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Jan 20, 2021 - 11:57:32 AM
176 posts since 3/9/2017

Hello. I play the 5 string, 2ftl mainly, but fancy trying to learn jigs and reels on the 4 string. I understand you have 17 or 19 frets. There is a cheap 4,string on ebay but it has 20 frets. Is this not suitable for Irish music?

Jan 20, 2021 - 12:03:49 PM

rcc56

USA

3325 posts since 2/20/2016

It doesn't necessarily matter, as long as the scale is not too long for you. I prefer 19 to 21 inches. 23 inches can be clumsy for playing tunes.

I see you're in the UK and I don't have a calculator handy, so you'll have to do the conversion to mm.

Edited by - rcc56 on 01/20/2021 12:05:47

Jan 20, 2021 - 12:11:46 PM

JSB88

UK

176 posts since 3/9/2017

Thanks, that's helpful. No need for a calculator, I am of a vintage that is fluent in both metric and imperial. Ta

Jan 20, 2021 - 1:44:57 PM

178 posts since 4/5/2016

I'd recommend starting toward the higher end of things. 23" is fine for many people. My ideal is around 22 1/8 personally. But i play a 23" scale one just fine. If you play banjo already you'll probably be okay. Shorter scale is easier of course, but you'll have an easier time finding one with a longer scale.

Jan 20, 2021 - 3:21:20 PM

DSmoke

USA

937 posts since 11/30/2015

19 frets and 23" is the standard for newly built banjos for Irish trad. Why? Because the neck length is important to the tone of the banjo. There are very few banjos with scale length less than 21" that will actually sound good in GDAE tuning. I have smaller hands and started with a 19.75" scale. I now have a few banjos and they range from 21" to 23" and I have no problem playing any of them. I spent a good amount of time playing a 23" banjo and getting my fretting hand used to the stretch. I should also say it NEEDS to be a slim neck.

Jan 21, 2021 - 9:17:01 AM

JSB88

UK

176 posts since 3/9/2017

Thats great, thank you all. I feel a bit more like I know what I'm looking at now

Jan 22, 2021 - 1:01:14 PM

rcc56

USA

3325 posts since 2/20/2016

Those of us who come from the mandolin and fiddle world tend to prefer the shorter scales.

Jan 22, 2021 - 4:09:06 PM

DSmoke

USA

937 posts since 11/30/2015

Jan 26, 2021 - 8:35:25 AM

178 posts since 4/5/2016

I think we all prefer a shorter scale. It's easier. But, like Dan said, if you want it to sound good you'll need a least a little bit longer scale length. Doesn't have to be all the way to 23" though.

Jan 26, 2021 - 10:10:49 AM

650 posts since 2/15/2015

I play a 19 fret tenor OB
And the 5-string is 22
The reso tenor is 22

My reso tenor has 22 frets, some people would call that a plectrum size, however I have heard that plectrums are very similar to a guitar fretboard scale, which lends itself nicely to the Chicago tuning.

The OB tenor at 19 frets gets kind of cloudy above the 12th.

Edited by - geoB on 01/26/2021 10:25:45

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