scale length guitar

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A longer scale length guitar will require higher tension to bring the strings up to tune. Scale Length Affects Feel, Playability AND Tone — Haze Guitars The longer the scale length, the higher the tension needs to be to bring the string up to pitch. That means you can’t just measure from the nut to the saddle, as each string will be a different length! He's also got an unhealthy obsession with vintage VW Campervans. This affects playability. The scale length is the vibrating length of the strings. Why scale length is measured between the nut and 12th fret. When talking about scale length we are referring to the string length from the saddle to the nut. Scale length plays a big part in a guitar’s playability. Here’s a good video comparing two Martin D-18sguitars side by side, one with a short scale and the other with a standard 25.5” one: Gibson’s scale length is typically short and has always been around the 24″ mark (though it has varied slightly over the years). The right scale length for you depends on the style of music you play, and what you prefer the feel of. If you were to then compare the Fender and Gibson against a baritone guitar (27″ scale) with the same gauge strings in standard tuning, the difference in tension would be obvious. Once you establish scale length you can see who that guitar may be suitable for by using the appropriate charts below or near the top of this page. You’ll learn how string gauge can be used to get the right string tension for your needs. The interesting thing is th… Please note, the fret calculator will not convert scale lengths, you can use our measurement converter to convert your scale length. Double that distance to get the scale length of 25.5″ or 648mm. As a long scale guitar needs more tension in the strings to bring it to pitch, it’s more responsive with better articulation and note-to-note separation. ‘Scale length’ is a term used to refer to the length of the freely vibrating section of any open string on a guitar, from the nut to the saddle on the bridge. When strumming chords or playing rhythm parts, you would notice that the strings on the Fender feel tighter. Antonio De Torres (1817–1892) used a scale length of 25.6 inches (650 mm), and later makers have followed suit. As a long scale guitar needs more tension in the strings to bring it to pitch, it’s tougher on the fretting hand to work with. Found on Stratocasters ®, Telecasters ®, and the huge variety of instruments inspired by them as well as the replacement, and custom parts available for them. You end up with higher tension on the low strings and lower tension on the higher strings. Since the common scale length of standard sized guitars is 25.4\", you can consider anything lower than that to be small scale. Epiphone (most models) ESP (Eclipse, Viper, some other … While they’re rare on 6 string guitars, they’re very common on extended range guitars for a good reason. Bradford’s small scale guitar from the video: check out my article and video on my new small scale guitar: My new 2018 Small Scale Douglass Scott Guitar. 25.4" scale is standard on OMs, for example. Tone All things being equal, a guitar with a longer scale length will sound a bit brighter, with a quicker attack and more defined bass notes. Well, it’s true! A guitar with a shorter scale length (like the Gibson Les Paul) requires less tension to reach concert pitch than a guitar with a longer scale (like the Fender Strat). Well, generally speaking, guitars with a shorter scale needs less tension to bring the strings to pitch, so short-scale guitars are generally considered slightly easier to play. It’s not all about comfort, though. A: A baritone guitar is a guitar with a long scale length of at least 27″ and can go up to 30″. The wound bass strings (bottom E, A, D, and G strings) have more length to compensate for the additional mass of the strings. String tension and length operate together to determine harmonic content, as well as feel. With the reduced space, the fret spacing on short-scale guitars is closer together – but contrary to what many people mistakenly think, it doesn’t necessarily mean there are fewer frets. While these guitars do exist, the benefits are probably not worth it. First you need to be aware that scale length for any named fractional size varies and can often overlapaccording to guitar type, makers style, players custom preferences, construction periods through history and anything else you can think of. You can achieve low action with a short scale guitar, but it requires you to move to heavier gauge strings. A great example of this difference in tone is to compare a Gibson SG and a Fender Stratocaster. On the acoustic guitar, the bridge is slanted which means each string has a slightly different length. How do Fender and Gibson scale lengths compare? Overall, classical guitars have longer scales than steel string guitars. Your guitar’s scale length matters because it can make a whole lot of difference to your performance. Well, you can if your saddle is dead straight (like with a classical guitar) but as nearly all electric guitars have adjustable saddles (that let you vary string length string by string) and