorter Scale Guitars?

Post by petermc61 » Sat Feb 02, 2019 11:09 am

Well, it depends on how short you go. You do get an advantage in the lower fret positions of easier stretches but also slightly tighter spacing in the upper frets for playing chords etc. Whether it is better or not for you is purely personal preference.

User avatar
David Norton
Posts: 4596
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2008 4:12 pm
Location: Salt Lake City, UT, USA

Re: Shorter Scale Guitars?

Post by David Norton » Sat Feb 02, 2019 1:25 pm

What Peter said.

For myself, I prefer a 640mm scale. I've sold off all but one of my 650 or 660 size instruments.

Here's a quick-and-basic size comparison of the two:

650-640.jpg

I think that reducing the root position stretch by about 2.06 mm offsets the reduced 1.29 mm space in the upper position to the body. The chart doesn't consider the next octave of the fretboard, as "stretching" is not an issue in that range.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
David Norton
Salt Lake City, UT
First person to complete the Delcamp "Let's Learn Sor's Opus 60" project

doug
Posts: 1338
Joined: Fri Oct 22, 2010 2:32 pm
Location: Arapahoe, North Carolina 28510

Re: Shorter Scale Guitars?

Post by doug » Sat Feb 02, 2019 1:41 pm

I started out on a 650 scale, but had trouble fretting the G on the 6th string and the B on the 1st string at the same time. I tried a 640 scale, and that reach was slightly easier, so I switched.
2017 Jason Wolverton spruce/maple, 640, "Luz Blanca"
2016 Kenny Hill New World Estudio 640, cedar
2015 Kenny Hill Performance 640, C/IR
2017 Kenny Hill Player Cutaway, 640, Sp

Wuuthrad
Posts: 1155
Joined: Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:16 pm
Location: USA

Re: Shorter Scale Guitars?

Post by Wuuthrad » Sat Feb 02, 2019 2:08 pm

Certainly a bit "easier" re. L hand fingering in the lower positions. In terms of higher positions on the fretboard, once you get past the 9th or maybe the 7th or even 5th fret is when you'll notice a difference, especially when playing barre chords, or any chords really. Melodic or mono lines aren't quite as cramped, usually. For me anyway, whenever I play a shorter scale guitar. I do play 650/53 and 660/52 primarily, though I do have large hands. There are scale size calculators at Savage guitars and elsewhere online which show you a recommendation.

Nut width is equally important, as well as neck shape/profile and equally if not more importantly the size of your hands.
R hand pluckery can be more difficult on a shorter scale guitar with a narrower fingerboard, although this can be somewhat compensated for with nut adjustments to string spacing. These differences may not even be noticeable however, depending on the size of your hands, and your technical ability, and a shorter scale may just be easier after all.

If you watch Ana Vidovic playing as a young child you may soon realize that proper technique should allow you to play any scale. If only we could turn back time?

Also consider that the majority of classical guitar repertoire was written on guitars which were often 635 mm or even 580 and in between, or made to order, and one may begin to wonder where the 650 and 660 scale became the standard.

Segovia and Bream certainly influenced the trend towards longer scale guitars, as did their Luthiers, amongst others, and this tradition has continued.
"Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic." -Jean Sibelius

User avatar
David Norton
Posts: 4596
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2008 4:12 pm
Location: Salt Lake City, UT, USA

Re: Shorter Scale Guitars?

Post by David Norton » Sat Feb 02, 2019 4:12 pm

Wuuthrad wrote:
Sat Feb 02, 2019 2:08 pm
Segovia and Bream certainly influenced the trend towards longer scale guitars, as did their Luthiers, amongst others, and this tradition has continued.
From Julian Bream "A Life on the Road", speaking about his 1973 Romanillos, page 8:

It's about half the weight of many of the instruments that are in use today, although it's only about five percent smaller. The string length is just over 64cm, whereas the string length of some modern instruments can be as much as 66 or 67 cm."
David Norton
Salt Lake City, UT
First person to complete the Delcamp "Let's Learn Sor's Opus 60" project

larryguitar
Posts: 1101
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:03 pm
Location: New York City

Re: Shorter Scale Guitars?

Post by larryguitar » Sat Feb 02, 2019 6:10 pm

David Norton wrote:
Sat Feb 02, 2019 4:12 pm
Wuuthrad wrote:
Sat Feb 02, 2019 2:08 pm
Segovia and Bream certainly influenced the trend towards longer scale guitars, as did their Luthiers, amongst others, and this tradition has continued.
From Julian Bream "A Life on the Road", speaking about his 1973 Romanillos, page 8:

It's about half the weight of many of the instruments that are in use today, although it's only about five percent smaller. The string length is just over 64cm, whereas the string length of some modern instruments can be as much as 66 or 67 cm."
That's a good enough argument to buy a Romanillos. I'll sell off all of my guitars, and, ugh, I still won't have enough money for one. ;-)

GuitarsWeB
Posts: 440
Joined: Sat Feb 24, 2018 6:55 pm

Re: Shorter Scale Guitars?

Post by GuitarsWeB » Sat Feb 02, 2019 6:28 pm

David Norton wrote:
Sat Feb 02, 2019 1:25 pm
What Peter said.

For myself, I prefer a 640mm scale. I've sold off all but one of my 650 or 660 size instruments.

