Student of Guitar

26.5″ Scale Guitar: A Simple Guide (2022 Edition)

Table of Contents

If you want to learn more about the 26.5″ scale guitar, you’ve come to the right post!

What Exactly Is Scale Length?

Before we delve into this, we should explain what scale length is exactly. There might be a few common misconceptions about this particular feature.

By its basic definition, the scale length is the distance between and where strings touch the saddles on the bridge. Or, you can also define it as the usable part of the string. It’s the length of the string that vibrates.

However, there’s one flaw with this kind of definition. As you may know, bridge saddles aren’t in a fixed position. Nor should they be. This means that each string will have its own scale length. And it’s all dynamic and changes every time you intonate and set up your guitar.

So there’s a better way to define it. It’s double the distance from the nut and the 12th fret. If you’re not sure about your guitar’s scale length, measure this distance and just multiply it by two.

Overall, longer scale lengths give more tension. Shorter ones, on the other hand, reduce the tension. In practice, this means that you can detune a long-scale guitar without the strings feeling like rubber. You can get into low-end territories while keeping the tone and performance quality tight.

Standard Electric Guitar Scale Lengths

For both acoustic and electric guitars, there are some standardized scale lengths. We could, however, say that the standards are kind of stricter with electric guitars.

For acoustic guitars, it’s usually 25.5 or 25.4 inches. Some may have 24.75-inch scales as well. However, you’ll find some variation to these measures. Overall, acoustic guitar scales tend to be slightly longer on average compared to electric ones.

As far as electric guitars go, we have two standard measures. One is 25.5 inches, which is usually associated with Fender and Fender-style guitars. The other one is 24.75 inches, which is usually associated with Gibson and Gibson-style guitars.

There’s also another scale length variant that’s still considered to be within the full-size category. Fender’s Jaguar comes with a 24-inch scale length. The same spec was also available on Squier’s Jagmaster guitars.

Of course, scale lengths can go outside of these boundaries as well. However, anything between 24 and 25.5 inches is a normal-sized guitar. If it goes below that, then we’re looking at student-friendly instruments.

However, if it goes above that, then we’re looking at baritone guitars. The term baritone is widely accepted for long-scale guitars. However, there might be a few other guitar categories that we could technically fit here.

26.5″ Scale Guitar: What’s the Deal?

Once in a while, you might stumble upon a guitar that has a longer scale length. These so-called baritone guitars are popular for lower tunings. Although usually associated with metal music, they can have their use in other genres as well.

Overall, anything that has at least 26.5 inches is considered a baritone guitar. Scale lengths on baritones are usually 27 inches. The longest ones go up to 30 inches. But that’s pretty long and guitarists usually tune them one octave lower than usual.

So 26.5 inches is the minimum for baritones. You can also find such scale length on some extended-range 7-string guitars. Popularly, these are also referred to as baritone guitars.

What Are the Advantages of Such a Scale Length?

Now, what’s interesting about 26.5 inches is that it’s not a common scale length. This, however, doesn’t mean that it’s not good enough or anything. It’s just not a standard, as is the case with 27-inch scale baritone guitars.

For the most part, baritone guitars go down to B standard. This is exactly one perfect 4th interval lower than your regular E standard. There’s not a rule set in stone here. But it’s usually how guitar players prefer to do it.

A baritone guitar that has 26.5 inches will feel just a bit softer than the one that has a 27-inch scale length. This might not seem like much, but it can come with some advantages. From my experience, it’s as if you’re using a slightly lighter string gauge. Vibratos and bends can feel different.

On the other hand, you can use it for just slightly higher tunings. In my opinion, it’s great for C or C# standard tunings. 

What’s interesting, however, is that such guitars aren’t that widespread. You’ll usually find 27-inch baritones. And even those extra-long ones are more common. But 26.5 is not as common, although you’ll be able to find it on some guitars. For instance, there’s the Jackson’s X Series Soloist SLA6 DX.

Another example is PRS Marc Holcomb’s signature model. Then we also have a high-end piece like Ibanez Axion Label RGD61ALET.

Another interesting one is the Schecter Omen-8, which is an 8-string guitar. For the most part, these usually come with a multi-scale design or a 27-inch scale.  

Conclusion

I hope this article has helped you think through 26.5 inch guitars and if this instrument is right for you!

And if you want to read more about this extended scale length guitars, check out:

Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have questions about this or another guitar-related topic!

4 Responses

  1. Can you tune a 26.5 scale guitar to standard E-A-D-G-B-E?

    1. Hey Chris,

      Yes, you should be able to do that. But you may need to use lighter strings depending on the gauge you’re currently using. You can go ahead and try tuning up to standard, and if a string breaks, know that you’ll probably need to replace them with extra lights strings (I really these).

  2. Chris Thompson says:

    Thanks! I generally Play .09s so that won’t be a problem. I have experimented with alternate tunings on the acoustic, but not my electrics (mostly floating trems). I thought a fixed bridge 26.5 would be more fun to have for that kind of stuff.

    1. Nice!

      I hope the tuning up works out!

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