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View Full Version : Nut Size vs String Spacing



rappsy
04-29-2016, 06:57 AM
Hello:

I am not a luthier, but I figured this is the best place for this question. If it's not, please have the Mods move it to the appropriate place.

During a recent conversation with Johnson430 about his upcoming KoAloha KSM-01 Pineapple, he mentioned that the nut size was 1.5". I have a had a few KoAloha's and always believed it was 1 3/8" and always found it comfortable. I then received a Kanile's which does have a 1.5" and I can feel the difference and think it is a bit wide for me.

So here is my question: Where does string spacing come into play with a nut of 1 3/8" and 1.5"? Can a nut 1.5" nut be replaced with one where the slots are closer together to offset the wider 1.5 nut?

A conversation with another member Mattyukaholic went something like this.

<<I've had similar thoughts about replacing the nut to alter string spacing but you face a few problems. Firstly, the nuts are often glued down and really hard to replace without damaging the finish around it. Secondly, the spacing at the bridge effects things too and that is even harder to replace. You may find that changing the nut and not the bridge means that the strings don't run parallel with the fingerboard and it might effect the intonation. Eg narrow at the bridge/wide at the nut or vice versa.

If I wanted to make the spacing a bit closer together on my Kanile'a, is this a realistic proposition?

When answering please keep in mind that I have 14 thumbs, and no mechanical technical expertise at all. Also please speak slowly as i do not know the technical terms either. <smile> I have a pretty good luthier locally that I can take it to if it is feasible.

Thanks in advance.

ksquine
04-29-2016, 07:22 AM
Well....you could change it but I wouldn't. Sell it and buy something you like. If you're bothered by the 1/8" wider neck then you won't like it after changing it
-Yes you can change the nut and make whatever spacing you like. But then the 1st and 4th strings will be farther from the edge than you're used to. And you'll still have the wider neck that you don't like
-Yes you can have a narrower nut spacing and wider bridge spacing. There's no problem with intonation. There's no hard rule that sets the bridge spacing based on the nut spacing.....just what feels normal to most people. But the strings won't be parallel to the fretboard and that will feel weird.
- Yes you could change the spacing at the bridge buy drilling new holes for the strings. But you'll still have that wide neck and extra space on the sides that will feel weird.

So, yeah you could change it but it still won't feel right. Sell it and get something else.

Booli
04-29-2016, 09:07 AM
Well....you could change it but I wouldn't. Sell it and buy something you like. If you're bothered by the 1/8" wider neck then you won't like it after changing it
-Yes you can change the nut and make whatever spacing you like. But then the 1st and 4th strings will be farther from the edge than you're used to. And you'll still have the wider neck that you don't like
-Yes you can have a narrower nut spacing and wider bridge spacing. There's no problem with intonation. There's no hard rule that sets the bridge spacing based on the nut spacing.....just what feels normal to most people. But the strings won't be parallel to the fretboard and that will feel weird.
- Yes you could change the spacing at the bridge buy drilling new holes for the strings. But you'll still have that wide neck and extra space on the sides that will feel weird.

So, yeah you could change it but it still won't feel right. Sell it and get something else.

Mind you, I'm not a luthier, but like to customize my instruments and am pretty handy with manual woodworking tools....

Having done what the OP is asking myself, going both ways, from replacing a 1.5" nut with a smaller one, and replacing a 1 3/8" nut or smaller with a wider one, and in each cutting new nut slots to accommodate, I'd have to agree with ksquine here, UNLESS you dont mind the endless tweaking that seems to follow to get it to 'feel right' and can live with the non-parallel, i.e., skewed strings when compared to the edges of the neck (unless your NECK is ALSO tapered, as some in fact are thinner at the nut then at the 12th fret).

If you have any kind of visual OCD, it will drive you nuts that the strings are not parallel to the neck, but on most instruments, in fact they are not anyway, you just dont KNOW about it.

Most fretted instruments that I've had hands-on with, have ever-so-slightly wider string spacing at the 12th and wider still at the saddle than they do at the nut. Some of my ukes came this way from their maker. Luckily this visual-OCD does not plague me.

On my tenor ukes, the strings are about 10mm apart on a 38mm nut, and are about 12.5mm apart at the saddle/bridge, so there is SOME 'spread' from nut to saddle, but unless you take a ruler and measure, it is a bit difficult to see just by looking at it.

