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I am rescuing an old parlor guitar. The original bone nut and saddle are still in place, but the fretboard is missing. It is exactly 24 1/4" from the nut to the saddle. What scale would this be, factoring in some compensation? Or does a scale this short need compensation? Of course the saddle is straight across with no compensation. And the bridge is so narrow there is no room to fill, reroute and compensate.

Any info would be appreciated.

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Rich, do you have and pictures?  

Without looking I would guess it's a 24 inch scale. I have one that I've been re-building that came to me with a replacement bridge that was obviously not sized or placed correctly so I had to depend on the existing fret spacing on the neck to determine the scale length. The fret placement was not done very well and I actually found where a fret slot was re-cut about a quarter inch longer than it was originally cut. I was never able to figure a scale that used the spacing that they used. I finally just came to the conclusion that it must have been 24 inches they were shooting for because that came closest to the length that most of the fret spacing would fit. It also appears to position the bridge in the correct position. Of course it's completely possible that my guess is wrong but it shouldn't matter as long as I position the bridge correctly 

On the other hand, if the bridge doesn't need to be replaced you can calculate the fret spacing to create your own fretboard based on the measurements you have now. Just make sure your measurements are accurate. It might be a good idea to decide what type of strings you are going to use before you decide about compensation. Personally, I think that all stringed instruments need some compensation and I even try to compensate my ukulele's if I can so they don't drive me crazy. I also accept that my ear is more the exception than the rule in this and most people seem to find a straight saddle acceptable for nylon strings. I can't say about silk and steel but any steal strings, however light need compensation.     

Thanks for the ideas Ned. I will try and get a couple of pics up soon.

The scale length IS the scale....12th fret should hit @ 121/8" or @ half the scale length and compensation may very well be needed to achieve accuracy ...imo

Here's an idea you might try if the guitar is sound otherwise. Tap a fret into a piece of wood you can temporarily clamp near the neck joint. [The guitar should be able to handle the pull of a single string for a little while even without a fingerboard.] Put a middle string on and move your portable 12th fret around until the harmonic matches the fretted pitch. Measure nut to the fret and double it; that should be a fretscale that notes in tune.

Wow what a great idea. I'll give it a go and let you know how it turns out. Thanks.

Cool thread. I'm also re-storing an old Parlor guitar but I have a floating bridge so I don't have that problem.

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