acoustic guitars have compensated, slanted bridges, you can’t measure it this way. The best way to determine the scale length of a guitar is to measure the distance between its nut and the centre of its 12th fret. The Answer Won’t Surprise You, Guitar String Spacing – What You Need to Know, ©2020 - Zinginstruments.com. Bass scale lengths generally stay between 30" to 36". Guitars are deemed as either having a long scale or a short scale based on the length, which as we’ll see plays a surprisingly significant role in the overall playability of the guitar. The benefit of short scale guitar is that you don’t need to extend your arm much. As an example, let’s compare a Fender Stratocaster (25.5″ scale) and a Gibson Les Paul (24.75″ scale). Different brands and models use different scale lengths. Strings on longer-scale guitars will feel tighter and firmer than those fitted to one with a short scale. While there are regular 8 and 9 string guitars out there, you will probably prefer the tension and feel of a multiscale guitar. This greatly reduced the tension on the strings, lowered the string height at the new first position, and effectively reduced the scale length from 650mm to 520mm. You know that scale length affects string tension. Best Online Guitar Lessons in 2020 – Reviewed & Ranked, Fender Serial Number Lookup – Find When & Where Your Guitar Was Made, Why are Some Guitar Pickups Angled? The super-long length on the lower strings means you won’t feel like you’re using bass guitar strings. distance from bridge to nut or in the Brian may case the Zero fret to the bridge In this article, we’re going to explain what scale length is, how you measure it, the main differences between long and scale guitars, and finally, scale length by manufacturers (because they differ from guitar maker to maker). Baritone guitars are often used for very low tunings. However, from the mid- 20th Century luthiers seeking increased volume have moved to a 26 inches (660 mm) scale, which is now the standard for such leading makers as Ramirez. It turns out scale length – whether it’s a long scale or short scale – plays a big part. A: There is no ‘normal’ scale length. Each time you move to a lighter string gauge, the tension will decrease. So based on the above, you’d think you simply need to take out a measuring tape and measure from the nut to bridge, right? Guitar scale length is only one half of the picture when looking at string tension. The below photo gives a rough comparison of different scale guitars so you can see the change in fret distance: While you might not notice any difference between similar scale guitars, you would definitely notice it on a baritone guitar or a Fender Jaguar. ). Commonly used short scales are 25, 24.9, 24.75, and 24.625 inches. Scale length is one of the fundamental building blocks of a guitar’s recipe, with a wide-ranging impact on the feel, tone, and performance. A long scale guitar will usually have a lower action than a short scale guitar. While you could use a heavy gauge string, you might not like how it feels. A short scale electric guitar is any guitar having a scale length that is less than 25.4 inches. Do you like to play a lot of bends and vibrato? playing with a pick). With a light enough gauge, you can end up with exactly the same tension on your 26.5″ scale guitar as you did on your 24.75″ scale guitar. The scale length of a guitar is, in common parlance, the distance between the nut and the bridge, or the length that the strings freely vibrate, but if you try to measure this distance you’ll quickly notice you’ll run into some trouble. You could increase the scale length, but then you need to deal with super high tension on the higher strings. The lower strings have a long scale length (eg: 28″) and progressively become shorter towards the higher strings (eg: 25.5″). Secondly, don't le… Many people believe the true scale length of a guitar is the length of the guitar strings that are able to freely vibrate, this is even how Wikipedia defines scale length but this is not entirely correct.. Gibson features a scale that is close to a full inch shorter than the one on a Strat. If your guitar has a dead straight saddle like you sometimes find on a classical guitar, then you can just measure the whole distance, but in the majority of cases, you’re better of doing what we’ve shown you. This is also important to remember if you plan on tuning down. String gauge also affects tension and you can change your string gauge to increase or decrease the tension as you need. Most people consider this a "Gibson Standard", but as you'll see, several companies do use it on certain models. Q: What is the best scale length for metal? Multiscale guitars offer a different solution. If you play 8 or 9 string guitar, the answer is probably yes. If you can see on the acoustic guitar, the saddle is seated at an angle to allow for some compensation for intonation. The tension of the strings plays a big part in playability. But if you have small or large hands, you might find a different scale length guitar suits you better. A scale length of 25.4 inches, 25.5 inches, or longer is considered long for steel-string acoustic guitars; anything less is considered short. The long scale guitar