Modern Gretsch Guitars

long scale vs short scale

1

(as they apply to gretsches)

so i'm continuing my eternal fight to not buy another guitar and was wondering about this. all my electrics are of the 24.75 variety. i was wondering what would happen if i picked up a 25.5 hollowbody guitar.

i'm especially curious how the tonal differences would affect me, as a guy who tunes down and uses fairly heavy strings. i like the big, deep boomy cleans (yet still tight on the low end), and love overtones and complexity and stuff.

i figure a longer scale would help, but i've been doing great with shorter ones all this time...

3

The longer scale just means more highs, and greater tension at the same string gauge.

4

I prefer the 25.5 scale because of the feel, nothing to do with the tone. You could likely find the tone you want with both short and long scales if you looked long enough end experimented with pickups/bridges/strings. I started on Fenders, I guess that's why I prefer the 25.5. YMMV.

5

I like them both, but REALLY like the 25.5 scale due to the fact that 10-46 strings work really nice! I need 11-49's on shorter scale guitars. I also think that Filtertrons sound really snappy on the longer scale, too.

6

24.75 is hard for me to get my "chord soloing" mojo on. I like the space 25.5 give my long and pudgy fingers.

There are good articles all over the internet on this. Longer scales have more overtones, Shorter scale has more of this or that. In the end it's what you prefer that is best.

7

A longer scale will give you more room at higher frets. I don't see why it would generate more overtones unless you are always playing a certain distance from the bridge, for example to mute strings with the edge of your picking hand hand. In that case, proportionally speaking, the longer scale positions your hand closer to the bridge and you'd get more overtones. But, if you really want those overtones, you'll have to pick even closer to the bridge and then you can't mute with the side of your hand. Watch the video above or one of Bill Kirchen playing Hot Rod Lincoln. I prefer the lower string tension that goes with a shorter scale.

8

I'm experiencing this very thing as I've fairly recently acquired a Black Phoenix. The longer scale is a bit brighter, but the real difference is in the feel. I'm not sure which I prefer to be honest; each has its merits. The tension of the long scale offers nice resistance when doing big bluesy bends, but I think I play a bit cleaner and faster on the short scale.

9

I think a longer scale is twangier and brighter, all other things being equal.

I think it really comes down to the size of your hands and fingers, and the style you play. Some players like a longer scale because it gives them more room to maneuver. I like a short scale for the obvious reason that everything is closer together. Bends are easier and I don't have to work quite as hard. My playing style is pretty much predicated on laziness.....

10

It's strickly physical for me. My really small, arthritic, 58 yr old hands prefer the shorter, easier (for me) to play 24.75" scale.

11

this is all rather disheartening to someone who wanted an excuse to buy another guitar. shame on all of you.

since i hadn't tried it, especially with a hollowbodied electric (or various gretsches), i assumed there was some kind of magic involved. feel and tension are great, but i'm ok with both of those on my short scales (though i use giant ass strings). i was just hoping there would be more zing and pow (or something) with a longer scale, like an acoustic. if there isn't much tonal difference i guess i can pass. maybe.

12

I started out with 24.6 scale, now also have 25.5 scale and prefer the sound of the longer scale guitars. Maybe it is just the big bodies that give the fuller sound to my ears? Average size hands; wouldn't complain if the fingers were a bit longer. Maybe a good compromise is the 6122-1958: short scale/big body.

13

What is all this talk of 24.75" scales? Are you guys moonlighting without authorization on Gibsons?

The Gretsch "short" scale is 24.6".

Paul/FF909

14

this is all rather disheartening to someone who wanted an excuse to buy another guitar. shame on all of you.

since i hadn't tried it, especially with a hollowbodied electric (or various gretsches), i assumed there was some kind of magic involved. feel and tension are great, but i'm ok with both of those on my short scales (though i use giant ass strings). i was just hoping there would be more zing and pow (or something) with a longer scale, like an acoustic. if there isn't much tonal difference i guess i can pass. maybe.

– feet

Well, you should buy it anyway, in the name of intellectual curiosity. You need to experience it firsthand in order to really know.....

15

What is all this talk of 24.75" scales? Are you guys moonlighting without authorization on Gibsons?

The Gretsch "short" scale is 24.6".

Paul/FF909

– Frequent Flyer 909

You beat me to it, Paul!

What I haven't heard anyone discuss in this thread, which shows the lack of thumpickers chiming in, is the issue of stretching for chords. I believe you'll get the sound or tone you want with choices of strings, bridges, nut materials (where applicable, ie no zero fret), pickups and amps, and not so much from scale length. Sure it may have a small effect but not something glaring and obvious. Remember....tone is in your fingers!

