Saddle String Spacing and Fingerpicking Space.

Graham Greenbag

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I’m mostly a Soprano player and prefer finger picking to strumming. Having short fat fingers I discovered years ago that wide spaced strings at the nut really helped with correct fretting but what I didn’t realise was that saddle string spacing impacts on playing too. That’s something I discovered by chance from a cheap old made in China Soprano which happens to ‘copy’ some Martin features.

Looking at what Ukes I have the typical string spacing at the saddle appears to be about 36 mm (g to A) whereas, when I go to check details from the Grellier drawing, the old Martins used 41 mm (nominally 1 5/8” ?). The slightly wider spacing (roughly 2mm more between adjacent strings) helps me to play better.

I’m wondering what other people’s experiences of string spacing are and which Sopranos, and in particular affordable laminates, give such finger space?
 
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VintageGibson

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Just had a quick Saddle Spacing Measuring Session after reading your post (SSMS, sounds like a medical condition).
Concert scale banjo uke=41mm
Concert scale laminate uke=36mm
Concert scale Enya "polycarbon"=41mm
2x Soprano StewMac kit circa 2007=41mm
Comparing these measurements to the 32/33mm on the first four strings of three acoustic guitars, ukes would appear to have ample space at the saddle.
I can't say that I have been conscious of any issues when fingerpicking any of them other than when useing my 12 string guitar, but that's a separate discussion.
Vintage
 
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Graham Greenbag

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Just had a quick Saddle Spacing Measuring Session after reading your post (SSMS, sounds like a medical condition).
Concert scale banjo uke=41mm
Concert scale laminate uke=36mm
Concert scale Enya "polycarbon"=41mm
2x Soprano StewMac kit circa 2007=41mm
Comparing these measurements to the 32/33mm on the first four strings of three acoustic guitars, ukes would appear to have ample space at the saddle.
I can't say that I have been conscious of any issues when fingerpicking any of them other than when useing my 12 string guitar, but that's a separate discussion.
Vintage

Thank you for taking and recording those measurements, that’s helpful.

Yes, it’s possible to use the narrower spacings and I can see how they might have been carried over from the Guitar (there’s only so far apart that your hands can cope with the outer strings being and that distance has six strings and five gaps). What I'm noticing is the subtle difference between possible enough and easier, for me and my fingers wider is a little easier. Nearly anything that makes playing easier is worthwhile ‘cause it helps the player (well me anyway) get more out of the instrument.
 
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VintageGibson

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I have just finished fitting a strap button on a Kala Concert laminate belonging to a uke group colleague.
String spacing at bridge is 38mm.
Interestingly on this and my own concert laminate there is enough spare width on the neck at fret 12 for a full 41mm bridge spacing!
Vintage
 

Sporky

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I'm interested in this topic as I prefer wider spacing. However at the nut you're measuring the nut widths not the string spacing?
I will measure my Rebel concert from g to A (center of the string) and report back
 

Rllink

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Graham, are you on the AGF guitar forum too. A thread just like this about string spacing at the bridge came up over there yesterday. Just wondering if it is coincidental.
 

Graham Greenbag

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I'm interested in this topic as I prefer wider spacing. However at the nut you're measuring the nut widths not the string spacing?
I will measure my Rebel concert from g to A (center of the string) and report back
A few years back I became aware of the importance of both the spacing of the strings at the nut and nut width, in this thread I’m wanting to focus on string spacing at the saddle. Thank you for offering to measure your Rebel.

Graham, are you on the AGF guitar forum too. A thread just like this about string spacing at the bridge came up over there yesterday. Just wondering if it is coincidental.

It is entirely coincidental. Perhaps this the thread on the Acoustic Guitar Forum: https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=631336
 
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rainbow21

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The three sopranos: (spacing at nut/spacing at bridge)

2010 Mya Moe: 27mm/40
AO (by Pops Okami): 27/42
Antica Ukuleria (listed for sale in this forum): 30/44
 

Graham Greenbag

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My thanks to everybody who has supplied dimensions or otherwise supported this thread. I’d be glad to hear additional comments from anyone and everyone.