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Old 10-16-2009, 10:12 AM
jackstrat jackstrat is offline
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Default Nut width: 1-11/16" vs 1-3/4"

I know this has been discussed to the nth detail, but my local Martin and Taylor dealer brought up a good point when I complained that Martin Dreads are produced with a 1-11/16" nut width, preferring 1-3/4". (Thanks to cutting 5/8" off of my second finger, my fretting hand is kinda messed up.)

They asked, can .063" really make a difference across the fret board, given that the difference in space between strings (if divided equally) is less than .013" of an inch. That translates to the thickness of four sheets of lined notebook paper.

For grins, I used CorelDraw to print out the two neck sizes with strings and overlayed them. Can barely tell a difference by eye, and given the imprecision of fretting fingers, why does .013" of an inch make a difference?

Is it mental?

I realize that the shape of the back of the neck makes a difference as it alters the fretting hand angle, etc., but again, why the big deal?

JackL
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Old 10-16-2009, 10:25 AM
mmmaak mmmaak is offline
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At what point in his life does a boy become a man?

All these differences exist in a continuum. For some players (myself included), 1 11/16" is *just* too small, while 1 3/4" is *just* enough. Of course, I am generalizing as well, since many other factors come into play: the spacing at the saddle (which also affects spacing across the fingerboard), neck profile, how far the outer strings are from the edges, etc.
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Old 10-16-2009, 10:32 AM
jbryant jbryant is offline
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I have to agree with mmmaak. For some reason most Martins I play with that neck width just seem too small and I find myself fat fingering chords occaisionally. 1 3/4 no problem. I actually had a Goodall Parlor with 1 7/8 that I really became accustomed to especialy for fingerstyle playing.
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Old 10-16-2009, 10:35 AM
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I have always been amazed at the huge difference it makes. And forum members seem to concure, it makes a big difference. I would be highly suspicious of your local Martin dealer if she/he doesn't know this.

This is not to say that one is better than the other. Martin dread players are frequently bluegrass pickers who prefer the narrower nut to facilitate their quick pick runs. Fingerstyle players seem to prefer wider nuts to facilitate their intricate fingering. One is not better than the other, but, they are definitly different.
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Old 10-16-2009, 10:37 AM
Wadcutter Wadcutter is offline
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Now ya wouldn't think that .013 would make a hoot of difference would ya? But of course it does. I struggled with the larger 1 3/4" nut over the years with several guitars until I finally decided that my hands simply are not big enough nor my fingers long enough to comfortably accommodate the larger nut. As with many things in life, it's personal preference along with whatever works best for you. One is only "better" or my "desirable" than the other if it meets your particular needs. In my case, cleanly chording a 1 3/4" just wasn't going to happen for me.
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Old 10-16-2009, 11:01 AM
Huckleberry Huckleberry is offline
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They're small differences, but you can feel them. My three guitars are all different (1 11/16, 1 3/4 and 1 25/32). I enjoy them all, and play at least two of them in a session so am used to swapping between them. If I had to be drawn on a preference it would probably be the wider 1 25/32" as I find it very comfortable for the fingerstyle stuff I play.

I don't have particularly large hands but am used to stretching, having been a classical pianist for 25 years or so.
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Old 10-16-2009, 11:05 AM
tammuz7000 tammuz7000 is offline
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I think it depends on the shape and thickness of the neck if neck if it makes a difference as well as the style of playing. If it is a V-shaped martin neck then you either like it or you don't in 1 3/4.

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Old 10-16-2009, 11:09 AM
Martin_Nut Martin_Nut is offline
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I had a Martin dread special with a slim profile 1 11/16" neck that seemed to play better than any of my others (8 at the time). I found out later that the string spacing was a hair wider - 2 3/16" vs 2 1/4". Something they did just to differentiate that special edition, along with a bunch of fancy cosmetics, fwd X scalloped bracing and the like. Though I was unaware to begin with, it did make a difference.

Now my guitars all have 1 3/4" nuts and 2 1/4" spacing, which seems to work best for me.
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Old 10-16-2009, 11:12 AM
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When I worked as a bank teller just after college, I could grab a roll of dimes and tell if it had too many, too few, or the tight number of dimes in it. A dime isn't very thick, relative to the overall length of a full roll, but anyone who's handled those rolls for a while can feel the difference instantly, without thinking about it. If you've got a good sized dictionary in your house, open it in the middle and run your finger over the location of the page numbers. On many dictionaries, you'll feel a distinct bump, caused by the microscopic layers of ink occurring in the same location on page after page. The thickness of the ink layer, relative to the thickness of a page, is pretty small but its cumulative presence on every page is clearly discernible. Our hands are extremely sensitive thickness detectors.

