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View Full Version : Tenor scale length 17 vs 18"



johnson430
09-30-2016, 12:04 PM
So what is the difference? Does 18" add more frets or more space between the frets?
Thanks.

ps: I did a quick google search but didn't see anything relevant, there might be something on UU but I didn't look it up because the fish are biting so I am hoping someone can help me out while I try to catch some snapper for dinner. =)

Mezcalero
09-30-2016, 12:33 PM
I have Kamaka HF-3 and Kamaka HF-3L. The HF-3L stands for long neck, and it has a 19" scale, which in my limited experience is the standard on long neck tenors. Kanile'a occasionally makes them, and I regret not buying the one HMS had for sale recently.

I am new to uke, but I have invested heavily in my new addiction. If you explain to me how to attach photo I will send picture of them side by side. My observations:
1) The long neck model connects to the body at the 15th fret rather than the 14th fret.
2) The frets on the long neck model are wider in between and much easier to play and get great tone up the neck
3) The body is the same, but tone has more low end and depth overall. I guess simplified it sounds somewhere in between tenor and baritone. I can say this comfortably because I also have an HF-4 baritone.

Hope this helps!

Croaky Keith
09-30-2016, 12:38 PM
As the scale length increases - so does the spacing of the frets. :)

Mezcalero
09-30-2016, 01:05 PM
94675 trying to upload photo

johnson430
09-30-2016, 02:00 PM
Awesome. Thanks Mezcalero and uke1950.
I am getting a custom uke made and I think it might suit my playing style to get an 18".

DownUpDave
09-30-2016, 02:21 PM
Awesome. Thanks Mezcalero and uke1950.
I am getting a custom uke made and I think it might suit my playing style to get an 18".

I have never heard of a 18" scale length on a tenor, 19" yes. I am assuming you are talking about the Ono you have ordered. I would guess the fret spacing would be a bit larger and it would remain 14 frets to the body. Again I have never heard of a 18" but David Ingalls would be the best guy to ask.

He does a 16" concert which is one inch longer than standard so anything is possible. I have one and love it, Dave build great instruments

jollyboy
09-30-2016, 02:31 PM
The string tension must be pretty high at 18/19" I would imagine. I've only just now built up enough finger strength to barre cleanly on a 17" tenor :)

anthonyg
09-30-2016, 02:34 PM
The question was answered. Longer scale lengths have more distance between frets. Here's how it works/ you should think about it.

No matter what the scale length of an instrument. The 12th fret is ALWAYS at exactly at the halfway mark. The scale length could be 12", 20" or 30". It doesn't matter. The 12th fret is always half way. That's just the maths involved.

Now, longer scale length instruments can have more frets between the 12th fret and the saddle, but there is always 12 frets between the middle and the nut.

Anthony

saltytri
09-30-2016, 02:44 PM
The string tension must be pretty high at 18/19" I would imagine. I've only just now built up enough finger strength to barre cleanly on a 17" tenor :)

You wouldn't necessarily use the same string set for a 18" as for a 17". For instance, Southcoast ML would be about right for 17" and LML would be about right for 18" (assuming linear C tuning).

johnson430
09-30-2016, 02:44 PM
I have never heard of a 18" scale length on a tenor, 19" yes. I am assuming you are talking about the Ono you have ordered. I would guess the fret spacing would be a bit larger and it would remain 14 frets to the body. Again I have never heard of a 18" but David Ingalls would be the best guy to ask.

He does a 16" concert which is one inch longer than standard so anything is possible. I have one and love it, Dave build great instruments

Hey, Dave,
Yes, it is on his specs page, check it out:
http://www.onoukes.com/specs/

Ukulele Eddie
09-30-2016, 02:53 PM
In addition to what others have indicated, if/how the number of frets to the body changes depends on the builder. Ideally, they want to keep the bridge in the sweet spot of the body which can change the number of frets to the body ("clear"). As @anthonyg points out, the 12th fret will always be the mid-point of the entire fretboard.

johnson430
09-30-2016, 02:57 PM
No snapper today but I caught a beautiful chocolate grouper. He was returned safely to the sea.
94679

DownUpDave
09-30-2016, 03:51 PM
Hey, Dave,
Yes, it is on his specs page, check it out:
http://www.onoukes.com/specs/

Wow.....very interesting.....I had no idea thanks so much for the info. I have played a 19" long neck Kamaka tenor and it is great. I have a 19" baritone I like the extra room. A 18" tenor would be great, espeically playing above the 7th fret. Damn now I got one more reason to own another Ono;)

Jim Hanks
09-30-2016, 04:12 PM
I'm a fan of 16" concert, 17" tenor and 19" baritone. 18"? Hmm. Ok, I guess, but not all that enthused for myself. I don't see it adding any real versatility to my toolbox.

johnson430
09-30-2016, 05:10 PM
Wow.....very interesting.....espeically playing above the 7th fret. Damn now I got one more reason to own another Ono;)

Dave,
You are thinking like me. I have played a 19" bari and like the extra space on the other side of the 7th fret.

