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  #1  
Old 03-26-2013, 07:40 PM
Armadillo Armadillo is offline
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Default String Spacing

I have a question and a request,
Question, Would it be beneficial to have a shallow slot in the saddle to keep the strings in the proper position and does anyone do this?

Request, I read somewhere that the low E string should be closer the the edge of the fretboard than the High E. If this is true can you check your guitar strings at the last fret and measure distance from the Low E to the edge of the fretboard and do the same on the High E side and post the measurements or are there set parameters for this on a 2-1/4 spacing. Thanks for you time.
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Old 03-26-2013, 09:54 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Armadillo View Post
Question, Would it be beneficial to have a shallow slot in the saddle to keep the strings in the proper position and does anyone do this?
Generally, I don't think it is beneficial. In some cases it is done. Once example is where one wants to slightly widen the string spacing or the neck/bridge isn't quite aligned. By notching the saddle, it allows the strings to be "guided" to a position they would not normally maintain.

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I read somewhere that the low E string should be closer the the edge of the fretboard than the High E.
It is personal preference based on an individual player's style. Typically, players tend to pull strings downward during "descending legatos" (i.e. pull-offs/hammer-offs). This pulls the string downward, requiring less space between the edge of the string and the edge of the fingerboard - practically, the edge of where the fret ends are bevelled - between sixth and first strings. That is, on the sixth string, you are pulling the string downwards away from the edge of the fingerboard while on the first string you are pulling the string towards the edge of the fingerboard.

In instruments that I make, I have four measurements as follows:

A. distance from the edge of the sixth string to the edge of the fingerboard at the nut
B. distance from the edge of the sixth string to the edge of the fingerboard at the 12th fret
C. distance from the edge of the 1st string to the edge of the fingerboard at the nut
D. distance from the edge of the 1st string to the edge of the fingerboard at the 12th fret.

Usually, for the instruments I make, B=A+1mm. D=C+2 mm or 3 mm. C=A+2 mm. There is more room on the 1st string than 6th and more room at the 12 fret than at the nut for the first string. Hope that makes sense. One can make A=B=C=D, or any other combination one wishes.

Last edited by charles Tauber; 03-26-2013 at 10:02 PM.
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  #3  
Old 03-27-2013, 02:33 AM
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murrmac123 murrmac123 is offline
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Nice succinct explanation, as always, Charles.

Out of curiosity, on the guitars which you build, at which fret does the fretboard width equal the string spacing at the saddle ?
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Old 03-27-2013, 05:53 AM
Armadillo Armadillo is offline
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Technofret, Were you asking Charles or me? On my guitars it is the 14th or body joint where it equals string spacing at the saddle. Thanks Charles for chiming in. I appreciate it.
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Old 03-27-2013, 05:59 AM
Misty44 Misty44 is offline
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To fit his playing style, Norman Blake moved the low E closer to the edge to help with his thumb-over chording, and he notched the saddle to maintain the string alignment relationship:





Quote:
Nice succinct explanation, as always, Charles.
Agree.
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Old 03-27-2013, 07:16 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by murrmac123 View Post
Nice succinct explanation, as always, Charles.
Thanks.

Quote:
Out of curiosity, on the guitars which you build, at which fret does the fretboard width equal the string spacing at the saddle ?
No idea. In the guitars I make, there is zero correlation. I don't lay it out that way or think of it that way.

In the guitars I make the layout is as follows:

Decide upon string spacing at the nut, between outside strings (first and sixth on a six string). Decide on desired string spacing at the saddle/bridge pins. Connect the two points for each string. Decide on A, B, C and D, as described previously, that are offsets from the two outside strings. Connect the points A and B and C and D to establish the fingerboard width and profile.

From my perspective, the player plays the string spacing at the nut, at the saddle (or thereabout) and the amount of clearance he has between the strings and the edge of the fingerboard. Done this way, there is no defined relationship between string spacing at the saddle and the width of the fingerboard at any specific fret. The fingerboard is as wide as it needs to be, where it needs to be, to accommodate the preferences of the player. That's how Charles Fox taught me to do it, way back when.
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Old 03-29-2013, 03:28 PM
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murrmac123 murrmac123 is offline
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I appreciate what you are saying Charles, but ... in terms of conveying information regarding fretboard taper (and I am talking here from the view of the customer) , if you know the string spacing at the nut ( including the offsets) , and the string spacing at the saddle, then, the information as to which fret width matches the string spacing at the saddle gives an instant indication to the experienced guitarist regarding how much real estate he has to play with, ie what the fretboard taper is.

