Mandolin Scale Length. I think I messed up

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Mandolin Scale Length. I think I messed up

Postby Mark Wybierala » Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:09 am

My goal was to make an electric mandolin that was easier for me to play. A slightly wider fingerboard and the maximum scale length that the E-string would tolerate. I went on the interweb and looked up mandolin scale length and the article said something like 12-1/2 to 15. I made the instrument with a 15” scale length and I think it’s too long. Yesterday I broke two .010 strings tuning to pitch. I broke a .009 but was eventually able to get a pair of .009s to deal with the tension. I can try .008s but I really didn’t want this compromise. Maybe they won’t be as bad as I’m anticipating. When I did get it to pitch with the .009s it was awesome. Settling on it being a mandolla is not part of the plan :(
Mark Wybierala
 
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Re: Mandolin Scale Length. I think I messed up

Postby John Scime » Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:19 am

Depending on the type of music you're into playing, you could do like the old bluesmen such Yank Rachell, and tune it down 3 half-steps. They did this primarily because a lot of blues are played in E and A and this allowed them to take advantage of the mandolin's G and C scale runs, while playing in E or A, the keys everyone else is playing in.

Not of much use to you if you're wanting to play bluegrass...
John Scime
 
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Re: Mandolin Scale Length. I think I messed up

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:17 pm

Hi Mark,
Your scale length is too long for standard tuning. Neapolitan mandos usually have 13 inch S.L. and F5 types 13 7/8th inch. Much above that and the strings won't stand the tension. Also note: the breaking _pitch_ of a string is dependent on the material it's made of - not the thickness of the string. An .016" plain steel string will break at the same pitch as a .009" plain steel string (same pitch but higher tension to get there).
You can tune to a lower pitch and capo to get to standard tuning with your long scale mando.
Clay Schaeffer
 
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Re: Mandolin Scale Length. I think I messed up

Postby Mark Wybierala » Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:00 am

I dressed the holes in the tuning posts and refined the nut slots. Holding its own with a pair of .009s. I’ll test that idea about the string gauge and pitch and get back. Ernie Ball advertises that their new Paradigm strings are 30 to 70% stronger. I’m gonna try em out.
This instrument was kind of a prototype for a series of five or six. So glad I didn’t commit too far into the construction of more than one. I shoulda asked questions here before I went to a 15” scale.
Mark Wybierala
 
Posts: 389
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:14 am
Location: Central New Jersey

Re: Mandolin Scale Length. I think I messed up

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Sat Sep 14, 2019 1:25 pm

Different alloys may allow tuning up to a different pitch, and better made strings may allow a slightly higher tension and pitch before breaking, but it is better to design the instrument to have some leeway in it's tuning.
Here is a string tension calculator that can be used to help select the scale length to use: https://wahiduddin.net/calc/calc_guitar ... m_size.htm
Clay Schaeffer
 
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Re: Mandolin Scale Length. I think I messed up

Postby Mark Wybierala » Sat Sep 14, 2019 4:59 pm

Thanks Clay. I'll use that. I went to the local music store to get a set of those EB Paradigm strings and was informed that D'Addario NYXLs are about the same product. I've installed the .010s and so far they're holding. pitch. I need to see how long they last. The .009s sounded weak and thin with my pickup and I'll be greatfull if these new strings work out. I'll be keeping this instrument for myself. This was the prototype and I'll be making the others to a shorter scale of 13.8". I'm making another post to show off the instrument.
Mark Wybierala
 
Posts: 389
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:14 am
Location: Central New Jersey

Re: Mandolin Scale Length. I think I messed up

Postby Andrew Jerman » Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:09 am

I use a 14.5" scale length on almost everything I build but that is mostly single course electrics. The benefit is that the E string isn't so piercing when you play up the neck and it can be tuned CGDA or GDAE. Its hard to complete a four finger chord in first position but most electric players aren't using them any way. 15" is about the max that you can do and are really getting in to mandola range at that point. Try tuning it CGDA. I use .0010P, .014P, .024W and .038W on mine.
Andrew Jerman
 
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Re: Mandolin Scale Length. I think I messed up

Postby Mark Wybierala » Sat Sep 21, 2019 3:41 pm

The NYXLs are doing fine. Ernie Ball will not be offering their Paradigm strings in singles for another year. DAddario sell singles on line. I’m digging this instrument. I’ve revised my templates for a 13.8 scale and it’s awesome and encouraging that someone routinely does 14+”.
Mark Wybierala
 
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Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:14 am
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