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Thread: Scalelength?

  1. #1
    Registered User
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    Default Scalelength?

    I'm progressing with my A5 and F5 builds and they are both at the stage of having necks and bodies glued up, and now need fretboards and bridges.
    I left the building of fretboards until this time to allow for any anomalies in my construction which would deviate from the Siminoff suggested length of 13 15/16".
    When I measure from the point where the nut would be , to the imaginary point above the soundboard where the saddle will be, I'm fairly close but closer to say 14"

    I've not seen any mention in all the books,videos forums, blogs of string compensation, which in effect would make the string length slightly more than twice the nut to 12th fret distance.
    Obviously this is achieved by bridge placement.
    So the question is, if I make the fretboard to the 14" scalelength, will the distance from nut to saddle become too long for the saddle to line up with the F hole notches?. Or am I better off making a fretboard that is slightly short(13 15/16"), so that it will put the saddle closer to where it should be?.
    I hope this makes sense and thanks , Mike.

  2. #2
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Scalelength?

    I would stay with standard scalelength of 13 7/8". String gauges are designed for it and fingers of players are used to it. I would just place the bridge where it needs to be even if it is not perfectly centered between f hole notches (actually on Loars bridge is consistently slightly forward). If really needed you can still reshape the holes a bit or use a bit thicker nut to nudge the board...
    BTW, on Loars distance from nut to closest edge of saddle (at e string on strung instrument with correct compensations) is approximately 13.94", that's almost 13 15/16" and that's the number that Gibson put into their advertising.
    edit: Gibson used old imprecise system of calculating fret distances but according to average position of frets 13 7/8" is best compromise. Final string length is eual to what Loars used.
    Adrian

  3. #3
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scalelength?

    On a daily basis, I play scale lengths ranging from 13 7/8" to 41 1/2" (double bass).

    I don't believe you or anyone else will notice the difference between 13 7/8" and 14"...unless you told them and then plenty of folks around here would get so worked up they would call it unplayable and sell the instrument.....

    Is your shop climate controlled throughout the year? If not, you may just be experiencing seasonal variation due to humidity changes.

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  5. #4
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    Default Re: Scalelength?

    Thanks to you both. I realise that whatever option I take won't really make any difference in terms of tone or playability and all I'm trying to do is aim for it to look right in terms of bridge placement in relation to the f hole notches, and the alignment of the 15th fret with the 15th fret crosspiece. Also, as Adrian says, the nut thickness can be adjusted to help. Btw, what would be an average thickness for a mandolin nut as I've not been able to find any reference online?. I'm guessing anywhere between 4 and 6 mm.
    cheers Mike

  6. #5
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Scalelength?

    For whatever it's worth, the Weber mandolins have a scale length of 14", and not 13-7/8" and not 13-15/16". The total range of all these values is just 1/8" = 0.125". I doubt that most most would even notice a difference unless you pointed it out. I myself don't notice a difference going back and forth among several different F5 models I have, one of which is by Weber. And I have really small hands!

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