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Neck scale length question


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I put a Warmoth neck on a Telecaster. The neck is a Gibson scale length conversion neck - so it measures 12 1/4 inches from nut to 12th fret. The measurement from 12th fret to bridge is 12 5/8 inches. Normally, guitars are made so that both measurements are equal. Why? This guitar intonates perfectly with this neck. I always thought intonation was the reason for the two measurements to be the same. Am I missing something here?

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Ideally, they'd be the same. But in the real world, when you press down on a string, a few things happen. One is that you increase the tension on the string slightly, which would cause it to go sharp. Another is that the string's proportions effectively change, becoming thicker relative to length. Both of those things require that there be some compensation at the bridge. Probably, there are other effects I'm not thinking of. But the important thing is that, if it works, it works.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/19/2021 at 10:33 AM, isaac42 said:

Ideally, they'd be the same. But in the real world, when you press down on a string, a few things happen. One is that you increase the tension on the string slightly, which would cause it to go sharp. Another is that the string's proportions effectively change, becoming thicker relative to length. Both of those things require that there be some compensation at the bridge. Probably, there are other effects I'm not thinking of. But the important thing is that, if it works, it works.

It works, so I guess I shouldn't worry about it, but I still don't understand why guitars are designed so the two measurements are the same if intonation works when they aren't the same. I would guess that it's best if they are equal. And at some point of different lengths intonation would become impossible. I must be within a reasonable difference that still allows intonation.:idea: But still, they aren't the same and it does intonate. WTF?

And I don't understand what you mean about string thickness relative to length. Strings are the same thickness over their entire length.

The BIG QUESTION I had, which nether of you answered, is: Is intonation the reason guitars are designed with the two measurements equal (nut to 12th fret and 12th fret to bridge)? That's what I always thought. Yet mine intonates even thought there is a 3/8-inch difference.

Edited by Hoot Owl
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When you fret a string its effective length changes. It becomes shorter and it's thickness becomes greater in proportion. And yes, intonation is the reason the 12th fret marks the approximate midpoint. And FWIW, compensation is based on the thickness of the string's core. That's why an unwound 3rd string, which is all "core," requires more compensation than an otherwise thicker, wound 4th.

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Hoot...are all the harmonics in their usual places [4, 5, 7, etc?] over the frets?

Where on the bridge are you measuring from? Because the bridge has at least 3 separate points to measure from [I'm assuming this is a Tele bridge]

 

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On 3/20/2021 at 11:30 AM, Hoot Owl said:

It works, so I guess I shouldn't worry about it, but I still don't understand why guitars are designed so the two measurements are the same if intonation works when they aren't the same. I would guess that it's best if they are equal. And at some point of different lengths intonation would become impossible. I must be within a reasonable difference that still allows intonation.:idea: But still, they aren't the same and it does intonate. WTF?

And I don't understand what you mean about string thickness relative to length. Strings are the same thickness over their entire length.

The BIG QUESTION I had, which nether of you answered, is: Is intonation the reason guitars are designed with the two measurements equal (nut to 12th fret and 12th fret to bridge)? That's what I always thought. Yet mine intonates even thought there is a 3/8-inch difference.

Yes, the string's thickness is the same over its entore length. So, if you change the length, as by fretting, you change the thickness to length ratio. That also changes the stiffness. As in pretty much everything, if you change any one thing, it affects everything.

As for the Big Question, it's actually the other way around. The frets are placed where they are in order to get the correct note, properly intonated, when you fret it. Early instruments didn't have adjustable bridges, so they had adjustable frets. The frets were pieces of string or gut wrapped around the neck, and the player adjusted the position of the fret to get the proper intonation. As it happens, the octave fret needed to be pretty close to exactly halfway between the nut and the bridge, which is right where you'd expect it to be.

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59 minutes ago, isaac42 said:

Yes, the string's thickness is the same over its entore length. So, if you change the length, as by fretting, you change the thickness to length ratio. That also changes the stiffness. As in pretty much everything, if you change any one thing, it affects everything.

As for the Big Question, it's actually the other way around. The frets are placed where they are in order to get the correct note, properly intonated, when you fret it. Early instruments didn't have adjustable bridges, so they had adjustable frets. The frets were pieces of string or gut wrapped around the neck, and the player adjusted the position of the fret to get the proper intonation. As it happens, the octave fret needed to be pretty close to exactly halfway between the nut and the bridge, which is right where you'd expect it to be.

Thanks. That makes sense.

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On 3/21/2021 at 10:58 PM, daddymack said:

Hoot...are all the harmonics in their usual places [4, 5, 7, etc?] over the frets?

Where on the bridge are you measuring from? Because the bridge has at least 3 separate points to measure from [I'm assuming this is a Tele bridge]

 

I haven't tried all the harmonics. I know seven and twelve work, though.

The bridge I'm measuring as an average of the string fulcrum points (each being slightly different). None of them are close to making 12 to bridge the same as nut to 12.

I'm satisfied with the intel I've received. As long as it works, I'm good, and it works. I've learned some things, however, from you learned souls.

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