For us fingerstyle players in particular, a lot of us favor the shorter scale just for having shorter stretches. The best example is the Chet's opening chord for Cascade:

1st string: open 2nd string: 1st fret 3rd string: 2nd fret 4th string: 5th fret

Try this on your 25.5" neck, then try it on a 24.6" scale neck. I have a pretty good reach and this chord is just obtainable with my 24.6" scale neck. In particular, the shorter distance between the 2nd & 4th frets (to be able to just get your pinky past it to fret the 5th) makes it possible on one and for the most part, not on the other.

BTW, this chord is the 3rd one Paul Pigat uses in his composition Beaver Fever which is on YouTube.

16

For me it's not feel it's sound! Just to be a dissenter. I find 25.5" scale Gibsons and Gretsches to sound more "polite". They don't have the chunk or snarl of the shorter scale. Well, not as much. I find someone ALWAYS says the longer scale has more twang. Well it must be a different definition of twang from mine because I find the opposite.

I've had a few 25.5" scale Gretsches and Gibsons (Country Club in maple, ES5, a few others) but always go back to the shorter scale guitars (6120, 335, 125 etc). I just like how they sound with a little dirt and a heavy hand. Ruder, growlier, rawer. The difference is not night and day - they're all good. But the shorter scales suit me better because I don't want nice or polite.

17

I've owned a couple of 25.5 scale Gretsch, the Elliot Easton jet and 400JV. Both feel too different to my normal 24.6 comfort zone.

The odd thing though is that a 25.5 Telecaster feels perfectly normal. Can't explain it.

18

A longer scale will give you more room at higher frets. I don't see why it would generate more overtones unless you are always playing a certain distance from the bridge, for example to mute strings with the edge of your picking hand hand. In that case, proportionally speaking, the longer scale positions your hand closer to the bridge and you'd get more overtones. But, if you really want those overtones, you'll have to pick even closer to the bridge and then you can't mute with the side of your hand. Watch the video above or one of Bill Kirchen playing Hot Rod Lincoln. I prefer the lower string tension that goes with a shorter scale.

– Fredo

Here is a nice article on scale length and tone/overtones.

http://www.guitarplayer.com...

19

Maybe this should be in the unpopular opinion thread but here's my thought on the subject:

24.75 is for regular tuning and 25.5 is for tuning down a half step.

20

... and 25" is for playing slide.

21

Maybe this should be in the unpopular opinion thread but here's my thought on the subject:

24.75 is for regular tuning and 25.5 is for tuning down a half step.

– Ger (aka Ratrod)

Yes! I agree.

22

I've had only one 25.5" scale Gretsch. I couldn't get used to the stiff feel. I'm fine with Fenders, but for whatever reason, it didn't feel right to me on a Gretsch hollowbody.

23

Here is a nice article on scale length and tone/overtones.

http://www.guitarplayer.com...

– Christopher B

An interesting article. I don't dispute the physics of what the author is describing, but IMO, it doesn't mean much or rather apply to any style of play that isn't clean or not having to compete with a loud accompanying keyboard or horn section. The aural nuances of what he's describing are undoubtedly accurate but I can't see where it applies except for very clean style playing.

I find his comments of how scale length affects your physical playing to be of much more value as cleanliness of playing or other instrument competition isn't at play. Both my Gretsches have the 24.6" scale whereas my Gibson CG has the 25.5" length. That stretch chord I describe is tough on it but otherwise it plays effortlessly. I use D'Addario light half rounds on all of them.

24

I like a Fender scale better, started on a Strat so that just feels like home. No prob with Gretsch or Gibson short scale though.

What I do really notice is the fretboard radius. I'm much more comfortable on a 9.5 radius. I recently took out my Les Paul after playing nothing but Tele's for months. I swear I couldn't play a damn thing on that 12 radius.

25

An interesting article. I don't dispute the physics of what the author is describing, but IMO, it doesn't mean much or rather apply to any style of play that isn't clean or not having to compete with a loud accompanying keyboard or horn section. The aural nuances of what he's describing are undoubtedly accurate but I can't see where it applies except for very clean style playing.

I find his comments of how scale length affects your physical playing to be of much more value as cleanliness of playing or other instrument competition isn't at play. Both my Gretsches have the 24.6" scale whereas my Gibson CG has the 25.5" length. That stretch chord I describe is tough on it but otherwise it plays effortlessly. I use D'Addario light half rounds on all of them.

– Windsordave

Completely agree with you. Once you throw in all the parts after the vibration of the string (body, pickup, wires, caps, cables, effects, circuits, tubes, speakers) scale "feel" has the biggest effect. Outside of a purely acoustic/very clean sound, there are a lot of factors that affect tone.


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