View Full Version : Wider nut width for a tenor or concert?

06-07-2017, 01:56 PM
Anyone have any experience with a 1.5 inch wide nut on a 15-to-17 inch scale uke? Is it a difficult transition from a 1.375 (1-3/8) inch nut? I am considering this width for both fingerpicking and strumming. I've also seen some spec'd at 1.4375" (1-7/16).

06-07-2017, 03:50 PM
Just got back from ukulele fest and heard James Hill say he prefers a tenor with 1.5 inch nut (and a flat fretboard btw). He's a tall guy with long fingers. I have a Mya Moe tenor with a 1.5 inch nut. I purchased it from the UU marketplace. I love the sound of this beautiful tenor ukulele but I as I progress I have come to realize the 1.5 inch is too wide for me. I have medium sized female hands and as I bar it just gets that much harder up the neck because it's that much wider near the body. And some of the chords that really stretch your fingers out are that much further out. Now I am considering selling the Mya Moe or looking to trade it for one with a standard nut width.

Ukulele Eddie
06-07-2017, 03:50 PM
For me it doesn't make a big difference. I've played some 1 1/2 that did not space the strings evenly (the 2 and 3 spacing is wider than the 1 and 2 and 3 and 4). I didn't care for that but I guess some people like it.

06-07-2017, 04:19 PM
1 3/8" converts to 34.9mm. 1 1/2" converts to 38.1mm. Most of my tenors have nut widths of around 36-37mm.


06-07-2017, 05:26 PM
I have two concerts with 1.5" nut width. I don't notice any transition difficulties at all between them and my standard width instruments.

06-07-2017, 06:32 PM
Kanile'a and Islander have a 1 1/2" nut, I switch back and forth to my old Martin and don't have any problems. The old Martin is actually the easiest to play, but I prefer concert scale for everyday play.

06-07-2017, 07:08 PM
I played a Kanile'a tenor with a 1.5 for two years. My next uke had a 1 7/16 and it took me a couple of months to get used to it, especially when playing up the higher frets. After getting use to it, no problem going back and forth.

Graham Greenbag
06-08-2017, 12:39 AM
Anyone have any experience with a 1.5 inch wide nut on a 15-to-17 inch scale uke? Is it a difficult transition from a 1.375 (1-3/8) inch nut? I am considering this width for both fingerpicking and strumming. I've also seen some spec'd at 1.4375" (1-7/16).

I recently got an Islander (Concert Scale laminate), it's 30.2mm over the outer strings and has a 38.0mm nut. Having the wider string spacing has made a lot of difference to how well I'm able to play and practice. Because of the extra practice playing on my old ukes is now easier than before, but as my fingers' width hasn't changed the narrower spaced strings will always give some issues.

If I bought a pair of gloves, a shirt or a hat then I'd consider their/it's fit on my frame when making the purchase. Doing the same with Ukes makes sense to me, consider how your particular hand fits the Uke you're interested in buying.

06-08-2017, 03:07 AM
As I understand it, the fan-out as strings approach the bridge isn't dictated by the width of the nut (particularly when you're talking the modest difference of the 1.5" nut). Rather, the problem is more likely that the standard Mya-Moe fan-out is more extreme than with most other ukes: you'd experience the same problem with a Mya-Moe having a standard nut. String spacing at the bridge is much more variable among makers than at the nut, and sadly, I don't know of a single maker who includes this datum in published specs, despite that it has more relevance to a player than, say, the exact width of the bouts or, as I've just discovered, the advertised nut width.

To check on the variability of fan-out I measured the distance...

In short, the bridge spacing favored by a maker can easily dwarf any upper-neck difference in spacing contributed by the wider nut (in theory, a maximum of 1.5mm at the 12th fret, but in fact this difference may actually be nil), and neither the nut width nor scale seem to correlate with the string spacing at the bridge.

