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Thread: Scale Length

  1. #1
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    Default Scale Length

    This may be better directed to luthiers.

    I'm not talking about the standard ukulele scales of 13-1/2" soprano, 15" concert, and 17" tenor.

    But I've wondered if the perfect ukulele design would lead to tweaks of the scales based on different woods and designs/bracing. For instance, instead of a 17" tenor, would 17-1/2" tenor allow design changes for a slightly larger soundboard and possibly improve the sound even more? Maybe it is 17-3/8" for one and 17-5/8" for another.

    I've thought about this for a while since both my tenors are 18" scale (9" nut to 12th). There are benefits to the 18" scale, playability is not one of them, but I personally think the best length lies somewhere in between 17" and 18".

    Almost posed as... If you could have any scale length...?

    Any thoughts?

    John

  2. #2
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    Default

    I like both my tenors[17] and my baritones[19] , so 18 might be perfect!
    there is no substitute for LOVE

  3. #3
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by strumsilly View Post
    I like both my tenors[17] and my baritones[19] , so 18 might be perfect!
    Ahhh, but there is a rub. Baritone strings won't have enough tension on 18" and tenor strings have pretty high tension on 18", which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

    John

  4. #4
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    Default

    I think the magic isnt in the scale, but in the luthier.
    The good ones can make any size sound amazing.

  5. #5
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by spookelele View Post
    I think the magic isnt in the scale, but in the luthier.
    The good ones can make any size sound amazing.
    Agreed but I follow what John is saying. A slightly bigger body with the slightly longer scale length could yeild a bigger sound, at least in the lower registar for a low G.
    Currently enjoying these ukuleles : *LdfM tenor, *LfdM 19" super tenor. *LfdM baritone, *I'iwi tenor , *Koolau tenor, *Webber tenor, *Kimo tenor, *Kimo super concert, *Mya Moe baritone, *Kamaka baritone, *Gianinni baritone, *Fred Shields walnut pineapple super soprano, *Kala super soprano, *Loprinzi super soprano, *Black bear ULO concert , *Enya X1 concert, *Enya X1 pineapple soprano, *Enya Nova *Gretsch tenor, *Korala plastic concert

  6. #6
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    Default

    Once you start splitting inches I think you are really into the minutiae in terms on any kind of benefit - feel, tone, anything. There are real feel advantages (and disadvantages) to most of the inch gradations between say 14 and 20" as most of these equate to frets. For example, 16" concert is like capoing a tenor at 1st fret, 15" is like capoing a tenor at 2nd fret, etc. You can readily find examples of each so clearly there is a market for all the options - except 18" - those are extremely rare and probably for good reasons as #3 points out.
    Ukulele:
    Iriguchi Tenor "Weeble" - A, WoU Clarity
    Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE
    Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    Imua iET-Bb, M600
    Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    Rogue bari
    Bonanza super tenor, cFAD SC LHU
    Kala KSLNG, Eb SC XLU
    Hanson 5-string tenor, dGCEA
    Bonanza SLN GCEA
    Bonanzalele concert
    Guitars:
    Jupiter #47, G, TI CF127
    Pelem, B reentrant
    Jupiter #71, A, UG1

    !Flukutronic!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
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    at home below Lake Tahoe CA USA
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    Default

    My baritone feel soo much like a little guitar. I have other reasons not to like it but its replacement will be strung with Venezuelan cuatro strings because 1) that's cheaper than buying a cuatro and 2) it'll remind me it's NOT a little guitar.

    I've mentioned on mandolin fora that the mando family lacks the intermediates between ~13-14 inches (violin, mandolin, soprano 'uke) and ~19 inches (viola, mandola, baritone 'uke). I would be interested in a super-mandolin of ~15-16 inches (akin to a super-concert 'uke) but still tuned as a mandolin. The larger body would give more volume and enlarging the ff-holes to raise the resonant frequency could keep that in line with a mandolin's brightness. Yeah, a tenor mando, that's for me.

    But to get more volume and depth from a tenor 'uke, there's no need to go super-tenor with a longer-scale neck. Merely (hah!) build a larger tenor body -- greater depth, larger soundboards, side sound ports. Or just go with a resonator or banjo pot and steel strings. You want loud? You got it!

