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String spacing at bridge?


Jesse_Dylan

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Did some searching on this topic but did not really find a definitive answer. What is the standard string spacing at the bridge for a modern Gibson acoustic?

 

I know standard nut width is 1.725". I also saw somewhere that the J-35 (the new one) has 2 7/32" string spacing at the bridge. I realize that doesn't mean it's true for all Gibsons, though I hope it is. 1.725" by 2.1875" seems like it would be about perfect.

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Thanks for measuring (sounds perfect) and thanks for the thread link! That's funny, because I had in mind a J-45 I used to play, and if felt rather narrow to me. I guess maybe that's because it was, comparatively! Gibson specs can be a little confusing at times. In fact maybe I had better rephrase my question, because it sounds like there is differentiation between models, and while I'm curious about them all, it is the Hummingbird I am specifically interested in. But maybe the J-45 is the anomaly, and apparently whether it's short or long-scale does not factor in if your measurements are any indication. Thanks again!

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Jesse, I would guess how comfortable you are with the spacing of the bridge pin holes/strings on saddle - is a function of how fat your fingers are. I've been cutting back on the french fries and find that helps. I decided to take up the guitar instead of the mandolin because I would have had to give them up entirely. G'Luck.

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A lot depends on your playing style, but frankly, the differences are small enough that you should be able to adapt to any spacing that is commonly seen. My L-OO Legend has the widest pin spacing of any of my flat-tops, at 2 3/8" (about 60.3 mm). My 1948 J-45 has the narrowest, at 2 1/8" (54 mm).

 

For the last couple of years, I've been concentrating on finger picking, and have found the wider spacing of the L-OO easier to deal with. Recently, however, I've become re-interested in flat-picking (primarily cross-picking), and find the narrower spacing allows a little more speed with my rather clumsy technique.

 

I'm really kidding myself to think that it makes that much difference in my playing, however, and don't believe anyone should get hung on string spacing either at the bridge or at the nut, unless you have unusually fat fingers.

 

Incidentally, the re-kindled interest in flat-picking is thanks to Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek), and Tom Barnwell's friend David Dugas, which inevitably led back to people like Tony Rice, Clarence White, Doc Watson, and on and on and on........

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Your string spacing at the bridge is a function of the width of your fingerboard. At the last fret there should be 5/32" between the outside of the 1st and 6th strings and the edge of the fingerboard. The other strings should be spaced so there is equal space between the strings, not from the string centers. This information is from Robert Benedetto, "Making an Archtop Guitar." Also, on flattops the string spacing is often taken from the center of the string. Other builders including Gibson may have different formulas and different formulas for different models. Nylon string,(classical and flamenco), electrics with super light gauge strings, resonator guitars, gypsy guitars etc. all have their individual formulas. Of course a flattop bridge unlike an archtop bridge is fixed and the holes are drilled where they are so what you've got is what you've got. Start comparing this spacing and the fingerboard width and taper (how the fingerboard changes in width from the nut to the bridge) to the guitars you play and see if it is in the same ballpark. The difference you feel may also be from the set-up i.e. string height, and string gauge. Then when you find what you like, stick with that. B)

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I'm really kidding myself to think that it makes that much difference in my playing, however, and don't believe anyone should get hung on string spacing either at the bridge or at the nut, unless you have unusually fat fingers.

 

Things like that are highly individual - personally I'm hyper-sensitive when it comes to string-spacing by the nut.

 

Recently my HD-28V had a new bone-nut especially carved and it is so clear a helper for certain tricks/roles/songs.

 

For obvious reasons I fx usually play 4x20 on the Mart and as that song is both re-tuned and arranged all the way up'n'down the board (kinda like Blackbird), it's so easy to feel the difference. Btw also compared to when playing it on the contemporary wider spaced Gibsons.

 

In fact I'm amazed how much so very little matters/changes. It might be in the more subtle department, but never the less always feels like a relief.

Maybe it could be compared with goin' to a carnival dressed as western-style bank-robber, breathing through a handkerchief all evening, then removing it 'round midnite.

The pleasure is beyond doubt, , , it lasts, , , and the whiskey, not least the kisses taste remarkable sweeter. . .

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Right, Nick, to some extent its largely a matter of what you get used to. But it's not all in your head. I mainly fingerpick. Ive gone from a J50 with 10/16 nut and ? spacing to a J35 with 1 and 3/4 with 2 & 1/4. It's far less a challenge for me to flatpick the '35 than it was to play a Gary Davis tune on the J50. Or play a bottleneck piece with moves on the middle strings.

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I'm really kidding myself to think that it makes that much difference in my playing, however, and don't believe anyone should get hung on string spacing either at the bridge or at the nut, unless you have unusually fat fingers.

 

As an amateur with big hands, I'm amazed at the difference 1/16 inch makes at the nut for my Epi EF Masterbilts (1.75" instead of the more typical 1.68" on non-Gibbie acoustics). I see Jesse's right, though, that the Gibbies typically have 1.725" at the nut. A good choice in my book.

