Why does a 1/16 make such a difference ?

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    • #4744

      During some recent back and forth emails and phone conversations with some of Y’all a recurring theme is Nut Width.

      The discussion almost always leads to …”I’d love to buy that guitar but I just can’t because it has a 1 11/16 nut……I’ve got to have a 1 3/4.

      Now I’m not the player that most of you are, and I broke my neck 25 years ago and still suffer from some lack of sensation in my fingers, but  I don’t see why a 1/16 of an inch should keep one from buying a guitar that has an exceptional voice and is (other than nut width) a wonderful instrument.

      Until I became aware of the finer points of luthiery I honestly could not of told you the nut width of any of my guitars.

      Is muscle memory that accurate that a 1/16 causes a missed note or screwed up chord ?  Hell, I miss place my fingers several time a song regardless of the nut size.

      Just wondering .


      1993 Martin HD-28 IR/Sitka
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      Life is a journey…not a guided tour,
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    • #4750

      Personally, I just can’t get all my fingers onto the fretboard when its 1-11/16 – which is kinda a problem, as the main reason I’m trying is because I want to get as many strings into play as I can, and frequently its just 2 or 3 that are needed – or even wanted –

      But I discovered a long time ago that while I can live with 1-¾,  I’d always rather have 1-13/16, and sometimes, 1-⅞ is truly luxurious. But when it gets to 1-⅞, neck shape and depth start to become much more important, and I’ve let a couple that wide go because of the shape, and it just plain hurt to play them for any extended period.

      But that low-profile, slim “C”  1-13/16” SC neck – a true thing of joy –

    • #4751

      The 1 and 3/4″ nut width was standard on Martins for a long time, and then at some point they switched to 1 and 11/16″.  No one batted an eyelid when they did.

      Then along came the Internet and discussion of finer points among the general interested population.  Also acoustic music was making a massive comeback at the same moment.  Fingerstyle guitar became a thing.  The combination of the two events meant that 1 and 3/4″ came roaring back with a vengeance.    Now they are easier to find than 1 and 11/16″ nuts.  (Rainsong doesn’t make guitars with necks that have 1 and 11/16″ nuts)

      I have tried to like 1 3/4″ nuts, but I never get the sound I am looking for from them.  I also find chording more difficult.

      (Suite Judy Blue Eyes cannot be played properly on a guitar that has a 1 and 3/4″ nut width.  But it’s a bit easier to play 4+20 on one.)

      I maintain, perhaps self-interestedly, that 99% of players could go with a 1 and 11/16″ nut width.  They just need slight improvements to technique and a little more time practicing.



    • #4752

      I mostly notice the difference when playing the G chord using my index on 6g  Ring 5b &  pinky 1g fingering,  and on most bar chords  it causes me to overextend my messed up left wrist .  It’s the little things …   I think nut string spacing plays more into the mix for many .

    • #4753
      John Frink

      It makes a difference to me. I habitually play from chord positions, so I usually have several fingers down on the board at any one time. If the strings are too closely spaced, one or more fingers will touch an adjacent string and either damp it or cause a buzz. Given the size and shape of my own personal fingers, I’ve found that 1-13/16″ is perfect for me, 1-3/4″ is OK, 1-7/8″ is OK, but 1-11/16″ is too narrow.

      One interesting thing I discovered is that some Santa Cruz 1-3/4″ necks actually measure 1-25/32″, which is 1/32″ wider than spec, and this is terrific for me; it’s a wonderful compromise between “OK” and “perfect”.


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