Tuning down on 24.75" scale

SherlockHemlock

Active Member
Messages
84
I'm looking for a bit of help from anyone who plays a small body 24.75" scale acoustic. I have taken to play chug blues tuned half a step down on my 25.6" scale parlour, as for the most part they are blues in A or E, and neither of those work for me vocally. I would tune down a full step if I could get away with it, but even the half step is a lot more forgiving

The problem I have with is is that I've found that the volume drop-off for piedmont/Memphis-style blues is massive. These are mostly in C and G though and are isolated to the first 7-ish frets, so I'm happy in standard tuning for these, with G where it is and like to capo C up to D.

That volume drop has concerned me though, as I'm thinking of investing in a Gibson L-00 Standard next year. That's the dream guitar! But I'm worried with the small body and short scale that the volume drop-off will be too much to tune down even for the chuggier Delta songs.

Does anyone with a Gibson L-00 or similar ever play tuned down half a step? How does it sound?
 

indexless

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
372
I have a CF100 that I tune down a full step, pure magic...find the right strings and you're gold
 

lamenlovinit

Member
Messages
3,843
Yeah. It's a thing. It's why I play an Advanced Jumbo instead of a J-45 despite being a mahogany guy at heart. I down tune a lot.

I wish I could remember where I read it, but somebody who spanned many eras, like Muddy or BB, was asked "How did you tune your guitar back in the day? Do you think you just had a great ear?" The answer was "As high as I could without busting strings. It made the guitar louder!" It might have been BB come to think of it. Because I definitely remember him saying he wound the entire string on the tuning peg because he might be able to "tie it off" and reuse the same string if it broke.

I get the whole vocals thing. I never capo up when playing Robert Johnson, because his falsetto vocals are hard for me. In fact I often use my baritone.

As to the Gibson L-00, you might want to start trying to demo short scale guitars known for lighter builds. Like Santa Cruz. Another possibility is adding a resonator to your arsenal. A single cone National is a thin OO body size, and is pretty much halfway between "gibson and martin" with a 25 inch scale (tri-cones are closer to standard Martin length), and I guarantee you one thing. You will not lack for volume in open G or D:cool:
 

SherlockHemlock

Active Member
Messages
84
Cheers @lamenlovinit

Yeah I don't quite have the cajones for the falsettos, except maybe the end of line 'whoo's. I don't think it's really an option to capo RJs songs really. For the most part you're using too much of the neck. My current guitar is a 12-fret though, so the 14 frets on an L-00 would make it a little more reasonable

Believe me, I'd be buying a National if I could. Some day I will. The €2,300 on an L-00 would be my single biggest music investment ever, so even at that I'm not in single cone National territory. And experience has learned me not to buy bad instruments, so I don't think I'm interested in a cheaper resonator

Regarding trying out the L-00 or similar; I'm in Ireland, and your options here for that sort of gear are extremely limited. Unless it's a fast mover you won't see it here. You wouldn't believe how difficult it is just to buy large shell fingerpicks
 

lamenlovinit

Member
Messages
3,843
Cheers @lamenlovinit

Believe me, I'd be buying a National if I could. Some day I will. The €2,300 on an L-00 would be my single biggest music investment ever, so even at that I'm not in single cone National territory. And experience has learned me not to buy bad instruments, so I don't think I'm interested in a cheaper resonator
Hmm. Yes. I had no idea how difficult gear access is for you.

Check out the Michael Messer resos. His steel body "MM Blues" guitar is available in 14 fret for 629 GBP with 35 GBP shipping to Ireland. They are extremely well reviewed. It's the old case of importing guitars, and then inspecting and setting up in the UK. Here's the web page for the MM Blues https://michaelmesser.co.uk/michael-messer-blues

He has brass and wood bodies too.

 

SherlockHemlock

Active Member
Messages
84
@lamenlovinit Thanks for the tip. They certainly review well

Looks like £100 to the Republic of Ireland though, with tax an import duties on top of that. I wonder if I can locate a relative in Northern Ireland who would accept a delivery for me...
 

lamenlovinit

Member
Messages
3,843
@lamenlovinit Thanks for the tip. They certainly review well

Looks like £100 to the Republic of Ireland though, with tax an import duties on top of that. I wonder if I can locate a relative in Northern Ireland who would accept a delivery for me...
Well they do talk about a Brexit discount to the "EU". Might look into that. I am embarrassed about my ignorance on the Republic of Ireland vs Northern Ireland. I am off to google to remedy that.
 
