Friday, August 21, 2009

Paul Reed Smith Guitars | A Question of Scale Lengths

There are two basic guitar scale lengths in general use -- the 25 1/2" 'Fender' scale and the 24 3/4" 'Gibson' scale.

Just to clarify, a guitar's scale length is determined by measuring the string's length immediately after the nut to the exact point that it goes over the bridge. The scale length determines the tension of the strings when they're tuned to pitch, affecting how the instrument feels in general. Shorter scale lengths give the strings a more pliable feel and vice versa.

PRS based their earlier guitars exclusively on a unique 25" scale -- somewhere between the traditional Fender and Gibson scales.

And they have always set out to make the most versatile guitar possible. Primarily humbucker-equipped, PRS's were also capable of sparkly Fender-type tones by putting the pickups in series or out of phase with the selector switch.

And by using a 25" scale, PRS originally hoped to create an instrument that was capable of being the best of both worlds.

PRS now uses several scale lengths on its various models -- 24 1/2", 25", 25 1/4" and 25 1/2". Note that with a 24 1/2" scale, the tension of the strings when tuned to pitch would be identical to a 25 1/2" scale guitar tuned down a half-step -- commonly referred to as Eb tuning. This is the scale featured on the PRS Santana model.

For some time now the company has seemed to resist going with the full 'Fender' 25 1/2" scale.

Until now.

The recent release of their 305 model marks the first instrument they've produced with a 25 1/2" scale. Featuring a host of other decidedly Stratocaster-like accoutrements -- three single-coil pickups, 5-way pickup selector switch, tremelo system, a maple neck and an alder body -- the 305 falls squarely in the 'super strat' category.

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