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Hi All

Just drawn up some plans for my first guitar build and the scale length has ended up being 66.5cms in total length.

I have read previously in books that state lengths that the leading guitar makers use. Is it best to base it around one of these to be sure that the guitar will work.

Overal my scale length is longer than the ones used.

Does the scale length matter and does it have to be to a standardised size inorder for it to work or will the scale length that i have ended up with work regardless.


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Did you calculate the fret positions to suit that scale length???

perry's question brings up the single most important thing that makes the guitar playable...if your fret positions do not match the scale length,then you are screwed.

scale length is a matter of preference,for the most part.but do not cut ANYTHING until you fully understand scale length and fret positions...do a search asnd see what you can find.

there is more to it than i can fully explain(clearly) without typing for an hour..

maybe someone else can do it shorter?

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Im building it around a 24fret board and measuring pickup positions etc from a SG. Ive accomidated it and changed the length to fit in the additional two frets because my SG only has 22frets i have made the scale length longer.

I have also made it longer to fit the neck in.

Would it be better to just base it around the standard SG length and accomodate my design around it but by keeping it with 24frets.


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you DO NOT change the scale length to add 2 frets.i think you do not understand scale lentgh at all to think such a thing.(not a slam...just want you to understand)

scale length is the distance between the side of the nut closest to the bridge and the part of the bridge the string goes over...adding frets does not increase the scale length...only the fretboard length...at the bottom of the board,not the top

there is too much to explain to give you a full understanding.stop trying to take the easy way out and read this entire forum starting from the first post before you build...there is a wealth of info here....and it will answer all of your questions...

you MUST,MUST,MUST have a FULL,ENTIRE, understanding of scale length before you do anything at all.

you are concerning me...i fear that you are going to waste alot of money if you don't do your research

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quick scale/fret summary from my point of view:

1- Vibrating string with 2 end-points = your scale length

That is: nut to bridge saddles

2- Frets are laid out under this string at certain divisions.

Example: 12th fret = 1/2 the length

3- You can have ANY scale length, but remember that strings and human beings are built to work better at certain lengths

Examples: bass scale 30,34 inches with fat strings (hard to chord :-), and guitar lengths are 25, 25.5, 24.75 inches with thin strings (easier to chord), smaller (20" length scale) miniguitars are a PAIN to play and have to be tuned differently than 'normal' guitars

... So ...

Think carefully if you really want a non-standard scale length -- there are lots of factors into why history has settled down to the "normal" scale lengths.

Then, if you really want to -- go for it, but you have to calculate out the frets and make all the pieces (can't guy fretboard, neck, etc from off-the-shelf)

-- joe

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This link may give you a quick bit of information that could point you in the correct direction. Stew Mac Fret information.You will also see there is a fret spacing calculator. As mentioned above a quick check way to double check your layout is to look at the 12th fret, as it will be half the distance from the nut to the bridge. You could also look at the 24th fret as it would again be half the distance from the 12th fret to the bridge.

Wes, is on the money man. Don't guess about fret spacing. Be sure you understand what you are doing before you start building

Peace, and good luck, Rich

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Well, knowing what you are doing, when building a guitar, goes without saying. :D Its just important to understand the fundamentals, ie. how and why things are the way they are on guitars. I choose to use normal scale lengths (ie. Gibson and Fender) because then I can order precut slotted fretboards. I don't have the facilities (yet) to measure and cut my own fb's. But I AM toying with the idea of building a "baritone" around 28" (71.7 cm). :D

Fret slotting requires extreme precision, its easy enough to calculate your fret positions using the "18th" rule, but putting it into practice is another matter. Using the 18th rule you can calculate fret positions for ANY scale length you choose. The scale length divided by 17.817 gives the distance from the nut to the first fret. The remaining distance divided by 17.817 gives the distance from the first fret to the second fret. This is continued all the way up the neck for as many frets as you like.

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BuildYourGuitar.com has a fret calculator in the PDF format. It's free. It is a must-have for anyone who make their own necks. Hey! It's simple to define scale: it's the distance between the bridge and the capo on the headstock. The frets are there for you to guide yourself when playing. Hey, I have a question: let's say I have a longer scale, and a longer fretboard, how can I add more frets? Like, 26 or 28 (yes, really trebly)? Thanx
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Hey! It's simple to define scale: it's the distance between the bridge and the capo on the headstock. The frets are there for you to guide yourself when playing. Hey, I have a question: let's say I have a longer scale, and a longer fretboard, how can I add more frets? Like, 26 or 28 (yes, really trebly)? Thanx

are you kidding me?this seems like a joke.... :D

the frets and their position MAKES the note the pitch it is supposed to be...they guide nothing.

the scale length is from the NUT...not the capo...a capo is an entirely different thing...

it all goes back to research..

look..the scale length is twice the distance from the nut to the 12th fret...period,end of story...the saddles at the bridge are going to be slightly offset for compensation,making the intonation correct.

for every scale length ,you have to determine the fret positions by a mathematical formula which is explained on that stewmac link...

to add more frets...as i said before....you add them at the bottom....it changes nothing on the scale length...

research,research,research...and don't give advice as a fact when you don't know what you are trying to explain...please.

all it does is confuse....

