36 vs 38mm Nut ?

robinboyd

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It is noticeable, and it's a matter of preference. Some people like wider, some people like narrower, some people don't care, and it has very little to do with the size of their hands.
 

kaimuki

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Some Hawaiian , or Hawaiian "Style" brands , space 38mm ( or 37 ) .

From Kanile'a website:

While most `ukulele builders use a 1-3/8” nut width, Kanile`a `Ukulele uses a 1-1/2” nut width on its handcrafted Hawaiian Kanile`a and its affordable Islander by Kanile`a ukuleles. There are two reasons for this:

  • Better playability. With the strings spaced just a little farther apart, this allows for better playability and finger clearance between strings.
  • Avoid rolloff. The extra spacing helps a player to avoid the G and A strings from rolling off the fingerboard while playing, especially when it comes to intricate fingering.
 
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robinboyd

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That's true. On the other hand, narrower spacing can be easier for partial barres and stretch chords, plus it can be easier to get a clean strum without your fingers falling into the gaps. It is also more similar to guitar string spacing, which makes the transition from one to the other a bit easier. It really is about preference. FWIW, I have both, and I appreciate each style for what it has to offer. I don't think one is better than the other.
 

rainbow21

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Wider nut implies wider string spacing, but this is not always the case.

I like the narrower string spacing. When I try wider, my barre chords need adjusting because some of the strings "thud" as they fall on a different part of the finger than with the narrower one. If I started with wider, it is likely I would be comfortable barring that and then would have issues with the narrower spacing.
 

robinboyd

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One of the issues that beginners often face is to press down multiple strings for a chord without muting adjacent ones. A wider nut and string spacing can help with that.
Another problem that beginners often face is pressing down on strings without fingers falling into the gap between strings and accidentally muting everything and producing a horrible buzzing sound if the spacing is too wide.

I honestly don't have anything against wider string spacing. I'm just naturally argumentative and like to see both sides presented.
 

chris667

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This question is not important. There will be some instruments you like to play and some you don't.

This is the sort of detail you can get hung up about but what is important is how they sound and whether you like the one you have in your hands. Variability between individual ukuleles (even of exactly the same design) is much more important, so don't buy an instrument without trying it unless you're happy to gamble. You might like it, you might not.
 

tm3

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As a fellow beginner, I'll try to answer from a beginner perspective.

The different widths definitely provide a different feel, so the best thing to do is hop on over to your local ukulele store and play a whole bunch of different ukes with different nuts/spacing and ...... wait, you don't have a local ukulele store?

My tongue in cheek illustrates a recurring problem i.e. a lot of us simply don't have the option of auditioning this somewhat uncommon instrument before making a purchase decision.

You might be able to find a local uke group and handle some different ukes there to see if you have a preference.

My wife's soprano has different string spacing and fret spacing than my tenor and while they definitely feel different I can say that I enjoy playing both and I sound equally bad on both, so in the long run it may not make much of a difference.
 

LorenFL

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  • Avoid rolloff. The extra spacing helps a player to avoid the G and A strings from rolling off the fingerboard while playing, especially when it comes to intricate fingering.

I think this is the first time I've seen this term "roll-off". I have this problem because I use light gauge strings and I tune down to Low F and I like to do a lot of string bending. I'm learning my way around it (don't do it as often), but I was wondering...

Regardless of nut width (obviously would be easier to do this on a wider nut), has anyone ever looked at doing a custom nut with closer STRING SPACING, but a little more distance from the edge of the fretboard? It wouldn't take a lot to make a difference if you have a roll-off problem.

Personally, I don't think I'd be bothered by the strings being closer together, and I may even like it.
 

chris667

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The different widths definitely provide a different feel, so the best thing to do is hop on over to your local ukulele store and play a whole bunch of different ukes with different nuts/spacing and ...... wait, you don't have a local ukulele store?
They're always going to try and sell you what they have in the shop.

I think you need to just concentrate on playing what you have rather than reading reviews. Meet as many other players as you can, and try as many instruments as you can. If you see one you like, buy it. I've played some very, very high end instruments and thought they sounded boring. Meanwhile, the reviews say how special they are.

Instruments are often much more than the sum of their parts. And sometimes they are much less.
 

Neil_O

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This question is not important.
The whole point of this forum is unimportant questions and unimportant answers!