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I struggled with the Performing Artist neck of my D18 even with the 1 3/4in nut width..I wear extra large glove size . My D28 which I'll never sell is something I just try and put up with but it is always difficult more so now I am much older with osteoarthritis . The D28 will go to one of my grandchildren someday.. When I bought a J35 after they first came out I fell in love with that Gibson neck. The new Hummingbird has a great neck to and so much easier to play these days. I don't know what the string spacing is I've always gone by nut width and most important to me how it feels. I tried a couple other Gibsons like the J45 and J15 but those necks felt a little smaller to me . I don't know if I'll ever buy another acoustic the Hummingbird may be the last one for me it is like the perfect one even if I don't know what the string spacing is . It must be what I need because it feels just right.

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I'm not sure string spacing at the bridge is always a function of nut width, though. I've played lots of Martins with 1.75" nut widths, but they've had string spacing at the bridge from 2-3/16" to 2-5/16". It seems to usually be 2-1/4" along with the 1-3/4" nut, but the performing artist spacing mentioned above is 2-3/16", and some of the guitars modeled on older ones have 2-5/16". But the nut width on them all is the same 1.75". (Standard Martin nut width seems to be 1-11/16", though, and Gibson seems to split the difference between the two.)

 

What's frustrating is that Gibson isn't upfront with the string spacing at the bridge. I feel like nut width doesn't bug me much because I play with a capo a lot anyway, so my left hand is used to adapting, but my right hand gets confused and constricted. I think the 1.725" nut width might be darn perfect, but I'm confused about the nut width situation.

 

However, Cibby, if you have the PA neck on your D-18 (that's the neck I have on both my D-18 and D-28! I have the "P" designations of both), that is 2-3/16", which is a little roomier than the standard 2-1/8" but not as roomy as the standard "roomier" 2-1/4"--and if the Hummingbird spacing works for you but the 2-3/16" and 2-1/8" are cramped, that bodes well for me! I am okay even with 2-3/16".

 

I do think the standard J-45 neck/string-spacing is narrower, so I have to wonder if the Hummingbird is more along the lines of the new J-35. Seems odd the J-15 wouldn't be.

 

(Anyway, if they listed the specs on their site for everything, it would make it a lot simpler...)

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Not sure if you got my drift. Spacing at the bridge is a function of the width of the fingerboard at the last fret, not the width of the nut. The spacing between the string and the outer edge of the fingerboard at the nut and at the other end of the fingerboard, the last fret, should be the same. The fingerboard is wider at the last fret than at the nut and that is the taper. Tapers differ between instruments. The distance between the string and the outer edge of the fingerboard for 1st and 6th strings should be the same as each other and the same the entire length of the fingerboard. (Usually) That space is usually about 5/32" B)

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Not sure if you got my drift. Spacing at the bridge is a function of the width of the fingerboard at the last fret, not the width of the nut. The spacing between the string and the outer edge of the fingerboard at the nut and at the other end of the fingerboard, the last fret, should be the same. The fingerboard is wider at the last fret than at the nut and that is the taper. Tapers differ between instruments. The distance between the string and the outer edge of the fingerboard for 1st and 6th strings should be the same as each other and the same the entire length of the fingerboard. (Usually) That space is usually about 5/32" B)

 

Has it occurred to you that it might be the other way around, that the taper of the fingerboard is determined after the pin spacing at the bridge and the width at the nut are determined?

 

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

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msp_confused.gifmsp_confused.gifsnapback.pngWetdog, on 26 December 2014 - 04:34 PM, said:

 

Not sure if you got my drift. Spacing at the bridge is a function of the width of the fingerboard at the last fret, not the width of the nut. The spacing between the string and the outer edge of the fingerboard at the nut and at the other end of the fingerboard, the last fret, should be the same. The fingerboard is wider at the last fret than at the nut and that is the taper. Tapers differ between instruments. The distance between the string and the outer edge of the fingerboard for 1st and 6th strings should be the same as each other and the same the entire length of the fingerboard. (Usually) That space is usually about 5/32" B)

 

 

"Has it occurred to you that it might be the other way around, that the taper of the fingerboard is determined after the pin spacing at the bridge and the width at the nut are determined?

 

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?"

 

 

msp_blink.gif A...yup. Now you see why I go by feel. Jesse I thought the J35 and J29 neck were about the same for me and J15 maybe a little smaller . The Hummingbird neck while not a copy of the J35 and J29 felt pretty close. Again I took no measurements just went by how they felt in my xlarge hands . I had no problems at all adjusting to the Hummingbird just felt like I had played it for years.

