In the first few minutes of this video, he talks about the scale length of guitars and how they impact the feel and playing of the instrument.
Fender: 25 1/2", Gibson: 24 3/4" (I thought it was usually 24 5/8").
He says PRS is 25". There are actually 2 guys, Rhett Shull and a guest speaker in a guitar shop.
He says that the shorter scale lengths better lend themselves to bending etc. Longer scale lengths are ‘stiffer’, he says. I assume this has to do with having to reach a certain tension for tuning over the scale length. Open strings may play/sound better on longer scale lengths? (I think this was discussed about 7:00 on for awhile, with demonstrations) Discussion on intonation about 12:00.
I’m just curious what other guitar players think about this, and how it affects instrument choice (if at all) and adaptations of playing. I have several different brands, so I’ll have to do some research on scale length and then try some of this out to see the differences. I tend to play whatever I want regardless of what’s in my hand, so I’ll have to explore the art of nuance.
I haven’t watched the video yet, but I will, soon.
I’m the same as you, in that I haven’t focused much on scale length when trying out or playing different guitars. It’s never something I factored in when buying a guitar. In fact, I’m not even sure what the scale length of my guitars are. I have a 1969 Fender Telecaster, so I assume that would be a longer scale length than a Les Paul….? I’ve always preferred the appearance of a Les Paul over Fender Strats and Telecasters, but I have somewhat of an affection for Teles because I’ve owned mine since 1981.
Generally speaking, my understanding is that Fender’s are 25 1/2" scale, and Gibson’s are 24 3/4" scale (some sources suggest variation to 24.6"). As it says in the video, this may not affect your choice of a guitar necessarily, but might influence how you choose to play it. Maybe a certain guitar on certain songs, or certain parts, simply because it sounds or works better. Play-ability and tone seem to be the main parameters and considerations.
I looked, and my Gibson Nighthawk is actually 25 1/2" scale because it’s a weird Gibson/Fender hybrid which is an aberration for them. So there are exceptions. My Ibanez shredder guitar is 25 1/2", it’s somewhat Strat-ish in design (they call it a SuperStrat body). BC Rich is 24 3/4" (I think you have one too), SG knockoff guitar is 24 3/4", and Carvin looks to be 25" (like PRS) … though they make lots of models and it may depend on model. (?) The acoustic guitar … I don’t know, and I don’t care. I’m not much of an acoustic player.
I’m pretty lackadaisical when it comes to upkeeping my guitars and other instruments at maximum level. I tend to only have them repaired or set-up when they’re in fairly rough shape. I take very good care of my equipment and try to maintain them as best as I can but factors such as temperature, humidity and wear & tear can’t be avoided forever. I mostly look at instruments as the tools to make music and not so much as glamorous toys. So, if I’m able to get relatively close to the sounds that I like, I’m fairly happy. But, I do realize the benefits to having instruments with good playability and sound. My concern is mostly with my ability to pull the sounds out of the instruments rather than putting too much emphasis on the instrument helping my playing and technique. I do appreciate a great playing guitar and a cool design/ appearance, though.
I would say I agree with that. I take gear in for tweaks as necessary, but no more than necessary. I would like to do ‘setups’ myself, and have the basic knowledge, but prefer to let professionals do their thing - which does come with risks and costs. I looked into some free luthier courses to try to do it myself, and may continue with that. I just like to play, to “rock out”, but little things annoy me too. The high string “trills” (action set too low?) annoys me, intonation (tuning) always annoys me - even when it’s supposed to be spot on, string buzz annoys me - even if it doesn’t show up on recordings, etc. I’m picky, but yet somewhat tolerant of the technology as it is. Another thing is knobs getting static-ey and flabby. Those can be solved sometimes with lubricant sprays (for dust) and tightening nuts, but … you know … it’s always something.
I never measured, but it seems, by feel, that my PRS is much longer than my Gibson ES 335. The labelling is a PRS 24, so duhh that might be the lenght? I played my gibbby for the first time in a year last week because the PRS is the go to for recording. I cranked it and did a day tripper and crazy train and it kicked butt. I have to start working that in once in a while.