So if you plan to trade in the Mya-Moe for something else, don't be guided by nut width—a wider nut may actually help you on the lower neck—but rather inquire about the string spacing at the saddle, since that's likely the real problem you're having with the Mya-Moe.

I assume you've already considered whether the present action might be too high for you—which is no comment on Mya-Moe's setup, people just differ in what action they need. For barring, I have more problems due to action than to string spacing.

Interesting survey. I guess I must have more ukuleles to experiment with. First, I should have said closed chords, not bar. The action seems pretty sweet on the MM. But I personally feel that that little tiny extra stretch across to the 4th string (even closer to the nut) coupled with a thicker neck (maybe that's a difference too) seems to slow me up as try to build up my speed. And yes, I am not an advanced player. I guess I prefer a thinner neck. The Martin tenor neck feels fast to me --- its nut and neck are narrow in comparison. All that being said I love picking up the MM, the spaciousness is pleasant when noodling.

06-08-2017, 06:14 AM
Pohaku ukuleles come standard with an 1 1/2 inch nut. They are also wonderful instruments!

06-09-2017, 04:42 AM
But regardless of the nut width, you can't change the spacing at the bridge end (and thus in the upper neck) unless you notch the bridge, which I doubt is a good thing to do, for a couple of reasons.

I have changed the spacing at the bridge on my Pono Tenor because I did not like how wide it was. This was accomplished by drilling 4 small holes which converted my tie bridge to a string-thru bridge. You can pick any spacing you want. Easy to change back simply by changing the strings back to use the tie bridge again. Wouldn't want to do this on an expensive ukulele though.

Graham Greenbag
06-09-2017, 02:12 PM
Thinking about modifications to string spacing, and one that could equally apply to Concerts and Tenors, I modified one of my cheaper Kala Soprano laminates today such that it now has 30mm over the strings. The results sounds fine and plays easier (for me) than it did.

A couple of weeks back I found an on-line retailer selling 38mm wide nuts with 30mm over the the two outer strings. The Kala neck is 35mm and I carefully filed the nut to that width, the resultant 2.5 mm per side from strings to fretboard edge seems to be just enough. I'm not sure that I'd do this exercise on something more valuable - I wouldn't want to devalue something expensive - but I am rather pleased with the result.

Graham Greenbag
06-09-2017, 09:37 PM
Who is it? I have several "wider-nut" instruments I'd like to increase to a 30mm spacing, and I may try it on some standard nut models as well.

I used the Southern Ukulele Store here in the UK and, as the string spacing isn't specified, made a speculative purchase: http://www.southernukulelestore.co.uk/Product/1664/Ukulele-Replacement-Bone-Nut-38mm-x-3-5mm-x-6mm . As (unusually good) luck would have it the string height was perfect when fitted, but of course YMMV and I'd have preferred the 'safety net' of nut files being needed.

Prior to my purchase of a finished nut I was considering purchasing some longer blanks and making / attempting to make a custom nut myself. Junior Hacksaws can have narrow blades for initial slotting (finish off with nut files) and (working off one end of the nut or vice jaws) a bolt plus a couple of nuts could be used to act as a blade guide / distance gauge to give you correct spacing. I'd decided to check the bolt pitch and (for later alignment with) to put centre pop marks on the bolt head and one nut (other is to lock) to help with accurate movement (one whole turn of the nut gives a specific change in length, etc.) A set square gauge, ruler and basic vernier calliper would help; and I'd have checked the distance from the outer strings to the nut ends by using a (vernier type) depth gauge against a blade or feeler gauge in the slot. Maybe all a bit rough and ready, but possibly a fit for purpose solution.

06-10-2017, 05:57 PM
You should consider your personal situation, as it depends on some more personal variables. So, what is your hand / finger size. If you are closer to your reach "limit" on some chords, then could be even a small change to a wider nut width has a noticeable difference. If you have enough spare reach, then probably you wont notice much at all. And also have to consider the string spacing and neck thickness / shape as well.