Here is your basic dreadnought. 


14 frets clear of the body, usually a 24.9" or more often a 25.4" scalewe know these beasts well.


The distance from the nut to the center of the 12th fret defines half its scale. 

Double that distance, and you have the full scale—the idealized vibrating string length.

The length of that scale, not to mention the bridge location, is completely arbitrary.

If you shorten the neck, but keep the bridge in the same place, you have to compress the scale:

Look where the octave is now. It's as though you took the original guitar (at left) and removed a length of the board between the nut and the second fret. Ultimate, irreversible capo.

Same body, same everything, but progressively shorter neck :

14 frets clear                            12 frets clear                              8 frets clear

These same principles apply to any stringed instrument.

For some history on how the guitar evolved past 12 frets, read this page.

For more on the specifics of adjusting intonation, see this page.

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