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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Tangledwood Tech: Acoustic Guitar scale length (9) RE: Tech: Acoustic Guitar scale length 24 Jan 11

On a mandolin forum there are often questions from newbies regarding why mandolins are harder on the fingers than guitars. The answer frequently given is "greater string tension on the mandolin". However if you look at tension charters in general you'll find the opposite is true.

Somebody finally posted a diagram that showed the geometry involved. I can't reproduce it here but basically it showed two inverted triangles. The bases were the unfretted string; the hypotenuses are the fretted string - one from nut to fretboard and the other from bridge to fretboard. The remaining side, common to both triangles, is the distance from fretboard to unfretted string.

With a shorter scale length that third side is a greater proportion of the hypotenuses, that relationship translating to greater force.

How true all that is I don't know. Of course I'm sure that a mandolin having two strings fretted might be relevant too.

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