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View Full Version : Short or long scale: which is easier to build to quality & where to spend the money?



optofonik
12-17-2012, 06:36 AM
Due to the inherent intonation challenges of short scale instruments it seems that one can find a long scale instrument for relatively less than a short scale instrument of equal quality since the builder doesn't have as strict tolerances to achieve; again, I'm speaking in relative terms. So, if this is true, for someone wishing to own a uke of each size it would seem that relatively more money should be allocated for the shorter scale instruments than the longer scale ones of equal quality.

Or am I FoS?

Thanks again.

Louis0815
12-17-2012, 08:38 AM
I guess with regards to the "intonation challenges on short scale instruments" all ukuleles count as short scale. The overall quality usually increases with the price (in large terms...).

When you're talking about long scale vs short scale do you mean standard vs longneck on the same body size or rather the different uke sizes?

Apart from the technical aspect (building tolerances and the like), different scales always result in different sound. Chosing a uke simply by "value for $$$" doesn't do it any justice as the sound is the most important factor - and that sound depends on many more factors (incl. your individual preferences and moods).
Don't start calculating how many inches of scale you get out of a dollar with this model compared to that model - you might just not be happy with either one. Go out and find the uke that speaks to you when you touch and play it...

optofonik
12-17-2012, 09:59 AM
I guess with regards to the "intonation challenges on short scale instruments" all ukuleles count as short scale. The overall quality usually increases with the price (in large terms...).

When you're talking about long scale vs short scale do you mean standard vs longneck on the same body size or rather the different uke sizes?

Apart from the technical aspect (building tolerances and the like), different scales always result in different sound. Chosing a uke simply by "value for $$$" doesn't do it any justice as the sound is the most important factor - and that sound depends on many more factors (incl. your individual preferences and moods).
Don't start calculating how many inches of scale you get out of a dollar with this model compared to that model - you might just not be happy with either one. Go out and find the uke that speaks to you when you touch and play it...

I'm referring to ukulele size and strictly technical aspects, not sound. All things being equal there is, I imagine, a reason why intonation on a "cheap" ukulele will not be as good as on a more expensive custom made uke. I would think achieving the best intonation possible on a soprano would require more work than achieving the same level of accurate intonation on a longer scale instrument. Perhaps I sgould have posted this in the builder'ss/lutheir's forum but I would think players can tell a difference as well.

Louis0815
12-17-2012, 10:22 AM
For sure, precision is the key to good intonation.

It can be a result of craftmanship (lets leave material questions aside for a moment) - thus a carefully handmade uke will usually be better than a mass product smashed together by unskilled workers (Painting black and white, no offence intended). But, as always, there are exceptions like e.g. the Flea/Fluke with their molded plastic fretboards: their intonation is spot on despite being mass-manufactured and "cheap". Someone just had a clever idea and enough money to cover the initial funding - which for sure paid back on the long run.

Unfortunately I can't compare my ukes to e.g. guitars in a similar price range, but I have certain doubts that the guitars would be significantly better.

southcoastukes
12-18-2012, 02:35 PM
Due to the inherent intonation challenges of short scale instruments it seems that one can find a long scale instrument for relatively less than a short scale instrument of equal quality since the builder doesn't have as strict tolerances to achieve; again, I'm speaking in relative terms. So, if this is true, for someone wishing to own a uke of each size it would seem that relatively more money should be allocated for the shorter scale instruments than the longer scale ones of equal quality.

Or am I FoS?


Thanks again.


We build from 15" to 650mm, and the tolerances are just as strict on the small scales as the long ones. A bad note sounds bad no matter the size.

It's true that small scales can present problems quicker and they can be more pronounced when you play high up the neck with a set-up the builder didn't intend, but no amount of precision will change that.