Considerations for Building Cigar Box Guitars from a Players/Musicians Perspective 1

Many builders are new to music, so here are some thoughts about what makes an instrument function better from a musical perspective.
1. Scale Length: This is the string distance from nut to bridge. The longer the scale the further the frets are apart. Lower pitch sounding instruments like bass guitars have longer scales. Higher pitched sounding instruments like ukulele have shorter scales. On the guitar to be able to make the necessary stretches between frets and form chords, the scale has been standardized to approximately 24" - 25". The center of the string between the nut and bridge is at the 12th fret (harmonic). Usually smaller guitars (Ex: 3/4 size) are not only physically smaller, but the scale it smaller too. These guitars are good for traveling or for players with smaller hands.        Please share any thoughts you may have concerning Scale Length.

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Comment by Keni Lee Burgess on October 11, 2012 at 5:37am

Thank you for contributing. Jay - I like a wider string spacing myself too. 1 7/8" nut width for 6 string. I find the 1 3/4" found on most electric guitars too tight mainly because using fingerpicks there is more room for my fingers to get in between the strings. On 3 string, I go as far as (measuring from string to string, including their string thicknesses), 7/16" beween strings. ED - I like a shorter 22" inch scale length too, on my fretted CBGs. Much easier to do those doublestops that have a 1 - 5 interval stretch and play chords. For Frettless, having a baritone scale (27") is no problem, if you are mainly using slide. Enjoy.  

Comment by Seaman Jay on October 11, 2012 at 4:51am

That could be the reason, ED, thank you. I don't really play chords on basses (well, I use chord shapes, but do not strum them) = it's more along the lines of "sliding". Vibrato on a double bass *is* in fact sliding (up and down).

Comment by Bad Finger (Eric) on October 11, 2012 at 2:47am

In my limited experience, I've found that I prefer shorter scales for finger picking and longer scale length for slide.  The shorter scale makes ease for rapid noting while the longer scale stretches the notes better for slide.

Comment by Seaman Jay on October 11, 2012 at 2:32am

Interesting. Please do continue.

Re: scale length - somehow I like to play a full scale bass guitar (34") and a 3/4 upright bass (ca. 41"), but my comfort zone for a "guitar-like" is a little above the tenor ukulele scale length (17"-18").

Additionally (not a scale length thing, but somehow related): I like my strings "fanned" slightly stronger than usual (difference in string spacing at the nut and at the bridge) - think: gitarron or vihuela, not the classical guitar.

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