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View Full Version : 17" vs. 19" tenor scale? pluses and minuses?



Doc_J
02-06-2016, 09:38 AM
I'm consider a 19" scale (aka long neck) for a tenor vs. the standard 17".

Seems the benefits could be a bigger sound, baritone tuning on occassion.
The downside might be higher string tension and less popular/less resale value.

Anybody have a 19" scale (aka long neck) tenor and can offer perspectives?

Jim Hanks
02-06-2016, 10:24 AM
I love 19" scale for baritone. I suppose if I wanted to explore higher tunings like Bb or C for baritone, the smaller tenor body might be appreciated. But linear Bb is supposedly really good for the baritone body too (still haven't tried it) so I kinda don't see the point of 19" tenor (for me). But I definitely see the benefit of long necks on a soprano body, so I'm sure the same justifications apply for some.

chuck in ny
02-06-2016, 10:25 AM
this just from personal needs. i am planning a tenor build and am finally getting into true metric mode with a 450mm scale. now this is 17.71" and a long tenor scale... but not too long and extended. the advantage for me is a bit more string tension and hopefully a good sounding nylon low G string. plus being a history buff and building to the old cubit length.
IIRC the portugese ukes, lehua (?) or something, are 17.5", and some tenors are built 18", so there's more than one way to stretch the scale.
that said there's a reason kamaka would make a 19" tenor as well as other makers. for me it's about an inch too extended for playing ease.

DownUpDave
02-06-2016, 11:44 AM
Hi mate,

I have both 17 & 19" tenors, I don't find a huge difference between them but there are a couple of things that are slightly different.
String tension doesn't seem to be an issue, I use Oasis strings on both 17 & 19 with no real issues regarding tension. Both tuned to Bb.
Sustain seems more pronounced on the 19", especially higher up the fretboard. This I like.
The 19" can also be a bit of a stretch for the fingers but not too bad.
Overall, I totally love the 19" tenor and would recommend you take a look.


I was hoping someone with 19" tenor scale experience would jump in with their feedback. I really like what you had to say about the increased sustain high up the fretboard. Thanks Campbell, I am thinking one of the 100 anniversary Kamakas in a 19" tenor would be a nice addition

coolkayaker1
02-06-2016, 11:52 AM
Hi, Hodge. Don't you have a Favilla baritone with a 19-inch scale? Wouldn't that play almost identically to a 19-inch scaled tenor (but with slightly larger body)? I don't know the answer, but I loved my Fav bari 19er (wish I didn;t sell it).

anthonyg
02-06-2016, 12:27 PM
I have several 19" scale baritones. To me 19" IS a baritone. Yes more sustain. I guess an advantage is that its easy enough to switch strings and have a tenor or a baritone.

Anthony

Ukulele Eddie
02-06-2016, 12:36 PM
Kimo is a big fan of a 19" scale tenor. If you search, I think he's done a video as to why.

I'm leaning towards a 19" tenor for the Beau Hannam Player's Model I have coming up.

dkcrown
02-06-2016, 12:40 PM
I had a William King long scale tenor that I sold, probably my most regretted sale. I didn't notice any difference in the tension compared to my other tenors, which were all strung with the same Savarez strings. It did have a great amount of sustain and tremendous resonance. But it also had a slightly larger body than a traditional tenor.

Don't know if this helps you at all Hodge.

Doc_J
02-06-2016, 02:37 PM
Hi, Hodge. Don't you have a Favilla baritone with a 19-inch scale? Wouldn't that play almost identically to a 19-inch scaled tenor (but with slightly larger body)? I don't know the answer, but I loved my Fav bari 19er (wish I didn;t sell it).

Hi Steve. True, I do a 19" scale Favilla & Silvertone Baris, but keep them in DGBE. Good thought about tuning in C. But, the Favilla body is really deep, even for a Bari. I wondering just about the length change, on a tenor body. Kamaka, Kinnard, Lichty and Kanilea offer the 19" tenor. Is it just for the extra room on the fretboard?

Doc_J
02-06-2016, 02:43 PM
Hi mate,

I have both 17 & 19" tenors, I don't find a huge difference between them but there are a couple of things that are slightly different.
String tension doesn't seem to be an issue, I use Oasis strings on both 17 & 19 with no real issues regarding tension. Both tuned to Bb.
Sustain seems more pronounced on the 19", especially higher up the fretboard. This I like.
The 19" can also be a bit of a stretch for the fingers but not too bad.
Overall, I totally love the 19" tenor and would recommend you take a look.

Thanks Campbell, appreciate your recommendation.


Kimo is a big fan of a 19" scale tenor. If you search, I think he's done a video as to why.

I'm leaning towards a 19" tenor for the Beau Hannam Player's Model I have coming up.

Thanks for the Kimo reference. Will check it out.


I had a William King long scale tenor that I sold, probably my most regretted sale. I didn't notice any difference in the tension compared to my other tenors, which were all strung with the same Savarez strings. It did have a great amount of sustain and tremendous resonance. But it also had a slightly larger body than a traditional tenor.

Don't know if this helps you at all Hodge.

