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View Full Version : Self Limiting Belief: Width At The Nut



Funtick
01-14-2019, 08:34 AM
Hi All,

I am beginner; and I was blindly preferred Kanile'a because it is 38mm at the nut and because I want primarily to play classic / fingerstyle.

But UAS swallowed me...

So, here is comparison of the distance between 1st string and 4th string on my classic guitar, Kanile'a, Kala, aNueNue, and Enya:

Classic Guitar: 25.5 between 1st and 4th strings
Kala: 29mm (35mm nut width)
aNueNue: 29.5mm (36mm nut width)
Kanile'a (I have two!): 29.5mm (38mm nut width)
Enya EUT-M6: 31mm (40mm nut width)


So as you can see "fingerboard width at the nut" is just hype and self limiting belief... I don't have any problem with width between strings on my classic guitar (and difference is more then 1 mm between pair of strings!)

So, first place for fingerstyle: Enya!

Almost no difference between Kanile's and Kala (in terms of space between strings). Maybe 0.2mm difference (three pairs; total 0.6mm difference between 1st and 4th strings). However, I didn't measure spaces at the bridge.


I used plastic tool to avoid strings damage; there could be 0.2mm error. I have super-tool from StewMac too but it can damage strings.


So, is it hype? 38mm (Kanile'a) vs. 35mm (Kala) "width at the nut". And compare to classic guitar which I never had any feelings that space is not enough...

Jarmo_S
01-14-2019, 09:24 AM
Thank you for taking those measurements. And a good post too.

It is exactly soprano ukulele that needs the wider nut, because fret spacing is smaller. To be able to play chords like D (2220) with 3 fingers. Guitar has such a large fret spacing compared, that string spacing does not need be so large. Classical guitar has been I assume optimized for finger picking regarding the string spacing.

So baritone and tenor ukuleles can too have smaller string spacing than the soprano, but I'm not sure that they usually have. Some even think that string spacing should grow with the size, but yes that is a wrong idea.

kohanmike
01-14-2019, 10:35 AM
I only have tenor ukes and if one seems too narrow, I have a new nut made with as wide spacing as possible, so far so good. Actually, when I culled my pack of 16 a couple of years ago, I did get rid of the ones with the narrowest string spacing.

8 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 10 solid body bass ukes, 7 mini electric bass guitars

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children's hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
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Ukecaster
01-14-2019, 11:13 AM
Yeah, what's the point if you have a 1.5" nut, but the string spacing is the same as other narrow nut ukes?

DownUpDave
01-14-2019, 11:33 AM
Yes if you come from guitar the spacing between strings on a ukulele is gigantic in comparision. Be it a 1-3/8" nut width or a 1-1/2", there is so much more room for clearance.

merlin666
01-14-2019, 11:41 AM
I only have tenor ukes and if one seems too narrow, I have a new nut made with as wide spacing as possible, so far so good. Actually, when I culled my pack of 16 a couple of years ago, I did get rid of the ones with the narrowest string spacing.

Obviously there are limits to the spacing. I really dislike it when strings are too close to edge of the fingerboard, in particular if the a-string slips off. And indeed, I managed well with my tenor, but once I bought a concert I had to learn to play the D-chord with two fingers (and I have small hands). But thanks to the OP for the comparisons, I didn't realize that the guitar strings were actually closer together than uke strings - but then we also have to deal with 6 strings so it feels less crammed for the whole hand.

Rllink
01-14-2019, 11:43 AM
I went on a mission a few years ago to check the string spacings on ukuleles at a couple of stores and found that the width of the nut did not necessarily determine the width of the strings, and that goes for the 1 3/8" spacing as well. All were not all equal.

Joe King
01-14-2019, 06:55 PM
I too found that a wider nut doesn't necessarily mean a wider string spacing, but…

1. My measurements don't agree with yours. My Kalas (apart from baris with wider nuts) have a spread of about 27mm at the nut (27-28 is typical with standard width nuts), whereas most of my wider nut ukes do increase the spread somewhat, with 28.5-30mm being typical. This is much larger than the .2mm average difference you spoke of, a full 5 to 11% increase over a 27mm nut spread.

