Should I just be concerned with scale length in regards to getting a 6-string to handle low tuning?

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by BillMurray, Oct 3, 2017.

  1. BillMurray

    BillMurray SS.org Regular

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    Hi there,

    I'd appreciate some help on this. I'll be purchasing a new guitar soon and I want to stick with a 6-string.

    I'd like it to be able to handle low tuning, perhaps down to drop A sometimes. I'll mostly be writing in standard E, drop C, B and A.

    Should I just get a 6-string with a scale length of at least 27", i.e, a baritone guitar? Is that the only option for having a 6-string that can handle low tuning and thicker strings?

    Thanks for reading.
     
  2. vilk

    vilk Very Regular

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    Consider this:

    Carcass, one of the premier metal bands to use B standard tuning, play Gibson Les Pauls with 24.75" scale length
    Boris is a band that I listen to a lot, they tune to Drop Bb, Gibson scale.
    The Melvins use Drop A on Gibon scale
    Sleep/High on Fire does C standard

    The list goes on....


    It has to do with what tone you are trying to achieve. I think many would argue that if you go to a longer scale it may actually inhibit to some degree your ability to get stoner/sludge tones. On the other hand, Gibson scale isn't going to djent for you. At least, not as well as a 27" scale.

    Longer scale gives you that spank. I once had a 28.5" scale guitar, and that thing totally nailed an Acacia Strain tone.

    So the answers is: no you do not NEED a longer scale to play detuned
     
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  3. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Well, on top of that, there are certain advantages to having longer scale guitars for tuning low - the intonation is easier to adjust, the harmonic content of the string is better, the tone is brighter (brighter tone can always be EQ'd to darker tone, but the opposite is much more difficult).

    But really, if the lowest you are going is either C, B, or A, then it's probably not that big of a deal, especially in the first case.

    Also, @BillMurray , I know you just released an album with orchestral instruments, but I didn't realize you were also playing drop-tuned guitars.
     
  4. BillMurray

    BillMurray SS.org Regular

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    Thanks.

    I may want to dabble with even lower turnings, such as G#, I do like to djent quite frequently (who doesn't?).

    Another question is that if I do go down this baritone route, am I still going to be good for playing in more standard E turnings? There are no downsides to getting a baritone guitar to play in standard E, right?

    Furthermore, I like the idea of having a more brighter tone in general. I think I do anyway!
     
  5. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    For G#, I would recommend getting something with an extended scale length beyond 25.5", just to make sure that you don't run into difficulty adjusting intonation and getting a clear enough tone. I play 27" and 28.625" guitars in standard tuning without any problems. It might take some adjustment, though. In my case, I felt more at home with the longer scale lengths right away, though. I even have a Danelectro 6 string bass guitar (29.75" with guitar string spacing) that I tuned in fifths with the highest string the same as a standard guitar (lowest string was a super-low F). I didn't have any trouble with string breakage, although I will say the tension was pretty tight.
     
  6. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Blames it on "the rain"

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    As a generic rule of thumb with down tuning: the shorter the scale length, the thicker the strings OR the lighter the touch.
     
  7. Tech Wrath

    Tech Wrath SS.org Regular

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    You seem a little misinformed as to what having a longer scale length does. It doesn't magically mean you'll have great tension for standard E and drop A. Regardless of whether or not you should get a baritone 6, you're going to have to make a sacrifice. Do you want your guitar setup for E standard or for B/drop A.

    Paying the extra money for a baritone 6 is probably not worth it in this case. You can easily achieve downtuning comfortably with thicker strings. It isn't like you're tuning to drop F on a 6 string.

    You could possible go for a really tight setup in standard E but even then, tuning down to drop A will be very wonky,flimsy, and have a really weak tone. They are such drastically different tunings that you'll have to risk one for the other.

    You don't have another guitar you can use for standard while this new guitar will fill your downtuning needs?
     
  8. silverabyss

    silverabyss J. Custom taste, Gio budget Contributor

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    Well consider all the Baritone 7's and 8's They all got EAGDBE in there somewhere
     
  9. Science_Penguin

    Science_Penguin SS.org Regular

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    I've certainly never been that concerned about it. I keep my Eclipse in Drop C, and occasionally I'll mess around with Drop B. Sounds just fine, doesn't get muddy (as long as I have the right string tension) and its more comfortable to my left hand.

