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  1. #1

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    Hi guys. Anyone play a guitar that has a string length shorter than "standard"? I've got a chance to purchase a used Pavan tp-30-64 with a cedar top from a friend. The price isn't bad but he's hundreds of miles away so I probably can't try it out first. I haven't yet tried any classical guitars with a string length shorter than 650 mm.

    I did play a 650 mm guitar way back in school and ended up with tendonitis after one year of that, so as I look to get into some nylon string playing again I'm thinking about a smaller guitar. Plus, I've concluded that the 25 1/2" scale for jazz guitars is a bit too much for me - 24 9/16" seems to be a better fit for my smaller hands. I would rather get a guitar with a spruce top but the new price is a bit out of reach.

    Any experiences to share? I don't think I'll be giving recitals any time soon but maybe play some wedding gigs, maybe jazz if I can handle the neck. This one has a LR Baggs undersaddle pickup already installed.
    Last edited by vejesse; 12-29-2014 at 03:13 PM.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    It's done, but because it's non standard, the results will vary between luthiers. Some can work the shorter scale, and this is great for parlour guitars, smaller bodies, guitars often made for players with smaller hands and female players. I've heard some that were quite good, and some that were a bit softer, didn't have the projection. That's a function of the luthier being able to accommodate their building practice for a different bracing, body size, etc. It's not a matter of simply throwing on a smaller scale, and some builders don't have the experience or the chops to do this. Nylon has lower energy and the balance of thinner and thinner braced tops is a more crucial balance. I've worked with smaller scales and there's quite a bit of trial and error to zeroing in on a good concert caliber set up. So it's a case by case I'd say.
    David

  4. #3

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    I have a very worn Goya nylon string small body..played it for years - it was very good for stretching exercises and "strange" chord forms..the transition to electric-Strat/Tele/LesPaul..was easy..the classical format is a very good way to learn finger control etc..those 5 fret stretches are much easier when you play an electric..

  5. #4

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    I had a 640 for a while and found it difficult to get enough brilliance and attack out of the sound. Much prefer at least a 650 if not 655.

  6. #5

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    Give Gregory Byers a shout.

  7. #6

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    Here's me playing a 63cms Manuel Rodriguez y Hijos guitar. I like the string length, but feel the bass lacked a little articulation.


  8. #7

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    And on my wife's 60cms guitar, same maker as above - and really cheap!


  9. #8

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    640mm scale classical guitars are becoming more and more common. Check the Delcamp classical guitar forum and you'll find multiple discussions on the pros and cons of this scale length versus the conventional 650mm scale length.

    Speaking from experience (as a classical guitar player for three decades, with much more experience than as a jazz guitarist), I've played several 640mm guitars -- well-known local luthier Richard Prenkert is a good friend of mine and has me "test drive" all his new guitars -- and the difference in scale lengths is hardly noticeable: perhaps a bit easier on the lower frets (towards the nut), but the trade-off is that it gets a bit more cramped higher than the twelfth fret. And, at least in Richard's guitars, I detected absolutely no difference in volume in the 640mm scale length guitars.

    Greg Byers, up in Willits, CA, by the way, makes great guitars, but so does Prenkert, at half the price. (Carlos Barbosa-Lima and Romero Lubambo have been playing Richard's guitars as their primary axes for many years now.)
    Last edited by Perdido; 01-03-2015 at 12:02 PM.

  10. #9

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    Rob - Lovely rendition of Manha de Carnaval! The tone of short scale classicals is different in my experience by comparison with 650s. I have both a 650 Yamaha classical and my son's 3/4 scale Yamaha student classical that I play regularly. The short scales tend to bring less bass and a more 'balanced' tonal palette but less sustain in my opinion.

    But I like playing shorter scale instruments in a manner analogous to playing a violin. One has less 'real estate' to cover, which in some ways can be more efficient. I would like to get a (custom made) 640 or so scale classical with a jazz cutaway and perhaps some interesting amplification.

    Perdido - thanks for that information re 640s and Mr. Richard Prenkert! I think there are some ergonomic advantages to shorter scale. And if you don't have to sacrifice too much in tone.....

    Jay

  11. #10

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    Will this work for you, Jay? This is Romero Lubambo with one of Richard's cutaway guitars. Richard lately is installing, upon request, the new Barbera saddle pickups, the first he's found that accurately reproduce the sound of the guitar acoustically. You can contact Richard through his website, if you want. Tell him I sent you! (Better use my name -- Jeff Kross -- rather than Perdido.)


  12. #11

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    Wow! Yeah, I have heard that Lubambo fellow play! My guess is that he has more to smile about these days than I.

    That description of the guitar sounds compelling enough. I think that if one is interested in performance that the amplification is critical. Thanks for the info.

    Jay

  13. #12

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    how much of a difference can 1 cm make compared to steel string variations of 3/4" of an inch? I have small hands but I like wider string spacing and 650 scale. I dont play the most difficult repertoire though.

  14. #13

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  15. #14

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    Interesting.
    Perhaps classical players and luthiers are more specific about these things.
    Playing a piece cleanly is always a huge challenge.

  16. #15

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    I ended up getting that guitar and I've had a week to get to know it, so I'll share some impressions. It's a cedar Pavan tp 30 64. 640 mm string length and a 49.5 mm wide nut. The strings that it came with I'm pretty sure are D'addario Pro Arte standard nylon normal tension.

    Unfortunately I haven't played too many nice classical guitars so I don't have a good frame of reference, although some guitars I've played that I more or less remember how they sounded include a Ramirez 1a, a nice Contreras and a Robert Ruck. In terms of an immediate comparison I don't find that the guitar is any less loud than my 650 mm factory Spanish guitar marketed by Guild. Looking inside, the top bracing on the Pavan is shaved pretty thin compared to the Guild, so maybe that helps. It's also much cleaner work inside and out compared to the Guild. There's a certain low woofy mid range that the Guild and other guitars I've played have that the Pavan does not seem to have, and I don't mind the clarity. The Pavan seems to have a very quick response. I can't complain about the sound of the Pavan and I'm sure that higher tension strings would help.

    In terms of playability as related to guitar dimensions there is a perceivable difference. For classical music I'm not sure a 10mm difference in scale is a deal breaker, but I could see how the short scale would reduce fatigue, or give you a little more confidence in your technique. One thing is clear so far: it's considerably easier to play "jazz" on the short scale and narrower nut. Playing the 650 scale guitar makes it seem like a chore to play improvised lines. The 640 scale guitar is more fun to play, and Bach sounds great on it as well. I wish I had this Pavan 20 years ago in school, I bet I would have sounded better and maybe I wouldn't have drifted away from classical playing.

  17. #16

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    I have had a 640 scale classical (Manuel Adalid) for a number of years. Also has a slightly narrower nut. Gets a better sound with hard tension strings. No problem for me as I am used to playing steel string as well. I am older and arthritic and find the shorter scale definitely more appealing. If a tune still has a difficult reach, then I am likewise not bashful about using the capo. Good luck with your playing and glad you are enjoying the shorter scale. All my steel strings are short scale as well.

    Jon

  18. #17

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    Hey all,
    I have a Jose Rodriguez student guitar that is 645 scale and 2' nut.It seems just right and has a pretty bright sound.Of course it has a cedar top and mahogany back and sides.Nice combination.
    Regards,
    Jan

  19. #18

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    I want a 613mm Sakurai.