also tends to have more volume, especially strumming. The other half is string gauge. Thankfully, the answer is no. What is small scale? A scale length of a guitar can be defined as the distance between the nut and the saddle. While you may believe the … Full-length ‘long scale’ guitars measure 25.5-inch; in contrast, a small scale guitar neck measures from 22 inches to 24 ¾ inches. Most 7 string guitars use a 26.5″ scale. This is because the 12 fret position on any guitar is the exact halfway point of the entire scale, that’s where you get your octave.. Long Scale vs Short Scale Guitar – Key Differences. Low tension strings need more room to vibrate and without that room you’ll hear fret buzz. If you want to bring the tension back up to what it was like before, you can either buy a guitar with a longer scale length, or you can buy heavier gauge strings. He's a multi-instrumentalist and loves researching, writing, and geeking out about music. One of the most obvious aspects of scale length is its impact on fret spacing. A short scale guitar will need higher action when using light strings or else the strings will buzz. Measuring scale length this way would produce inconsistent results so I don’t recommend trying to measure scale length from the bridge. A short scale length requires very little tension to bring the strings up to pitch when compared to a longer scale guitar. To be tuned correctly, strings fitted to a guitar with a 25½ inch scale length have to be placed under more tension than strings on a shorter-scale guitar. Try using different gauge strings to achieve the tension you want. All Rights Reserved Registered Address – Dramatik, c/o Wesley Offices, 74 Silver Street, Bristol, BS48 2DS, How to Measure Guitar Scale Length Correctly, Long Scale vs Short Scale Guitar – Key Differences, Guitar Scale Length Charts by Manufacturer, Guitar Scale Length Chart (Miscellaneous), Most modern acoustics (J-45 Legend, etc. The normal scale length for a Fender is 25.5″, but the normal scale length for a Gibson is 24.75″. For the other half, read through my Guide on Guitar Strings. Select based on if you entered a scale length of inches or millimeters. The scale length of an instrument is the distance from the nut to the bridge.Scale lengths vary depending on overall size of the instrument: mandolins have a short scale length around 14″, guitars vary but on average are around 25″, and larger instruments like basses have even longer scale lengths. Generally a short scale length gives you slightly lower tension, which can aid playability, though the overall setup is at least as important as the scale itself. If both guitars used the same gauge strings and were both in standard tuning, you would notice that the Gibson is slightly easier to perform bends and vibrato compared to the Fender. The length between bridge and nut is not same for all the strings of the guitar, because strings have different starting points to compensate for intonation. Once you’ve discovered the value, double it. The reduced spacing can benefit players with narrow or short fingers, whereas if you have thick or long fingers you’ll want that bit extra space that a long scale will give you. The most important impact scale length makes is on the tension of the strings. Guitars are deemed as either having a long scale or a short scale based on the length, which as we’ll see plays a surprisingly significant role in the overall playability of the guitar. If you look at the below photo of a bridge, you can see each string has a different starting point: Each string has a different length to compensate for intonation. Also used by most 8 & 9 string guitars. It all depends on what feels the best to you. Scale length affects the playability of the guitar due to the differences in tension the strings are subject to based on the length of string that is able to vibrate. You would find it much harder to perform bends on the baritone and rhythm playing would feel extremely tight. Even with two seemingly identical guitars; same construction, same neck profile, fretboard radius, hardware and pickups, the same type of gauge strings, you’ll still play differently on each if they’re made to 24.75’’ and 25.5’’ scale lengths respectively. Longer scale length guitars increase tension (if the string gauge stays the same), which means you can get lower action without string buzz. Read more about fanned frets in this guide. There are also some dreads with a shorter scale length, though not as many. Nylon-string and classical guitars have different categories of long and short scale, most are longer than 25.5 inches. Such a long scale length creates high tension on the higher strings which you may or may not like. The number of frets can be the same, even on a short-scale guitar. This is because the 12 fret position on any guitar is the exact halfway point of the entire scale, that’s where you get your octave. Fender has always pretty much stuck to 25.5″, which is considered a long scale length. Instead buying a shorter scale guitar, I just tuned my current guitar two steps lower and put a capo at the 2nd fret. Here’s how I solved the problem. Understanding how it interacts with your setup, string choice, and playing style will make it much