Hi! all. a quick question about scale lengths. As a guitarist, I always preferred the shorter 24.75" Gibson Scale length as opposed to the Fender 25.5". I was wondering if banjo manufacturers/Luthiers do similar, and if so which makes are the shorter scale length.
You'll find that scale length differences come from an entirely different perspective when discussing banjos.There are also vastly different perspectives when relating the difference between scale length preferences for open back and "bluegrass" players. You can read a bit more about the determining characteristics on my "open back design" page HERE, it's the first topic on the jump list "Scale Length".
Most large-scale manufacturers have their standard scale lengths, which would be in the 26 3/8" range for "Gibson Mastertone"- like banjos and in the 27" range for "Vega and Whyte-Laydie types. Some companies, like Deering, make a few variations, such as their "John Hartford" model.
Custom builders who can make their own fingerboards will make anything you want. As an example, I have made banjos with 4 different scale lengths just this year
Many thanks everyone. Especially Rudy. I had a look at your write up. Very informative. I still can't seem to find a list of all the Deering Scale lengths though. I'll have a look on the Eagle Music Website and Google.
I've learned that, since scale lengths determine a banjos bridge position on the head, they have a direct influence on how a given banjo will sound when accurately intonated. That and, within a given scale length, how much neck material (space) there is between the last fret and the rim. The slight difference might not seem to matter but it does, and that's a whole 'nother can of worms.