Messages
5,124
Physics will defeat you every time; expecting good volume from a small guitar is generally unrealistic in my experience. That said there are exceptions; my Faith 'Mercury' for example has a small but deep body, a 24" scale with a 12th fret neck joint, and a red cedar over mahogany construction-all of which should point to a subdued, quiet tone. In standard tuning nothing could be further from the truth; it's loud, punchy and can keep up with dreads easily.
Tuning down will always result in volume loss to some extent; less string tension, less energy to drive the top, and the shorter the scale the more pronounced it will be.
 
Last edited:

SherlockHemlock

Active Member
Messages
84
@snakestretcher yes I definitely accept that there is no escaping volume loss when tuning down, and so I don't plan on playing fingerpicked songs, in the normal sense of what people think of with fingerpicking. In my case that will be Mississippi John Hurt, Frank Stokes etc.

But what I'm trying to establish is if the loss of volume is so great as to mean that I would not be able to play and sing more percussive blues songs or Robert Johnson, Charley Patton etc.

On the current scale I love the percussive blues tuned down, but even that scale doesn't have the energy for normal fingerpicking

That Mercury has a really short scale - 24"?! You must have 16s on that!
 

zombywoof

Member
Messages
4,607
I do own a 1932 Gibson L1 which has the same body size as the Bozeman L-00 you are thinking about. Ironically I was just playing Blind Boy Fuller's "Untrue Blues" with it the other night. I went from there to Blind Lemon Jefferson's "Black Horse Blues" and "Mosquito Moan." Love those alternate thumb & first finger single string runs. Rev. Gary Davis was also a wizard at this. But I used to tune the guitar down a whole step. In my case it was more about survival than sound as this guitar is scary lightly built. To my ears the main difference was a lessening of the attack I heard while the low end bordered on "flabby" sounding causing me to, as somebody has already noted, to up the string thickness. I ended up going with low tension strings favoring the Newtone Heritage which allowed me to goose up the string thickness while tuning to pitch and still sleep comfortably at night.

The Bozeman-made L-00s though are a very different beast and are not near as lightly built as the originals. While you did not ask for an opinion I would say if you have some patience and are willing to spend more than you might have been planning on to seek out a now discontinued L-00 Legend. This is the only version which is a spot on copy of an original - in this case a 1937 L-00. It has the period correct tall tapered non-scalloped bracing rather than the standard Bozeman scallop carve and because Gibson started beefing up the builds after 1934 while it will still lighter than the standard Bozeman models it will also be sturdy enough to handle pretty much any kind of strings you want to go with.
 
Last edited:
Messages
5,124
@snakestretcher yes I definitely accept that there is no escaping volume loss when tuning down, and so I don't plan on playing fingerpicked songs, in the normal sense of what people think of with fingerpicking. In my case that will be Mississippi John Hurt, Frank Stokes etc.

But what I'm trying to establish is if the loss of volume is so great as to mean that I would not be able to play and sing more percussive blues songs or Robert Johnson, Charley Patton etc.

On the current scale I love the percussive blues tuned down, but even that scale doesn't have the energy for normal fingerpicking

That Mercury has a really short scale - 24"?! You must have 16s on that!
Nope, just regular Elixir 12-53 Nanoweb 80-20! I suspect the Patrick Eggle-designed hybrid bracing has a lot to do with the volume and projection-scalloped on the treble side and straight on the bass side. Good luck with your search-and Manson's here in Exeter has an L-OO Standard in stock. I had my eye on the spruce/walnut Studio but it was sold before I had a chance to try it.
 

Mr Fingers

Member
Messages
2,882
I don't think anyone would recommend a Gibson-scale guitar for a dropped tuning. It's just using the wrong (or less than ideal) tool. You can go up in string gauge to compensate, but it won't be ideal. The L-00 is my favorite guitar bar none (assuming its a "good one"; Gibson made plenty of duds) because IMO it's a harmonic convergence of scale length, body depth, etc. in regular tuning. You would be messinbg with what that guitar does best. Good luck -- maybe it'll work for you. On mine, you can feel and hear the guitar come alive when you tune up new strings... until you hit full tension, it's just not nearly as lively.
 




Trending Topics

Top