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Old 04-16-2010, 02:49 PM
Tone Gopher Tone Gopher is offline
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Default Nut width - what is Too Wide?

I've enjoyed the banter regarding scale length and now find myself thinking overmuch about nut width.

I've large hands (most XXL gloves are too small) and have owned guitars with nut widths from 1 5/8" (Gurian) to 1 3/4". At the bridge, I've found that 2 1/4" is too narrow, 2 3/8" is too wide (Bourgeois "Martin Simpson") - 2 5/16" is where I think I need to be for that aspect.

I spent decades playing my Gurian guitars and never gave it much thought. I knew I had large hands and always accepted that whatever guitar I played would probably seem small in that regard. Crowded fingertips were (and remain) a way of life.

In a time where 1 11/16" seems the norm for dreads and such, 1 3/4" seems spacious in contrast.

What are the limitations of going too wide? Why are there not more "finger style" guitars with a "standard" of 1 13/16"???

Thanks.
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Old 04-16-2010, 03:01 PM
Laurence Leabow Laurence Leabow is offline
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I believe it was Chris Proctor who said in a Taylor Guitars publication that many people would find 1 7/8 to be great and preferable to even 1 3/4 if they would/could just try it.
I think he said that even those with small hands would likely be just fine with such a size.

I have average hands for a male I think and I am more and more thinking that I want to try it and suspect I will like it
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Old 04-16-2010, 03:20 PM
grampa grampa is offline
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My Gibson F-25 has a 2" nut on a flat fingerboard like a classical guitar. I love it not so much for having extra large hands - I think mine are about normal for a 6' man - but I grew up with a classical guitar and I'm just used to the width.
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Old 04-16-2010, 03:31 PM
BULLSPRIG BULLSPRIG is offline
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Another embarassing confession...

I was unaware of various nut widths until fairly recently. I don't know what any of my acoustics are.

But thanks to this website, I've learned a little.

I actually prefer a narrower nut width. But I couldn't tell you which size.
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Old 04-16-2010, 03:55 PM
endpin endpin is offline
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I agree that 2" large radius fretboards should be no problem for players with normal sized hands using proper left hand technique in a sitting position (especially 12 strings).

Proper positioning of the left elbow and wrist (up under the neck) is difficult however, when playing from a standing position with a strap and the neck horizontal for "the look".
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Old 04-16-2010, 03:56 PM
Christian Reno Christian Reno is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tone Gopher View Post
....What are the limitations of going too wide? Why are there not more "finger style" guitars with a "standard" of 1 13/16"?
My guess is that many would find 1 13/16 a bit wide for a steel string, but it also comes down to neck profile. Tradition is a factor as well.

It seems the preference fingerstyle players have is 1 3/4, but it is always dangerous to generalize here. Hand size may or may not be the primary reason that players prefer a given nut width. As many have said in other posts, Muriel Anderson plays classical guitar with a very wide nut and she is tiny. I am 6' 1" with proportionate sized hands and I love 1 3/4 nuts as well as 1 11/16. My reasons have more to do with the styles I prefer to play. I can't help myself when it comes to thumb wraps.
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Old 04-16-2010, 04:08 PM
cke cke is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tone Gopher View Post
I've enjoyed the banter regarding scale length and now find myself thinking overmuch about nut width.

I've large hands (most XXL gloves are too small) and have owned guitars with nut widths from 1 5/8" (Gurian) to 1 3/4". At the bridge, I've found that 2 1/4" is too narrow, 2 3/8" is too wide (Bourgeois "Martin Simpson") - 2 5/16" is where I think I need to be for that aspect.

I spent decades playing my Gurian guitars and never gave it much thought. I knew I had large hands and always accepted that whatever guitar I played would probably seem small in that regard. Crowded fingertips were (and remain) a way of life.

In a time where 1 11/16" seems the norm for dreads and such, 1 3/4" seems spacious in contrast.

What are the limitations of going too wide? Why are there not more "finger style" guitars with a "standard" of 1 13/16"???

Thanks.
I started as a young boy on a classical - 2" nut. You Tube has scads of vids with tiny children playing classicals with huge stretches and playing beautifully. I am a big guy with largish hands. I love the 1 3/4 nut, cramp up whenever I spend time with 1 11/16.

Still play classicals too.

"Why are there not more "finger style" guitars with a "standard" of 1 13/16"???" Market forces is my guess, but many better makers will provide it.
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Old 04-16-2010, 04:13 PM
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I have pretty small hands and for many years my main performing guitar was a 1 7/8. I've now switched to 1 13/16 - 2 5/16 or 2 3/8 and find it very comfortable.....of course, neck profile is another part of the picture, so all of these variable are different for everyone, and as to your original question, that's something only you can answer for yourself....
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Old 04-16-2010, 04:17 PM
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Larry Pattis Larry Pattis is offline
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You play the string spacing, and not the overall nut width.

That said (for the thousandth time), I have small hands but prefer a 1-13/16" overall nut width on a steel-string.

