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Scale Length: What You Need To Know
​​Posted by Drop-Tuning 9:38AM CST 10/2/17​

      Here we will discuss guitar scale length and the effects it can have on tone and playability, especially in a drop tuning.

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 What is scale length?

 What difference does it make?

 Which scale length is best for me?

        
          What is scale length?  -  The scale length of a guitar, refers to the length of the string between the bridge saddle point, and the nut, this is the part of the string that vibrates and generates a tone. Two common scale lengths for a guitar, are the Gibson 24.75" scale, and the longer, 25.5" Fender scale. Both have distinct advantages and limitations. Most important when picking a scale length, is to play them both, decide what you prefer, and stick with it.



         Everyone has heard players of both styles, but many may not know the difference. For example, both Angus Young of AC/DC and Slash of Guns N' Roses played Gibson scale instruments, while Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eddie Van Halen both riffed on Fender 25.5" instruments. Much of scale length selection is preference and familiarity. If a young player starts on a Fender scale, they are likely to stay with it, the same goes for Gibson scale guitars. However, a switch from Fender to Gibson is much more common than a Gibson player trading up to a Fender scale axe.
This Gibson SG  and its brother the Gibson Les Paul, are the most recognizable guitars with a 24 3/4" Gibson scale length. Available on Samash.com
The Fender Telecaster , or 'Tele', is likely the most iconic 25.5" guitar out there behind its cousin, the Fender Statocaster, both available on   zZounds.com  
       25.5" Fender


24.75" Gibson
         What difference does it make? - Scale length has easily as much influence over playability as any other design feature, but in what ways? How does it impact tone? Here we will cover a few of the key differences to keep an eye - or better yet, an ear out for when you're trying out each scale.




          Given a fixed string guage, a longer scale instrument will require more tension to achieve the same tone as a shorter scale guitar. This results in a Gibson scale guitar feeling 'softer' to play. One will notice that bending strings on a shorter scale guitar is easier and that the strings may feel lighter and more responsive.  Some say that despite the improved playability, the overall tone of a Gibson scale may lack fullness or presence, however.



In the video below, Vlogger Mike Bradley touches on a few of the differences between the 2 scale lengths. Be sure to subscribe on Youtube.com
        Which scale length is best for me? - Deciding which scale length is ideal for you should be neither a fast, nor an easy process. While not totally unheard of, very few players use both scales regularly and most tend to stick with a certain scale. What's most important, is to look at your favorite players, the players whose sound and tone YOU like best, and play what they play. As always, a safe bet is to go to a local guitar store or a friends house and try one of each with comparable strings .



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