My 2 cents: I wouldn't buy a uku with less than a 36mm nut. String spacing is a factor too, but I think there is a minimum for big fingered folks like me.
 

Arik

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I think 36 (1 3/8) mm is more common than 38 (1 1/2) mm nut width ukes. But there is also a difference in some ukes like Koaloha ukes that have a 38mm nut width but really have string spacing more similar to a 36mm nut width.

My 2 cents is that I prefer the 36mm more. It's a little more comfortable for me when barring chords or partially barring chords. 36mm is probably more of the standard (kala, ohana, lanikai, pono, etc). If you wanted a wider 38mm, you would have to be more intentional with your choice and it would be more limited (Islander, Kanile'a, cornerstone).
 

Cadia

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I think this is the first time I've seen this term "roll-off". I have this problem because I use light gauge strings and I tune down to Low F and I like to do a lot of string bending. I'm learning my way around it (don't do it as often), but I was wondering...

Regardless of nut width (obviously would be easier to do this on a wider nut), has anyone ever looked at doing a custom nut with closer STRING SPACING, but a little more distance from the edge of the fretboard? It wouldn't take a lot to make a difference if you have a roll-off problem.
Yes, I did that recently. It worked out well for me in general, but I went a little too wide on the fretboard.
 

rafter

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Someone should start making them in 37mm and split the difference.

I get why some people think it's not important to get hung up on the numbers, and I definitely get why some people have strong preferences about it. Humans are pretty adaptive, and barring (!) physical problems, can probably adjust to playing most sizes. But after a while, you start to get a feel for what suits you best.

Still, I like having the variety, in scale lengths, neck sizes, and nut widths. There are definitely sizes that I'm more comfortable with, and some that are less so. I like my GL-6, but at 50mm it's just a wee bit too wide. I find some necks too chunky to want to play a lot. But switching between some variation in sizes keeps it interesting. There's a part of me that admires the player with one beat up guitar or ukulele that they've mastered over many hours. But at the same time, it's so much fun have a rotation of different sizes.
 

man0a

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I think 36 (1 3/8) mm is more common than 38 (1 1/2) mm nut width ukes. But there is also a difference in some ukes like Koaloha ukes that have a 38mm nut width but really have string spacing more similar to a 36mm nut width.

My 2 cents is that I prefer the 36mm more. It's a little more comfortable for me when barring chords or partially barring chords. 36mm is probably more of the standard (kala, ohana, lanikai, pono, etc). If you wanted a wider 38mm, you would have to be more intentional with your choice and it would be more limited (Islander, Kanile'a, cornerstone).

1 3/8 inches is 34.9mm, which is what Kala and Ohana use. 36mm is a noticeable improvement (to me), especially when paired with a nicely shaped neck.
 

Arik

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1 3/8 inches is 34.9mm, which is what Kala and Ohana use. 36mm is a noticeable improvement (to me), especially when paired with a nicely shaped neck.
You are right! My math is a little off...
 

ripock

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It doesn't really matter in my experience. You get a uke you love and then you love what you get. Of course the nut width, string spacing, neck profile--they all give a uke a certain feel. However after one session with your uke, it becomes the default and everything else feels odd.
 
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captain-janeway

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Most ukes come in 36 and 38 nuts. Anyone know of ukes with smaller ones? My fingers constantly fall between the strings. I'd like to be able to do an E chord as 4442 instead of 4447 because the voicing sounds so different on the E further up the neck. yes i know its a practice practice, practice chord, but I have a bent fingertip not allowing me too hit it cleanly. I think a little less space between strings would help
Yeah I could play all the chords up the neck but the songs just don't sound right to me.
 

man0a

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Most ukes come in 36 and 38 nuts. Anyone know of ukes with smaller ones? My fingers constantly fall between the strings. I'd like to be able to do an E chord as 4442 instead of 4447 because the voicing sounds so different on the E further up the neck. yes i know its a practice practice, practice chord, but I have a bent fingertip not allowing me too hit it cleanly. I think a little less space between strings would help
Yeah I could play all the chords up the neck but the songs just don't sound right to me.
Most imported ukuleles (e.g., Kala and Ohana) have 1.375" (34.9mm) nut widths. Most Koolau, Pono, and soprano and concert Kamakas also use this nut width.