One other thing to consider in a discussion based on nut width and perhaps comparing classicals, which just get going at 2"; that is, distance between the edges of the strings. Nylon strings have a much larger diameter than steel-strings, and so you need to consider more than the center-to-center distance with each string. You also need to consider how much space is between each string, which is the edge-to-edge distance from string to string.

It may be that Proctor is right, and I have often said that there are several ergonomic choices that are available with a custom-build, but not used at all by manufactured guitar builders. This means the average player never gets to lay their hands on something that might be really advantageous to them!

I don't have one to measure here, but I'll bet that the string-edge to string-edge distance on a 1-7/8" steel-string (with "normal" E to E spacing for that overall width) is *greater than* the string-edge to string-edge distance on a 2" wide nut nylon (even considering the low E and A strings on the steel). I'll bet the 1-13/16" steel is more like a 2" nylon in this one regard.

Just one man's perspective...
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Last edited by Larry Pattis; 04-16-2010 at 04:54 PM.
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Old 04-16-2010, 05:41 PM
Misifus Misifus is offline
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I have small hands with long fingers, if that matters. For 25 years, my only guitar was a classical with a two inch nut. When I was deciding on commissioning a custom steel string, I researched a lot of neck widths.

At that time, being accustomed to the classical, I could not play a 1-11/16 Martin standard at all. However, trying a wide variety of neck widths led me to decide that 1-7/8 was too wide for me, in a steel string. I found 1-3/4 to be just right.

It's still my favorite, but I have gotten accustomed to it, and I now can play 1-11/16 without trouble, although that's not my favorite. I have played 1-13/16 and found them pleasant and comfortable.

All of this withstanding, what Larry says about string spacing at the nut and the saddle is the real crux of the matter. Using nut widths as a sort of shorthand for all the neck measurements tends to disguise the fact that different makers space the strings differently for a given nut width.

Probably, getting out and trying is the best way to find what fits you best.

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Old 04-16-2010, 05:54 PM
Fatstrat Fatstrat is offline
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I can only speak for myself. I'm a large man w/large hands. While I can & do play the narrower widths on my Fender electrics, I prefer the 1 3/4" on my acoustics.
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Old 04-16-2010, 06:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tone Gopher View Post
...In a time where 1 11/16" seems the norm for dreads and such, 1 3/4" seems spacious in contrast.
...What are the limitations of going too wide? Why are there not more "finger style" guitars with a "standard" of 1 13/16"???
Hi TG…
The obvious down side would be inability to finger certain chord voicings, or long stretches. The extremes would be pain or injury to the hand/wrist/fingers...

I have three guitars which are 1 3/4'' on which is 1 7/8'', and a Strat which I assume is 1 11/16''.

The thing you don't mention which is as important is neck profile...slim C, C, V, slim D and D shaped profiles will each/all impact the comfort and ease with which people play regardless of or coupled with the width and radius of the fingerboard/neck.

I’d guess the reason 1-11/16'' is so common is tradition and customer feedback/preference. Martin certainly has had everything from 1-11/16'' to 1-7/8'' in 6 string steel string guitars for pretty much a century...they sell mostly 1-11/16''.

Gibson has had 1-10/16'' (1 5/8''), and 1-11/16'' and 1-3/4''.

To address your question, a lot of 1-3/4'' nut guitars are made, offered, and sold today. Several makers (Taylor being the largest one) sell mostly 1-3/4'' nut guitars as their standard size. And it is more or less the accepted norm for hand built guitars.

And the old Seagull S-6 series is spaced at the nut like a 1-3/4'' nut guitar (I know they call them 1.8'' but they space the strings just like a regular 1-3/4'').

I would think with a little work the saddle spacing is an issue you could easily overcome. I have guitars from 2-1/4'' to 2-5/8'' and switch back and forth without issues. There was probably a time I had to adjust a little, but that's part of being a player....maybe it's a deal maker/breaker for you.

I’ve found that human hands are pretty adaptable, and it's actually probably healthier that my guitars have slight differences in nut/saddle spacing and neck profiles. That way I’m likely less at risk for repetitive motion injuries.

I measured my three handbuilts, and they are a few thousandths wider or narrower than the stated sizes...but it doesn't bother me, interfere with my playing or affect my ability to switch back and forth even within a set.

Hope this adds to the discussion...


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Old 04-16-2010, 06:16 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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I have a 000-28VS Martin with 1 13/16" nut width and it seems too wide for me. But I do not have large hands as you do. You might love it; for me, I wish it were 1 3/4". However, I have mostly gotten used to it.

I also have a Taylor NS series nylon string guitar with 1 7/8" nut width, and that is even worse.

We each have our limitations and challenges!

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Old 04-16-2010, 06:19 PM
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I prefer 1-9/16" center to center e to E string spacing at the nut. Whatever the nut width needs to be to accommodate that spacing is OK with me.
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Old 04-16-2010, 06:53 PM
66strummer 66strummer is offline
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I believe someone above mentioned neck contour being a big part of the equation as well. Couldn't agree more. A deeper neck contour will make a wider spacing seem even more so IMHO. I think that more guitars don't work out for players due to the wrong (uncomfortable in many cases) neck than because of string spacing
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