A 20 fret, 25 1/2 scale set neck guitar


I have big hands and fat fingers. The difference between a 24 3/4 inch and a 25 1/2 inch scale makes a meaningful difference is how I play. And on my 25 1/2 inch, 20 fret Heritage H550, it's like I'm fretting notes in an olympic-sized swimming pool. Makes things so much easier.

For example, it's nearly impossible for me to fret an open position Dm chord on my Hamer Archtop Studio without some string buzz from the G and E strings hitting my third finger (which is fretting a D note on the B string). On my Telecaster, I am able to that same Dm cleanly so long as I'm not sloppy with my fingering. And on the Heritage (which has filtertrons and a Bigsby so it has kind of a Gretsch vib), it's not even an issue.

I do like the fat, warm tone from PAF style humbuckers and I have a really nice set made by Tom Holmes. So, I'd like to sell the Hamer and replace it with something more suitable for my gorilla-like mandibles.

I contacted Heritage and they said they could do a H535 (think ES-335) or an H150 (Les Paul) in a 25 1/2 in. scale, have done plenty of them, only a modest upcharge. So I'm wondering if there are any downsides to doing this in terms of performance, either sonically or in playability. Also, I was even thinking of taking it a step further and getting a 20 fret neck. I play mostly rhythm and suspect that I have never used the 21st or 22nd fret in a live setting.

Any thoughts?

Update: Also, if anyone knows of a set neck type guitar with a longer scale, please let me know.
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Silver Supporting Member
Go for a wider nut.
21 or 22 frets is irrelevant on Strat style necks. If you don't use them there is no effect one way or another.
A genuinely longer scale guitar might help you but you are into custom build, there (see Soloway Swans..out of production I think)


I like the longer scale, myself, for a number of reasons. Among them, large hands that feel more relaxed on the longer board and I prefer the way strings ring on a longer scale guitar.

The number of frets will be determined either by where the end of the fingerboard ends up, as in they don't relocate the neck pup and the board has to stop before it. But there's no reason to just leave frets out. If the space is there might as well fill it with frets. The longer scale length, with bridge and pickup placement being the same will allow another fret or two.

The only downsides I can think of are the open position chords and first few frets will be farther away, sticking your arm out further and it may not fit in a standard case.

Jim Soloway

It's not the 20 fret part that helps you. the frets are in the same positions regardless of the number of frets. It's the longer scale length that gives you added space and I suspect that the Heritage may also have wider spacing than the Hamer. We built a bunch of guitars with what I call "finger-stle" spacing that are 1 13/16 at the nut with an added 1/8" running the entire length of the string. We're not taking any orders right now but they come up used from time to time. As someone noted, we also built a LOT of guitars with a 27" scale length and even a few that had both the 27" scale length and the wider spacing. There's one of those available on Gbase right now from a US seller.


Go for a wider nut.
+1. If we're talking about how easy it is to fret a chord in root position without interfering with the neighboring strings, the scale and number of frets have nothing to do with it; the distance from one string to the next at the nut is the issue.

I don't know if I have particularly "fat" fingers, but they're certainly not fine, slender, delicate fingers. While I do find differences in playing a 25.5" scale vs. a 24.75" or 24" scale, the differences have to do with tone and the ease of fingering in the upper octave of the fretboard. In the low frets, it really doesn't mean much; it's like the difference between playing a barre chord on the third fret and playing the same barre chord on the fourth fret.

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