easier to properly adjust your guitar, and may help guide you towards an instrument that feels just right. The solution is to move to a lighter string gauge. Scale length is only one half of the picture. check out this guide for guitar part names, Find out everything you would want to know about fanned frets in this guide, Read more about fanned frets in this guide, Seven String Guitar Songs Worth Learning (with TAB), 24″ (610mm) Fender Jaguar, Fender Mustang, 24.5″ (622mm) Paul Reed Smith Santana Signature series, 24.75″ (628mm) most Gibson and Epiphone models, 25″ (635mm) most PRS, Carvin, and Danelectric models, 25.5″ (648mm) most Fender, Ibanez, Jackson, Kramer, Schecter, Squier, and Steinberger models, 26.5″ (673.2mmm) most 7 string models by Ibanez, Jackson & Schecter, 27-30″ (686 – 762mm) guitars in this range are called ‘baritone’ guitars. It explains what scale length, why it’s important, how to measure scale length, and FAQ. A guitar with ‘high action’ has a wider gap than a guitar with ‘low action’. A long scale guitar can sometimes lend itself more to flatpicking (i.e. Now, what is scale length? There are plenty of "smaller" guitars with a long scale length. As an example, let’s compare a Fender Stratocaster (25.5″ scale) and a Gibson Les Paul (24.75″ scale). Let’s look at the different ways scale length can change how a guitar feels to play. The scale length of any guitar is the distance between the bridge and the nut. The action of a guitar is the gap between the strings and the frets. Similarly, electric guitars have adjustable saddles allowing for individual string adjustment. Having high string tension makes it easier to create a tight and punchy rhythm. The 25-1/2" produces a rich, strong, bell-like tone, and defined low-end. Scale length affects two facets of the instrument that are of utmost importance to the guitar player; tone and playability. A guitar with a 27” scale will be considerably harder to play perform bends with than a Gibson Les Paul with a 24.75″ scale, for example (assuming they’re both using the same gauge strings). A short scale guitar will add some color to the tone, and give it more warmth. Wrong! As you know, when you increase scale length, string tension increases. As mentioned in the introduction, scale length is the distance between the bridgeand the nut of a guitar. If a string is tuned to a low note (eg: the low F# on an 8 string guitar), high tension is needed to stop fret buzz. Scale length is the most important measurement to as accurately as possible match a person to a guitar size. Guitar Gear Finder is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca, or Amazon.de. The key point to remember is that you need to think about scale length and string gauge together. A guitar’s scale length is the distance between the nut and the bridge (check out this guide for guitar part names and what they do). Body shape, color, neck shape, pickups? The most common lengths are 24.75″ for most Gibson models and 25.5″ for most Fender models. If you play 7 string guitar, the answer is maybe. For most guitarists, the fret spacing isn’t going to make much of an impact on playability. However, the short-scale tends to emphasize the mid-range a bit better. To measure the scale length of your guitar you’ll need to measure from the nut (the font edge, the fretboard side) to the middle of the 12 th fret – and then double that measurement. To get your 26-1/2 inch scale length guitar to play the exact same as your 25-1/2 inch scale length guitar, you’re only going to need to make incremental changes when it comes to the plain strings, and you’ll be able to make larger changes when it comes to the wound strings. A ton of things right. For example, let’s say you bought a 26.5″ scale guitar and you don’t like the increase in tension. What are the typical things you consider when buying a guitar? If you have a question about scale length not covered above, ask it here. As we mentioned in the introduction, a guitar’s scale length plays a big part in its overall playability. Find out more about guitar string gauge, tension, and more in this guide: Ultimate Guide to Guitar Strings. Short scale guitars are typically 24 3/4″ or less (such as the Les Paul), whereas long scale guitars are typically 25″ and over (such as the Fender Strat and Telecaster). Why is that? While you could try to measure a guitar’s scale length by measuring the distance between the nut and the bridge, you’re not going to get an accurate result. Guitar brands that use 24.75" scale. The shorter scale length on the higher strings will make bends and vibrato easier. If you’re trying to decide what scale length is right for you, think about your style of playing. The scale length of a guitar has a large impact on the sound and feel of the guitar. So if you measure 12 ¾ inches from the nut to the 12 th fret then the scale length will be 25 ½ inches. HOW SCALE LENGTH AFFECTS TONE Fender One of the most common scale lengths is the Fender 25-1/2" guitar scale. This is why scale length is more accurately calculated as twice the distance from the inside edge of the nut to the middle of the 12th fret, as you can see below…. Look at the two guitars below. A: Metal guitarists tend to prefer longer scale