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I may have read that wrong, but it sounded like you wanted to increase the scale length because using the longer 24-fret board forced everything out farther. But that doesn't work, because the frets will be in the wrong place. You can't just slap a 24-fret neck on a body designed for 22 frets. As mentioned, the extra frets must be added at the bottom of the fretboard, not the top. And the fret positions must be accurately determined for your scale length. You have to start with the scale length, not find out what it ends up to be at the end.

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  • 1 month later...

Well, yes and no really, thers no point in making a guitar with a scale length that places your bridge at the bottom of the body, and having the headstock really far away from you. You need to draw out a full scale drawing, actually do this it WILL answer alot of questions, and decide for yourself what scale you want. Go and play some guitars with differant scale lengths, see what you like, i know i find it hard to go back and forth between my LP (24.75" scale) and a strat (25.5") so for my build i tool the one i play most, the 25.5" and designed my guitar around that. I took the body drawing i had made, made a center line on it, decided where i wanted my bridge to be at, i am very picky about this, and drew a lind EXACTLY 25.5" from that point, then i could work out things like where my neck will end, weather or not my design needs moded for upper fret acces issues ect. Then it was time to draw the thing out again, just to make sure it all works.

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Hi another noob question do you have to have a certain scale length for the length of your body or is it just all related to the frets and nut ???

Cheers Noddy 

There's also the Excel spreadsheet fretboard calculator on my site... www.bellyjellymusic.com in the downloads section. There's a ton of these programs out there from everyone else's postings, but I thought I'd throw mine in there.

I used it to build the last guitar with a 25 1/8" scale length. I wanted something between Fender and Gibson, so I split the difference and went right smack in the middle. I can get some really wild vibrato with it like I can on a Gibson, but it's got the snap of the Fender scale too.

Anywho, it just so happens that the that body was designed as a 25.5" Fender type. The neck was built as a 24 3/4" Gibson scale, but it was a bolt on.

I calculated the fret positions with the Excel spreadsheet in the inbetween scale. When I put that fretboard on the shorter scale neck, the 21st and 22nd frets actually overhung over the body a little. No big deal. I placed the bridge at the right spot for the string scale that I calculated, NOT for the 25.5" position that the Fender scale would have had me put it.

So, you can mix things up a bit, but the bridge has to be in the right place depending on where the nut is at the other end of the string. If you have the body already made, or the neck already made, your string scale is already set. You can't just slap anything on there and expect it to work. They have to work with each other.

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OK, fer cryin' out loud, how many of you folks have bought 'Make Your Own Electric Guitar'? Because it's explained there very clearly, with pictures. Clearly a search, or even reading StewMac's free info sheets, or any number of tutorials and such seems to be a little too complicated.

The first 30 bucks you spend, IMO, should be the 30 bucks you spend on that book. Read it 2 or 3 times, read the tutorials, read the MIMF library, read StewMac's info sheets, read, read, read. Reading is good. And almost more importantly, THINK about what you read. Take notes, make scale drawings, etc. When you have a question, best come in and explain what you do understand, and then what you don't, so people can figure out where the understanding is wrong/incomplete.

After all that reading, go back to that awesome killer death guitar design that's gonna revolutionize the instrument, evaluate it critically, draw it out in full, and start makin' sawdust.

Sorry. Needed a rant.

Right. Scale length. Scale length = length of vibrating strings. Twice the distance from the nut to the 12th fret. Calculated using a bit of software, if you're masochistic by hand, or using a pre-made fret rule or template. DO NOT measure another guitar and expect to get dead-on results. That way lies stupidity and a potentially unplayable guitar.

To the original question: you CAN 'add' frets 'below' the nut and make the scale length longer that way. Do a bit of math, and extrapolate backwards (some fret calculators: tell it to calculate fret numbers -1 and -2, f'r example). Reason to do this, for me? Say I want a baritone fingerboard, and I have a perfectly good stainless steel 25.5" scale template from stewmac. That puts almost all the frets I'll need in perfect positions. Only need to calculate, mark and saw two by hand, so that's a hair less error right there. But if you just want more frets, move the neck pickup.

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I'm making an explorer out of basewood with a maple set neck for a school project coming up i wanted to do a 25.5" scale length with 22 frets. Dose this sound like a good idea to any of you guys??? Im going to have a tune o matic style bridge, just ned to know where to put it and all that jazz... Cheers for the caculator thing by the way big help.

Cheers Noddy :D

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