View Full Version : Is 38mm too wide for a soprano nut?

01-21-2018, 04:48 AM
Iíve reached out to a couple of luthiers about a hand built soprano and Iím wondering what would be the ideal nut width. My Snail tenor is 34mm, but Iím thinking maybe I should go for 38mm for the smaller soprano scale. What do you think? I have limited experience with sopranos, is there a golden standard nut width that doesnít feel cramped?

01-21-2018, 04:57 AM
Get the nut width that is most comfortable to you. I've had a soprano and several tenors with a 38mm (1.5") nut width. I think the soprano was built by Mike DaSilva. You might check with Perry and Terry at Covered Bridge Ukuleles.

01-21-2018, 05:07 AM
Cheers, the problem is that there aren’t many uke shops around where I live where I can try out a 38mm soprano. The only high end uke I’ve had the chance to try is a Martin S1, which as far as I can remember felt fine, but I’m thinking more space is better?

01-21-2018, 05:10 AM
All instruments from Kanile'a including their sopranos have a nut width of 38" (1.5"), and this is what many people like. Especially at the shorter scale of a soprano, I tend to think that the limited vertical spacing is compensated to a certain extent by more horizontal room on the fretboard.

01-21-2018, 05:13 AM
My two bobs worth is that it would be better to live with some off the shelf Soprano's before you go down the road of a customised Soprano. I think that you really need to be able to answer your own question for yourself first.

Croaky Keith
01-21-2018, 07:53 AM
I know that I didn't get on with sopranos because there wasn't enough finger room, for me, this was with standard spacing, 35mm nut, 28mm over strings. ;)

Graham Greenbag
01-21-2018, 09:27 AM
The Islander Ukes have a 38mm nut, they play nicely so perhaps you’d be as well off with one of those.

Wider spaced strings on the Soprano have made a lot of difference to me, now 30mm over the Strings.

The original Martin Ukes (as copied by Ken Timms) had wider nuts than is common today ....... but it’s the resultant string spacing that makes the difference.

01-21-2018, 11:52 AM
I have an Islander AS-4 that I like a lot. I wanted a soprano, but was worried about feeling cramped. So I went with the Islander. It was a good way to try it out without spending a lot of money.

01-31-2018, 11:48 AM
For me... (and it IS totally personal) - i have big hands but prefer sopranos so this matters to me. However for me it's not JUST about nut width / string spacing but also about profile.

I tend to find that a narrow soprano is 34mm and a wider one is 36mm. I rarely see them wider than 36 on a soprano. A Kamaka standard soprano is bang in the middle at 35mm. They may sound small differences, but they are hugely different to me.

But anyway - on to profile - the flatter profile - typically Hawaiian necks match for me better with any neck width. In short - I can get by with a 34mm nut if the profile is flat - but if it's a far eastern rounded profile (as seen on most Chinese ukes - the rounded C profile) - then on a soprano I MUST have a wider nut. Which rarely exists in combination with a round profile..

TL:DR - Prefer wider nuts- but can get away if the profile is flatter... which it rarely is..

02-01-2018, 11:49 AM
While no expert, I don't think it matters that much. Erring on the wide side is probably a better route to go. Between electric, classical and steel string acoustic guitars, you'll find so many different profiles and widths. Even going between electrics such as a Rickenbacker and a Godin, there is no comparison. Toss in bass guitars and game over. But most people adjust and get used to the instrument.

I have a very thick neck ukulele that I thought I would like playing that is now one of my favorites. And I even have a couple of 29mm 3 string instruments. The widest nut I have is 38.5mm.

What seems to be more important, at least to me, is string spacing. On one uke that had wide string spacing, I ended up bringing them in a touch. The amount if fretboard outside of the 1st and 4th really wasn't an issue.


02-01-2018, 12:23 PM
When I first started out I kind of wanted to play a soprano, but went the concert route, to give myself a little more room. I'm a big boy and I was concerned about having enough room. So when I upgraded I bought another concert. Why mess with what's working? Then this summer I got a student. She had a, soprano that didn't have a pickup, but she wanted to plug into an amp and rock out. So I would let her play my Mainland with the MiSi and I would play her soprano. Not only did I not feel that crowded, I found that I didn't have to stretch quite so far to reach some of the more spread out chords. So I bought a soprano with just a regular nut, whatever that is, and I get along just fine with it.

02-02-2018, 05:39 AM
38mm is an extreme nut size for a uke, by which I mean:
- it is a much wider nut than you will find on most ukuleles
- you aren't likely find many nuts larger than that

If you have never played on a 38mm nut instrument before, I'd be sure to give it a solid try before ordering an expensive instrument with that spacing. Some love it, others hate it. You'll want to make sure you're a lover before plunking down for a custom build. It will be very disappointing if, after all the anticipation, you end up with an unplayable instrument.

02-02-2018, 03:13 PM
I would think you could take one of your current ukes and tape a piece of cardboard on the edge of the fretboard on the A string side. It won't be exact, but take about half of the additional width so you get an idea if it interferes with your hand when you play. It is only good for the lower frets as bridge spacing does differ between mfgs.

Up to a point, additional width on the G string side is a moot point other than wrapping your thumb around that side.