The Physical Beauty of Multi-Scale on Lava Drop Guitars
There is something intriguing when you see a multi-scale guitar. After decades of seeing classic instruments with perpendicular necks and frets, seeing an instrument that has fanned frets does present an air of mysticism and sophistication, with an air of innovation. Lava Drop Guitars was founded on the basis of innovation; multi-scale necks are part of the innovation that we bring to our instruments.
So, why after years of guitars having one scale across all strings would someone choose a multi-scaled neck? The answer lies in the sound, the ergonomics and the advantages it brings to various styles of music.
Let’s start with the sound, and let’s start by considering another stringed instrument: the piano.
The beauty of the piano lies in one of nature’s greatest absolutes: physics. If you open the instrument to see the strings, you will notice that the strings for the lower pitches are much longer than the strings for the higher notes. This is due to the amount of tension that is needed to get the strings up to pitch; lower notes will always require a longer length to get the tension needed to sound right, while higher strings need less length.
Traditionally, single-scale necks can present challenges for lower notes or those who use lower tunings. It’s no secret that the lower you tune a guitar, the looser the string becomes, sacrificing a tight sound for something that sounds “floppy” (mostly because the string is doing just that).
You can also easily see the difference the scale length can make on a regular set of 10-46 strings. These strings on an S-style or T-style guitar (which traditionally has a scale length of 25.5”) tuned to A 440 will feel tighter under the fingers than that same set of strings on an LP-style guitar (which has a scale length of 24.75”).
Multi-scale necks apply that same principle from the piano to the guitar, allowing the lower strings to be longer, tighter and more resonant, eliminating the “floppy” sound, while keeping the higher-pitched strings at a more “standard” length where they sound and play their best.
Another advantage to using a multi-scale neck is ergonomics. Some players may have a look at a multi-scale neck and immediately wonder “how am I going to play that? Are things such as barred chords going to be a challenge?” Well, the answers to those are yes, and not as much as you think it might!
The fret fanning on a multi-scale neck actually helps your hands adjust to the neck while chording. When we play certain chords at certain points of a single-scaled neck, our wrist and hand tend to crunch up, or turn in ways that don’t feel as natural, making it somewhat difficult (not to mention uncomfortable) to play, such as a barred chord above the 12th fret.
With a multi-scaled neck’s fanned frets, frets above the 12th fret will fan towards the bridge, allowing your fingers and wrist to stay in a more relaxed and natural position while playing certain chords. Barring chords at the first and second frets will also feel better since the frets also follow hand and wrist placement as they move away from the body.
These features present different advantages for various styles of music. The ergonomics allow much more ease for different passages and techniques; some of the most technical players today have created wondrous music thanks in part to the advantages that multi-scale necks provide. Bass notes are tight and focused, while the higher strings retain fantastic tone and brilliance.
Having better tension in the lower registers of the instrument means a better sound for players of heavy music. Lower riffs are much tighter, and any possibility of pitch wobble due to looser strings is all but eliminated.
And let’s not forget about the aesthetics. Multi-scale necks present something new and exciting to the eye, especially after years of seeing players perform on single-scale necks. The fanning of the frets creates a beautiful flow that compliments the bodies of our guitars. The hidden incorporation of physics continues our goal to blend nature and modern design into our instruments.
Our standard multi-scale option offers 25.5” for the high E string. To 26.5” for the lower E string for a standard 6-stringed guitar. For our basses, the scale lengths start at 34” on the G string to 35” on the E string for a 4-stringed bass.
Because our instruments are built to order, you are not necessarily limited to this. We can accommodate various multi-scale lengths for 6, 7 and 8 stringed guitars, as well as 4, 5 and 6-stringed basses. So get in touch with us and let’s see what we can create together.