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Sep 24, 2022 - 6:06:10 PM

banjonz

New Zealand

11630 posts since 6/29/2003

On the 1970's Ibanez banjo I am repairing, I will be replacing the box wood/pear wood fretboard overlay with one from a piece of rosewood I have. Looking at info here and elsewhere on measuring the scale length, it states that one measures from the front of the nut to the middle of the 12th fret. As the 'fret' refers to both the fret wire and the 12th position between fret wires, I am assuming that this refers to the actual fret wire? If so then this 22 fret neck works out to be a scale length of 26.1456" (2 x 13.0728). Some have stated a 22 fret scale is 26.250"
Any opinions?

Sep 24, 2022 - 6:20:30 PM

2675 posts since 9/18/2010

If you measure from nut edge to 12th fret center, as you said, and double the measurement, as you said, you have determined the actual scale length... IF the fret slots are cut accurately.
26 1/4" is a common scale length for banjos, but it is entirely possible to find other measurements like what you found. It is also possible that the distance from the nut to the frets is reduced due to error, it is possible that the frets are not cut accurately... lots of things could have gone wrong back in the pre-CNC 1970s.

Sep 24, 2022 - 6:36:44 PM
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rcc56

USA

4503 posts since 2/20/2016
Online Now

I suspect that what you have there is a 664 mm. scale [~26.1417" scale].

664 mm. was a common scale length for classical guitars in the 1960's and 1970's-- it was a standard scale for Ramirez, among others.

If the factory that slotted the boards for the banjo also produced classical guitar fingerboards, they may very well have chosen to use the same scale rather than make up new tooling for a 26 1/4" scale.

Sep 24, 2022 - 6:43:52 PM

15102 posts since 2/7/2003

Dont over think it as said you want scale length that has nothing to do with 22nd fret

Measure as you said and thats where the bridge goes

By the way its not pear wood or box wood we never had that wood in the factory ever, its likely maple we had that comming out our ears and would be the logical choice

Sep 24, 2022 - 7:16:38 PM

banjonz

New Zealand

11630 posts since 6/29/2003

quote:
Originally posted by desert rose

Dont over think it as said you want scale length that has nothing to do with 22nd fret

Measure as you said and thats where the bridge goes

By the way its not pear wood or box wood we never had that wood in the factory ever, its likely maple we had that comming out our ears and would be the logical choice


Once I clean up the fretboard of all the old stained overlay, how thick/thin can I make the overlay?  as I said, I have a length of rosewood I would like to use. I can get it thinned down.

Sep 24, 2022 - 9:57:46 PM

rcc56

USA

4503 posts since 2/20/2016
Online Now

I think that what you see on the banjo now is a fingerboard that is one piece of wood, not a base piece and an overlay.

Most of the time, if we are not satisfied with a fingerboard, we remove the whole thing, and replace it with a new one.

However, if you wish to just grind down the top of the old fingerboard, leaving some of it still attached to the neck, and install new wood on top of what's left, I don't see why you can't do it that way. Some of the old Asian instruments were built with glues that don't come loose easily, so grinding this one down may not be a bad idea. It's a rather unorthodox method, but it should work.

At any rate, your overlay should be somewhat thicker than the depth of the fret wire tang. You will not want to install the new frets until everything is glued up, the inlays installed, and the surface levelled.  You have some flexibility in the finished thickness of a fingerboard.  In most cases, I like it to be at least 3/16" after all the work is completed.

Edited by - rcc56 on 09/24/2022 22:13:01

Sep 25, 2022 - 5:55:27 PM

12417 posts since 10/27/2006

Inside of the nut to the center of the 12th fret x2 is the Nominal Scale. Unfortunately, not all manufacturers use that including CF Martin—still.

Actual scale is generally defined as the length after being stretched to compensate for intonation. Some manufacturers refer to the Nominal Scale when they write Actual Scale while others don't. With a few, Scale was a number found only in catalog descriptions and never matched up to actual instruments.

There is the confusion and those who insist that there have always been standard definitions are flat out incorrect — again, CF Martin & Co. and they aren't the only ones.

When referring to Scale, it's always a good idea to define what you mean and, when in doubt, measure.

Nowadays, if you write Nominal Scale, it is assumed that you really do mean the inside of the nut to the center of the 12th fret x2. That's a good start.

I wonder how many suppliers who will custom CNC the fretboard slots for you get tired of explaining that, if they slot your board to Martin's advertised scale of 25.44", it will be too long. The Nominal Scale of a Martin Dred is really 25.32".

Edited by - mikehalloran on 09/25/2022 17:56:51

Sep 25, 2022 - 11:47:16 PM

rcc56

USA

4503 posts since 2/20/2016
Online Now

If we start discussing Martin's use and application of the word "scale," we'll still be at it on New Years Day.
The good news is that somebody finally woke up over there and has started to address their intonation problems.

Edited by - rcc56 on 09/25/2022 23:51:33

Sep 26, 2022 - 5:25:47 AM

14964 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by rcc56

If we start discussing Martin's use and application of the word "scale," we'll still be at it on New Years Day.
The good news is that somebody finally woke up over there and has started to address their intonation problems.


Martin has always been very conservative and slow to change, which is their charm. The majority of old Martins have had to have neck resets because of their heel block and they have gone through the changes with neck reinforcement. 

Conventional wisdom is that guitars made for bluegrass flat-picking don't have to have really accurate intonation beyond the 7th fret, so Dreadnoughts have a skinny  saddle.  I think that's driving people with pickups and electronic tuners nuts just like we read on this forum (a thread going on right now) about frustrated electronic tuner people trying in vain to get banjo tuning perfect, so Martin will now have to address it.

My guess is that it will be a subtle and incremental change, maybe just a special thing for finger-pickers.

Sep 26, 2022 - 7:44:28 AM

rcc56

USA

4503 posts since 2/20/2016
Online Now

No. Martin misplaced the bridges on a large number of their guitars for decades.
The saddle is 1 to 3 mm. too far forward, which causes the guitars to fret sharp.
The degree of error varies.

The good news is that in most cases, the saddle slot can be plugged, and a new slot cut farther back. With the right tooling, the repair can be done without removing the bridge.

Edited by - rcc56 on 09/26/2022 07:46:38

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