The neck of a guitar can come in several overall lengths. The part of the neck we are concerned with is the scale length. What is the point of discussing scale length? The laws of physics (which I know little) suggest that the longer the strings the deeper or lower the note, or fatter as lots of players call it. which is why mandolins and banjos have such a high pitch – with a neck very much shorter than that of guitars or guitar like instruments.
The two most popular brands of electric guitars are Fender and Gibson, both have necks of different lengths. The Gibson is a bit shorter, at 24.75 inches, with the Fender only a tad longer at 25.5 inches. No mysteries here, it is necessary for both guitars to be able to play the same notes, and be tuned to the same pitch, and of course be easy for guitarists to hold down the strings against the correct frets. For this reason, if the neck of a guitar is slightly shorter, the frets will be packed more tightly together. Conversely, the longer the neck, the more spaced out the frets. The most obvious guitar to demonstrate scale length is a bass guitar, see how long the neck is? Longer lengths produces lower ‘fatter’ notes.
Well worth considering is the overall difference in length of the necks of most guitars is only .75 of an inch. However, it is well worth keeping a couple of thoughts in mind when choosing a guitar. Realistically speaking, comfort and sound play the most important roles in your choice. Especially if you are small or a younger person, obviously a shorter scale is desirable if you have smaller hands. Meaning it is easier it make the stretches between frets easier when one plays a long reach chord. For many it is the sound and playability.
To put it simply, you can buy cheap and expensive guitars with both length necks, so playing a bunch of guitars first is a good idea to get a feel for what you like. To be honest, it is a bunch of fun to go to a big retail guitar store like Guitar Center and play the different models that you may have an interest in. I can spend hours hooking up to different amps and guitars just for fun.
As I mentioned, playing with a guitar and trying out a several interesting of brands that fit your budget is essential before you buy. The main reason to try a variety of neck lengths to see which suits you best. If you find your fingers bunching up too much, you may need a longer neck. If you’re finding you’re having trouble stretching your fingers across the frets, than a slightly shorter worth more closely packed frets may be a better choice.
One of my several Strats is an Eric Clapton Custom Shop, it has a long neck and giant frets which I personally choose for my physical capabilities and the fat sounds it produces. I love the sound and playability almost to a fault. I can’t discount what a beautiful instrument a Stratocaster is, at least to me. This is my personal choice. My jammimg/noodling around friend plays a Paul Reed Smith guitar and that has the short scale. Obviously a PRS has the quality built into it that most folks want but can’t afford. I think his sounds great and it plays fabulous, like the guitar it is supposed to be, magnificent. I should mention the affordable new releases from PRS guitar company, because they have the PRS legendary quality of their more expensive models. Carlos Santana is a PRS spokesman.
Most Gibson guitars have the short scale too, and there are a lot a of great players who use this length of neck. My guitar heroes mostly played Fender Stratocasters, which was an influence to my choice of guitars.
It would be wise to consider the other differences in styles, such as whether they are bolted on, set or the kind which are described as neck-through. The necks that are set are glued on to the body tend to have more sustain. Bolt on necks are easier to adjustment, which can help to make a guitar feel more comfortable and sound perfect.
We detail what seems to be a small issue into an important one for you at Guitar Players Center for good reason. What ever your choice, make sure you play it several times to make sure. Any comments on lengths of necks would be great, please join in. Enjoy