PDA

View Full Version : 6 String long scale ukulele build string spacing question



TBO
02-04-2018, 11:40 AM
Hi all,

I am in the process of making my sixth stringed instrument. (Never quite sure what to call them... they are not quite ukuleles and not quite guitars, they kinda have a mix of both). Anyway for simplicity's sake I will just call this latest one a long scale six string uke. For some details on a few previous builds, you can take a look at https://hackaday.io/project/22273, https://hackaday.io/project/26034, and https://hackaday.io/project/28278

So you get an idea of what I am talking about, the current instrument is the size of a parlour guitar (about 13" lower bout, 9 - 10" upper bout, 625mm (24.6") scale length. It will have 6 strings in the 6 string baritone uke tuning (D, g/G, B, e/E).

My question for the collective knowledge is about string spacing at the nut vs. saddle. Originally I was planning on doing it how you normally would: the two-string courses follow down to the saddle, so you have the 1 / 2 / 1 / 2 spacing there as well as at the nut. However I was thinking about making the bridge equi-distantantly spaced, like a standard 6 string guitar, while leaving the nut with the 4 course spacing.

There are a few reasons why I think this would be nice:
1) It gives the nylon strings more space to vibrate, so I can have the two-string courses tighter (at the nut) than I would otherwise.
2) It gives my right hand more space for finger picking (assuming I can teach myself to do that... my brain doesn't work so well when trying to pick and chord)
3) I never really play any lower than first position (open chords), so the course strings would be closer together in that position than they would be otherwise. Yes, if I were to play down the neck it would get a bit more difficult, as then the strings would be getting too wide.

I have a few more days (probably closer to a week) before I need to make up my mind and start on the bridge, but I would be interested if anyone has tried something like this before, and how it worked out.

Also in case it helps, attached is a picture of the design. If there is interest I can also show what I have done so far.

Cheers

Design (showing the string spacing that I am trying to explain):
106464

anthonyg
02-04-2018, 12:04 PM
My two bobs worth is that you need to decide whether your making a 4 course instrument or a 6 course instrument and have it the same for both hands. Mt head would struggle trying to play 4 courses with my fretting hand while simultaneously playing 6 courses with the picking hand.

printer2
02-04-2018, 12:34 PM
I agree about keeping the strings together at the nut and bridge or keep them separate at both. I built a 23" scale guitar about the size you mentioned, I have a string spacing of 41mm and net width of 50mm, about 52mm at the bridge. If you knock off half the width of the spacing between the strings that are doubled I would think a string width of 33mm nut width of 41mm, and 45mm at the bridge might work. Also if you do make it a little wide you can always put the extra outside the strings, not like the neck will feel too wide.

TBO
02-04-2018, 04:17 PM
Cool, thanks for the replies, guys. I guess I will just stick with my original design of 4 courses all the way through. It was just the last day or two that I thought about doing it this way.

Here's what I have so far... just put a coat on the neck tonight. (Normally I install the frets before gluing onto the neck + finishing, but I wanted to give it a try this way for this one... there are pros and cons of both, but I think I will get a nicer feel on the fretboard this way. Time will tell).

(Santos Rosewood back, sides, fretboard, headstock veneer, and rosette; sitka spruce top; maple neck).

106466
106467
106468
106469
106470

TBO
02-04-2018, 05:03 PM
I agree about keeping the strings together at the nut and bridge or keep them separate at both. I built a 23" scale guitar about the size you mentioned, I have a string spacing of 41mm and net width of 50mm, about 52mm at the bridge. If you knock off half the width of the spacing between the strings that are doubled I would think a string width of 33mm nut width of 41mm, and 45mm at the bridge might work. Also if you do make it a little wide you can always put the extra outside the strings, not like the neck will feel too wide.

I made my neck 44mm at the nut, 55mm at the body joint (13th fret), and about 60mm at the saddle. These are the actual measurements, obviously string spacing will be smaller... it will probably end up being about 3 - 4mm between the outer strings and the edge of the neck. That seems to feel right to me... not too big, not too small.

By doing that, I could have about 2.5mm between the two strings in the double-string courses, and about 10mm between courses (measured center to center of the strings). Moving to the saddle, the measurements would be about 5mm between strings in double courses and 15mm between courses.

I am pretty sure that will feel good from a playing perspective; I am not sure if that will be enough space to keep the strings from buzzing against each other. Any ideas how much space I need to prevent that from happening, given essentially a 25" scale length? I know there are tons of variables there including tension, playing style, etc, but I wouldn't mind a rough idea if anyone has any thoughts.

Cheers

sequoia
02-04-2018, 05:50 PM
I understand your question and I don't really have an answer. I'm sure you will figure it out. What I will say is that as a beginner your work is very well done and the sound you got out the "uke" in the sound clip was very, very good. Your joinery work on the end graft was superb except for the unfortunate tiny gap on the binding which is easily remedied. All in all pretty damn impressive for a sixth effort. I think you might have a future in lutherie. Keep up the good work.