My 1st string high E doesn’t ring true on the PRS it kinda rattles. I tried 10’s instead of the 9’s and no help. I am too bullheaded to have someone else work on it.
Same with this dell. I had to hold down the power button and hammer on the F12 keys 41 different times to get it to get the screen to light this morning again. Put in a fresh windows and a new SSHD recommended by friend. Back to youtube today. rock on yawl
It might mean 24 frets. Just a guess. Mfr’s make a big deal out of 24 frets sometimes, because I think the standard is 22. You need those extra 2 frets to make the dogs bark.
I have struggled with that too. Usually it’s “trilling” which is when the note rings pretty true but wavers like tremolo or vibrato, especially 1st string high up on the frets (by bridge pickup). It is the string height as I understand. Usually raising the string height on that one can help (with the bridge saddle, if you have individual control). It could also be the tension bar in your neck, which controls the curvature of the neck. Low “action” on all the strings can do that too - it’s better for playing fast but the trade-off/compromise is string buzz and tone.
I had checked into free resources to learn Luthieranism (not a religion, a trade ), which now seems like a good idea to revisit. I used to take my toys to someone, but the plague kind of dashed that for awhile. I’d like to be able to do it myself anyway. I used to dabble with it, and I do understand the basics, but sometimes (not always) it can be good to pay a professional (luthier). That way you can blame them if you’re not happy.
What Stan said, was my assumption too. I think it means 24 frets.
With all this talk of guitars and guitar maintenance it seems appropriate that last night I was reminded of how mediocre my guitars are. I haven’t been doing much singing and playing recently, so I grabbed my acoustic and started practicing some songs I’ve been planning on recording for awhile now. Mostly I was doing it to practice my vocals. Anyway, I was quickly reminded that my cheap 6 string acoustic has an issue with the high E string popping off the neck and getting stuck under the twelfth fret. When it does that, it creates a high pitch, irritating sound, and the high E string is unusable, so I have to stop playing and pull the string out of the fret in order to return that string to a playable state. I’m thinking of getting my brother to fix the fret (he used to do guitar repairs at one of the big music gear stores in Toronto). He has some luthier tools to work with, unlike me. Maybe my twelfth fret just requires some filing, or maybe it needs to be hammered upwards so that the fret is perfectly flush with the underside of the guitar neck.
After playing the 6 string acoustic for awhile, I switched to playing that relatively new 12 string acoustic that many of you have probably read me talk about. I found myself having some tuning issues with that one. Some of the strings would go sharp after playing for a relatively short time. Could be that the nut slots need widening. It also might be due to keeping my guitar in an environment where the humidity fluctuates, though I’m not certain if the fluctuations are that significant.
STM I live in the sticks. Gotta go 4 hour round trip to Green Bay Wi to find help there. I always have thought that , when purchasing an electric guitar, to pluck the strings without the amp plugged in to feel out any problems first. Right now I cringe when I do that. Trilling def is a good one. It sounds awful unlike the other strings. Have to youtube it again I guess.
Yeah I might have got a discount on the purchase price with less frets. I NEVER go to 24. At my age I would need a crowbar to get my fingers apart.
Well Dell is calling me back in a few. They are getting into my puter to fix the start up issues. Cost 100 bucks but refunded if not fixed. Going to take my guitar to a pro if my youtube and a few beers doesn’t resolve the problem
I love the sound of a 12 string, but only occasionally. I think my fav was Mr tamborine man?? I also as of late don’t even string the smallest e string on many chords. Like a D chord…I am going to sing that F# note and don’t want to hear it right then. Ok I have to go. Can’t feel any fingers and am typing with onlyright pinky…love this old age shat
Some guitar mfr’s say their products are intonated at the factory, but I have had problems in the past, and the transport over road (long haul truck) probably doesn’t help. New guitar probably needs a new ‘setup’, which partly/mostly consists of intonation. It’s pretty easy to do yourself. Check for articles or YouTube for procedure. You tune up open string, then check 12th fret tuning, then 12th fret harmonic (on open string, not pinch harmonic). If something is off, that string needs to be longer (flatter) or shorter (sharper). Move the bridge saddle for that string. It’s an art, not a science. Well yes, it IS science. But it’s also an art, meaning you gotta f*ck around until you get it right.
