Pros & Cons of Short scale (650 mm or less) vs Long scale (670 mm or more)

gumby705gumby705 Mount Dora, Florida✭✭
in FAQ Posts: 27

We know that short scale is easier on the left hand and long scale (higher tension) is good for note increased definition) but what about tone?

I know petite oval holes tends to compress tone and project volume and grande oval hole are more airy and darker.

My questions are for two identical sound hole guitars of similar build and materials are

1. Does a shorter scale guitars push the bridge back on the soundboard to add more bass.

2. Conversely does Long scale guitars push the bridge forward to add more trebles.

3. Is it possible to create a short scale guitar with great note definition and a long scale guitar with more bass and some overtones (outside of a big bout Favino style guitar)

4. I like the sweetness of the overtone that some short scales guitar are known for but can a long scale guitar produce similar sweet overtones easily.

5. Are there any other advantages of Short scale and Long scale guitar over the other?

Misc. questions (answer at your own risk)

I am also wondering in Gypsy Jazz

Is there anything wrong with a well defined fundamental note ( & good attack) but with a little short and sweet overtone?

Does it have be dry with ultra- quick decay?

Hope I have opened a hornet's nest



  • pdgpdg ✭✭
    Posts: 451

    Just a clarification -- are you talking about both being 14-fret guitars, or a long-scale 14-fret vs. a short-scale 12-fret guitar?

  • gumby705gumby705 Mount Dora, Florida✭✭
    Posts: 27

    Good qualifier!

    I noticed most 12 frets tend to be shorter scale while most 14 frets guitars be longer scales with a few exceptions especially with 14 fret guitars having shoter scale. I have not come across a 12 fret guitar with a long scale yet but I do not doubt they exist.

    For simplicity and to assist me and others shopping for maccaferri styled guitar based playability and tone based on what is most readily available.

    Regrettably, many of us have limits of geography, time and/ or resourses to compare several guitars designs in one store. (Unless you like in France or the US Northeast. I live in Florida and it is easier to go to France. ... just joking)

    That being said it is best to limit the tone and playability discussion to 12 fret guitars with short scales to 14 fret guitars with longer scales.

    Obviously the two guitar Will have similar builds, material and mouth shapes.

    Thanks, You are right .The clarification was needed

    PS Maybe it is time to make that trip to France. What is the duty on guitar purchases in France?

  • pdgpdg ✭✭
    Posts: 451

    You could go to Django in June, in Massachusettes (?), and try out many guitars. Or fly to Michael Horowitz ( and try out the various types.

  • slowlearnerslowlearner ✭✭
    Posts: 39

    Check out Michaels inventory of guitars here at Django Books. I know he has both long and short scales available. Read the reviews which are always informative and watch the video demo's. You can learn a lot that way, I know I have.

  • gumby705gumby705 Mount Dora, Florida✭✭
    Posts: 27

    All good ideas. I did not know you could drop in on Djangobooks ( with an appointment of course)

    I have general ideas what I want but many things come up that I may have not consider when I try guitars in person.

    In a nutshell, I am looking for versatility to play more music genres.

    I have a long scale guitar but intriqued by the sweerness in tone of many of the short scales.

    I like the ideas of chord melodies on a GJ guitar.(in addition to chord comping and soloing)

    I am also getting older and short scale could come in handy.

  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    edited September 2023 Posts: 355

    I'm not sure exactly which of the variables of a build formula matter most--despite common generalizations about grande/petite-bouche or scale length or woods, everybody's ear is different, and I have personally found non-trivial differences across examples from single builders.

    That said, if one preference is for a guitar that can comfortaby cross genre boundaries (which is probably my own primary concern), I found three builders whose instruments consistently interested me: Michael Dunn, Shelley Park, and Bernard Lehmann. All pretty high-end individual builders, but to my ear most of the factory instruments I've tried push the "dry" end of the spectrum way too hard.