    There probably is a tonal difference between a 24.75" and 25 and up guitar playing in that tuning... but, if the question is just "Can it HANDLE it?" the answer is "Absolutely!"
     
  10. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire 8 string hoarder

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    personally I don't go below a 25.5" scale since I don't want to use any thicker strings than I absolutely have to ( I usually play drop a or c on my 6 strings). I think I'm running a 56-10 set. Bostjan pretty much nailed it with longer scale lengths. You can always make longer scales/thinner strings sound darker, but you can't really make shorter scales/thicker strings sound brighter.
     
  11. Restarted

    Restarted SS.org Regular

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    I think Agufish on youtube has done a couple of demos in drop B on a 24.75 scale. I'm not going to re-iterate what has been said, but just realize whatever you get, if you're planning on "writing in standard E, drop C, B and A" on one guitar, you're going to have to change string gauges and setup the guitar every time you change tuning.
    Or just get a Digitech Drop pedal.
     
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  12. Casper777

    Casper777 Slow Player

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    My Jackson HT6 is standard scale and manage the drop C tuning perfectly... set up with 11-56.

    Not a big deal.
     
  13. angl2k

    angl2k SS.org Regular

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    TBH if you want a single guitar to do E standard, drop C, B and A you're better off with a 7 string tuned AEADGBE and use a capo.

    Personally I use different guitars for different tuning, I have a guitar for E standard, a drop C guitar and a drop A guitar with a capo. Drop A is doable with 25.5" scale but since I like the feel of lighter strings my drop A guitar is 27" multiscale with a 59 gauge for the low A.
     
  14. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    +1 for the capo, that is if you'll be changing regularly without restringing.

    If you're up for different string sets, sure, yes.
    A baritone helps very much.
    As you tune lower, you either have to go for less tension or a heavier darker string tone. These things increase VERY rapidly, more than you can hope to compensate for with scale length (unless you plan to play guitar on a bass neck). So every little bit of scale length helps allow a thinner string, and for a given string to sound clearer.
    Figure out your minimum tension. Find out what gauge that needs in A (we can help but there are calculators online). Buy that gauge and see if it sounds too dark. If it does, the only option is to go longer or to go looser.
    For a regular tension A you need near 70. Things get worse tonally quick above 62 I find, so 27" is quite helpful indeed for A.
     
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  15. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre Listen to physics.

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    Depends on what you actually want.

    I have my Steinberger ST-2FPA (28.625") tuned to D Standard with 11 gauge strings.

    A lot of people here would say that's ridiculous, but I'd say they're all playing spaghetti.
     
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  16. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    Indeed! Same as E standard with 11s on a 25.5. Perfectly reasonable and lighter than the majority of acoustic guitars
     
  17. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre Listen to physics.

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    I actually have 13's on my strat. Its the guitar I go to when I want to beat the shit out of a lick.
     
  18. kindsage

    kindsage SS.org Regular

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    I personally like my strings really tight. A longer scale length lets you achieve that more rigid feel and keeps your strings from getting too huge.

    I'm using a 28.625" scale length and STILL have to use an 85 gauge for the top string. Bigger than I would like but, it be even worse if I used a shorter scale.

    ^^^ all just my opinion though
     
  19. purpledc

    purpledc Proud blacksheep

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    There is absolutely no rule on this. Its all about what feels good for you and what your needs are. There is no "wrong" in most cases with guitar as long as the result was the desired outcome. I can say that I never really liked tuning below drop C with a shorter scale guitar but I played that tuning on a bunch of 25" scale carvins and most of the time it sounded great. I used Beefy slinkys and it sounded massive. And having a little less tension on the strings can give you a really growling type sound that is awesome. Id say anything below C and I would want a 25.5" scale. 26.5 and 27 would be great IMHO for tuning to A. But its not a requirement. A thousand dudes could agree 27" is the only way to go and it wont matter unless you yourself like it. I think the area that it gets to be a slippery slope is with tuning stability. The looser your strings are the easier it is for a heavy hand to pull things out of tune.
     
  20. BornToLooze

    BornToLooze SS.org Regular

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    And if I remember right, didn't Tony Iommi tune down to C# with a set of 8s?
     
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