Do it for each string and then check them again. It could take some time if you’re not used to it. Or even if you are. Figure out which way the screw turns on the bridge saddle and what direction that makes the saddle go. Toward the pickups should be sharper, away toward the stop tailpiece should be flatter. You have to guess at what you need by a combination of those three tuning points. It’s not always consistent. I told you it was an art.
I have a Les Paul, a Strat, a parts Tele with vibrato, a homemade Tele kit, and a PRS Se 24 (stands for frets, goes an octave above 12th fret).
The shorter scale on the Les Paul makes bending noticeably easier. If I’ve been playing a Fender scale length, when I switch back to the LP I have to control my bends and vibrato more. This is using the same string gauge (10-46) on all guitars.
One contributing factor to bending on a Fender scale length is the tremolo. As you bend, the springs loosen, causing both a flattening of the strings, and more difficulty getting the bent note to pitch. This is part of the fight of playing a Strat that makes it so expressive and requires extra control by the player. If I’m going for a big bend, I try to use my right palm at the back of the bridge to keep it from going in the opposite direction of the bend.
My PRS SE fits in between in terms of string tension. It doesn’t make you fight quite as much as a Strat, but a Les Paul feels slinky in comparison.
All in all, you can easily even most of this out by going one gauge thinner on the longer scales. For instance, 10’s on a Gibson will feel like 9’s on a Strat.
Last slight aside: setting up your guitars requires a little knowledge, about $20 worth of tools, and an hour or two of your time to understand what feels good to you. A very good source of knowledge and a few laughs is available on YouTube at Dave’s World of Fun Stuff. Once you know how to adjust a truss rod and set string height, you’ll only take it into a shop if something drastic happens. For indie touring players, when your guitar feels weird, 9 times out of 10 you can fix it yourself in 10 minutes if you know what your preferred measurements are, and how to keep your guitar properly intonated, which requires a screwdriver and a tuner.
Hey Bob. Good stuff here. My PRS needed some adjustments and the lead guitar player in our band said “Paulie, let me take that home and soup it up a bit” Well, I got it back and it fret buzzed everywhere. He has a tele set real low. (nickname picker)That forced me to do the youtube video thangy. Pretty straight forward and not much time was involved. Except for the small e (.009) all is pretty close IMHO. I might just put a ten on because I don’t bend that string much at all. In fact, except for “gimme three steps” and “wonderful tonight” I am pretty much just a clunker.
The whammy bar still is in the plastic bag…never used it once. ha ha Great info and thanks
Thanks Bob, I’ll check out that channel! As I mentioned earlier, I had looked at some resources a few months ago and hadn’t got back to it since then. I learned that stuff on my first guitar or two decades ago, on a basic level, but when the herd grew I started taking them to a pro. I agree that I might as well just do it myself again.
I love whammy/tremolo, but it’s always been a struggle tuning-wise. Even if you don’t have the bar attached, if it’s a floating tremolo bridge setup you can still have the issues, as Bob pointed out. You can ‘block’ the springs to try to prevent that - might want a pro to handle that one - which might be worthwhile if you never intend to use the tremolo bar.
Simplest way to block the trem on a PRS is to first make sure the bridge is in the proper position, which is listed on their site. If I’m not mistaken the back of the bridge rides about1/8” above the body. Take the back cover off and find a small block of wood to fit between the body and the metal block and you’re done. I like that better than tightening the springs, and it’s easy to remove in case the bar ever comes out of the plastic bag.
That’s what I understood, and thank you for confirming. I still may want to do that with my Ibanez.
Good point! I guess Paul has a choice to make (if he wants), or just keep drinking beers and watching YouTube. Paul, watch some Jimi Hendrix videos. That may inspire you to get after it and do kamikaze string bombs.