Lead playing easier on longer scale?

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by gujukal, Apr 6, 2017.

  1. gujukal

    gujukal SS.org Regular

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    I've heard a lot of people say that 26.5 or 27" scale length guitar are great for riffing but harder to use for lead. But isn't it really the opposite? I've played with my 25" PRS SE Custom 7 and i found it easier to play lead stuff past 14th fret on a Hellraiser which is 26.5". With the PRS i miss a lot of notes because the fret spacing is so small, but with the Hellraiser it felt a lot more stable when doing fast lead playing on the higher frets, and my hands are small to average. Anyone else have the same experience?
     
  2. takotakumi

    takotakumi SS.org Regular

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    I tend to mess up on a 24.75" like you due to the smaller size. I can do leads on my 27" but I certainly find it easier on my 25.5". The further spacing takes away some of my speed on faster stuff like sweeps particularly(for me at least).
     
  3. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I find longer scale length easier for pretty much everything, except maybe the lower full barre major and minor add 9 chords, like Fmadd9, which is kind of a pain anyway.

    I've questioned other users here before about such statements. I don't really understand the logic as to how lead playing higher up the neck is a problem when the frets are spaced 0.020" further apart.
     
  4. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre Listen to physics.

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    The only thing that makes my 28.625" stein harder to lead on, is the higher tension.

    Which is, frankly, a non-argument - If you heard someone complain they can't play 10s but rip leads on 9s, you'd just tell them to get used to the thicker strings and stop whining, because it clearly doesn't stop most people from shredding on 10s.

    Same deal here. Slightly more tension makes it harder to bend notes like you're playing spaghetti. Woop de friggin do.
     
  5. gujukal

    gujukal SS.org Regular

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    Yeah for chords, shorter scale can for sure be easier. But it's always confused me when people call a baritone sevenstring guitar suited for riffs and not leads. Especially the review of the KM7 on gear gods: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbaHTx5-Ks0
    Longer scale being easier to play on the lower frets and harder on the higher frets makes no sense like the guy in the video says.
     
  6. jephjacques

    jephjacques BUTTS LOL

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    The only thing I've ever noticed is bends are harder to do on a 27" guitar. But it's a small difference, like going from .9s to .11s.
     
  7. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    ^ Bend tension should be no worse as long as you change string gauges when changing scale length. 9s to 11s is a massive change - it's more like 9s to 9.5s, or 10s if going really long. But there is one thing that's harder about bends that I address at the bottom of this post.

    Agreed.

    A 27" scale has frets spaced one fret lower than 25.5". So a 10-15 stretch would feel like a 9-14 on a typical scale.
    Even 30" is only like playing 3 frets lower.
    I appreciate the extra space too, and there's not a single thing I've come across that I could play a couple of frets lower/on a baritone - aside from a 1-3-5 chord on a 30" neck (I still can but it's not comfortable), which is rhythm anyway not lead.

    String tension is meant to be compensated too, there is no reason for a longer scale to be tighter in the trebles until you reach 30" at which point there are no smaller gauges to serve the high E and it is not short of breaking - and that's only applicable to the actual high E string when tuned to E, Eb or D is fine.

    A 28" scale with a 009 E is actually looser than a 25.5" with a 010, so gauges don't even need reducing all that much.

    They'll actually feel looser at the same tension too, because they have more room to move.

    There is only one negative in my opinion - bend distance. On a longer scale, you do have to move the string physically further across the fretboard to achieve the same pitch change. But it's not a massive difference and again, if running the same tension it'll feel a bit more flexible anyway.
     
  8. cardinal

    cardinal SS.org Regular

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    The longer scale increases the string tension, which requires more effort for bending and fretting, which could make it harder to play leads. The longer scale also could make the higher strings sound a bit zingy, which could be what some people mean about harder to play leads. And of course the longer scale requires longer stretches, so it you're playing Holdsworth type stuff the scale will make it harder wherever you are on the fretboard.

    But in general, I suspect that when many say the longer scale is easier for rhythms and harder for leads, they mean that the increased tension makes it easier to bang out simple cords and note riffs with solid intonation and less fret buzz but also makes the strings stiffer for fast bends and legato work.
     
  9. Lorcan Ward

    Lorcan Ward 7slinger Contributor

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    I just don't like long scales, they feel uncomfortable. I have longish fingers but anything bigger than 26.5" and I have a lot of trouble playing. I even found playing leads on my KM7 a little awkward.
     
  10. Fred the Shred

    Fred the Shred Shrederick

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    Honestly, given my small hands, I do find a shorter scale more comfy for a fair bit of what my lead work consists of. Except the tapped arpeggios at like the 17th fret and the like, which do feel like target practice. :lol:
     
  11. Element0s

    Element0s Low Fantasy/Black Denim

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    I'm a 25.5" guy for sure. I played my EC-1000 for about 8 years which was okay but it wasn't until I got my first San Dimas that I realized the Fender scale was my jam of jams. I have pretty decent-sized hands and all and going up the neck on shorter scales just scares the hell out of me now. Shame, I have a gorgeous Charvel Fusion Custom and the body/neck heel is the most comfortable I've ever owned, but the scale just don't jive with me.
     
  12. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Echoing the consensus here, but I think it depends on where on the neck you're playing - a longer scale gives you a little more space between frets above the 15th/17th fret or so, which could make it "easier" to solo. On the flip side, string tension is higher for a given gauge and tuning, and "stretchy" runs lower down on the neck are a lot harder. Five to seven fret stretches SUCK on longer scales when you're in the first few positions. :lol:
     
  13. gujukal

    gujukal SS.org Regular

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    I guess it sucks with diminshed riffs and such on like a 30" guitar. I tend to write my leads on more strings so the note streches are smaller if that makes sense.
     

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