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Dec 1, 2020 - 12:57:09 PM
38 posts since 11/28/2020
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Hi All,
I am just starting down the banjo road. I have been hacking on a guitar for the last year and will continue my journey, however I have always wanted to learn the banjo.

I have a Pisgah banjo on order and the only thing I really don't know about is which scale to choose.
Since you are all players I am looking for advice on playability, any change in sound between the two, etc..

I am fully aware that this is like asking which strings are the best.... all open to personal preference. But I need to start somewhere.

Thanks for taking the time to help me out.

Dec 1, 2020 - 1:04:36 PM
Players Union Member



17 posts since 3/5/2018

The 25.5" scale is probably the same as the guitar you learned on. I personally like the shorter 25.5" scale as the tension on the strings is slightly lower and the fret spacing a little tighter than the 26.25" scale. Hope you enjoy your new banjo.

Dec 1, 2020 - 1:40:49 PM

45 posts since 8/20/2019

I have a Pisgah Wonder with 25.5” scale and like that scale length. I have two other banjos with 26.25" scale lengths and I honestly don't notice when I switch between them, but I have smallish hands and LIKE the idea of the shorter scale. :)

Edited by - Doug Brock on 12/01/2020 13:49:17

Dec 1, 2020 - 2:46:30 PM
likes this

Bill H


1483 posts since 11/7/2010

I have several Vegas with 27" scale. What I like is the tension and sound they produce.
One advantage of a short scale (25 1/2") is that you can tune it up to A or D without a capo. I have one that I leave tuned up in double D. So versatility is one advantage o f a short scale.

Dec 1, 2020 - 6:57:07 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)


24250 posts since 6/25/2005

My banjo scale lengths range from 25.5 to 27. I’m fine with any of them, but Bill’s point about tuning up is a good one.

Dec 2, 2020 - 12:18:29 AM

3157 posts since 4/29/2012

My primary banjo is a standard scale Vega copy (27" ?). I also have a Goodtime Parlor with a much shorter scale. I don't really notice any difference in playability when playing them (except that the longer banjo is also a much classier - and pricier - act, so more responsive and easier to play) . On my standard banjo I spend as much time (maybe more) in A/D with a capo on the second fret as uncapoed in G/C. Again I don't really notice much difference in playability. When learning or practicing an A/D tune alone I usually don't bother to capo and play it in G/C. I would caution against getting a short scale banjo as a beginner, where things like the notorious 'full F' chord seem easier. That's something that will become easier with time anyway.

Dec 2, 2020 - 2:06:06 AM

1515 posts since 4/25/2007

What is the pot size on the Pisgah ?

Dec 2, 2020 - 9:14:05 AM



631 posts since 7/4/2017

If you've got small hands it might be worth actively seeking out a shorter than normal scale. I find a 'standard'(don't bite me anyone) 26.25 scale quite a stretch for my smaller hands. However you will likely be playing in A/DD as often as G and capoed up to fret 2 so effectively shortened to a 24ish scale a lot of the time anyway.

Also if you wish to tune the banjo up to A/DD without using a capo a shorter 25.5 scale will be useful so as not to put super amounts of tension on the strings.

As for getting a scale length the same as your guitar, I don't think that's important at all as the neck will have a completely different feel.

I guess my gist is not to sweat it too much, you'll probably be alright with whatever you get.

Edited by - AndyW on 12/02/2020 09:17:28

Dec 2, 2020 - 10:40:59 AM

5853 posts since 9/21/2007
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It is interesting how as we humans become larger/taller, banjo scales become shorter-- often met with claims of necessity due to limited reach.

During the banjo's prime years 27"x11" was the "standard". Professionals often used larger banjos with 11.5 to 12" (and as large as 13") rims and as long as 28.5" scales. The music played featured closed position playing with long reaches. That was normal.

Smaller banjos with 26" scales or less and sub 11" rims were often recommended for women and children to use due to their smaller average size.

Then, sometime post folk revival (and after the long neck banjo thing) the trend of scales started getting shorter and shorter. Down an inch to 26" was preferred for a time. Fingerboards got wider and scales creeped down to 25.5 and shorter. "Scoops" were added to further reduce the playable gamut.

Somewhere in there the "A-Scale" was developed to play the jam style "old time" music that had then become popular.

I recommend reading the great book

The 12" rim is back, now paired with a short and squatty neck.

It is interesting just how modern "old time" banjo is.

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