View Full Version : short scale guitars

08-29-2007, 05:34 PM
Hi David,

I bought a Fender Affinity Strat for myself for lessons. However, I am almost embarrassed to say that I was messing around on my niece's "Hello Kitty Mini Strat" and actually like the feel of that smaller guitar better. I have small hands for a woman, but could a dinky guitar like this lead to problems later on? Would I be shooting myself in the foot to continue on a 3/4 size guitar? Also, if someday I would like to upgrade, I don't know if there are a whole lot of higher end 3/4 scales made. Also, would this eventually affect tone? I know smaller scale basses typically do not have the "punch" that the longer scale ones do. Is this also true on guitars?

Enjoying your lessons so far and am thrilled to be learning!


08-29-2007, 05:47 PM
I'm not familiar with them, do they still have the same amount of frets and a smaller size, or do they simply chop some of the fretboard off? If you do not have 22 or 24 frets that could come to haunt you eventually.

08-31-2007, 11:20 PM
well,....hhhmmm? my intial response would be to say, you should try to stick with the normal scale guitar. although to help you learn scales and chords and stuff, i see no harm there, a guitar is a guitar, so to speak!
But you probably would have some problems with dexterity in your hands and fingers and would'nt be able to stretch to more difficult chord structures on a normal scale guitar if you kept playing the smaller scale guitar. try this....put you hand down on a desk/table, or flat surface with palms down. (your fretting hand) and stretch ever so gently until you feel you've stretched as far as you can go. make sure your forearm is straight up and down/vertical, and your hand horizontal on the surface. then start with easy exercises on your normal scale guitar. hopefully that will help. stretch as many as 5-10 times before playing. try to do it each time. playing guitar is athletic in the sense of what you accomplish hand and forearm wise, so why not treat it as such. before i play a show that last from 3-4 hours long, i stretch my fingers, wrists, forearm, and shoulders, due to the intense abuse of that amount of time playing. it does help.

08-31-2007, 11:25 PM
also in regards to fender guitars, and i dont know why this is so, they seem to have a longer scale length. i mean i cant stretch as good on my fender as i can say, a gibson les paul, or my jackson Randy Rhoads V style guitar.i do notice a slight difference. go to a music store and try some other guitars as well. sometimes neck thickness can be the difference too.

10-31-2007, 08:30 PM
I have a 3/4 Little Martin acoustic which i try to learn on when i'm travelling. Excellent little guitar but you can't compare the sound to a full bodied dread which i use when i'm home. The Martin is amplified though and sounds great plugged in. I've got small hands as well and find the 3/4 size fun and easy to play.

11-01-2007, 03:53 PM
I saw Le Tigre a few years back and they were using a 3/4 scale Melody Maker guitar. I remember really liking that little guitar. I don't have 3/4 scale guitar now though.

11-01-2007, 08:14 PM
The "scale" of a guitar refers to the distance between the nut and bridge, and has several impacts on the instrument besides the obvious spacing between the frets.

A shorter scale requires less tension to get a string tuned to pitch than a long scale does. (capo your first fret and retune the strings to standard pitch - you'll see what I mean) This means that a short scale guitar will be easier on you for comping barre chords or bending that first string up through the roof playing blues.

A longer scale, having higher tension, will be "brighter" tone and have a more powerful sound overall - compared to the warmer tones of a shortie.

The tradeoffs are several - if you have large hands or want to play wild thrashing leads all over the neck, including up high, you may be glad for the extra fret room in a long scale Fender Strat at 25 1/2 inches.

If you have smaller hands, or want easier bends, or want a warmer tone, a shorter guitar down in the 23.5 - 24.5 inch scales might feel a lot better. Fingerstyle guitarists, who are trying to do everything at once, often find themselves wishing for the shortest scale they can fit into so as to accommodate reaching for a note several frets up the neck from the chord they are also trying to hold.

Doyle Dykes actually asked Taylor to create a short scale version of his signature model acoustic-electric DDSM for that very reason. He was having problems with numbness in his left hand from long hours playing the kinds of stunts he is known for.

Beginning students may want to stick with a somewhat shorter (if it feels more comfortable) scale guitar and get the basics down first. Later you can stretch out to bigger things. As Dave alluded to, handle as many guitars as you can and get the one you like the feel of best, because the shape of the neck (thickness, roundedness, etc) will also be a factor.

After you've made your choice, then the games begin when you start experimenting with strings. A short scale guitar with it's low tension may tempt you to beef up with heavier strings for a nice thick tone, but there may be a price to pay in how they vibrate - causing buzzing problems.

But that doesn't bother JamPlay students, right? Because they are totally unafraid of changing strings and the thought of experimenting frequently is something to look forward to, not dread! It's all part of the fun...