It's just a shorthand way of conveying essential info...that's all it is.

One simple, succinct, (and easily measurable) parameter, which conveys a wealth of information.

IMHO, this info should be part of the description of every guitar for sale, along with scale length, nut width etc etc ... One day it will happen.
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Old 03-29-2013, 03:59 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by murrmac123 View Post
I appreciate what you are saying...
And I appreciate your point as well. However, give me the string spacing at nut and saddle and I understand what the fingerboard real estate to within a mm or two, which is close enough for any general discussion.

Even knowing what you suggest - at which fret the saddle string spacing is equivalent - there are subtle things that come into play, such as the amount of bevel there is on the frets, which reduces the useable playing surface of the fingerboard. It can be as much as a mm or so on each edge.

Unless it is under unusual circumstances, I'd not buy a guitar without playing it first. (And, I don't recommend anyone else do either.) So unless one is specifying a guitar to have one custom made, the spacing at the nut and saddle is sufficient to have a very close idea of the fingerboard real estate. Besides, at least in my experience, players play string spacings, not fingerboard size.

Anyway, whatever works. If someone needs to know at what fret the string spacing at the saddle is equivalent, I'll be happy to tell them: um, it's the same width as .680 of the distance between the 13 and 14th fret.
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Old 04-02-2013, 09:45 AM
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Larry Pattis Larry Pattis is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charles Tauber View Post
<<snip>>

From my perspective, the player plays the string spacing at the nut, at the saddle (or thereabout) and the amount of clearance he has between the strings and the edge of the fingerboard. Done this way, there is no defined relationship between string spacing at the saddle and the width of the fingerboard at any specific fret. The fingerboard is as wide as it needs to be, where it needs to be, to accommodate the preferences of the player. That's how Charles Fox taught me to do it, way back when.

Hmmm.

My *opinion* (ahem) is that one can indeed take this a bit further, because there can be meaningful relationships beyond this approach.

I agree fully that one always plays the string spacing, because that's where the fingers go to find the strings!

However, the underlying palette of the fretboard can provide more or less real estate on the outside of the E strings, and some of these relationships can be advantageous to the player, not to mention somewhat confusing.

Here's a conundrum in this regard:

Martin sells three OM sized guitars with three different bridge spacings, 2-1/4", 2-5/16", and 2-3/8", in order of increasing string spacings at the bridge.

Each of these three guitars has a 1-3/4" nut.

One would think that each guitar would have similar distances beyond each E string as you travel up the neck, to higher frets, that is, the guitars with the wider bridge spacing would have fingerboards that taper wider. Instead, what one finds is that Martin uses the same neck/fingerboard for each of these three guitars....that is, they *all* measure 2-1/4" across the full fingerboard at the 12th fret.

So the wider string spacing guitars (wider at the bridge) have the E strings closer and closer to the edges of the fingerboard as you go up the neck.

This, quite frankly, is not the way to build a guitar, IMNSHO. Knowing these relationships, from the players perspective, is *quite* important.

Now, many builders end up with a guitar that has the bridge spacing as equal to the overall width of the fingerboard at the 14th fret. This is a common relationship, where intentional or not. Others (fewer) have the bridge spacing as the overall width of the fingerboard at the 12th fret, effectively tapering wider, to give the E strings more distance to the edges (or inset further).

In addition to this, of course, many builders (and players) will offset the strings slightly (at bridge and nut) so that the high E string is further from the fingerboard edge than the low E string.

Some players *like* their E strings closer to the edges, and some do not...so again, knowing these specific measurements, from the players perspective, is *quite* important. Some builders do also feel the same way...it's not just the players.

So adding one measurement (the overall width of the 12th fret) while looking at the string spacings can provide a big piece of information to the player...without assuming that the builder *knows* what is good for each player.

I know, it's a lot of words to describe a simple situation.

That's the way I roll!

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Old 04-02-2013, 10:33 AM
Ned Milburn Ned Milburn is offline
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Very well described, Larry, and thanks for the concrete example of Martin's guitars.

Another factor to consider with string spacing overall, which is usually considered at the nut rather than at the bridge, is the string spacing in relationship to the diameter of the strings. Specifically, if strings are spaced equally centre to centre, the low E string will be closer to the fingerboard edge due to its greater diameter than compared to the lower diameter high E string. Hence, some craftsmen/women will set up instruments with string spacing with equal distance BETWEEN strings, and others equal distance from string centre to centre. Either option can be spaced with the outer edge of each E string equidistant from the fingerboard edge, or with their centers equidistant from the fingerboard edge.