TBO
02-05-2018, 04:24 AM
I understand your question and I don't really have an answer. I'm sure you will figure it out. What I will say is that as a beginner your work is very well done and the sound you got out the "uke" in the sound clip was very, very good. Your joinery work on the end graft was superb except for the unfortunate tiny gap on the binding which is easily remedied. All in all pretty damn impressive for a sixth effort. I think you might have a future in lutherie. Keep up the good work.

Thanks! I'll be sure to update this thread once I figure out the dimensions.

TBO
02-16-2018, 01:45 PM
A bit of an update... everything is now completed. I have tried a few tunings, and think I am getting close to what I like.

For the string spacing, I sort of split the difference between the two options. I made a 12 hole classical bridge with the holes at the same vertical level (instead of one being higher than the other), and by alternating which side the string comes from, I am able to keep the separate courses all the way down, but still leave enough room to access each string separately if needed. It also has the advantage that I can re-string as a guitar by only replacing the nut - the bridge works for either guitar (with equal string separation) and the 6 string uke separation.

https://cdn.hackaday.io/images/3543771518826793342.jpeg

For more pictures, build process photos, and some video samples, you can take a look at https://hackaday.io/project/56105

Cheers

sequoia
02-16-2018, 06:26 PM
A bit of an update... everything is now completed. I have tried a few tunings, and think I am getting close to what I like.

For the string spacing, I sort of split the difference between the two options. I made a 12 hole classical bridge with the holes at the same vertical level (instead of one being higher than the other), and by alternating which side the string comes from, I am able to keep the separate courses all the way down, but still leave enough room to access each string separately if needed. It also has the advantage that I can re-string as a guitar by only replacing the nut - the bridge works for either guitar (with equal string separation) and the 6 string uke separation.

https://cdn.hackaday.io/images/3543771518826793342.jpeg

For more pictures, build process photos, and some video samples, you can take a look at https://hackaday.io/project/56105

Cheers

Lovely looking instrument, but remember my friend that is is an ukulele forum. Why I ask? And what is the point? From what I can see the thang got 6 strings.

TBO
02-16-2018, 07:55 PM
Lovely looking instrument, but remember my friend that is is an ukulele forum. Why I ask? And what is the point? From what I can see the thang got 6 strings.

Yes... and may I remind you that there are 6 string (and even 8 string) ukuleles. Count the courses (groups of strings, in case you are not familiar with the term): there are 4. Check the tuning: DGGBEE. If you feel that this is not a ukulele, I apologize, but it is more uke than it is something else...

greenscoe
02-16-2018, 08:12 PM
Congratulations on completing your sixth instrument. You have been very ambitious (rosette, purfling, back strips etc) and succeeded in producing a handsome instrument. I'm always interested in seeing what instruments others are making. Thanks for posting, and please be sure to post images of your next one.

printer2
02-17-2018, 02:55 AM
A bit of an update... everything is now completed. I have tried a few tunings, and think I am getting close to what I like.

For the string spacing, I sort of split the difference between the two options. I made a 12 hole classical bridge with the holes at the same vertical level (instead of one being higher than the other), and by alternating which side the string comes from, I am able to keep the separate courses all the way down, but still leave enough room to access each string separately if needed. It also has the advantage that I can re-string as a guitar by only replacing the nut - the bridge works for either guitar (with equal string separation) and the 6 string uke separation.



Cheers

Clever man.

TBO
02-17-2018, 05:17 AM
THanks, all.

sequoia
02-17-2018, 05:11 PM
I apologize, but it is more uke than it is something else...

Yeah, what is an "ukulele" anyway? I sometimes wonder if a "tenor" sized ukulele is even faithful to the prototype. I think we can agree that the true "ukulele" was a small instrument with 4 strings that evolved from the machete de braga, a little steel stringed instruments Portugease whalers brought to the islands. I think a true ukulele is the soprano sized instrument with "gut" strings we see today. Ken Tims probably builds a good example. I build tenor sized instruments because I prefer the sound, but are they truly ukuleles? I would say no. But instruments evolve. Such is life.

TBO
02-17-2018, 08:02 PM
Yeah, what is an "ukulele" anyway? I sometimes wonder if a "tenor" sized ukulele is even faithful to the prototype. I think we can agree that the true "ukulele" was a small instrument with 4 strings that evolved from the machete de braga, a little steel stringed instruments Portugease whalers brought to the islands. I think a true ukulele is the soprano sized instrument with "gut" strings we see today. Ken Tims probably builds a good example. I build tenor sized instruments because I prefer the sound, but are they truly ukuleles? I would say no. But instruments evolve. Such is life.

Good point, this would probably not be considered a true traditional uke... but I am tuning it and playing it as one, so I figure it belongs on this forum more than a guitar forum.

Anyway, thanks for your comments!

Cheers