Thanks Dana. I value your opinion, and remember when you that William King long scale.

Dan Uke
02-06-2016, 03:29 PM
I would use 19" if I had different tuning but think it's too short for dgbe. I believe LFDM is making a 22+" bariton

BlackBearUkes
02-06-2016, 03:38 PM
Actually, the original baritone uke had a 19" scale length and was meant to be tuned to dgbe, like the first four strings of a guitar. Any scale length longer than 19" can easily be tuned dgbe, its the shorter scale lengths that give you problems. The recent baritone/tenor guitar that I made has a scale length of 21 1/4" and sounds more guitar like than uke.


I would use 19" if I had different tuning but think it's too short for dgbe. I believe LFDM is making a 22+" bariton

Dan Uke
02-06-2016, 04:03 PM
Actually, the original baritone uke had a 19" scale length and was meant to be tuned to dgbe, like the first four strings of a guitar. Any scale length longer than 19" can easily be tuned dgbe, its the shorter scale lengths that give you problems. The recent baritone/tenor guitar that I made has a scale length of 21 1/4" and sounds more guitar like than uke.

and I don't like 12 frets to the body. I like tenor ukes since it sounds like a mini guitar. :p.

I guess I'm not a uke traditionalist

Robin Harrison
02-07-2016, 04:16 PM
I'm not an expert player (yet !) but love the extra "real estate" you get with a 19". I've got big fingers and the little extra area between the frets makes it more natural to play. I could not get on at all with a soprano.
I do have a 17" tenor as well and it is cramped.....so it's mainly the way it feels to play.
How do they sound......?..............sweet, I'd say !
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFiN2qjSZ-Q&list=FLwb2ln72Pc-TzRU9g3mUESA&index=38
The only downsides for me is that once you get used to them (and love them), a 17" is cramped and 2nd, your choices are reduced whe you need to add to your collection.!.
Hope this helps.

70sSanO
02-07-2016, 05:48 PM
I have (2) 18" tenors and there are pluses with good sustain and a lot of tension to drive the soundboard.

But, if tuned to C, they can be a handful to find the right mix of strings. And tension is not for the faint of heart. I can't imagine a 19" tuned to C, especially re-entrant. Now tuning to Bb or G (baritone) is a different discussion.

John

DownUpDave
02-08-2016, 02:54 AM
I'm not an expert player (yet !) but love the extra "real estate" you get with a 19". I've got big fingers and the little extra area between the frets makes it more natural to play. I could not get on at all with a soprano.
I do have a 17" tenor as well and it is cramped.....so it's mainly the way it feels to play.
How do they sound......?..............sweet, I'd say !
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFiN2qjSZ-Q&list=FLwb2ln72Pc-TzRU9g3mUESA&index=38
The only downsides for me is that once you get used to them (and love them), a 17" is cramped and 2nd, your choices are reduced whe you need to add to your collection.!.
Hope this helps.

Wow Robin, your Lichty sounds absolutely amazing. Thanks for sharing that, I really enjoyed it.

For what it is worth I have a Gianinni baritone with a 19" scale and I find it has a nice balance of room witnout being too much of a stretch.

mmfitzsimons
02-08-2016, 07:40 AM
I agree with Robin — once I got a feel for the 19-inch neck on my Kanile'a super tenor, it made playing even a great 17-inch tenor feel a bit limiting. The sustain and resonance is off the charts... but my model also has a larger (bari size) lower bout, so I can't really say how much of that is long neck vs. hybrid body.

Feel wise... yeah, that long neck is heaven. :)

Jim Hanks
02-08-2016, 08:38 AM
But, if tuned to C, they can be a handful to find the right mix of strings. And tension is not for the faint of heart. I can't imagine a 19" tuned to C, especially re-entrant.

Once again, Southcoast to the rescue: http://www.southcoastukes.com/ukulele.htm
LMU should get you gCEA on 18" or 19" with no fuss.

70sSanO
02-08-2016, 10:50 AM
Once again, Southcoast to the rescue: http://www.southcoastukes.com/ukulele.htm
LMU should get you gCEA on 18" or 19" with no fuss.

Actually their LMU chart shows that a 20" scale can be tuned to C. The LMU string can be used from 15" to 20" scale and tuned to C.

From what I have seen, a 17" tenor has an overall tension of somewhere around 40lbs. A baritone is around 50lb, but it is tuned to G3 with a 19"(?) scale.

After almost 9 years with an 18" scale tenor, I am having a tough time imagining an "A" string being cranked all the way up to 440 on a 20" scale.

If it is possible, and still playable, I am really impressed.

John

Jim Hanks
02-08-2016, 02:07 PM
Actually their LMU chart shows that a 20" scale can be tuned to C. The LMU string can be used from 15" to 20" scale and tuned to C.
Tension very much depends on the string itself. With the LMU used for both 17 and 20, it should accommodate 18 and 19 just fine with tension lying somewhere between the 17 and 20". Using the right string you don't have to "crank up" - you crank to the proper tension and you're there. Obviously you don't want to try that with just any string set as damage to the instrument is certainly possible.