None is right, none is wrong. Players that notice the difference (either of their own discovery or of having been pointed this out by a craftsman or other player) may find they have a preference. If you do notice you have a preference, then your preference should be stated when getting someone to work on your instrument.

Good topic, all in all.
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Old 04-02-2013, 11:00 AM
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That Martin method is not a good way of dealing with string spacings imho but it makes sense from a factory production point of view. I like to give a bit more room on the high-e string as I have the tenancy to pull them off. Not every one does though and in fact I built one for a guy which was the exact opposite. FWIW I find the stew mac nut width fuller to work really well for measuring equal distance between spaces. I don't like it if the lower strings look all bunched up because of their thickness. I also like the fb taper to come out ever so slightly along the length of each outside string. As you go up the fretboard the strings are easier to accidentally bend down. So iow the line that the fretboard edge makes is not parallel to the line the e-strings make, but only slightly.
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Old 04-03-2013, 02:09 PM
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Pat Foster Pat Foster is offline
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Regarding string spacing at the nut, I did some arithmetic and found that the string diameters on a steel string increase by about .020" going from the b to g to d, etc., which translates to the center-to-center string spacing needing to increase by about .010" from string to string. So a string spacing template that reflects that change is a useful tool for laying out spacing that maintains a consistent distance between the strings. I believe this is what StewMac's string spacing ruler does. If you look closely at this pic, you can see the spacing increase as you go from the high e to the low.



Regarding the OP, Ervin Somogyi puts notches on his saddles with the idea that it keeps the strings from moving around with hard playing, reducing wear on the saddle. I haven't found that to be an issue yet.

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Last edited by Pat Foster; 04-03-2013 at 02:20 PM.
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Old 04-03-2013, 03:02 PM
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murrmac123 murrmac123 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Pattis View Post
.

I know, it's a lot of words to describe a simple situation.
No it's not.

Your posts on this subject (and the subject does rise from time to time) are always models of concise well explained reasoning, and it would well behove all builders to take the time to read your posts, learn from them, and inwardly digest.

Anyway, regarding the string spacing at the nut thing , I just thought I would throw in the fact that Huss and Dalton (possibly alone among the major manufacturers) still cling to the "equal string center" philosophy rather than the "equal string spacing" policy.

Why they do this , I do not know. Martin, to their credit have always (at least on any Martin I have ever owned) adopted the "equal string spacing " approach.

I am not a Taylor owner but from remembrance of Taylors I have played in the dim and distant, I am fairly certain that Bob Taylor also adopts the "equal string spacing " method.

Gibson ??? I have no idea ...haven't played a Gibson acoustic in years...but my recollection is that the last Les Paul I set up had equal string spacing, rather than equal string centers.
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Old 04-03-2013, 03:11 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Pattis View Post
Hmmm.

My *opinion* (ahem) is that one can indeed take this a bit further, because there can be meaningful relationships beyond this approach.
As I stated earlier in this thread, there are six (6) dimensions (plus scale length) necessary to fully define the fingerboard size.

I was then asked, at what fret the string spacing at the bridge is the same as the fret width. To which I replied, there isn't one, that I don't lay it out that way or conceive of it that way. I was told that, "if you know the string spacing at the nut ( including the offsets) , and the string spacing at the saddle, then, the information as to which fret width matches the string spacing at the saddle gives an instant indication to the experienced guitarist regarding how much real estate he has to play with."

I responded by saying, more or less, "not so much", but if one wants a quick number to relate to the fingerboard real estate, string spacing at nut and saddle is sufficient for a general idea. To know exactly how much real estate a particular guitar has, you need the 6 dimensions (7 with scale length), or play the thing. And, you have to know how the fret ends are finished, if you want to get into the "fine print".

In short, I think we are on the same page, saying the same thing.
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Old 04-03-2013, 03:35 PM
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murrmac123 murrmac123 is offline
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Charles, I just don't understand why you can't take a caliper, measure your string spacing at the saddle, lock the caliper, slide it down the neck until it makes contact and then say ...hey the saddle spacing on my guitars is the same as the width at the 12th fret (or the 14th ...or God forbid ...the 16th ...)

Also, how come every other soldier in this man's army has a fretboard, and you have a "fingerboard"?

Huh ?...
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