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Thread: Octave Scale Question

  1. #1
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    Default Octave Scale Question

    I've been considering an octave for a while and played the Northfield at Grey Fox this year which sealed the deal. It was so much fun to play. The Northfield is way out of my budget so I have been looking at used Gold Tones, Eastmans and A Carvalhos of the world. They all say they are in the 22" scale range but I swear when I look at them the necks look much longer on the ones I looking at online vs. the Northfield. The reason I liked the Northfield so much was it was smaller and easier to play than I expected an octave to be. I said I'd never take a chance on ordering off the internet again but looks like I may be in this case since I won't have a chance to drive the 3+ hours to the closest place I can try one of these. Just want to see if anyone has experience with the Northfields and any of these other octaves that can confirm similar neck sizes. My concern is reaching with the fingers for chords. Thanks.

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    Default Re: Octave Scale Question

    Many people like short scale octaves for ease of play. 2 inches (20 inch scale versus 22) makes a big difference in both chords an scale patterns. Trinity College octaves are just a bit over 20 inch. Eastman and Red Valley split the difference at 21. Weber octaves are made in both 20 inch and 22 inch scales. Gold Tone is 22 or even a bit longer I think. One thing to note about short scale octaves is that the standard J80 string set is not good sounding on those. Thicker strings are needed. J72 light Mandola Strings work well, or there is a custom John Pearse “octave Mandola” set.

    In your situation I would be looking for a used 20 inch scale octave. Trinity College is pretty easy to find in the 500-600 dollar range. They would all be 30 inch. You might think Weber is out of reach but occasionally the now discontinued flat top Sage model comes up for sale in the 1000 dollar range. Recently on Music Go Round there was a Weber Hyalite carved top octave for sale at 899! I was tempted but didn’t move fast enough. It sold after only a few days. It was a 22 inch scale though, which is why I hesitated. When it comes to octaves, I really like the 20 inch scale.

    Hope all this helps.
    Don

    2016 Weber Custom Bitterroot F
    2011 Weber Bitterroot A
    1974 Martin Style A
    Fender Octave Mandolin c.2004-2008

  3. #3
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Scale Question

    I think the difference in neck length is due to the body shape (from what I understand, A style on the others, and guitar style on the NF) but the scale length (distance from nut to bridge) should be as listed.
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
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    "Imagine life without mandolin. Now slap yourself! Never do it again!" -Gunnar Salyer

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    Default Re: Octave Scale Question

    So will the scale determine the fret size or will the length of the neck? I assume the scale.

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    Default Re: Octave Scale Question

    Quote Originally Posted by jaybp30 View Post
    So will the scale determine the fret size or will the length of the neck? I assume the scale.
    Any fret can go on any instrument. Scale length is not the length of the neck, but the length of the strings from the nut to the saddle.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Default Re: Octave Scale Question

    Sorry, I should have been more clear. I now realize fret size usually refers to the wire gauge. I mean how big the frets are. Will neck length or scale length determine the spacing of the frets? I assumed that the scale will determine how far apart the frets are spaces, regardless of actual neck length. So if the Northfield octaves with a 22" scale have a shorter neck will they have the same fret distances to a Gold Tone with a longer neck but same scale?

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    Default Re: Octave Scale Question

    Fret spacing will be the same for the same scale, regardless of how long the neck is. The body shape can change how long the neck sticks out, so can X amount of frets to the body as compared to Y frets to the body. Scale length is scale length, and the spacing will be the same regardless.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Default Re: Octave Scale Question

    OK, thanks, that answers my question.

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    Default Re: Octave Scale Question

    Another question: TO get an idea of how far I'd have to stretch for the frets, If I came down a fret or two on my acoustic and would that basically equate to a 21-22" scale? Basically if I measure my acoustic to as close to a 22" scale that hits a fret, would the fret spacing be about the same as a 22" scale octave mando?

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    Default Re: Octave Scale Question

    If you measure from a fret, pick one, then count to the 12th fret. that will change as you are not using the original scale length or first fret, that will be half of the scale length. So if you can measure from the second fret to the 14th, which will be the 12th for this, and it is around 11 inches that will be the fret spacing of a 22" scale length instrument. Any instrument will work for this that has a scale longer than 22". If you want 21, your measurement would be 10.5.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Default Re: Octave Scale Question

    Ok great, thanks. With the 2nd fret acting as a nut it was just over 11" to the 14th fret with the whole "scale" from the 2nd to bridge being 22.5" which is the scale of one of the octaves I'm considering. It would be a bit of a stretch on that A flat 1134 but it seems doable and but seemed ok for an A chord in the same shape. I think I'd prefer the 20" or 21" but the 22.5" seems like it will be ok and I assume the longer scale has some sound advantages, and the strings will be tighter, which will reduce some buzz (so I've read)

  12. #12
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Scale Question

    Ummm, you could also measure from the bridge to whatever fret would be the same scale. If you do that with a guitar, make sure to tune it like an octave mandolin or it won't be accurate. I'd suggest not playing in Gm in open position as it's really hard.
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    "Imagine life without mandolin. Now slap yourself! Never do it again!" -Gunnar Salyer

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    Default Re: Octave Scale Question

    I have a couple of 22" scale octaves ( both Webers) and its a fairly comfortable length for me, I can't make that first position F with the C in the root but can do an F with the A in the root. I can barley do the four finger Bluegrass Chop A (9-7-4-5) but can do the B.
    I also have mandocellos with 24.5 and 25 inch scales and the difference is significant for chords and reaches in general.
    The width (top to bottom) also affects "reaching" but I suppose it depends on hand size.
    I don't think I've ever played an octave with a scale longer than 22" but I have strung my ovation mandocello like and octave which is more of a standard guitar neck, and I think the 22" inch makes big difference in "achievable" chord shapes.
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
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  14. #14
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Scale Question

    I'd suggest not using chop chords on OM, it seems like it'd be more useful to play open chords for sustain. Study Sierra Hull for examples
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    "Imagine life without mandolin. Now slap yourself! Never do it again!" -Gunnar Salyer

  15. #15
    Jerry Cobbs jerrycobbs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Scale Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar View Post
    I'd suggest not using chop chords on OM, it seems like it'd be more useful to play open chords for sustain. Study Sierra Hull for examples
    Or Sarah Jarosz. To me they're very different. Sarah Jarosz does some very un-mandolinish stuff with hers, which I think is awesome.
    -- Johnson MA-100 Mando
    -- Eastman MDO-305 OM
    -- 3 Seagull Merlin dulcimers (2GDG, 1DAD)
    -- 1952 Harmony Roy Smeck guitar
    -- Ortega Lizzie Ubass
    -- Leigh Campbell electric violin
    -- Pfretzschner violin
    -- Glaesel viola
    -- Ibanez acoustic/electric guitar
    -- Misc: a cello, 2 cigarbox guitars, charango, djembe, slide dulcimer.

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    Default Re: Octave Scale Question

    Definitely not looking to attempt 4 finger chop chords. Mostly want to play open chords and plan on using a capo at times. One of the reasons I want one is just to be able to use a capo. It's stupid reason to want one but for some reason it's fun to use a capo and I just don't feel motivated to really learn guitar. I can mess around playing chords but I just would rather player a fuller sounding instrument tuned in fifths, with a capo. When trying out the spacing of my fingers on the guitar I seem to reach ok at 22.5" but I am not going to pull the trigger just yet. I have much more over analyzing to do.

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