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Short scale guitar note "warping" and what you can do about it

Squier Bullet Mustang HH

Guitars like the Squier Bullet Mustang HH (a very nice low-cost guitar) above are cool, but there is a known problem with a short scale electric you should be aware of.

Before telling you what it is, a few quick notes:

The scale measurement on a guitar is the measurement from the bridge to the nut. On a 6-string electric, a scale length of 24 inches or fewer is short scale. This includes guitars like the Squier mentioned above, the Fender Mustang, Fender Duo-Sonic, Squier Jaguar and a few others.

Note "warping"

When you play a chord and you move the side-to-side (as in you physically twist your waist while holding the instrument), the notes "warp", meaning they pitch slightly flat. When you stop moving, the pitch returns to normal.

It's normal to freak out a little when first hearing this because you may think something is wrong with the guitar. There isn't. On a short scale there is less string tension compared to a longer scale, so when you shift the guitar, note warping happens more easily.

Solution #1: Always stretch your strings properly to put the most string tension on the neck.

Solution #2: Try thicker strings.

Solution #3: Try not to flail around so much when playing.

Does note warping make the short scale electric suck?

No. In fact, when owners of short scale electrics realize it is the nature of the instrument to have notes go slightly flat from side-to-side movements, they breathe a sigh of relief because now they know what causes it.

Some short scale electric owners hear the note warping and think it's bad wood, bad strings, bad construction or bad-something-else. No, it's none of those things and your guitar is fine. It's just less string tension from the shorter scale that causes the neck wood to bend more easily from side-to-side movement.

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