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Old 09-11-2008, 10:17 AM
Broadus Broadus is offline
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Default String spacing at bridge and fingerstyle

The string spacing of my Norman ST68, from the middle of the bass E string to the treble E string is 2 1/8", and the string spacing of my S&P folk is a little narrower, something like 2 3/32". The nut width of both is supposed to be 1.72", thought the S&P measures a little less.

I played a friend's 314ce and I think it's supposed to be 2 1/4". Whatever it is, it was noticebly roomier playing fingerstyle, and I played it more cleanly than I play my guitars.

I realize that some folks fingerpick dreads with 1 11/16" nut widths beautifully, and I suspect that the better one's technique, the less string spacing matters. However, I'm only a beginner at fingerstyle (and little more than that at guitar, having played for about a year).

Here's my question: Is there an optimal string spacing for fingerstyle? I realize that "optimal" is a general term, but I'm talking about for most players playing fingerstyle.

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Old 09-11-2008, 10:23 AM
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El Conquistador El Conquistador is offline
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2.25" at the bridge is pretty typical. Common wisdom (and you know what that is worth) says fingerstyle players like a little wider nut, at least 1.75, to facilitate their style.

So, as my Uncle says, "You can get used to anything, you can get used to hanging if you hang long enough", you can adjust to just about any guitar if you have to. The question is, do you have and even want to adjust, or do you want a guitar that is "optimized" for your style?

It is extremely important to realize that there are at least several more factors than nut width and string spacing at the bridge that go into the playability equation.
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Old 09-11-2008, 10:28 AM
David Hilyard David Hilyard is offline
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I think 2 1/4" spacing at the saddle is common on guitars intended for fingerstyle, and usually with a 1 3/4" nut width. I have two guitars that I had made a bit wider, along with a wider nut just because I like wider, and the spacing at the saddle is 2 3/8". Depends on your fingers, too. Find something comfortable and have at it.
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Old 09-11-2008, 10:31 AM
PhilT PhilT is offline
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Hi Broadus. Certainly is a very personal decision. Different hand sizes, picking styles can significantly impact preferences. A further issue that can be just as important is the actual string to string spacing cut into the nut. I have played 1 11/16" nut guitars that had more room than a larger nut width guitar that happened to have smaller string to string distances cut into the nut!

I have fairly small hands, and can play many 1 11/16" nuts, and most 1 3/4" nuts. I lean toward the 1 3/4" as the string to string spacing is usually better for me or can be adjusted easier for proper feel. Where I find probably more issue is with the string spacing at the bridge. I can really tell when going from a narrow bridge spacing to a wider one-definitely takes awhile to adjust. I think the best way to find what is right for you is simply to play different spacings and find which feels more comfortable. I like either 2 3/16" or 2 1/4". The wider "vintage" spacing is just a bit too much of a stretch for me, and narrower than 2 3/16" feels crowded.

Again-totally a subjective thing! Play lots of guitars (which is fun anyway!) and you will find which spacings feel best to you. Good luck!
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Old 09-11-2008, 10:39 AM
rnantel rnantel is offline
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I've mentioned this in the past in other posts about nut width. Hand size HAS to be a consideration. Are you a three hundred pound football player with sausages for fingers? Are you a skinny sixteen year old with pencils for fingers?

There really can't be one optimal width for whatever style.

For me, age plays a part as well. When I was playing 30 years ago, I had no problem switching back and forth from my arch top Epiphone playing jazz clubs at night to my classical guitar practicing at university during the day, even though the two had radically difference string spacings.

Thirty years later, I just sold my Seagull after trying for three months to get used to the string spacing, which I found too wide for me.
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Old 09-11-2008, 10:44 AM
Howard Klepper Howard Klepper is offline
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You are certainly correct that fingerpickers tend to prefer wider spacing and flatpickers closer spacing. I take 1-3/4" nut (funny how we always give that as the full width and leave out the string spacing; both are relevant) and 2-1/4" bridge and 12th fret to be a standard if the player doesn't know or wish to specify. Many fingerpickers will want a little wider spacing like 1-13/16 and 2-5/16, or even 1-7/8 and 2-3/8, which seems to be about the max for steel string players.

The numbers also do not have to move together in lockstep. For example on a guitar intended for a jazz player, I may go 1-3/4" nut and 2-1/8" bridge. This gives more finger room on the lower parts of the board than the "standard" dread spacing, while not spreading the strings out so far for the picking hand as on a guitar made for fingerpicking. The board has less taper, which is also common on jazz guitars. I believe Bob Benedetto takes 1-3/4 and 2-1/8 as his standard.
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Old 09-11-2008, 11:05 AM
Roman Roman is offline
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Without going into too much . . . I play my guitars mostly fingerstyle . . . from the narrow old Gibson to the wide classical. Granted, they're different, but they all work for me.
814c (Florentine cutaway, tobacco sunburst)
Big Baby
Larrivée L-05
Gibson J-55
Gibson S.J.
Guild D-55
Seagull Grand Artist (Rosewood Parlor)
Gold Tone PBR (maple deluxe resonator)
Regal RC-51 (tri-cone)
Fender F-48 (metal body resonator)
Cort Earth 900
Ariana Classical
Kent archtop
Silvertone archtop
Harmony archtop

Les Paul Custom
Fender Strat
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Old 09-11-2008, 12:14 PM
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ljguitar ljguitar is offline
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Hi Bill...
You've seen the technical low-down so far, and I'll share as a fingerstyler, the wider spacing at the saddle allows me to play ''heftier'' passages with more power. I have a hard time fitting my fat-little-finger-tips into narrow spaced strings at the soundhole when I'm plucking adjacent strings.

On the first guitar I played with a 1 3/4'' neck and 2 1/4'' saddle I didn't realize what was different, just knew it was better and easier to finger pick than my Martin D-28.

It was several years after I bought a guitar with wider spacing before anyone explained the difference to all my guitars are 1 3/4'' and 2 1/4'' spaced.

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Old 09-11-2008, 05:01 PM
Kabalan Kabalan is offline
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i play fingerstlyle
1 7/8 in the nut, 2 1/4 in the saddle with short scale
low action with custom light strings(.011)
very comfortable
Eblen Macari
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