What Is Guitar Scale Length? The scale length of the guitar and bass refers to the sounding length of the instrument strings. It is the length between the nut and the saddle. A guitar’s scale length can be calculated by measuring the distance from the front edge of the nut up until it reaches the fingerboard to the center of the 12th-octave fret, then double the measurement.
A Must-Read: How Much Is A Bass Guitar?
Scale length makes a lot of difference depending on its size and measurement. It affects the whole tone, feelings, and playability of a guitar. Here is why guitar scale length is an essential factor to consider when buying a guitar.
A longer scale length means the gaps for every fret will be more extensive. From a beginner’s perspective, this will pose a big challenge to every individual who just started learning.
For some guitarists, the fret spacing won’t affect the entire playability. But it will affect the comfortability when playing. Golden rule: if you have small hands, buy a shorter scale guitar.
The longer the scale, the more tension will be applied to your strings to achieve a particular pitch. The more tension it gets, the tighter it will be in gauge strings. String tension plays a significant role in playability and musicality.
One of the reasons why most musicians prefer Les Paul over Strat when it comes to big bends is because Gibson is slightly shorter. It makes it easier to perform bends.
The Part Played By String Gauge
One of the things that need consideration is the string gauge. Shifting up gauge strings increases their tension. For example, if your guitar is in standard tuning, and you made changes like Drop C, you will feel that the strings become quite slack. Scale length and string gauge need to go hand in hand, and it is one of the key points to remember.
Shaping The Tone Of The Guitar
Whether your guitar is hardtail or a vibrato-enabled, set-neck, or single-coil, the scale length influences the whole tone and character of the sound.
The scale determines where the harmonics and overtone occurs and eventually gives the guitar its voice in the most fundamental way. The spaces of harmonics on strings will give an impression of an exquisite shimmer and chimes and produces a tighter low E tone. On the other hand, strings that land on a shorter scale produce more closely packed harmonics and increases the thickness and warmth of the tone.
If you picked up two guitars, with almost identical appearances but one of each is three quarters off, you are likely to find yourself playing differently. That slightly off measurement makes a surprising difference the moment you started playing. Not only the feeling you have in your fingertips, and their elasticity but also the impression on your subconscious altering your style, like muscle memory.
Overall, scale length plays an essential role in playability, tonality, and headroom. All players are well informed to take all of this into consideration. Magic does exist when a good material and excellent design come together in a package that’s just right up your alley.