1. #1

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    Hello All. A pair of questions are presented at the end of this opening post.

    I have been reading that length of scale affects two aspects:
    (1) as length of scale grows, spacing between frets grows, so smaller hands/shorter fingers may
    not be unable to do, what they can do, on a shorter scale
    (2) as length of scale grows, a given string thickness will need to be tighter, to be tuned to a given
    note, as compared to the tension needed on a shorter scale.

    My reading also has made clear, that only with slanted/fanned frets, does length of scale aid with
    intonation. Simply building a seven stringer with a 27.5 inch scale for ALL strings, is NO benefit to
    intonation. Squiggly frets, and further, slanted/fanned squiggly frets, will result in very superior intonation.

    So, to stay Only on the length of scale For All Strings to be Equal topic, (no squiggly/slanted frets):

    Let's say the bass 'A' 7th string is "thin" at .060 inch. For it to be tuned to 'A' at 24.7 inch scale length,
    it will need to be tensioned to a certain degree. That tension may result in a "floppy" string, such that
    we find it to be UNWORKABLE. If we remove that string, widen the nut slot, and install a thicker string
    to be tuned to 'A', (say string thickness of .075 inch) this fatter string will need more tension to be tuned
    to that bassy 'A' note, compared to the first string we tried. Obviously that will result in less "floppiness"
    in the string.
    Ques. (1) Would making the change to a heavier bass 'A' string "make right", the "workability" of the
    guitar, because that fatter bass 'A' string is LESS troublesome because it's LESS floppy? (granted it's
    less "bendable", but I personally care not)
    Ques. (2) And, even if it's not truly "right", but only "improved", yet still too "floppy, can we choose to
    install an even thicker, .085 inch string, as IT, would need even more tension to be tuned to the proper
    'A' note, and thus it can't be as "floppy". (and if we need to go to a thicker yet string, to reach a point that
    "floppiness" is no longer an issue, so be it)
    Thank you all for your upcoming responses.

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  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by AdvenJack
    Hello All. A pair of questions are presented at the end of this opening post.

    I have been reading that length of scale affects two aspects:
    (1) as length of scale grows, spacing between frets grows, so smaller hands/shorter fingers may
    not be unable to do, what they can do, on a shorter scale
    (2) as length of scale grows, a given string thickness will need to be tighter, to be tuned to a given
    note, as compared to the tension needed on a shorter scale.

    My reading also has made clear, that only with slanted/fanned frets, does length of scale aid with
    intonation. Simply building a seven stringer with a 27.5 inch scale for ALL strings, is NO benefit to
    intonation. Squiggly frets, and further, slanted/fanned squiggly frets, will result in very superior intonation.

    So, to stay Only on the length of scale For All Strings to be Equal topic, (no squiggly/slanted frets):

    Let's say the bass 'A' 7th string is "thin" at .060 inch. For it to be tuned to 'A' at 24.7 inch scale length,
    it will need to be tensioned to a certain degree. That tension may result in a "floppy" string, such that
    we find it to be UNWORKABLE. If we remove that string, widen the nut slot, and install a thicker string
    to be tuned to 'A', (say string thickness of .075 inch) this fatter string will need more tension to be tuned
    to that bassy 'A' note, compared to the first string we tried. Obviously that will result in less "floppiness"
    in the string.
    Ques. (1) Would making the change to a heavier bass 'A' string "make right", the "workability" of the
    guitar, because that fatter bass 'A' string is LESS troublesome because it's LESS floppy? (granted it's
    less "bendable", but I personally care not)
    Ques. (2) And, even if it's not truly "right", but only "improved", yet still too "floppy, can we choose to
    install an even thicker, .085 inch string, as IT, would need even more tension to be tuned to the proper
    'A' note, and thus it can't be as "floppy". (and if we need to go to a thicker yet string, to reach a point that
    "floppiness" is no longer an issue, so be it)
    Thank you all for your upcoming responses.
    When I had a go at 7 string guitar, I tried three guitars before throwing in the towel:

    Gretsch Van Epps: My teacher, Allen Hanlon played one of these at our lessons in the late 70's. I found the guitar to be heavy and it was unbalanced in tone. I could not get rid of it fast enough.

    Ibanez AF-207. The guitar sounded great except for the Low A string. I tried several different gauges, including a .085. The intonation was always off.

    Novax Charlie Hunter 7 string (this was the model Ralph made BEFORE the Charlie Hunter 8 string). I did not like the fanned frets and it was a decidedly solid body sound.

    Eventually I found that 6 strings are challenging enough and gave up 7 string. But everytime I listen to Bucky, I understand the attraction.

    HTH

  4. #3

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    I really appreciate your honest, clear, informative responses sir, quite very much!

