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  1. #1

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    Most players have a preference for nut widths, be it 1-11/16", 1-3/4", etc. But I see very little discussion about string spacing at the bridge. For me, this is an equally important factor when it comes to picking technique, whether alternate or "sweep."

    So, what kind of spacing do you prefer (E to E)? 2"/51mm, 2-1/4"/57mm? Something narrower? In-between? Wider?
    -- Isn't it crazy that "archtop" and "luthier" are spelling errors on this forum?

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  3. #2

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    If possible, I set the string spacing to align the strings over the center of the neck pickup polepieces, whatever that may be at the bridge.

  4. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell View Post
    If possible, I set the string spacing to align the strings over the center of the neck pickup polepieces, whatever that may be at the bridge.
    I was referring to what kind of spacing you prefer for your picking technique, as a player. Whether it's an acoustic, electric etc.
    -- Isn't it crazy that "archtop" and "luthier" are spelling errors on this forum?

  5. #4

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    It's a trade-off between pick vs fingerstyle for me. Wider string spacing makes playing fingerstyle easier. Wider nut width also helps doing more pianistic, intricate chord melody playing. But to me string spacing is even more important than nut width for fingerstyle. One of my acoustics has string spacing similar to a classical guitar. It's certainly easier to clear strings when doing free strokes. My ES 175 is narrower but I got used to it.
    If I was a strictly pick player, I wouldn't see any reason to go wider than a typical Strat or Tele specs. Narrow spacing makes strumming and string skipping easier with picks.

  6. #5

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    The string spacing I prefer is whatever puts the strings over the polepieces. Beyond that, I have no preference. It has no importance to me.

  7. #6

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    I think string spacing at the bridge does matter, but it is a complete system. The nut and bridge define the string path and the neck taper should match that geometry.

    To complicate matters nut width is not string spacing at the neck. So someone theoretically could have 1-3/4” or 1-11/16” nut and the same string spacing at the nut.

    Finally, experimenting with bridge spacing is hard on an electric guitar because off-the-shelf pickups have pole pieces in a few standard spacing.

    That said, I make my own guitars. I can do whatever I want. I find that for jazz I prefer a wider fretboard. My favorite neck was a mistake. I was laying out a 1-3/4” nut with string spacing at the nut of 1/8” low E and 3/16” high e from the edge. The fingerboard was compound from 12”-16”, so relatively flat. This is for a “Tele”.

    Finally, the bridge was supposed to be 2-3/16”. That matches vintage Martin. Instead I laid it out at 2-3/8”. Oooops!

    Turns out I LOVE it! It plays especially nice from the sixth fret to the fifteenth, which is where I spend most of my time.

    It is hard to experiment because once the neck taper is set you really can’t change the bridge spacing much. But, if you can, experiment. You may find something unexpected.



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  8. #7

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    2"

  9. #8

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    I have archtops where it is 1-3/4” at the nut to 2-1/6” at the saddle and others a bit wider at 1-3/4” at the nut to 2-3/16” at the saddle.
    __________________________________________________ ____________________________________
    Bob


  10. #9

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    For some reason, perhaps because they’re more likely to be finger pickers, the folks on the acousticguitarforum.com seem to talk about this issue much more often. They’ll torment themselves while planning a custom build or sell off a $7500 Bourgeois if the spacing at the bridge is not to their liking.
    Ignorance is agony.



  11. #10

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    Thinking about it, probably the main reason I don't care about string spacing at the bridge is that I never play there. I pick over, or near, the neck pickup and the string length behind that is terra incognito for me. Acoustic players seem to tend to play closer to the bridge, and that could make a difference. But I only play further up, near the neck, and the spacing there is much more important to me. But even there, I have no overriding preferences.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell View Post
    Thinking about it, probably the main reason I don't care about string spacing at the bridge is that I never play there. I pick over, or near, the neck pickup and the string length behind that is terra incognito for me. Acoustic players seem to tend to play closer to the bridge, and that could make a difference. But I only play further up, near the neck, and the spacing there is much more important to me. But even there, I have no overriding preferences.
    String spacing has effect on the entire picking range, from the neck side to the bride side. Just like the nut width doesn't only effect the first fret but the entire neck. It's measured at the bridge because that's where the spacing is set.

  13. #12

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    I tend to keep the E-strings parallel to the edge of the fingerboard and make the other strings fan-out as needed.

  14. #13

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    True, but I tend to set the string spacing at the place where I pick. If the strings are directly over the polepieces of the neck pickup, the spacing at the ends becomes less important. I have guitars with nut widths all over the place, from 41mm to 45mm, but the spacing at the neck pickup is over the polepieces, so about the same. The spacing at the bridge is whatever it happens to be, I've never bothered to measure because it doesn't matter. All I care about is the spacing at the neck pickup.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by icr View Post
    I tend to keep the E-strings parallel to the edge of the fingerboard and make the other strings fan-out as needed.
    That's another valid method. I have that setup on my Wu. The strings aren't over the polepieces on that guitar, because the neck is wide and the Rhythm Chief pickup has narrow spacing of the polepieces. Putting the strings over them would result in the E strings being pretty far from the edge of the fingerboard at the end, so I compromise. I don't notice any ill effects from the slightly wider spacing at the pickup. TBH, I've never really thought much about string spacing, I just take what I get and don't worry about it. Action height is much more important to me, along with other factors.

  16. #15

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    I recall seeing some Martin guitars where they adopted some older spacing. The ones I saw had bridges where the saddle slots were open at the saddle ends. I can't recall the spacing, but it was large enough where it made the fretboard seem uncomfortably wide up around the 8th fret.
    Last edited by DanielleOM; 06-20-2019 at 11:58 AM. Reason: spelling correction

  17. #16

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    I personally find it very important. Very overlooked by guitarists in general.