Building the SG, part 2 The Scale Length

The first step in the journey to a 1965 SG inspired guitar was pretty simple. Now that we know what we want, we have to draw it out and figure out other important details like the neck angle, pickup placement, scale length, neck joint and body thickness.

 

I ordered a pickguard to take some measurements from it. Knowing that the nut to the end of the fretboard is typically 18-1/8” on the SGs, I can measure the pickguard and attempt to match a scale length to it. The pickguard I bought is a WD Guitars 60’s batwing guard.

The Scale Length

The scale length is the distance between the nut and the bridge. Half the scale can be measured from the nut to the 12th fret, which is the midpoint. That value is multiplied by two to get the full scale value.

Over the years, Gibson has used what they advertise as being a 24.75” scale length. In reality, the scale length varied over the years depending on the manufacturing process. The original, pre-1954 guitars were in fact 24.75” but that changed in 1954 when they went to a 24.5625” (24-9/16”) scale length.

Some guitars changed to 24.625” (24-5/8”) around 1959.  My 1974 Les Paul has a 24.625” scale length. Never assume anything in terms of scale length on a Gibson.

 

If I add fretboard length of 18-1/8” to the distance between the fretboard end to the placement of the bridge posts, I get a scale length of 24-9/16” +/- 1/32”. That makes sense because this is a 60’s pickguard. With the scale length known, I can draw out a detailed plan of the neck joint, bridge placement and pickup routes.

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