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Post new topic Scale length
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Author Topic:  Scale length
Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post Posted 12 Feb 2018 10:50 am     Reply with quote

I'm aware that most PSGs have a scale length in the range 24" - 25½", and the trade-off is between better tone and sustain v. giving the high strings an easier ride.

When I built my uni 12 I played safe with 24". The tone and sustain are quite satisfying and it's never broken a string. When I ordered my Excel Mitsuo said it would be 24½" and I didn't query it as he surely knows his business.

After I'd been playing it quite happily for a few days, I couldn't remember whether he'd said 24½ or 24¼, so I measured it. It's 25½"! If I'd thought about it beforehand I might have expected the longer scale to throw me a little, but clearly from a playing point of view it makes no difference.
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Homebuilt keyless U12 7x5, Excel keyless U12 8x8, Hilton pedal, Telonics mini rack and 15" cabs
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Chris Reesor


From:
British Columbia, Canada
Post Posted 12 Feb 2018 7:50 pm     Reply with quote

My Superb is a 25.5 scale also, Ian. Didn't take me long to adapt to it, but the extra tension really helps the tone on the lowest notes. 24 is really too short for that low B, and when you drop it to G# it gets pretty "flubby".
String breakage could be a problem with some steels but not with Mitsuo's changer design.
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Excel Superb U12, Heritage H575, MIJ Squier tele, Hwy 1 Strat, modified Deluxe Reverb RI, Cube 80XL, self built acoustics & mandolins
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Aaron Johnson


From:
Washington, USA
Post Posted 12 Feb 2018 8:41 pm     Reply with quote

Mine is a 25.5 and it’s great. I’m thankful that I went with the long scale.
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post Posted 13 Feb 2018 9:50 am     Reply with quote

I rebuilt my Excel and wanted to put on new fret boards.
I ordered some from Scotty.
Come to find out they were odd ball length.
I think it had something to do with metrics.
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Jim Sliff


From:
Lawndale California, USA
Post Posted 13 Feb 2018 4:57 pm     Reply with quote

Quote:
String breakage could be a problem with some steels but not with Mitsuo's changer design.


If breakage was a problem I'd simply change string gages.

It's very common to us different gages on 6-strings. Most Fenders have a 25.5" scale length; most Gibsons 24.75". Players that have both usually install different gage strings on each to maintain similar feel.

There's no reason pedal steels should all use the same gage - in fact it would make more sense to match the gage to the steel as far as scale length and "feel" go.
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Mike Vallandigham


From:
Martinez, CA
Post Posted 14 Feb 2018 12:40 pm     Reply with quote

My 2008 S-12 Superb is the 25.5" scale.

The new one I have on order is a 24.5"

If I had to choose, I'd say I like the softer feel of a short scale, but the difference is minimal, and I really don't notice it while playing.
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post Posted 14 Feb 2018 1:48 pm     Reply with quote

Scale length is affected mostly by the type of guitar, specifically, the keyhead design. Keyless design enables having the longest string lengths. Short keyheads allow less, and standard (long) keyheads usually must have the shortest string lengths to have acceptable string life. String gauges on pedal steel can be adjusted, to a degree. However, straight guitars are far more tolerant of smaller gauges because of the possible downward deflection. On a straight guitar, the maximum downward string deflection (and the consequent detuning it causes) is far more limited. Many straight guitars also have adjustable bridges to compensate for deflection variations, which steel guitars do not. In short, they're a different animal.
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Jim Sliff


From:
Lawndale California, USA
Post Posted 14 Feb 2018 3:49 pm     Reply with quote

Quote:
Scale length is affected mostly by the type of guitar, specifically, the keyhead design.


???

String length, maybe - but scale length isn't "affected" by anything but the designer's intent or convenience (example - in the case of a small builder using available parts, like "fretboards", where scale length will be fixed.

But keyhead design is separate from scale length. A "keyless" builder can build a shorter-scale instrument as easily as a longer-scale one.

Quote:
On a straight guitar, the maximum downward string deflection (and the consequent detuning it causes) is far more limited.


Respectfully, I disagree. "Deflection - or "string tension" - is a function of string gage and total string length. The type of instrument is irrelevant. There are numerous sites that include analysis of the affect total string length has on string tension as determined by a combination of headstock design, tailpiece type (including non-played string length beyond the nut and bridge saddle) and scale length.

Ease of "string bending" on a typical 6-string changes based on total string length and gage, just as pedal steel bellcranks and/or changers are set/adjusted differently depending on string length and gage.

Same thing.
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post Posted 14 Feb 2018 6:00 pm     Reply with quote

Jim Sliff wrote:


But keyhead design is separate from scale length. A "keyless" builder can build a shorter-scale instrument as easily as a longer-scale one.


Sorry Jim, but the reverse of that isn't true, and that's the crux of the problem. You can argue all you want, but your premise is specious. It's commonly known that, all other things being equal, a longer scale length enhances sustain, and that's why all steels are built with that parameter in mind; that's why keyless designs have a longer scale, and that's why keyed pedal steels don't have a 25" or longer scale. (I'm pretty sure you're aware that Fender shortened the scale on their pedal steels in 1963 to improve string longevity with the Nashville E9th and C6th tunings.)

Donny Hinson wrote:
]On a straight guitar, the maximum downward string deflection (and the consequent detuning it causes) is far more limited.


Jim Sliff wrote:
Respectfully, I disagree. "Deflection - or "string tension" - is a function of string gage and total string length. The type of instrument is irrelevant. There are numerous sites that include analysis of the affect total string length has on string tension as determined by a combination of headstock design, tailpiece type (including non-played string length beyond the nut and bridge saddle) and scale length.

Ease of "string bending" on a typical 6-string changes based on total string length and gage, just as pedal steel bellcranks and/or changers are set/adjusted differently depending on string length and gage.

Same thing.


Respectfully Jim, no it's not. (And keep in mind I'm talking about normal playing here, not the sideways "string bending" done on straight guitars.) The type of instrument certainly does make a difference! The strings on any straight guitar are closer to the fretboard (neck) than they are on a steel guitar. And in normal playing, the strings can only deflect as far down as the frets. On a steel guitar, when a string is pressed down by the bar, there is no fret to stop it, and the distance that string can travel downwards is variable, controlled almost completely by the amount bar pressure. Look, it's far harder to play a steel in tune with "super slinkeys" than it is a straight guitar. Believe me, I've already tried it. (And YOU can too, if you doubt me.)

As I have both stated and enumerated here before, there are far more differences between straight guitars and pedal steel guitars than there are similarities. They look different, they're made different, and they're played different.

Peace.
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