 

 

 

 

 

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Yeah, it is confusing, to be sure! And it's definitely all connected. I'm spoiled, because Martin lists nut width, string spacing at 12th fret, and string spacing at bridge, maybe even a few more measurements. I guess I am just concerned what my fingers (and pick!) will find at the bridge area (okay, in the space between the soundhole and bridge), because that's been the sticking point for me with a few guitars. Sometimes I get a little fussed up at the nut. Like Wetdog said, that's the narrowest part of the whole fretboard, and sometimes it does get a little cramped for me with those 1-11/16" nut widths.

 

Everyone has been saying that J-35 neck is super comfortable, though, no matter where on the neck you are, or the bridge, whatever, roomy and comfy. So hopefully they are just using that on everything! Cibby I think with big hands if you feel the Hummingbird is just as comfy as the J-35, I'm probably in good shape. I just have average hands I think.

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Yeah, it is confusing, to be sure! And it's definitely all connected. I'm spoiled, because Martin lists nut width, string spacing at 12th fret, and string spacing at bridge, maybe even a few more measurements. I guess I am just concerned what my fingers (and pick!) will find at the bridge area (okay, in the space between the soundhole and bridge), because that's been the sticking point for me with a few guitars. Sometimes I get a little fussed up at the nut. Like Wetdog said, that's the narrowest part of the whole fretboard, and sometimes it does get a little cramped for me with those 1-11/16" nut widths.

 

Everyone has been saying that J-35 neck is super comfortable, though, no matter where on the neck you are, or the bridge, whatever, roomy and comfy. So hopefully they are just using that on everything! Cibby I think with big hands if you feel the Hummingbird is just as comfy as the J-35, I'm probably in good shape. I just have average hands I think.

 

 

 

 

I am a bit confused too! But I muddle along daily......

 

My OMs with the 2 3/8 spacing are the heavy duty fingerpicking only delights - perfect for me, but the local shops wouldn't have them on the shelves, instead going for common denominator spaced guitars, so I bought both OMs sight unseen from Elderly's after lots of online research.

 

Now if you are going to play with a pick, just forget about it - strummers usually hate the wide space.

 

I have the old L-0 Gibson with similar space to the OM and the Gibson L-00 Legend.

 

So that brings up another point about Gibson necks and space - are you looking for a Hummingbird online? You really need to try one. I don't know the spacing either, but the new standard Hummer would be 2 1/8 - my guess only - designed for singer songwriter type strumming with a pick, but a fairly tight fingerpicker.

 

And another point is that the early vintage 63/4 had normal necks, but later in the 60s....phew - a late 60s one I tried at a local shop had a neck like a pencil - a rocks strummers delight, and I kid you not that it was thinner than my old skinny Telecaster! I made a go at fingerpicking - that's all I do, but too tight!

 

So try them out before you go any further....

 

BluesKing777.

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Yeah, I hope to try one soon... It might be that the "nearest" is 10 hours away in Bozeman. If I found out that the string spacing at the saddle was too narrow for me, I probably wouldn't even bother seeking one to try out anymore. However, I think it surely must be 2-3/16" at least which would be great. I just find 2-1/8" really constraining.

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Everyone has been saying that J-35 neck is super comfortable, though, no matter where on the neck you are, or the bridge, whatever, roomy and comfy. So hopefully they are just using that on everything!
. Pretty darn good for a standard model. Much more comfortable for me than a J45 historic that I sent off to a new home this year--both a thiner profile and tighter spacing. Or the 'American eagle LG, whose neck profile was ever thinner. Which goes to say, nope. They are not using that setup across the board.
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Yeah, I hope to try one soon... It might be that the "nearest" is 10 hours away in Bozeman. If I found out that the string spacing at the saddle was too narrow for me, I probably wouldn't even bother seeking one to try out anymore. However, I think it surely must be 2-3/16" at least which would be great. I just find 2-1/8" really constraining.

 

Jesse I'd be surprised if you don't like the Hummingbird and find it uncomfortable to play. My hands are not as nimble as they were when I was younger and I am really happy with my Bird much easier and roomier feeling than my D28 now days. When you finally get to play one however you will know for sure to bad its such a trip to find out.

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Jesse I'd be surprised if you don't like the Hummingbird and find it uncomfortable to play. My hands are not as nimble as they were when I was younger and I am really happy with my Bird much easier and roomier feeling than my D28 now days. When you finally get to play one however you will know for sure to bad its such a trip to find out.

 

Yeah, it really does sound like it should be somewhere between the "standard" Martin (D-28) and a roomier one, and if so, that should be just fine for me. The D-28P (1-3/4" vs 1-11/16" and 2-3/16" vs. 2-1/8") is just fine for me, so if it was 1.725" and 2-3/16" or nearly, I bet I'd be really pleased with that. Might even prefer it.

 

I e-mailed Gibson, and they said the string spacing at the bridge from the middle of the low-E hole to the middle of the high-E hole is 2.165". I'm not really sure what that means or translates to as far as what I'm used to for string spacing at the bridge/saddle. Maybe that is 2-3/16" but measured at a different spot. I'm clueless.

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