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Thread: Difference 25.5 vs 24.75 Scale Length

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    Difference 25.5 vs 24.75 Scale Length

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    Does anyone know the primary difference in terms of sound, feel, etc between two guitars with different scale lengths. Strats are the standard example of a 25.5" and a Les Paul represents the 24.75". There are other significant differences between these two guitars, wood, weight and most importantly pickups.

    What does the scale length difference affect?

    Thanks,

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    A longer string needs to be tighter to reach the same pitch. A tighter string will have a sharper tone, and, obviously, require more pressure to fret or bend. It's about like the difference in tuning up or down about a step, less than a string gauge change, IMO.

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    A longer scale length also makes stretches harder, but then it's ever so slightly easier to play higher frets.

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    I've always wondered this as well . . .

    Good question. Thanks for the responses.

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    Some modern guitar makers, notably PRS, make guitars with a 25" scale length. I think it's a nice compromise.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mshilarious
    A longer scale length also makes stretches harder, but then it's ever so slightly easier to play higher frets.
    Technically true, but the difference is miniscule. According to my IIRC calculations, the difference at the fist fret is about 0.04 inch, a good bit less than 1/16. It is not so much that you can't play one or the other, but if you develop muscle memory on one, it will cause an imprecision in fretting on the other, IMO YMMV.

    I play both, and changing back and forth doesn't bother me in the least.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ermghoti
    Technically true, but the difference is miniscule. According to my IIRC calculations, the difference at the fist fret is about 0.04 inch, a good bit less than 1/16. It is not so much that you can't play one or the other, but if you develop muscle memory on one, it will cause an imprecision in fretting on the other, IMO YMMV.

    I play both, and changing back and forth doesn't bother me in the least.
    I also play both, as well as basses from 31"-42" scale and a mandolin that is much smaller. It's not just the single fret difference. A four fret stretch (say, 2-6) is a little more than 1/8" of an inch. It's not huge, but I notice the difference quite keenly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mshilarious
    I also play both, as well as basses from 31"-42" scale and a mandolin that is much smaller. It's not just the single fret difference. A four fret stretch (say, 2-6) is a little more than 1/8" of an inch. It's not huge, but I notice the difference quite keenly.
    Interesting. Perhaps I use my eyes for reference more than you? I meant to point out the overall difference of a several-fret stretch in my post, but I am too lazy to calculate it. I would still maintain that 1/8 inch is pretty small, dealing with a stretch of around four inches, and the margin for error a fretted instrument provides. Again, IMO YMMV.

    I have much more trouble with different body shapes moving the neck back and forth than scale length. If I play my flying V for a while, and switch to a LP, I try to fret at the 12th somewhere around the neck joint.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mshilarious
    It's not just the single fret difference. A four fret stretch (say, 2-6) is a little more than 1/8" of an inch. It's not huge, but I notice the difference quite keenly.
    Same here.
    I also think the longer scale is better for high fret playing.

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    Sonically, the primary difference is in the degree of articulation, and in how well the notes blend together. I like to say, a short scale guitar sounds a bit more like a choir singing together. A long scale guitars sounds more like a group of soloists singing at the same time. Both are good, even fantastic. But they are different. Personally, I like to have guitars with both so I can use which ever sounds best.

    Oh, and for all that all of Gibson's guitars usually get lumped into the 24.75 inch scale length (excepting those which are shorter, of course), the Les Paul is actually 24.65 inches. Gibson has used a whole BUNCH of scale lengths of "about 24 3/7" over the years, some more acurate, some less. You can frequently put two guitars of the same model from the same year side by side, and see as much as a 1/16th of an inch difference between some of the frets, which is HUGE for fret possitions.

    The most common scale lengths are:

    24.65/24.75/etc - on Gibsons, mostly
    25.4 - Martin long scale
    24.9 - Martin short scale
    25 - PRS
    25.5 - Most Fenders, Strats and Teles, though some of the other guitars used a shorter scale.



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