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Thread: Scale Challenge

  1. #1
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    Scale Challenge

    I've studied piano in the past for approximately 6 years. However it's been quite some time since I last played so I thought I would try something new as I revisit music. I love the PRS guitars and I've been spending quite a bit of time at the local guitar shop trying out various models as well as other brands (Fender, Epiphone, etc.). I'd like to purchase a PRS from the SE line but I'm struggling to understand the ultimate effect of scale length on my ability to learn the instrument.

    My fingers aren't long and I wanted the most user friendly instrument to begin with. I love the sound on the SE 245 and SE Custom 24. What would someone recommend as a better entry point, the 24.5" scale instrument or 25" scale instrument? Experienced guitarists claim to feel a difference; I'm not sure I can honestly distinguish.

    Any pointers would be appreciated!

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Given the same string tension and tuning, longer strings are tighter (and shorter are more loose).

    If you have a tendency to squeeze chords out of tune, I would suggest going longer scale. In my opinion, shorter scale guitars are less forgiving; especially for chords.
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  3. #3
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    on the 245 i struggle with the a shape barre chord anywhere below the 8th 9th fret but i do have stubby fingers. i cant see half an inch making that much of a difference over the whole fretboard.
    I am not a luthier but i am in my own workshop.
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  4. #4
    Junior Member Paul L's Avatar
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    I don't have huge hands, and I play guitars with scale lengths ranging from 24.75" - 25.5". I definitely feel a difference, and as Hans mentioned, string tension tends to increase with scale length. That's why I string my Fenders with .009s and everything else with .010s. Fretboard radius also comes into play, as does neck profile and fret size. Just find something you're comfortable with and go from there. Later, as you progress, you can add a little variety to your stable. I don't have a specific preference one way or the other, but I do find shorter scales a bit easier to play (again, because of my smallish hands).

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by scaledense View Post
    I've studied piano in the past for approximately 6 years. However it's been quite some time since I last played so I thought I would try something new as I revisit music. I love the PRS guitars and I've been spending quite a bit of time at the local guitar shop trying out various models as well as other brands (Fender, Epiphone, etc.). I'd like to purchase a PRS from the SE line but I'm struggling to understand the ultimate effect of scale length on my ability to learn the instrument.

    My fingers aren't long and I wanted the most user friendly instrument to begin with. I love the sound on the SE 245 and SE Custom 24. What would someone recommend as a better entry point, the 24.5" scale instrument or 25" scale instrument? Experienced guitarists claim to feel a difference; I'm not sure I can honestly distinguish.

    Any pointers would be appreciated!

    Thanks!
    it's all down to personal preferences. The half inch difference doesn't make too much difference in terms of finger stretch distance. The more apparent difference will be string tension. 24.5 inch scales are "slinkier" or looser feeling. Lower tunings will require thicker strings to keep the strings from flopping. 25 inch scales will feel tighter. It's not really an experienced guitarist thing. It's more like they're used to playing guitars with that scale length (maybe few to 10 years+) then they'll really find the difference to be obvious. If you really wanted to "feel" the difference, you can feel it. If you don't mind the options, they're pretty much similar. You should focus on other differences more, like the body thickness, weight, control knob config, neck profile, stoptail or trem etc.

    That said, if you like alternate tunings, better go with the 25 inch. If you like bluesy bendy stuff, the 24.5 inch will serve you better.

    Lastly, welcome to the forum!

  6. #6
    Senior Member garrett's Avatar
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    The longer the scale, the more spread out your fingers will be. So this could be good or bad, depending on your fingers. If your fingers are short, but wide, you might like the extra length. I do notice a difference between scale lengths. A good exercise is to learn something with shapes that spread your fingers out and play it on different guitars. If you play "Mr Brightside" by The Killers on an SC245 and then on a Telecaster, I guarantee you'll notice the distance.

    I think the 25" scale is a great compromise. I generally don't feel right on the shorter scale guitars, so 25" gets me a different feel compared to 25 1/2" and is still quite playable. The best advice is to spend some quality time with a few guitars and choose the one you like best. And of course you're not married to the instrument, so as you develop you may decide you like something different. You can sell it, or of course just add another guitar to the stable. Lots and lots of folks have guitars with different scale lengths.

    The shorter scale definitely has a softer feel to the strings, which is easy to compensate for by going up a gauge in string size. If you squeeze notes out of tune, heavier strings and a longer scale can help, but I recommend developing a lighter touch. There's no need to strangle the thing; doing so can cause problems with your hands.
    --Garrett--

  7. #7
    Custom 24

  8. #8
    Senior Member andy474x's Avatar
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    I too have small claws. I own 25" Custom and 24.5" singlecut SE's, and honestly, they both feel great. If you can't tell which one you like the feel of more, I would recommend choosing by the features that suit what your goals are. The Custom has hotter pickups and a more modern sound, as well as a trem. The 245 is a little more toward the vintage side of things. If you want to play more modern rock, 80's, or virtuoso stuff like Steve Vai, I would grab the Custom, if you like classic rock and blues, the 245 would be a great fit. Which isn't to say that those are definite rules, you can substitute either guitar into any genre (they're that good), but that's just a good place for a beginner to start. I would also recommend the newer SE Santana, which is a bit of a hybrid between the two.

    All are fantastic guitars, so you can't go wrong.
    -I'm no expert, but it seems to work and I haven't electrocuted myself yet. Which is pretty much the standard I live by.

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  9. #9
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    My suggestion is that you look at the neck profile closely. I own too many with the wide/fat neck, which fits my hands perfectly. Many people like the wide/thin shape, which might fit your hands better. Because you're a pianist, I think the tension won't be as much of a concern as the reach. The differences will be most apparent on the bottom 3 frets, and above the octave. Because of the fretwork, all the SE's have very good intonation in these areas. If you have a specific amp you like, factor that in for the sound differences. As others have said, don't be afraid to jump in the water, as each guitar has a very different sound. THat's my excuse for why I have so many after all these years.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Rider1260's Avatar
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    I also have small hands but thin necks are harder for me to play scale length is not really the issue for me the longer scale on my 305 is a bit of a stretch on some chords and the short scale on my Santana is a bit tight WAY up high right now I am really happy with 25" Scale WF/Pattern necks and 22 frets
    PRS Family - SCT, 408, 305, CU22, MEII
    Others LesPaul , Stratocaster , Guild
    Amps - Mesa MK2B , Egnater Tweaker 15
    Effects - Tonal Insanity Guitar Effects ( I make them ) TC Electronics Nova

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