    Ukes: Alvarez 4- & Kala 6- & O.Schmidt 8-string tenors; 1 Ohana & 2 Kahalo sopranos; Harmonia concert & bari
    Mandos: Celtic (KE Coleman) & Soviet ovals; Kay & Rogue A-types; Harmonia F2 & mandola
    Banjos: Gretsch banjolin; Varsity banjolele; Orlando 5-string; fretless & fretted Cumbus o'uds
    Acoustic guitars: Martin Backpacker; Ibanez Performance; Art et Lutherie; Academy dobro; Ovation 12-string
    Others: Maffick & First Act dulcimers; Mexican cuatro-menor; Puerto Rican cuatro; Martin tiple; electrics
    Wanted: charango; balalaika; bowlback mando; Venezuelan cuatro; zithers

  8. #8
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    Feb 2013
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    Default

    john

    thanks for bringing up this topic. i'm a fan of the ancient world and their building techniques and have decided to build my tenor to the old cubit standard. there are actually at least several different measurements for the cubit. one taken off tombs in israel is 17.6" and i'm going with that. it's funny this is your feeling for the right territory.
    what i did was pick up my favilla baritone and put the left hand on the neck at the point it naturally fell when holding the body with the right. the hand rested about an inch and a half down from the nut, on the 19" scale that would make it 17.5". this seems to be a good ergonomic point for me.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    JoCo, NC (near Raleigh)
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    Default

    Haha! Good luck with the intonation on your "ancient building techniques cubit standard" uke.
    Ukulele:
    Iriguchi Tenor "Weeble" - A, WoU Clarity
    Blue Star 19" baritone Konablaster - DGBE
    Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    Imua iET-Bb, M600
    Covered Bridge CLN pineapple - Eb cuatro, SC XLL
    Rogue bari
    Bonanza super tenor, cFAD SC LHU
    Kala KSLNG, Eb SC XLU
    Hanson 5-string tenor, dGCEA
    Bonanza SLN GCEA
    Bonanzalele concert
    Guitars:
    Jupiter #47, G, TI CF127
    Pelem, B reentrant
    Jupiter #71, A, UG1

    !Flukutronic!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Sumter County, FL
    Posts
    1,556

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by k0k0peli View Post
    My baritone feel soo much like a little guitar. I have other reasons not to like it but its replacement will be strung with Venezuelan cuatro strings because 1) that's cheaper than buying a cuatro and 2) it'll remind me it's NOT a little guitar.

    I've mentioned on mandolin fora that the mando family lacks the intermediates between ~13-14 inches (violin, mandolin, soprano 'uke) and ~19 inches (viola, mandola, baritone 'uke). I would be interested in a super-mandolin of ~15-16 inches (akin to a super-concert 'ufke) but still tuned as a mandolin. The larger body would give more volume and enlarging the ff-holes to raise the resonant frequency could keep that in line with a mandolin's brightness. Yeah, a tenor mando, that's for me.

    But to get more volume and depth from a tenor 'uke, there's no need to go super-tenor with a longer-scale neck. Merely (hah!) build a larger tenor body -- greater depth, larger soundboards, side sound ports. Or just go with a resonator or banjo pot and steel strings. You want loud? You got it!
    But if the mandolinist got louder due to a larger body/scale, then the banjo player would just go from an 11-inch drum to a 13 (or larger) inch drum to continue to dominate volume-wise. This could be the start of a musical version of the arms race!
    ...SteveZ

    Ukuleles: Oscar Schmidt OU28T (T8), Lanikai LU-6 (T6), RISA Solid (C), Effin UkeStart (C)
    Banjo-Ukes: Duke 10 (T)*, Lanikai LB6-S (S)*
    Tenor Guitars: Martin TEN515, Blueridge BR-40T
    Tenor Banjo: Deering Goodtime 17-Fret
    Mandolin: Burgess (#7)***

    * CGDA reentrant, ***GDAE, The rest are CGDA

    The inventory is always in some flux, but that's part of the fun.

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