  5. #4

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    I, too, became intrigued with the 7 string option back in the 90's. Mostly after hearing Bucky and Jimmy Bruno. As fortune would have it, I was able to spend some quality time with Jimmy at his home in Philly and take some lessons. At the time I was gigging with a 6 string, a Gibson Howard Roberts Custom. After working with me a while, Jimmy stated that I was a good candidate for 7 string and handed me his Benedetto 7 to take for a spin. His first advice was-"don't look down". That guitar had certainly seen some practice and stage time, complete with cig burns on the headstock from the Camel straights he was smoking at the time.

    My first 7 was a AF-207, and as many have mentioned, right away I had a issue with the string spacing compared to the Benedetto 7. However, at that time short of a custom build there were not many options. So getting even more serious and meeting Ron Eschete through a drummer friend that worked with him, I was introduced to Jim Mapson. I commissioned a build from him (he has since stopped building-fabulous instruments BTW).
    I loved the guitar, however went broke in the process and sold it back to Jim for what I paid him for it. That guitar ended up with John Abercrombie (RIP)

    I went back to 6, however a few years passed and Eastman came out with a Benedetto 7 copy, the 805, which I tried out a NAMM. I bought one and tried to get back into 7, the Eastman was a fine guitar at the price point, but my heart just was not in it.

    Jimmy went back to 6. I asked him about it, he just shrugged and mumbled something about 6 being more practical.

    The one thing that stayed with me though was the time I spent with Jimmy's Benedetto. That led to a successful years long quest for my 1990 Benedetto Cremona, which is my working instrument.

    Long way to answer OP's question, however I recall using a 70 for the low A string.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by AdvenJack

    My reading also has made clear, that only with slanted/fanned frets, does length of scale aid with
    intonation. Simply building a seven stringer with a 27.5 inch scale for ALL strings, is NO benefit to
    intonation. Squiggly frets, and further, slanted/fanned squiggly frets, will result in very superior intonation.

    So, to stay Only on the length of scale For All Strings to be Equal topic, (no squiggly/slanted frets):

    Let's say the bass 'A' 7th string is "thin" at .060 inch. For it to be tuned to 'A' at 24.7 inch scale length,
    it will need to be tensioned to a certain degree. That tension may result in a "floppy" string, such that
    we find it to be UNWORKABLE. If we remove that string, widen the nut slot, and install a thicker string
    to be tuned to 'A', (say string thickness of .075 inch) this fatter string will need more tension to be tuned
    to that bassy 'A' note, compared to the first string we tried. Obviously that will result in less "floppiness"
    in the string.
    Ques. (1) Would making the change to a heavier bass 'A' string "make right", the "workability" of the
    guitar, because that fatter bass 'A' string is LESS troublesome because it's LESS floppy? (granted it's
    less "bendable", but I personally care not)
    Ques. (2) And, even if it's not truly "right", but only "improved", yet still too "floppy, can we choose to
    install an even thicker, .085 inch string, as IT, would need even more tension to be tuned to the proper
    'A' note, and thus it can't be as "floppy". (and if we need to go to a thicker yet string, to reach a point that
    "floppiness" is no longer an issue, so be it)
    Thank you all for your upcoming responses.
    Without getting into all of the details, take my word for it when I say that for about 10 years I had as much or more experience with 7-string guitars than almost anyone in the guitar business, so my response is based on a LOT of personal experience.

    First, to suggest that "Simply building a seven stringer with a 27.5 inch scale for ALL strings, is NO benefit to intonation." is not correct. Increasing the scale length is in fact the easiest way to improve both the intonation and the tension for the lowest string (and to a lesser degree for all the other strings). Because of the longer scale length it becomes possible to maintain adequate tension on the low A without having to use a much thicker string. That provides much better intonation at the bottom five frets and also improves the balance in volume between the bottom string and the standard 6-strings.

    Second, the choice of string for the low A is at least as important as the actually thickness. Not all strings are constructed the same way and they can respond in very different way. Using a GHS Compound Wound for the low A allowed me to go from an 80 down to a 64 for the low A. That meant less problems with a booming low end plus, again better intonation at the bottom of the fingerboard on the low string.

    As for going to heavier strings on a shorter scale length for the low A, there are all sorts of negative issues with that. Yes, the tension is better but they tend to go very sharp at the bottom of the fingerboard often to the point of being unusable below the fifth fret.
    Last edited by Jim Soloway; 05-06-2021 at 05:49 PM.

  7. #6

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    All this talk about the low A reminds me that in Brazil the low string is usually a B.

    7 string is prevalent there because choro music often uses it. No bass in those group, and the classic guitar style involves a lot of runs on the low strings.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    All this talk about the low A reminds me that in Brazil the low string is usually a B.

    7 string is prevalent there because choro music often uses it. No bass in those group, and the classic guitar style involves a lot of runs on the low strings.
    When I had the Ibanez AF-207, I tried the low B and with the guitars 24.7 scale (which is shorter than an ES-175), the low B intonated OK.