2. Although 2-3mm isn't much difference in terms of finger reach (compare to the length of your fingers), I find it does make a difference in how easy it is to fret shapes with congested finger arrangements and how cleanly I can fret when fingerpicking.

3. People think that nut width and string spread at the nut tell the whole story, but if you play up the neck, there's a more radical spacing increase caused by the greater string spread at the saddle. The saddle spreads on my ukes vary from 36.5 to 48mm, regardless of whether the nut width or spread is standard or wider. Kalas have a fairly conservative saddle spread, and thus a more consistent string spacing as you move up the neck, whereas my Ponos run from about 27mm at the nut to 46mm at the saddle: a 9.5mm increase (35%!) by the 12th fret.

Consequently, it's clear to me that few people have a clue how string spacing really affects their reach or playing, or they'd be talking about saddle spread more than nut spread when discussing various brands. The same folks who whinge about wider nuts ush and gush about their Ponos and how easy they are to play—that just doesn't compute (literally).

I've found experientially that wider string spacing at the nut does help my playing and comfort, so now I "self-limit" with a strong preference for wider-nut ukes. But having been unpleasantly surprised before, I have vendors measure the actual string spacing at both nut and saddle (or 12th fret). Fortunately, on a wider-nut uke, you can replace the nut with one cut for a wider spacing, while if you do this on a uke with a standard nut, you might end up pushing your strings over the edge of the fretboard all too often.


You make for some good points here.

I think that the people who are mostly just strumming have less preference for the string spacing at the saddle.

With my concert Flea, and other ukes from The Magic Fluke company, the string spacing at the saddle is a consistent 13mm apart string-to-string.

Since I play both finger-style as well as do some strumming, the spacing at the saddle makes a big difference to me if I play a uke that has say a 10mm spacing for string-to-string and it is off-putting and difficult for me to accurate use my technique on such an instrument.

Such smaller string spacing I have found even on baritone scale, such as a Lanikai LU-21B that a friend of mine has, so this seems to be an issue regardless of scale length.

seesar
01-15-2019, 05:55 AM
Very interesting discussion. I just want to point out that to be complete, you really should measure string spacing at the saddle, or more importantly at the 12th or 14th fret. I believe the Kanilea fretboard maintains it's greater width throughout its length, allowing for wider string spacing as you go up the fretboard, very useful for the left hand as the frets get closer together. And as stated above, the smaller the instrument, the more it matters.

MopMan
01-15-2019, 12:47 PM
Yeah, what's the point if you have a 1.5" nut, but the string spacing is the same as other narrow nut ukes?

In this case the wider neck may be a benefit. I'm sure I'm not the only one to have fretted the A string only to have it slide off the bottom of the fretboard... more width could help prevent this.

seesar
01-16-2019, 06:16 AM
In this case the wider neck may be a benefit. I'm sure I'm not the only one to have fretted the A string only to have it slide off the bottom of the fretboard... more width could help prevent this.

I agree, one of my pet peeves. There are definite advantages to a wider fretboard, even if string spacing at the nut is the same. The biggest disadvantage for me is the increase in the weight of the neck which shifts the balance point away from the body. I usually don't use a strap, so this negatively impacts playability.

70sSanO
01-16-2019, 06:34 AM
I play fingerstyle melodies. For me string spacing is more critical than neck width or profile shape. It is not that I can’t play a uke with different spacing, but I don’t feel I am as proficient. I have replaced all the nuts on my tenors to get the spacing close to each other. Oddly enough spacing at the saddle doesn’t bother me and that spacing ranges from less than 1-1/2” to more than 1-3/4”.

I do agree that strings that are too close to the edge will gutter. I have one uke that I have to be extra careful when playing. That one has wide saddle spacing. If I narrow the spacing at the saddle it will help, but I haven’t figured a way to accomplish that and maintain the aesthetics.