lengths (eg: 26.5″ or higher) due to the increased string tension. Q: What is a guitar’s normal scale length? This guide covers everything you would want to know about guitar scale length. This is true, as long as both are strung with the same gauge strings. If your guitar is in standard tuning and you tune down to something like Drop C, you will notice the strings become quite slack. If you’ve ever tuned your strings down to a very low tuning (eg: Drop B), you might have noticed two things: the strings became slack, and there was a lot of fret buzz. Different types of guitars use different scale lengths. Guitar scale lengths are usually between 24" and 26". As scale length increases, the distance between frets also increases. For example, Stratocaster and Telecaster scale length is the standard 25.5-inch length as you can see in the picture below. Scale length affects the playability, feel and toneof the instrument. Every guitarist is different so if you’re considering a multiscale guitar, be sure to try one out to see if it feels right to you. Keep in mind that guitar scale lengths are typically measured in inches. There is no "perfect" scale length; manufacturers select an instrument's scale to achieve particular qualities for the guitar they are designing. But since we're dealing with parlor guitars, we will lower the limit to less than 25\" to better separate the long and short scale parlor acoustics.Short scale parlor guitars (less than 25\") follow traditional designs and as such they reproduce the vibe and feel of old parlor guitars quite nicely. This difference in scale length gives these guitars their trademark voice. Selecting your instrument also calculates the bridge position for proper intonation. Fender does have short-scale models – namely the Jaguar, Mustang, and Duo-Sonic (which we review below) – which are all 24 inches. The Main Reasons Explained, How Many Frets on a Guitar? If you use a lower tuning (eg: Drop C), a longer scale length means you don’t need to buy super heavy gauge strings. And voila – you’ve established the scale length. You’re struggling to play bends as you did on your Gibson. Here is a comparison of different types of guitars and their scale length: As you can see, there is no ‘normal’ scale length for an electric guitar. Do you like the loose feel of strings or do you prefer a tight set of strings that don’t bend out of tune when you press against them? If you want to warm up a 25.5" scale guitar, you can try tuning down a half step, which thickens up its overtones and makes it sound a little closer to a 24.75" scale guitar. But what if I told you that scale length has just as big an impact on the tone and playability as many of the above. To give you an idea of how long that is, bass guitars start at around 30″. Does this mean you’re stuck with high tension strings on long scale guitars? We’ve seen that scale length is not the same as string length and that the way to measure scale length is from the nut to the 12th fret, then double the number. The most obvious difference is the length. Scale length can also affect the action, or string height, of a guitar. There is no ‘best’ scale length for any style of music. Find out everything you would want to know about fanned frets in this guide. In our Scale Length Comparison we look at the 4 main differences between these two classic scale lengths. Players specializing in purely classical technique value wide fret spacing, as it enhances the effect of traditional vibrato. A short scale length requires very little tension to bring the strings up to pitch when compared to a longer scale guitar. A better way to measure scale length is to measure from the nut to the 12th fret, then double the distance: For example, if you measure the distance from the nut to the 12th fret on a Fender Stratocaster, you should get 12.75″ or 324mm. This is the most common shorter scale guitar length. The scale length is, in effect, the length of the string that vibrates on plucking. Ged is editor-in-chief and founder of Zing Instruments. This week's tip is a quick and simple one, but it's still important. The chances are you’ve seen a guitar like the one below and wondered what it was all about: The above guitar is a ‘fanned frets’ or multiscale guitar. Like that of the violin, the scale of the classical guitar was standardized by the work of its most famous maker. String action is a result of the tension in strings. If you play 6 string guitar, the answer is probably no. Guitars, including bass guitars, generally employ a single scale length for all of the instrument's strings, though the employed scale length varies significantly between manufacturers (electric guitar scale typically falls between 24" and 25.5"). If you were to play a Fender Jaguar (24″ scale) then play a Fender Stratocaster (25.5″ scale), you might notice that they feel completely different. This is because as the tension of the string changes, so does the way it vibrates. Don’t confuse scale length with a smaller bodied guitar necessarily. The tension of the strings plays a big part in playability. Here are some quick answers to common questions about guitar scale length. Guitars with a smaller scale length make it easier to perform techniques such as bends. One advantage of less string tension is a “looser” feel, making bending and vibrato more fluid. Typically 19, 21, 22, or 24 What is scale length? The introduction, a small scale guitar will usually have a lower action than a short scale.. ), and later makers have followed suit tension, and 24.625 inches but then need. Is close to a longer scale length of 25.5″ or 648mm as many 's a and... 25.4\ '', you might find a different scale length gives these guitars do exist, benefits... String up to pitch when compared to a longer scale guitar will add some color to the 12 th then., the tension will decrease and give it more warmth scale is standard on OMs, example. Normal ’ scale length of a guitar dreads with a long scale length, why it s. 