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Thread: O.M. neck length - short or long , pros and cons ?

  1. #1

    Default O.M. neck length - short or long , pros and cons ?

    I have 2 O.Ms both 25 plus inch scaled - 1 is a crump and the other a nyberg - both are very fine intrumets . I normally play back up and tunes on the O.M. cappoed on 2nd fret so that it becomes G.D.A.E. That way i have a chance at reaching all the notes . but even that is a little much and i don`t want to keep going up the neck with a capo as i think that some of the volume may get lost ? as well as the strings being relatively thicker on a shortened scale length. They may tend to be a little more stiff and harder to manipulate as well as open to possible buzz on the bass strings . So I`m thinking about either a 22 plus " scale which i would normally capo on 2nd or a 20 plus " scale O.M. - my main concern is acoustic volume - The louder the better for unamplified sessions .
    Any thoughts about which of the 2 instruments might be better ? i`ll be having one made .

  2. #2

    Default Re: O.M. neck length - short or long , pros and cons ?

    Scale and volume are not related.

    If you are primarily a tune player, picking out fiddle tunes, 22" is a great scale. With a longer scale you will be more inclined to fluff the odd note. If you are primarily a percussive player - chords, then there is nothing lost by going longer.

    I've made many full scale and short scale OMs, guitar bouzoukis and tenors. If there is a sonic difference it isn't significant. But I would say the longer scale ones have tended to have more sustain, whilst the short scale, more resonance.

    Sit through this video, its about tenor guitars, but much of what applies to tenors applies to OMs.


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  4. #3
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Pacific Northwest, USA

    Default Re: O.M. neck length - short or long , pros and cons ?

    I think the conventional wisdom here is that longer scale = slightly better sustain, but not necessarily more volume. So much depends on the individual build, so there are no absolutes.

    FWIW, the reason I've stayed with my 22" scale Weber archtop OM is that I just love the sustain. It's such a contrast from playing mandolin. It has plenty of volume when played solo, but like most OMs it tends to get swamped by the brighter tone of a guitar in an Irish session. So I only play mandolin (and flute) in sessions, and save the OM for having fun with slower Irish/Scottish tunes at home.

    YMMV, that's just my approach. If my primary instrument was OM for playing melody in Irish sessions I might be looking for something with a brighter tone than my archtop Weber that would "cut" and be heard alongside the inevitable guitar player. Maybe even a 'zouk with a capo for the "janglier" sound, although there, you're really getting into capo land for playing melody at a manageable scale length.

    I'm also not a big fan of a capo as an always-on method. Maybe others can chime in on this, but I've always felt that you get slightly better sustain and stronger tone with open strings on the nut. Unless you have a zero fret, which is a whole 'nother discussion. Especially when used as an open string drone, like we sometimes do with Irish and Scottish trad tunes. If you feel you need a 20" scale for the reach of your fingers, then get a 20" OM, and find the string gauges that speak well at that scale length. Take advantage of that open string tone. That's my opinion anyway.

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  6. #4

    Default Re: O.M. neck length - short or long , pros and cons ?

    thanks - that was very informative

  7. #5

    Default Re: O.M. neck length - short or long , pros and cons ?

    thanks - i will take your advice and search out for a 20 something scale length - that has been my inclination all long

  8. #6
    Registered User testore's Avatar
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    Oct 2003
    Turlock, California

    Default Re: O.M. neck length - short or long , pros and cons ?

    This is 20.5” and has PLENTY of sustain and volume. There’s no exact recipe for either of these factors. This one happens to work. I joined the neck to the body at the 13th fret, like Gibson mandolas. This gives a very comfortable feeling when playing. The neck isn’t too long and the whole things feels nice a compact with a decent scale length.
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