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Greg J.

Choosing scale lengths for a multiscale guitar

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Greg J.    0

I am on the warpath of trying to figure out what scale I should use for the 1st and 6th strings on a multiscale electric guitar. I used to use .009s, but after trying .010s and liking the tone (and using them for a long time), I recently tried .011s and discovered (much to my surprise) that they weren't noticeably more difficult to bend. So now I am wondering what gauge strings I should use for the "best" tone (perhaps thicker is better to a point), but this post is not about that.

If I settle on .011s, does that dictate an optimum scale for the 1st string to get very good tone? 24.5" to 25.5" seems like a bit too big of a range to arbitrarily choose just based on how close together I want the frets to be. Presumably there are tradeoffs and people differ in the qualities they prefer, so I am speaking in general terms.

Then I wonder, having chosen X for the 1st string scale length, does that dictate an ideal scale length for the 6th string (which would be a .049 in my case)?

(Math doesn't bother me.)

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pan_kara    151

interesting question. I heard the "heavier gauge is better tone" story, but is there really an optimum gauge for, say, a high E? (regardless of feel). In what way does "tone" become "better". I guess some sort of an answer is hidden in comparing open high E vs the various fretted options (5th fret on B, 9th on G etc). There you have changing scale length and changing gauge and ~constant tension. I'd love to do a systematic study some time (or maybe something already exists)

There are several things in play when choosing scale length, the tone and feel of the strings, plus for multiscale also the ergonomics of the amount of "fan" chosen. I don't know what people do in general, I imagine one would try to take "standard" cases as guides as in "fan from fender scale to baritone (25.5-27) for a normal/dropA 7-string" or "fan from gibson to fender for playing on 11's that would feel like 10's (I guess)" or something along those lines ...

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curtisa    465

For the most part I'd say it's a question of personal taste. There is no such thing as optimum scale length vs string guage when considereing a players' preference. If you prefer the tautness and/or tone of a 46 on the low E of a Strat and the looseness of a 10 on the high E of a Les Paul, then perhaps look at a scale fan of 24.75" to 25.5".

My only real advice is to avoid really large scale fans for the hell of it. A six string guitar with a 25" - 28" fan may seem like a good idea for higher tension on the lower strings, but it will be a dog to play due to the severe angles the frets will be at the extremeties of the fretboard.

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Greg J.    0
On 5/10/2017 at 6:00 AM, pan_kara said:

interesting question. I heard the "heavier gauge is better tone" story, but is there really an optimum gauge for, say, a high E? (regardless of feel). In what way does "tone" become "better". I guess some sort of an answer is hidden in comparing open high E vs the various fretted options (5th fret on B, 9th on G etc). There you have changing scale length and changing gauge and ~constant tension. I'd love to do a systematic study some time (or maybe something already exists)

It may be something as simple as having a greater mass of metal moving increases the signal strength out of the pickup. Compare .008s and .011s. If you can't tell the difference in tone, then what I heard may have had some other cause.

I tried .011s instead of .010s because my open string hammer-ons were not producing nearly enough volume. With .011s it is much better.

As for scale lengths, it sounds like I need to do an experiment with different scale lengths so I can understand the trade-offs better (not sure how I'm going to do that, though; maybe a piece of wood and some nails).

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