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Old 03-16-2006, 12:35 PM
bobc bobc is offline
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Question 1 11/16 VS 1 3/4 Nut Width... Does It Make A difference???

I have read some threads speaking of 1 11/16 vs 1 3/4 nut widths, and how many people say how much of a difference it makes.

The total difference in nut width is 1/16 (.0625) of an inch. So if you divide that by 5 (the 5 spaces between the strings), it comes out to 1/80 (.0125) of an inch additional space between each string.

Is the human finger even able to feel that little of a difference?

If so, does it make that big of a difference?

Or could it all just be in our minds...???...
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Old 03-16-2006, 12:42 PM
vintageparlors vintageparlors is offline
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I believe the difference one might feel is a combination of many factors including nut width, neck profile, fretboard radius and even the finish on the neck and how it might cause your skin to drag(or not). I've played some fat necked 1 11/16" that worked for me and some thin profiled 1 3/4" necks that did not feel right. To me, its not the numbers, it's the fit.
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Old 03-16-2006, 12:42 PM
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Yes, it makes a differece. Not only is the string spacing a tad wider, the neck is often a bit thicker. I have trouble using my thumb for bass notes with a 1 3/4", but not on a 1 11/16".
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Old 03-16-2006, 12:55 PM
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Hi bobc...
Being friends with a luthier who builds guitars for a living full-time, I'm often privileged to go and play in guitars for a few hours at a time.

He has built them in 1 12/16'', 1 13/16'', and 1 14/16'' since I've known him, and I can tell the difference in all three widths while playing them. He never tells me anything about the guitars - just hands them to me and lets me play and observe.

I haven't missed one yet that is a different width. Perhaps it is because some mult-fret stretches are at the limits of what I can reach, so it is normal plus a bit when necks are wider.

I feel it when I bend (more space before hitting the next string with the finger doing the bending). I also notice it when doing parallel 6ths and 3rds in runs. The other noticeable place is when grabbing tight chord groupings anywhere in the 10th - 15th fret areas - because there is more room for finger tips in the narrowly spaced frets.

I can wrap my thumb under the neck of a 1 11/16'' neck to the 10th or 11th fret to play bass notes, and only about 5th fret on a 1 12/16'' and barely at all on 1 13/16'' or larger.

Being an instructor, there are several students who play 1 11/16'' necks and I play every students guitar at the beginning of every lesson - to remind myself of what they play and to see how difficult what I'm asking them to do is going to be.

After playing three 1 12/16'' necks all week, those necks feel pretty cramped. I've even traded students during lessons for an entire lesson to see if I can adapt to their necks. I can survive, but my dexerity is limited. The guitars they play are Martin, Taylor, Washburn, and Samick. All are full scale.

I have concluded that the extra width is more than just neck profile, neck radius, spacing at the saddle, or hype.

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Last edited by ljguitar; 03-16-2006 at 12:59 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 03-16-2006, 12:58 PM
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To Larry's last point, I think the issue for many isn't so much the nut width as it is the string spacing at the saddle. After a while, many people just get used to a certain spacing and that's what they stick with.

Some of us are likely just sloppy players, regardless of width and spacing.
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Old 03-16-2006, 01:02 PM
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I have both 1 11/16 and 1 3/4 widths. I never really thought about it until I started playing my first guitar with a 1 11/16 a lot. When I went back to 1 3/4 I started 'missing' strings by just a small amount. It took awhile before I realized it was the nut width. I can now move between the two (3 actually, my 12 string is 1 13/16) without much trouble.

Given my choice I would choose the 1 3/4. It is more comfortable for me and I have small hands.

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Old 03-16-2006, 01:08 PM
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Yes it makes a difference, absolutely. The mind is very capable of discerning very small differences. Try moving a tooth 1mm. OUCH! Okay, so anyway, I've found that the difference isn't enough to keep me from playing. But it can keep me from playing well... as muscle memory has a lot to do with moving around the neck without having to think about where I'm going, and not muting strings, etc. But just as big a difference happens with neck profile. I find that I like Martin's profile at 1-11/16" more than Taylor's... but Larrivee's profile at 1-3/4" is really uncomfortable. So there are a lot of variables... very small ones... that can make a huge difference in the feel of a given instrument, as well as the ease of moving from one to another.

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Old 03-16-2006, 01:51 PM
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I have both sizes and can move back and forth with relative ease, but there is a distinct difference. The smaller nut requires a little more accuracy to keep from buzzing adjacent strings, but it also means smaller stretches when it counts. I can't say that I like either one better; it depends on what I'm playing.

Also, as others have noted, neck depth and profile also figure into it. I generally favor slim necks, especially if I'm thumbing the 6th string.
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Old 03-16-2006, 02:11 PM
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Also, the distance between the E strings can be different as well....perhaps further explanation is required with an example...

You can have two guitars with 1 11/16th neck width at the nut but have the string spacing different at the nut on each because they could have different nuts; however both designed for 1 11/16 necks. Ex. One nut could have a 36.5mm space between the E strings while another could have a 34.95mm space between the E strings. The first one will have the strings closer to the ends of the frets and more space between each, the other will have the strings further from the edge of the fretboard and bunched closer together. Same nut size but they will have a different feel.

We are talking small increments but you can feel very small changes.

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Old 03-16-2006, 02:26 PM
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Yes, for me it makes a very big and noticeable difference. I started playing classical guitars long before I switched to steel strings. I don't use my left thumb for anything other than support and I still play both types and find that narrower necks (under 1 3/4") are just not for me. I can play them, and I suppose that with enough time I'd get used to them, but I don't play as well on a narrower neck so my preferences are for 1 3/4" and wider.
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Old 03-16-2006, 04:15 PM
bobc bobc is offline
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Thumbs up Thanks All

You all make very interesting points, and I am sure that there is a difference now.

I have a T5 which has a 1 11/16 nut width, and before that, a Fender DG-100 which had the same. I don't know about any ones before that, because I did not know that there was different sizes.

Thank you all for your responses.
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