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Thread: Exact scale length of standard big muddy mandolin?

  1. #1

    Default Exact scale length of standard big muddy mandolin?

    i have a big muddy M2 mando, and i think either my ear lies to me, or i've never played a perfectly intonated mando, either way my ear never seems to be happy, so i'm always trying to adjust it. i've been able to get it close by ear, but it always bothers me a little. i was thinking maybe the exact scale length would work, so i measured the length from the edge of the nut to the 12th fret, and it seems to be about 6.93 inches. so what i did was double that and put the bridge at that length at 13.86 both the high and low strings. but it sounded pretty awful like that, so i'm not sure what to do now. anybody have any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Exact scale length of standard big muddy mandolin?

    I'm not an expert but for complicated reasons (that I just about understand, but can't explain ) The bridge shouldn't be exactly the same distance from the 12th fret as the 12th fret is from the nut. Also the string thickness makes a difference so the bridge won't be at right angles to the strings but "slanted". Not sure if you can see that from my profile picture.

    I usually do it by trial and error: if it's sharp at the 12th fret I move the bridge back (away from the nut) a little, flat then forward

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Exact scale length of standard big muddy mandolin?

    The bridge needs to be farther than the scale length to deal with string stretch. Fret the E and G strings at the 12 fret and that should be the same as the harmonic of the same string or an octave above the open string. If it is flat when fretted move the bridge toward the nut, if it is sharp when fretted move the bridge toward the tailpiece. Do each side a few times till is is right, and fret carefully and more than once so you are not pushing the string when you fret the 12th fret.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  4. #4

    Default Re: Exact scale length of standard big muddy mandolin?

    my gosh thank you both soo much! my ear is not complaining, after making the 12th fret ring the same as open

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    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Exact scale length of standard big muddy mandolin?

    Happy to help

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    Default Re: Exact scale length of standard big muddy mandolin?

    You don't locate a movable mandolin bridge by a distance measurement: you locate it by a sound measurement! In fact, you don't even need to know the exact scale length to set the bridge.

    You need to set your bridge at a position where the note of the open-string harmonic played at the halfway point (which is the octave harmonic) exactly matches the note fretted at the 12th fret. If the fretted note is a bit sharp, move your bridge a little towards the tailpiece; if the fretted note is a bit flat, move your bridge closer to the nut. You can start, as an approximation, with the bridge located at twice the nut-to-12th fret distance, but this is just a fairly crude starting point, and you don't need it to within a fraction of an inch. You can listen for equality of the octave harmonic and 12th-fretted notes using your ear, or -- if you don't quite trust it -- you can use an electronic tuner. It pays to have new strings, not old ones, if you're doing this, because they settle more quickly, give a purer tone, and are better picked up by the tuner for the harmonic.

    You might well find that one particular bridge location doesn't satisfy the note/harmonic equality for all four strings. This is due to bridge compensation, which might be off. You can sometimes slant the bridge just a bit to improve things. But in general, you need to be satisfied with some compromise that gets it mostly right. I try to get the E and G strings just right, and live with the rest.
    Last edited by sblock; Mar-13-2018 at 4:20pm.

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    Default Re: Exact scale length of standard big muddy mandolin?

    If they all don't ring right, I remove wood to make them all intonate. Depanding on strings and action the intonation may be different than the saddle was made for. figuring out the placement to remove some wood and getting all strings intonated is part of the set up. I recently made a new saddle for my mandolin because the one on there which I bought didn't work any more. I changed string gauges and like what I went to, but wanted them to all intonate and I wanted the foot to go straight across also. Had to change the G and A strings and hence the new saddle.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Default Re: Exact scale length of standard big muddy mandolin?

    I agree with OP that I've never played a perfect intonation mandolin. Pops1 has it right slight imperfections can be adjusted by sanding existing saddle top, making it wider then thinning where individual string pairs rest moving where needed. I too have made new saddles where redoing other saddle wouldn't work, I get intonation much closer than the one size fits all compensated bridge but I'm still looking for perfection.

  10. #9
    Registered User sebastiaan56's Avatar
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    Default Re: Exact scale length of standard big muddy mandolin?

    Consider this, when you fret a string you increase the tension on the string and therefore increase the pitch. Even if your 12 fret harmonic is perfectly the same as the finger on the 12th fret there will always be some variation on the other frets, mostly a few cents but it's still there. Does it matter?

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