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Diminished Arpeggio Fingerings and Short Scale Guitars

ChiefbigeasyChiefbigeasy New Orleans, LA✭✭✭ Dupont MDC 50; The Loar LH6, AJL Silent Guitar
in Technique Posts: 318
Happy Holidays, gypsy brothers and sisters. Here's a two-fer topic for your consideration.

I've been studying the "Dark Eyes" solos, especially the one on Stochelo's site, and noted that he likes to run those fast diminished arpeggio runs primarily with his 1st and 3rd fingers (In fact, I think I've even heard him stated that he often prefers primarily his 1st three fingers because they are stronger.) I've kind of adopted that approach and noticed that it has some advantages, especially when double-downstroking it. I'm trying to get used to doing it all of the time, but there's a notable difference sweeping down versus going in the opposite direction. I'm also retraining my brain/fingers/coordination to get used to the idea. There are, however, times when using the 1st and 4th fingers makes more sense. This causes my brain some confusion and it manifests itself as fumbled notes. Just wondering how ya'll may have approached this problem.

Also, I may have mentioned that I picked up an L5 copy called "The Loar" awhile back. It's a nice looking blond f-hole acoustic that is a tremendous sounding rhythm machine. What I didn't realize when I bought it (used at Guitar Center with funky old strings and a rigged contact pickup) was that it is a short scale guitar.

The connection in my post is this: not only are the diminished arpeggios easier to play, just about everything is easier to play. I noticed a very nice Dupont short scale Michael's got for sale and I have occasionally seriously thought of going all short scale. Does anyone play these on a regular basis? Do any pros prefer them for some reason? Do they have a characteristic sound?

Thanks for all comments.


  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    edited December 2015 Posts: 1,811
    Well, I've got a 2013 Castellucia f-hole model with a short scale (650mm = 25.5")
    that's really fun and easy to play. But I usually finger my diminished runs the opposite way from the usual "Django" way so I haven't really noticed a lot of difference there.

    But I'm curious about your Loar arch top... I'd like to buy one, too, but I'm afraid to buy one without the opportunity to try it first. Hope my local music store gets one in, too.

    In my experience all (non-electric) arch tops, including the most expensive models, vary widely in quality and I wouldn't buy one without getting a chance to have my mitts on it...
    Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

    Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."

    Georges Braque: "In art there is only one thing that counts: the bit that can’t be explained."
  • I play a Dupont MD20 short scale. It's my go to GJ guitar right now. I mostly play rhythm.

    My other GJ guitar is a Dunn which is a long scale. It just takes a bit of getting used to the stretch for me. If one is getting stiff in the joints a short scale would be much easier To play IMO.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Agree. I play mainly rhythm on my long scale Dupont, which is OK. Soloing took awhile to get used to, with old stiff fingers, as @Jazzaferri says! Sorta wish I had a short sale!
  • wimwim ChicagoModerator Barault #503 replica
    Posts: 1,344
    ...and I have occasionally seriously thought of going all short scale. Does anyone play these on a regular basis? Do any pros prefer them for some reason? Do they have a characteristic sound?

    I can't think any pros who prefers a short scale instrument. From what I've seen, they all use a long scale guitar. Many do use a D-hole, but they're using long scale D-hole instruments.

    In my experience short scale guitars have a weaker sound in comparison, particularly in the higher register. That's not really a problem for rhythm/accompaniment, but for lead playing the short scale guitars will almost always start to weaken out up above the 12th fret. It's right where you want the guitar to punch and cut above the band, as a the soloist.

    Another big thing is the string tension. It's lower on the short scales, and this actually effects playability. The sound is often fine in the mids, but if you're a hard hitter the strings are going to feel a bit too "floppy" there. It's hard to explain why, but I think it's something to do with the rest stroke not "bouncing" off the string below with enough force. It's like a trampoline with too much slack in it, or when the tires in your bike need a bit more air, or something.

    I'm not saying this as a long scale player who tried short scale once or twice and found it weird and unfamiliar. Actually, I played short scale for many years. When I changed to a long scale D hole it took a long time to get used to the new feel, greater distance between notes etc, but it was definitely an upgrade in both the sound and the playability.
  • my DuPont MDC 20 is a maple back and sides short scale. Once I got the strings sorted so it wasn't too bright..... Fisoma 11s .... It has never had a problem being heard on rhythm even outside noisy market acoustic. Really punchy rhythm, doesn't break up when I whack it hard.

    Certainly doesn't have the volume of the Dunn on single string.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • ChiefbigeasyChiefbigeasy New Orleans, LA✭✭✭ Dupont MDC 50; The Loar LH6, AJL Silent Guitar
    Posts: 318
    Regarding "The Loar" archtop guitar, there are a few video reviews of the guitar on YouTube, including an official one by Mr. Mehling from San Francisco. The later models are sunburst, but the used on I got is blond all around. It sounds great as a rhythm guitar strung with some bronze gypsy jazz strings. Lead lines are nice as well, albeit not as loud as my regular scale petit bouche guitar. The area available for lead lines is a little limited because there is no cutaway in this model. I bought it with no pickup, but you can get it with one or add one aftermarket. The same company makes a number of archtop styles that have received various review. I agree with playing one to decide, but I'm very happy with mine.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,277
    Somewhat tangential topic but regarding archtops, in my experience, a good archtop has a great rhythm sound but for leads the higher register is usually pretty weak. As far as acoustic guitars, for single note stuff a good Selmac is typically much louder than an archtop and also easier to amplify (i.e. somewhat less prone to feedback).

    BTW, I think the standard Gibson archtop scale length is something like 24 5/8"? I.e. about 625.5mm
  • mandocatmandocat Santa Rosa, CA✭✭✭ Rodrigo Shopis, Eastman 905CE
    Posts: 82

    Regarding diminished runs: I'm assuming you are referring to the "en escalier" or "stairs" run which climbs upward across the strings. Although I've seen some books say to finger this with index and pinky (Romane and others), I've found that I prefer 1 and 3. In particular the move from the 3rd to 2nd strings (or 2nd to 3rd if you're going the other direction) seems awkward with 1 and 4 since it's a 1 fret jump. I use 1st and 2nd fingers for crossing the 2nd and 3rd strings (either direction). So if I going from the G string to the B string I would use 1 and 2 on the G and 1 and 3 on the B string. I do use the pinky on some of the other diminished runs that are more straight across the fretboard. It gets down to personal preference.

    One of the regulars at our local jam plays a Shelley Park custom short scale D hole.
    She has small hands and its perfect for her. Sounds great.
  • Charles MeadowsCharles Meadows WV✭✭✭ ALD Original, Dupont MD50
    Posts: 432
    Agree with Wim on the short scale in general. Doesn't cut as much. But a little easier to play. For the dminished runs I've taken to doing them like Stochelo with all 2 note sweeps ascending.
  • Al WatskyAl Watsky New JerseyVirtuoso
    Posts: 440
    I talk about string return .
    With the long scale, because of the increased tension the string returns to its starting point more quickly. Thats the perception. Science ?
    So your response seems much quicker.
    Although guys talk about short scale and medium scale as being a good choice for this or that and long scale being for other chores the fact remains that all scales can be built to sound good. But the response differs due to the string tension.
    I like to use the long scale guitar and in my case I still prefer it for rhythm for the same reason. Its faster and tighter. Especially my main gig guitar which started out as a shrill beast but has deepened and broadened since I started playing it after fixing some cracks.
    Everything can sound great.
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