John

bratsche
01-16-2019, 06:58 AM
Yes if you come from guitar the spacing between strings on a ukulele is gigantic in comparision. Be it a 1-3/8" nut width or a 1-1/2", there is so much more room for clearance.

Yet if you come from mandolin/mandola/viola/violin, it seems even more gigantic. Shoot, 8 strings fit into a smaller space than the uke's 4 strings. Who needs all that clearance? Needless to say, I prefer narrower ukulele necks. I'm fine with a beefy thickness, though.

bratsche

dcuttler
01-16-2019, 08:45 AM
I am at work and only have one ukulele that I can put my hands on. The Flight Travel soprano which I leave in my car.

Neck width at the nut is 38.5mm, and distance between strings 1 & 2 is about 30mm. I may measure my other 2 ukuleles when I get home.

What this means I am not sure.

Funtick
01-17-2019, 09:53 AM
I only have tenor ukes and if one seems too narrow, I have a new nut made with as wide spacing as possible, so far so good.

Wow, that is really greatest & coolest approach, thank you!

Funtick
01-17-2019, 09:56 AM
It is exactly soprano ukulele that needs the wider nut, because fret spacing is smaller. To be able to play chords like D (2220) with 3 fingers. Guitar has such a large fret spacing compared, that string spacing does not need be so large. Classical guitar has been I assume optimized for finger picking regarding the string spacing.

I think I understand now. Yes I've never experienced any issues with three-four-fingers chords on guitar (on same fret), space between frets plays role too. Thank you!

Funtick
01-17-2019, 10:06 AM
You make for some good points here.

I think that the people who are mostly just strumming have less preference for the string spacing at the saddle.

With my concert Flea, and other ukes from The Magic Fluke company, the string spacing at the saddle is a consistent 13mm apart string-to-string.

Since I play both finger-style as well as do some strumming, the spacing at the saddle makes a big difference to me if I play a uke that has say a 10mm spacing for string-to-string and it is off-putting and difficult for me to accurate use my technique on such an instrument.

Such smaller string spacing I have found even on baritone scale, such as a Lanikai LU-21B that a friend of mine has, so this seems to be an issue regardless of scale length.

Correction: I was talking about string spacing between 1st string and 4th string, including string widths. It was about 29mm for Kala, and about 29.5mm for Kanile'a. Approximate measurements. And Enya M6 (full solid mahogany) has significantly higher measurements: 31mm. Main point is "don't rely on width at the nut"... I am mainly fingerpicker and I blindly preferred 38mm nut sizes.

And in general, you should feel it, it could be that radiused fretboard is more important than that; or it coule be string spacing at the bridge; or ebony vs. rosewood; and etc. Thank you,

Funtick
01-17-2019, 10:15 AM
Original post by Ubulele was deleted.

But some quotes since it was already quoted:
"My Kalas (apart from baris with wider nuts) have a spread of about 27mm at the nut (27-28 is typical with standard width nuts), whereas most of my wider nut ukes do increase the spread somewhat, with 28.5-30mm being typical. This is much larger than the .2mm average difference you spoke of, a full 5 to 11% increase over a 27mm nut spread."

- my measurements are 29.5mm including string withs; Kala KA-SPT-SC Tenor Ukulele, Bearclaw Spruce, Scalloped Cutaway
- it is at most 0.2mm x (three times) = 0.6mm total comparing to Kanile'a 30mm
- I am slightly exaggerating & allowing some errors, it is not exact measurements; maybe 0.2mm error

"2. Although 2-3mm isn't much difference in terms of finger reach (compare to the length of your fingers), I find it does make a difference in how easy it is to fret shapes with congested finger arrangements and how cleanly I can fret when fingerpicking."

2mm-3mm? It makes 50% difference. And also, it is not finger length... it is girth probably... in any case I believe "it is self limiting belief": watch Ukulele Mike videos for example, he had (RIP) very thick fingers...

I believe this post was deleted because of typos; sorry for quoting.