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Byrdland Scale Length

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Q: I heard that the Gibson Byrdland guitar is a short-scale instrument. If this is true, why did Gibson make it that way?

A: The Byrdland is indeed a shorter scale length than most other guitars: 23-1/2″, compared to Gibson’s usual 24-3/4″ and Fender’s usual 25-1/2″. It is a thinline hollowbody that was introduced in 1955. The first few years featured P90 pickups with Alnico V magnets, later PAF and patent humbuckers were used.

The body has the same dimensions as an L-5: 17″ wide by 21″ long, but is only 3-3/8″ deep at the rim. It features a solid spruce carved top, 22 frets on an ebony fingerboard, a thin 3-piece (later 5-piece) laminated maple neck, and gold-plated hardware. Early Byrdlands had a rounded “Venetiancutaway; by 1960 this was changed to the more conventional pointed “Florentine” cutaway. In 1968, the Venetian cutaway was brought back.

The guitar was named for Billy Byrd and Hank Garland, who were experimenting with piano-style chord voicings and saxophone-style lines. The shorter scale and thinner neck was intended to accomodate those more difficult and less guitaristic fingerings.

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