hi everyone, i'm finally making a four string... and need some input on scale length. i will probably be tuning the guitar to G, C or double C and would appreciate any help n advice. cheers, steve :0)

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Ben, I know it's a typo, but shouldn't the 12th fret on a 23" scale be at 11.5"?  My math used to be pretty good  ;-)

the best,

WS

Ben said:

Sure thing. So while we say, for example, a scale length is 23", that's not exactly true. Each string is slightly different because of the different diameters (and materials used in the string). So what you do is build it to a 23" scale. That means that from the nut to the 12th fret should be 12.5" (I normally do this all in mm for accuracy, but it is the same concept). Then a good starting place for the bridge is 23" from the nut (12.5" from the 12th fret). Bring your strings up to tension (note that they don't really have to be in tune with each other at this point). Play a harmonic at the 12th fret by very lightly touching the string with the tip of your finger over the 12th fret (not pushing it down...just touching it). You can do this either with a tuner or by ear. After you get that note on the tuner or by ear, fret the string at the 12th fret. You want it to be the same pitch as the harmonic. If your fretted note is sharper (higher) than the harmonic, then it means that you need to move the bridge back towards the tail a bit. If the fretted note is flatter (lower) that the harmonic you need to move the bridge closer to the 12th fret. Remember this is different for each string so it is a lot of trial and error trying to get the best for each string. If you're familiar with electric guitars like Strats and Teles then you know that there is an individual saddle for each string that can be adjusted. For acoustic guitars there is usually one saddle (sometimes 2) for all the strings. Generally the thicker the string, the further from the 12th fret it needs to be. That's why as you look as people's pictures, you'll see that their saddles are usually slanted so that the 12th fret will play in tune properly (intonation).

Ukecansam said:

 

Ben,

 

Thanks for your advice. I will check the vid's.  could you explane more about intonate the bridge?

 

Thanks,


Ben said:

Watch the video just posted by Dan Sleep on how he does fretting. That will point you in the right direction. My only real advice is to make sure you measure each fret from the nut instead of fret to fret. That way you don't compound any errors. Also know that if you build a 23" scale, when you intonate the bridge, it will not be exactly 23" inches from the nut (or 12 1/2" from the 12th fret). It will need to be pushed back a tad. Good luck! Not nearly as hard as you're thinking...
think bens nailed it there, if you're putting a non compensated bridge ie a straight bridge on its always gonna be a bit of a compromise on tuning perfection, its just taking a bit of time experimenting as to what sounds good.:0)
Thanks Sam! That's why I don't teach Math...

Wichita Sam said:

Ben, I know it's a typo, but shouldn't the 12th fret on a 23" scale be at 11.5"?  My math used to be pretty good  ;-)

the best,

WS

Ben said:

Sure thing. So while we say, for example, a scale length is 23", that's not exactly true. Each string is slightly different because of the different diameters (and materials used in the string). So what you do is build it to a 23" scale. That means that from the nut to the 12th fret should be 12.5" (I normally do this all in mm for accuracy, but it is the same concept). Then a good starting place for the bridge is 23" from the nut (12.5" from the 12th fret). Bring your strings up to tension (note that they don't really have to be in tune with each other at this point). Play a harmonic at the 12th fret by very lightly touching the string with the tip of your finger over the 12th fret (not pushing it down...just touching it). You can do this either with a tuner or by ear. After you get that note on the tuner or by ear, fret the string at the 12th fret. You want it to be the same pitch as the harmonic. If your fretted note is sharper (higher) than the harmonic, then it means that you need to move the bridge back towards the tail a bit. If the fretted note is flatter (lower) that the harmonic you need to move the bridge closer to the 12th fret. Remember this is different for each string so it is a lot of trial and error trying to get the best for each string. If you're familiar with electric guitars like Strats and Teles then you know that there is an individual saddle for each string that can be adjusted. For acoustic guitars there is usually one saddle (sometimes 2) for all the strings. Generally the thicker the string, the further from the 12th fret it needs to be. That's why as you look as people's pictures, you'll see that their saddles are usually slanted so that the 12th fret will play in tune properly (intonation).

Ukecansam said:

 

Ben,

 

Thanks for your advice. I will check the vid's.  could you explane more about intonate the bridge?

 

Thanks,


Ben said:

Watch the video just posted by Dan Sleep on how he does fretting. That will point you in the right direction. My only real advice is to make sure you measure each fret from the nut instead of fret to fret. That way you don't compound any errors. Also know that if you build a 23" scale, when you intonate the bridge, it will not be exactly 23" inches from the nut (or 12 1/2" from the 12th fret). It will need to be pushed back a tad. Good luck! Not nearly as hard as you're thinking...

Wow you guys are the best!!!!  Tis is going to take me a little more time then just putting a set screw on a piece of wood.  Thats OK because I am ready for the nex level.  I like learning by my mistakes.  It seems to stick with me better.

 

Thanks Ben , Witchita , and Dogfinger for your help.  I will watch the vid's  and let it sink it.  I will put pics up of my progress.

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