Not that you need any coaxing to get another Ono but...
I don't want to say too much without David's permission but I am working with him to try some "new things" with my build. One thing is a different bridge design. (but I am already saying too much)
Send him an email and get him to send you a photo so I don't get in any hot water. =)

WCBarnes
09-30-2016, 05:13 PM
with slightly thinner strings.

Aside from the fret spacing, this is another factor. :agree:

The longer scale will allow you to play with lighter gauge strings giving you a little more clarity.

Mezcalero
09-30-2016, 05:38 PM
Aside from the fret spacing, this is another factor. :agree:

The longer scale will allow you to play with lighter gauge strings giving you a little more clarity.

I agree with this. As a matter of fact, I am working on getting my own custom customer concoction string set going at Strings by mail using Savarez strings for my long neck Kamaka so that it has the same feel as the strings I am using on my 17" tenors. I have to thank original poster for directing me to this option at Strings by mail :)

saltytri
09-30-2016, 05:46 PM
Dave,

I don't want to say too much without David's permission but I am working with him to try some "new things" with my build. One thing is a different bridge design. (but I am already saying too much)
Send him an email and get him to send you a photo so I don't get in any hot water. =)

Secrets on UU? When did that start? :) In the spirit of full disclosure, here are some photos of the bridge that Jason is talking about. This is a Bolivian rosewood tenor that just got strung up today:

https://c8.staticflickr.com/9/8767/29407579223_09de9f1f97_b.jpg

https://c6.staticflickr.com/6/5143/29951069781_c9f86096e1_b.jpg

https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5642/29407579633_244c31440a_b.jpg

bellgamin
09-30-2016, 05:48 PM
I searched tenor ukes at Ebay & all I could find was 17" scale lengths. IS THERE any mid-price ($400 or less) uke brand that offers a tenor with 18" or 19" scale length?

saltytri
09-30-2016, 05:51 PM
Since Jason induced me to hijack his thread, I'll just keep on going.

This is the new MOP peg head inlay:

https://c4.staticflickr.com/9/8395/29951068771_ebb6c58831_b.jpg

The new bridge also went on this 19" maple baritone that will get strung up shortly:

https://c4.staticflickr.com/6/5451/29407578323_0ca5c631a8_b.jpg

https://c4.staticflickr.com/8/7471/29951070851_cde5765e15_b.jpg

https://c2.staticflickr.com/9/8129/29407578793_8553175c56_b.jpg

Mezcalero
09-30-2016, 06:07 PM
Damn, just when I thought I had satisfied my UAS, I am now envisioning an 18" scale 5 string tenor with so many woods to choose from. Nice way to discover Ono ukuleles!

saltytri
09-30-2016, 06:12 PM
You sort of hit upon my motto/lament: "So much wood, so little time!"

OhioBelle
09-30-2016, 06:14 PM
You sort of hit upon my motto/lament: "So much wood, so little time!"

And such beautiful wood, too. Jaw-dropping, that maple.

saltytri
09-30-2016, 06:29 PM
Yes, it's pretty spectacular. I've kept the new owner drooling for way too long and need to get it out the door soon!

johnson430
09-30-2016, 07:30 PM
David,
You can hijack my threads with photos any time you want.
The new peg head inlay looks great and the bridge looks even better when it is strung up.
BTW, those ukes look amazing.

southcoastukes
10-01-2016, 06:55 AM
Congratulations to both prospective owner and luthier on what looks to be a fine instrument.

This type of innovation is one of the reasons we offer so many different gauge sets. No matter what the scale, chances are you can find something to give you the sound you're looking for.

And while a lot of folks on this forum think of Linear tuning first for Tenors, don't sleep on reentrant stringing. A lower pitch with the standard reentrant form sounds great on most Tenors, and as Barnes mentioned, you can then go to lighter gauges for a clearer sound than you'd have at 17". If you need to play in C tuning for group play from time to time, a capo puts you back there and you may still (depending on where you've tuned) have around the same room left on the fretboard as folks playing a 17" scale.

As long as you're flexible in tuning with your solo play, then the other consideration is how does it feel. When I saw this posting, it reminded me of a comment I got from Byron Yasui a while back:


A 20 inch scale would be too large for my size fingers. 19 is pushing it and 17 is a bit tight when I go very high. 18 appears to be ideal, but who'll go thru the trouble? Bottom line: human hands come in all sizes. Ideally, 'ukes, whether tenor or bari body, should be built with a variety of neck length/string scales: 16, 17, 18, 19, and, sure, even 20. Maybe these could be scaled down a bit for soprano and alto bodied 'ukes.

johnson430
10-01-2016, 07:02 AM
Damn, just when I thought I had satisfied my UAS, I am now envisioning an 18" scale 5 string tenor with so many woods to choose from. Nice way to discover Ono ukuleles!

Here are the backs he offered me.

English Walnut
94697

Bolivian rosewood (same board as #38 in my Gallery)
94698

Cherry:
94699

Maple:
94700

Madrone:
94701

Not pictured: Basket weave Bastogne walnut (the one I picked)

johnson430
10-01-2016, 07:05 AM
The Basket weave Bastogne walnut:

94702

David told me this photo doesn't come close to revealing the true beauty of this wood.