Also, it's not been hard or harmful to remove a nut from any instrument I've done so with. If you take a 1/2" wide strip of wood about 4" long, place it against the bridge-side of the nut, parallel and flat to the fretboard, and gently tap the wood strip with a hammer, maybe like 2-3 taps and the nut comes off easy and is only lightly glued on.

If I replace a nut, I usually only use a 'Glue Stick' on the bottom of the nut which holds in in place until I get strings on. After that, string tension not only holds the nut ON the uke, but also perfectly aligned and works fine and does not have to be glued down to do it's job.

Just be careful during string changes not to lose the nut (I change one string at a time), and NEVER use Cyanoacrylate (CA) or superglue or crazy glue on a nut, because, then for sure any attempt to remove it will likely tear out the finish or even wood from the headstock of your uke. Most wood glue, Titebond, even Elmers is enough to bond the nut to the uke enough, and is easy to remove. One tiny drop in the center of the new nut is enough to hold.

So, Lenny, I agree with ksquine that you will probably save yourself lots of grief by re-homing the instrument in question and just going with a different instrument.

I'm an instrument hacker, so my intentions and tolerances are not typical of folks who are content with the instrument as it comes. My OCD is that I have to 'customize' it some how, otherwise it is not truly my own. Those folks are not plagued with demons like I am. Ha ha MUAAAHHH. (Sorry couldn't resist) :)

johnson430
04-29-2016, 12:08 PM
Lenny, thanks for sharing your experience. My KoAloha came to me because the 1.5 neck was too wide for the previous owner.

Firstly, I was surprised that there is that much difference between 1 3/8 and 1.5. When I look on a ruler it doesn't look like much but when I compare fretboards they are so different.

Honestly, I am now a fan of the 1.5. Even though I have small fingers, the wider neck seems to give me the room a need for my finger-picking.
I could see why someone would like the 1 3/8, there is less neck width and therefore less neck thickness as well.
The wider neck should be taken as a good thing for a finger-style player. Perhaps that is why I have fallen in love so much with the KoAloha pineapple. It feels like it was made for a finger-style player.

And to stay on topic. Booli and ksquine have given you some good advice.
Does this mean the Kanile'a will go on the marketplace?

rappsy
04-30-2016, 07:11 AM
Lenny, thanks for sharing your experience. My KoAloha came to me because the 1.5 neck was too wide for the previous owner.

Firstly, I was surprised that there is that much difference between 1 3/8 and 1.5. When I look on a ruler it doesn't look like much but when I compare fretboards they are so different.

Honestly, I am now a fan of the 1.5. Even though I have small fingers, the wider neck seems to give me the room a need for my finger-picking.
I could see why someone would like the 1 3/8, there is less neck width and therefore less neck thickness as well.
The wider neck should be taken as a good thing for a finger-style player. Perhaps that is why I have fallen in love so much with the KoAloha pineapple. It feels like it was made for a finger-style player.

And to stay on topic. Booli and ksquine have given you some good advice.
Does this mean the Kanile'a will go on the marketplace?

It is amazing to me that such a small difference makes such a huge difference in the feel. I also felt that way with the 16in to 17in scale.

I knew that it was something that I wouldn't want to mess with especially on such a fine Uke as a Kanile'a, but if you don't ask, you don't know.

Thanks to Ksquine, Booli and Johnson for the advice, and no, the Kanile'a is staying put for the mean time. It sounds sooooooooooooooo good.

mvinsel
05-02-2016, 09:55 AM
I agree changing the nut by itself wouldn't match the feel of the narrower neck that you like.
You'd want to narrow the fretboard and neck too, if you really wanted that uke and want it 1-3/8.

I have a Kanilea and I see that's it's neck is very thin in depth near the nut, so I'd call them up and check the feasibility.
If they have a graphite reinforcement in there it might be no problem.
I'm sure you'd be losing the lifetime warranty if you're the original owner.

If you have a luthier friend nearby they might be willing to do it.

It sure is a lot easier to change a neck/fretboard/neck width to file a 1.5" down to 1-3/8, than to go the other way!

All in all, this is the kind of thing we might not think twice about on a cheaper uke, so I'm not disagreeing with the recommendations above.

-Vinnie in Juneau