    But that's me. I own a Dunn (Daphne 14-fret) and a Park (Elan 12-fret) and played quite a few of their guitars and several of Lehmann's over the years I atttended Djangofest Northwest. Before that, I had an early Dell'Arte (a Sweet Chorus, I think) that I quite liked but was not as interesting as the Dunn. And FWIW, I tried and returned a Dunn Stardust (14-fret petite bouche) that veered too much toward the dry/brash end of the spectrum--though it sounded fine when amplified.

    Bottom line: Despite the difficulties posed by not having nearby dealers, there's still no substitute for playing a range of guitars, especially if you're looking for something beyond a starter instrument for a style.

    Hah--I was Googling around to confirm some model data and found this discussion of Dunn guitars from last year, so I see that I repeat myself. (Cut me some slack--I'm old.)

  • Posts: 279

    Grand bouche guitars' sound hole is a little too big. But you can get your pick out easily.

    Petit Bouche guitars' sound hole is too small to fit your hand in to get a pick. But you are less likely to drop it in.


  • Posts: 279

    I've had both types of guitars and playability is more important than the sound.

  • pdgpdg ✭✭
    Posts: 451

    I think that, generally speaking, grande-bouche guitars are more versatile (Joscho Stephane believes this, too). Wider nut width (and bridge string spacing) makes fingerstyle playing more user-friendly). Shorter string length is more of a trade-off, but Django originally played a short-scale D-hole anyway! (There are a few short-scale 14-fret guitars -- Park's "Elan"? -- but you'd need to try them.

    A good short-scale D-hole is probably the most suited for other styles. Anything else probably doesn't sound great fingerstyle, especially played with fingernails.

    (Just my opinions!)

  • gumby705gumby705 Mount Dora, Florida✭✭
    Posts: 27

    Everyone has hit exactly on what I was attempting to decribe when decribing warm guitar tone and versitilty. It is a difficult task for a non-professional musician (megoto communicate especially given the many variables that go into making a guitar and the many descriptive terms used to decribe sweetness in tone (i.e. nice overtones; warmth of tone that trail the fundamental; less dryness etc.)

    The sound examples I have heard on-line that fit the description of versitilty & and warmth are exactly the guitars everyone is suggesting.

    The Shelley Park Elan 12 & 14 seems to come up the most often in regards to warmth and veritility.

    Other D hole guitars tend come up more often than Oval holes but I head a few oval holes that fit this description as well.

    Wether shorter scales and/ or 12 frets lean more towards warmth and richness of overtones, at least to my ears these factors do. Unfortunately the older I get, the less I trust my ears.

    I could also be bias because I play other types of acoustic guitars of varying scales lenghts and designs.

    I also wonder if I am correctly hearing the on-line guitar tones or not. Despite my hearing and audio, most of the on-line examples that have nice warm overtones are similar to the Shelley Park Elon 12 .

    Other guitars that also lean more in this direction are the John LeVoi D 12 fret, and the Geromino Mateos Montemarte D ( which is actually a 670mm scale)

    I have not heard many example of a Michael Dunn guitar , but I will start searching.

    Here is a dicussion on a similar tone topic for another thread!!

    (Stop me...I am having too much fun!!!)

    Has anyone made a torrified spruce maccaferi style guitar? Can it even be done and still have an arch in the top? Does the wood shrink in the torrification process? According to builders, it suppose to age the sound & warms the tone of flattops. Would anyone ever care for an sonically aged maccaferri style guitar? Would it be economically out of reach of most players? Most of us on the forum are players not luthiers. A better question for Bob Holo with an engineering background. (or a molecular biologist)

    Thanks for all the kind suggestions and ideas. They were very helpful. I am on the right track.

    Michael Baker Mount Dora,Fl

Sign In or Register to comment.
Home  |  Forum  |  Blog  |  Contact  |  206-528-9873
The Premier Gypsy Jazz Marketplace
Banner Adverts
Sell Your Guitar
© 2024, all rights reserved worldwide.
Software: Kryptronic eCommerce, Copyright 1999-2024 Kryptronic, Inc. Exec Time: 0.018589 Seconds Memory Usage: 1.019585 Megabytes