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Can someone explain scale length to me

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  • Can someone explain scale length to me

    I am just a little confused here. My Robert Cray strat has a 25.5 scale length with 21 frets. My ESP 400 has a 24.75 scale with 22 frets. Now I was looking at a few Schecters and a few more ESP's and some have a 25.5 scale length with 24 frets. If a Strat and an ESP have the same scale length, but with 3 less frets on the Strat, whats the deal with that. Are the distance between each fret smaller? And if so, does it make it harder to play either way. I have been staying away from 24 fret guitars because I thought the neck was longer, but now I realize that most Strats have the same scale as most of the 24 frets guitars. Can someone explain the whole thing to me, so I can decide what to get next. Thanks.

  • #2
    Re: Can someone explain scale length to me

    hmm, good question.
    no clue tho.

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    • #3
      Re: Can someone explain scale length to me

      It's simple, really. Scale length is the distance from the nut to the 12th fret, regardless of how many frets are on the guitar.
      John Cipollina August 24, 1943 - May 29, 1989

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      • #4
        Re: Can someone explain scale length to me

        The number of frets on a guitar is totally unrelated to the scale length.

        The scale length is the sounding length of the string, i.e. the distance between the nut and bridge.

        However many frets there are, the twelfth fret is always exactly halfway between the nut and bridge because the octave note has a wavelength half that of the open string.

        You can have any number of frets on a guitar of any scale length, but on (say) a 25.5" scale length guitar each pair of frets is further apart than the corresponding pair on a 24.75" scale length guitar.

        The guitar doesn't get longer the more frets you add, the new high frets just get closer together!

        It's late and I'm not explaining this very well, but I know what I mean.

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        • #5
          Re: Can someone explain scale length to me

          So, what's the difference playability-wise?
          Originally posted by Scott_F
          On that day, should I ever be so unlucky, I will expect an unholy assault of pure metal mayhem attacking all my senses with a little tiny voice in the background screaming Effing Hails!

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          • #6
            Re: Can someone explain scale length to me

            generally, its thought that a 24.75" scale is better for rock playing than a longer scale, because the frets are closer together. But it really matters only as a personal prefrence. Do you like having high frets farther apart, or smushed together? Personally I like the in-betweenish 25.1" scale on my Ibanez SZ, because the frets arent too close, and arent too far either.
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            • #7
              Re: Can someone explain scale length to me

              JammerMatt - are you asking about the difference in playing a Gibson 24-3/4" scale vs. a Strat 25-1/2" scale? If so, the shorter scale requires less tension to produce a given note with an identical string thickness. A shorter scale gives you easier bending, and the sound is different... less "snap" maybe? It's hard to describe, at least for me.

              Hope this helps,

              Chip
              Heritage 535 Special, Warmoth frankenstrat, MIM Strat, & Taylor 314C(no E)
              Amp Builds: Tweed Princeton (5F2-A) variation, 2 BF Princeton Reverb clones, & Super Reverb clone
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              • #8
                Re: Can someone explain scale length to me

                25,5" = Fender scale. Tighter feel and tone.

                24,75"= Gibson scale. A looser feel = easier bending. The tone is fatter, with maybe a bit more sustain.

                Then there's odd scales like 25", which is between Gibson and Fender. Found on PRS guitars as well as some Ibanez guitars. An attempt to get the best of both worlds, i suppose.

                Baritones have a scale of something like 27" and higher to compensate for the heavier strings and lower tuning.
                "Dave, what are your thoughts on AIDS?"
                "You're talking about sex, right? Hell, i don't need no aids!" -Dave Mustaine

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                • #9
                  Re: Can someone explain scale length to me

                  Thanks, Makes sense.
                  Originally posted by Scott_F
                  On that day, should I ever be so unlucky, I will expect an unholy assault of pure metal mayhem attacking all my senses with a little tiny voice in the background screaming Effing Hails!

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