Here's a quick-and-basic size comparison of the two:


650-640.jpg


I think that reducing the root position stretch by about 2.06 mm offsets the reduced 1.29 mm space in the upper position to the body. The chart doesn't consider the next octave of the fretboard, as "stretching" is not an issue in that range.
It looks as if you’re measuring from the nut. You need to measure from the first fret, not the nut.

celestemcc
Posts: 1238
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 5:43 pm

Re: Shorter Scale Guitars?

Post by celestemcc » Sat Feb 02, 2019 9:49 pm

proper technique should allow you to play any scale.
Hypothetically that makes sense, but in reality a smaller hand may just need smaller frets, a larger one larger frets. Good technique of course helps, but it can't solve everything.
2015 Connor spruce/Indian rosewood
1978 Ramirez 1a cedar

Chuah Hui Hsien
Posts: 158
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2018 7:27 am
Location: Penang, Malaysia

Re: Shorter Scale Guitars?

Post by Chuah Hui Hsien » Sun Feb 03, 2019 3:12 am

I myself benefited from playing shorter scale length guitar,with smaller body dimension.It helps bring the instrument nearer to my reach,and making big stretches easier.
2017 Karel Dedain Spruce/Maple (Torres) 64cm
1998 Yamaha GD 10, Spruce/IRW 65cm
1988 Alhambra AL 8, Cedar/IRW 65cm

soltirefa
Posts: 2183
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 3:59 am
Location: Southern California

Re: Shorter Scale Guitars?

Post by soltirefa » Sun Feb 03, 2019 5:00 am

I imagine a day in the future when someone will invent hand extensions so that you can play 660mm guitars instead of buying a short scale guitar.

Wuuthrad
Posts: 1155
Joined: Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:16 pm
Location: USA

Re: Shorter Scale Guitars?

Post by Wuuthrad » Sun Feb 03, 2019 6:12 am

David Norton wrote:
Sat Feb 02, 2019 4:12 pm
Wuuthrad wrote:
Sat Feb 02, 2019 2:08 pm
Segovia and Bream certainly influenced the trend towards longer scale guitars, as did their Luthiers, amongst others, and this tradition has continued.
From Julian Bream "A Life on the Road", speaking about his 1973 Romanillos, page 8:

It's about half the weight of many of the instruments that are in use today, although it's only about five percent smaller. The string length is just over 64cm, whereas the string length of some modern instruments can be as much as 66 or 67 cm."
Of course, and 640 is still bigger than the majority guitars of the 18th, 19th and early 20th Century, isn't it?

Did Bream not also play larger scale guitars?
"Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic." -Jean Sibelius

Wuuthrad
Posts: 1155
Joined: Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:16 pm
Location: USA

Re: Shorter Scale Guitars?

Post by Wuuthrad » Sun Feb 03, 2019 6:28 am

celestemcc wrote:
Sat Feb 02, 2019 9:49 pm
proper technique should allow you to play any scale.
Hypothetically that makes sense, but in reality a smaller hand may just need smaller frets, a larger one larger frets. Good technique of course helps, but it can't solve everything.

Right! I agree with you almost entirely, but I think that almost any young child has the potential to overcome the limitations of their size, as evidenced by watching Ana or other talented prodigies if you will.

This is why I said if only we could turn back time, because- for the most part- only then might we be able to overcome the anatomical limitations we may or may not have been born with.

I can't imagine my fingers moving in such a way, primarily because I haven't devoted my entire lifetime to the study of classical guitar. But I can still play at a pretty good level, and I concur that shorter scales are necessary for many players.

Perhaps we can conclude that with age our instruments need to align with our anatomy more, rather than molding our anatomy to our instruments, as seems easier in youth. Then again an instrument that is comfortable to play and not injurious should be the first priority.

One other thing to mention is that many of these difficulties arise due to much of the repertoire of Classical Guitar including transcriptions of music not written for guitar. And the music that was written for it was in fact written for shorter scale instruments.
"Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic." -Jean Sibelius

GuitarsWeB
Posts: 440
Joined: Sat Feb 24, 2018 6:55 pm

Re: Shorter Scale Guitars?

Post by GuitarsWeB » Sun Feb 03, 2019 2:53 pm

David Norton wrote:
Sat Feb 02, 2019 1:25 pm
What Peter said.

For myself, I prefer a 640mm scale. I've sold off all but one of my 650 or 660 size instruments.

Here's a quick-and-basic size comparison of the two:


650-640.jpg


I think that reducing the root position stretch by about 2.06 mm offsets the reduced 1.29 mm space in the upper position to the body. The chart doesn't consider the next octave of the fretboard, as "stretching" is not an issue in that range.
So, from the 1st fret to the 4th fret, the difference between 650mm and 640mm is really only 1.5mm. The distance from the nut would not matter to your reaches.

jscott

Re: Shorter Scale Guitars?

Post by jscott » Mon Feb 04, 2019 1:39 am

I recently played a 635 mm guitar with a 48 or maybe 50 nut. This was the first time I'd played a shorter scale. I was surprised at the difference with my 650/51. I mean, it was very noticeable. My 650 plays easily too. So a shorter scale can make a real difference, despite the seemingly marginal savings on mm between frets.
Last edited by jscott on Mon Feb 04, 2019 5:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Return to “Public Space”