Dismiss Notice

Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Measuring Scale

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jefft54, May 11, 2005.


  1. This may be a dumb question, but how is a bass scale arrived at. On my 34" scale, where is it measured from, the headstock to the end of the fretboard?
     
  2. Juneau

    Juneau

    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    From the nut to the bridge saddle. The two points where the string is anchored basically. The distance between the two is the vibrating length of the string, or the strings "Speaking Length". This is what scale length is.
     
  3. bigbeefdog

    bigbeefdog Who let the dogs in?

    Jul 7, 2003
    Mandeville, LA
    There are no dumb questions. None of us were born knowing how to measure scale length. :)

    What Juneau said is spot-on.
     
  4. Actually, it is the distance from the nut to the 12th fret multiplied by 2. This can be different than the measurement from the nut to the bridge saddle because the saddles are movable.
     
  5. Juneau

    Juneau

    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    To the bridge saddle should be accurrate within 1/4" anyhow. Only reason it wouldnt be spot on is because to intonate the string, the saddle may not rest exactly on the 34" or 35" mark or whatever. Reguardless, if your saddle is moved, then your scale length is increased too, and the measurement from nut to saddle is still the actual scale, just not the rounded down number. If its 34.25", then thats actually what your scale is on that string. On "single scale" instruments, they all actually have a little variation in scale length technically, but it is refered too as a single scale thats approximate.
     
  6. Tfunked

    Tfunked

    Dec 30, 2003
    Carvin's have a 35.25 scale.
    I like the 12th fret method.
     
  7. Juneau

    Juneau

    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    All a matter of semantics really. Technically the scale length is the speaking length of the string, which is measured from nut to bridge saddle. However, if your refering to the overall scale of your bass (assuming its a single scale), then its technically an average of the speaking lengths of individual strings, and the nut to 12th fret x 2 will give you a nice even number.

    So if you want the overall scale of your bass, nut to 12th fret x 2 will give you what you need, and if you want a very specific speaking length of an individual string, with its tension and guage all factored in, then measuring from the nut to the bridge saddle will give you that exact number.

    Single scale instruments arent technically single scale, the variation is just small enough that the industry refers to it as a single scale length.
     
  8. Scott French

    Scott French Dude Supporting Member

    May 12, 2004
    Grass Valley, CA
    There are two things. Scale length is the what the frets are layed out at and can be measured from the crown at the nut to the crown of the 12th fret x 2. String length is the actual length of the string (ha?!). That number is basically the scale length + compensation or the distance from the crown of the nut to the crown of any saddle. The scale length will be the same across all the strings on 99.99% of instruments, all the novax and old-timey fan fret instruments aside. It's the string length that differers from string to string.
     
  9. Juneau

    Juneau

    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Not to be combatative, but it still sounds like semantics to me. Scale Length is defined as the speaking length of the string from my understanding, and from your description, you refer to Scale Length and Speaking Length of the string as two different deffinitions.

    I do understand what you mean, the frets being parallel means they have to use a number thats the same across all strings, but Im not sure if youd call it Scale Length (and maybe Im wrong, your the builder Scott hehe). Might you have any references that separate the deffinitions of the two?
     
  10. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    +1

    On a standard(non fanned) instrument, the frets are layed out based on the scale length of the instrument.
     
  11. Scott French

    Scott French Dude Supporting Member

    May 12, 2004
    Grass Valley, CA
    Speaking length and string length sound like the same thing to me, Juneauoid. But you're right it is semantics. Guitar building isn't a standardized industry so I'm sure 20 builders will have 15 different ways of saying the same thing. I don't really care what people say to describe what thing. The definition I gave is the one I've learned and it makes the most sense to me.
     
  12. Great info. I've only been on these boards for a few weeks, but you people seem to know your stuff. Thanks for the education.
     
  13. Juneau

    Juneau

    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.

    Sounds good to me :)
     
  14. Whether the scale is the how the frets are laid or how long the string is is semantics. I think that it's actually somewhere in between. ;)

    That said, every manufacturer that I know of is referring to twice the nut to 12th fret distance as the scale length, or rather how the frets are spaced, not how long the string is with compensation.