Scale length means the length of string that is free to vibrate – measured from where it leaves its slot in the nut to where it passes over the saddle in the bridge. (The definition and the measurement can get a bit more complex if you take intonation issues into account and in practice the measurement can be taken from nut to the 12th fret on the first string and then doubled. This is because the saddle and often the bridge too are set back and angled treble-to-bass to compensate for the innate intonation issues in guitar strings and the way they are stopped/fretted.)
Other lengths are possible – if you increase the scale you increase the spacing between the frets and if you conversely decreasing the scale decreases the spacing between the frets. (However, the ratio of the distances between the frets has to remain constant). In “short”, the shorter the scale the closer the frets are to each other.
The standard for nylon string guitars is almost universally 650mm these days.
If you have an above average build for a man and larger hands, consider a 660mm scale – Segovia did that.
If you are smaller in stature than is the average man then consider a shorter scale. Even with an average stature if your hand span is less than about 8.5 inches you might want to consider a shorter scale. Even then it is a matter of personal preference.
Just a final complication: if you put the same set of strings on a standard scale guitar and on one with a shorter scale (say 620mm) then when you bring the strings up to pitch they will be at a lower tension on the shorter scaled instrument. This can affect both tone and volume. If this is a problem for you, consider fitting nominally “higher” tension strings.
Hanika scale options are
- 650mm Standard on all models
Hanika does not change the body size of shape with varying scales, but non standard scale length does mean fixing the bridge at a slightly different position on the soundboard.