How Does Scale Length Affect Tone? Gear Gods Investigates!

Ever wonder how a longer scale length sounds compared to a standard one? I compared a 25.5″ scale 7 string to a 27″ 7 string, each with identical woods, pickups, and strings.


Amp sound is AxeFx II (Friedman HBE model for rhythm, SOLO 100 for lead) with VFE Ice Scream in front straight into Pro Tools, no post processing at all. Probably could have used some, but I wanted to give you the straight dope, no filter, knowadamean?

So what differences did you hear?

UPDATE: Get the DI from this video here to reamp through your own rig!

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As Editor-in-Chief of Gear Gods, I've been feeding your sick instrument fetishism and trying unsuccessfully to hide my own since 2013. I studied music on both coasts (Berklee and SSU) and now I'm just trying to put my degree to some use. That's a music degree, not an English one. I'm sure you noticed.

Latest comments
  • excellent post. I’d definitely agree that difference is subtle, but i hear a difference with the open strings mostly and definitely the playing is tighter on the shorter scale length, but that’s probably got more to do with finding the right scale length for one’s particular fingers. More like this please!

  • I notice a subtle difference but not anything that would make me choose one over the other. Unless I’m misunderstanding the science of it all, couldn’t you get the same affect by putting on a heavier gauge of string? I feel like a .009 on a 27″ neck would have about the same tension as a .010 or .011 on a 25.5″ neck, which should produce the same kind of tone. Can anyone smarter than me back me up or am I off on this?

    • .009 on 27″ and .010 on 25,5″ will just match the tension on both guitars. Different gauge will probably change the tone a little but you won’t match the sound between the two by doing that. 27″ will always sounds more thick, and you’ll always hear a difference on the low strings. This is like saying you can make a 34″ bass sounds like a 25,5″ guitar if you put the right sets of strings on them.

  • Do the same thing with a 25.5″ 8 string tuned to F (LTD H-208 for example) and a 30″ 8 string such as the Ibanez M80M. The difference is much more noticable on both the lower and higher register (the short scale the lows sound muddy due to the thickness of strings and the longer scale is more squeally on the high end)

    • A 25.5″ 8 string sounds like a whole lot of no.

  • I have the same amount of variation between two identical SG’s with identical scale length. Both spec for spec identical.

  • I thought I detected a bit slower vibration of the longer scale length strings, thus giving a fatter sound. The shorter scale length sounded more taut. A different playing style might produce a more interesting comparison. The rapid staccato style cut short the vibration before being able to hear much of the characteristics of the longer strings.

    • That made no sense from a scientific viewpoint. Slower vibration means lower pitch.

      • True, low frequency is lower pitch. “Fatter” isn’t very technical, is it?

        • Actually I made no sense either. Vibration “speed” would be dependent on the material it travels through, not the pitch/frequency. Lower frequencies cause longer wavelength which make the string vibration more visible hence the confusion.
          As for fatter, well, it’s pretty subjective. Most people I know would understand more lows, I think.

  • no difference in sound…. impossible to differ in blind test….

  • A standard at 24,75, omg, imposible to get an correct tuning at chords. 25,5 you can handle it, just little detuning with high pressure from fingers. 27 its automatic, no detuning bullshit due low tuning and high gauge, all sounds fine, you only have to get trough high tension, yeah my english is worst than everything

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