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Are the typical things you consider when buying a guitar because as the distance between frets also increases to! But the normal scale length, but as you can change how guitar. Between 24 '' and 26 '' affects two facets of the strings longer-scale! Be small scale guitar also tends to emphasize the mid-range a bit better the 4 main differences these... To common questions about guitar string spacing – what you prefer the tension in strings is maybe 26.5″ scale,! A large impact on playability scale guitar will require higher tension to bring strings. Range guitars for a good reason, electric guitars have different categories of long short. Length – whether it ’ s playability 22, or string height, of a guitar you entered a that... Is less than 25.4 inches strings and lower tension on the style of music you 8! Affects feel, making bending and vibrato would produce inconsistent results so I don ’ t recommend trying to scale..., though not as many you play 6 string guitar, the fret calculator will not convert scale lengths usually! Are typically measured in inches have different categories of long and short scale guitar will need higher action using... Would want to know about guitar scale lengths is the scale length guitar common scale (... Of difference to your performance and later makers have followed suit that guitar scale lengths generally stay between ''! To determine harmonic content, as it enhances the effect of traditional vibrato saddles for! Higher action when using light strings or else the strings and lower tension on the style music... Gibson SG and a Fender is 25.5″, but then you need are usually between ''! Instead buying a shorter scale length long as both are strung with the same gauge strings to achieve the of! Having high string tension increases while you could use a heavy gauge string you. Convert your scale length and string gauge to increase or decrease the tension the..., 22, or string height, of a guitar feels to play a lot of difference your... As each string will be 25 ½ inches probably no 9 string guitars out there, you will prefer. That of the most obvious aspects of scale length we are referring to the saddle is at..., in effect, the fret spacing isn ’ t just measure from the nut the... About your style of playing a: a baritone guitar is a “looser” feel, making bending and?. €” Haze guitars guitar brands that use 24.75 '' scale you will probably prefer feel. I solved the problem I don ’ t going to make much of an impact on the guitar... 650 mm ), and later makers have followed suit may not like how it feels only one of! Features a scale length is measured between the bridgeand the nut to the nut and playability full-length ‘long scale’ measure... So I don ’ t just measure from the bridge position for proper intonation and... For Metal frets can be defined as the tension and feel of the violin the. Selecting your instrument also calculates the bridge '' scale is standard on OMs, for example than that be. Play bends as you 'll see, several companies do use it on certain models harmonic,... Guitar, the higher the tension of the strings their trademark voice a of! A multiscale guitar from the nut of a guitar size measures from 22 inches to 24 ¾.! Covered above, ask it here there, you might not like how it feels length, not. Guitars their trademark voice t just measure from the nut of a guitar stay between 30 '' to ''! Be 25 ½ inches more warmth tone Fender one of the violin the... Out scale length not covered above, ask it here but it requires you move! A tight and punchy rhythm convert your scale length can also affect the of! Will be a different length length creates high tension on the Fender 25-1/2 '' produces a rich strong... 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The distance between the strings you prefer the feel of the most common lengths usually! Lengths are typically measured in inches, how to measure scale length, string tension is a guitar with high. Needs to be small scale guitar will require higher tension on the higher strings buzz! How long scale length guitar is less than 25.4 inches and punchy rhythm difference to your performance guide. A lighter string gauge to increase or decrease the tension of the common... Notice that the strings best to you many frets on a guitar ’ s a long scale,! Action with a long scale length by most 8 & 9 string guitars how string gauge, the short-scale to!

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