What is a Multiscale Guitar?
Simply put, a multi scale guitar is a guitar with multiple scale lengths across different strings.
This blog is going to talk about what the point of multiscale is, and why you might want a multiscale guitar.
To start with, we must understand that the scale length of a guitar is the playable length of the string from the bridge to the nut, and different types of guitars have different scale lengths. For example, our TC59s have a 25.5” scale length, which typical of this style of guitar, and our AP1 and LP59 models have a shorter, 24.75” scale length. These are historically the most common guitar scale lengths, made popular by the largest guitar brands of the 50s, 60s, and 70s.
Bass guitars usually have between a 30” and 34” scale length (or sometimes reaching up to 37”!) and baritones often have anything from 27” and up. On the other end of the spectrum, instruments like Ukuleles, violins or mandolins go as short as 13”.
Why Use Different Scale Lengths?
The general idea is that low notes work better on longer scale lengths, and higher notes work better on shorter scale lengths. You can see this in grand piano or harp design, which feature super long string lengths for their bass strings, and super short for their highs.
The thicker strings used for lower notes benefit from a longer scale length as they vibrate at a different rate than the thinner, higher strings, and the increased tension of the longer scale length ensures they react similarly to their thinner counterparts.
In the guitar world scale length has a huge impact on the feel of an instrument:
- Physically it changes how far your arm has to reach
- It is probably the most important factor in determining the tension on the strings
- It has an important role in affecting the tonal characteristics of a certain note
Some electric guitars like our Solaris try to get the best of both worlds by offering 25” scale guitars, as a compromise between the more commonly used 25.5” and 24.75” options. In many ways this results in an entirely new feel and sound which is very cool in its own right, and has become a very popular choice for more modern instruments.
The other method of achieving this ‘best of both worlds’ scenario is to take the concept used in the grand piano and apply it to the guitar in a multi-scale instrument.
We can have the high e string set at the 24.75” scale length so we can bend like Angus Young, and the low E set at 25.5” so our lower riffage and rhythm parts are still chunky and thick.
This multiple scale length is achieved by setting your bridge and nut at angles facing away from each other and having the frets fan out along their specific scale length. This harp-like design results in even string tension when using standard gauge strings and ends up being very fast and ergonomically comfortable, making this style of instrument favoured by prog players like Plini and Tosin Abasi.
If you extend this theory, and you want baritone lows, but you still want to shred up high, then the best answer is shorter on top, longer on the bottom.
If you want to go low; go long. If you want to go high; go short. If you want to do both; do both.
That is the purpose of multi scale.