I have a really nice 1979 Taylor that's in phenomenal shape. It's sounds and plays really well but rarely gets played. Why? Well, probably primarily because I find the dreadnought shape a bit off-putting. But also because of its 1 11/16" neck. I can play it, and can move from it to a larger neck or vice versa without too much re adjusting. But I just prefer the feel of a wider fingerboard. Even 1 23/32" feels better (although how much of that is nut width per se versus neck profile and other factors is hard to say).

If I had to, I could adapt to 1 11/16" but I just prefer a somewhat more generous fingerboard. When you're fretting a string, the proximity of your finger to the adjacent string can be pretty darn close. Even a whisper of extra room can make a difference in how cleanly the notes sound. Guitars and guitar playing involve fairly narrow tolerances in general. A little bit can mean a lot.
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Old 10-16-2009, 11:13 AM
HD18JBGuy HD18JBGuy is offline
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I play several different guitars ranging from 1 11/16" to 1 13/16. I have to say that each neck width feels different than the other, but I am able to jump back and forth between them without much problem. Despite having large hands, I prefer the 1 11/16" the most.

It is truly a preference thing, but to answer your questions, there is definitely a difference.
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Old 10-16-2009, 11:18 AM
ruger9 ruger9 is offline
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I can't speak from experience, as every one of my guitars, acoustic & electric, is 1 11/16". HOWEVER...

I find the "playing difficulty" (when fingerpicking) VARIES WIDELY between them. All the nuts are the same. Hmmm...interesting...

All the string spacing at the saddles are NOT. Mine vary from 2" to 2 1/4". Which begs the question, "is string spacing AT THE SADDLE more important that nut width?"

I'm guessing wider nut width + strings going out at a slight angle = wider spacing at bridge, so this would be exaggerated even more with a 1 3/4" or 1 5/8" nut.

FURTHERMORE... the neck profiles also vary somewhat, which I can say from experience, is FAR MORE IMPORTANT than nut width or saddle spacing.

And we won't even go into neck radius...


I guess what I'm saying is, I'll bet of all the above factors, nut width is one of the LEAST important... neck profile being the MOST important.

All IMTO... that's In My THEORETICAL Opinion...
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Old 10-16-2009, 12:35 PM
TwoMartinMan TwoMartinMan is offline
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I prefer 1.75" nut width because I know I play cleaner fingerstyle notes with that width. I love my Seagull S6 Original (1.8" nut width) for the same reason. Less dampening and finger buzzing between strings...more forgiving.
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Old 10-16-2009, 12:53 PM
crikey crikey is offline
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jackstrat, it sounds to me like that dealer was downplaying your intelligence. You should go back to them and ask them why they omitted the rest of the story. 1/16" at the nut can equate to 1/8" at the bridge and sometimes more. As has been mentioned here, nut width is important when it relates to how spacing is considered at the 12th fret and at the bridge/saddle area. A 1 3/4" nut [on a Martin anyway] equates (generally) to 2 1/4" or 2 5/16" or in my case, 2 3/8" string spacing at the bridge. On the other hand, 1 11/16" at the nut generally equates to 2 1/8" at the bridge. In my case, the difference is 1/4" string spacing at the bridge.

I had this discussion with a shop owner once and was told I was splitting hairs. Too bad, he lost a sale for blowing off my concern and not trying to understand where the [string spacing] line was drawn for me.
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Old 10-16-2009, 01:20 PM
geokie8 geokie8 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by devellis View Post
Our hands are extremely sensitive thickness detectors.
+1

I don't know of anyone who can't tell the difference between 1 sheet of newspaper and two when held between the fingers. The dealer doesn't sound like he's ever actually played a guitar.

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Old 10-16-2009, 01:35 PM
pappy27 pappy27 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruger9 View Post
FURTHERMORE... the neck profiles also vary somewhat, which I can say from experience, is FAR MORE IMPORTANT than nut width or saddle spacing.

I guess what I'm saying is, I'll bet of all the above factors, nut width is one of the LEAST important... neck profile being the MOST important.

All IMTO... that's In My THEORETICAL Opinion...
I will second your opinion. I have a skinny necked 1 11/16" and a modified "V" profiled neck 1 11/16" And without a doubt there ia a world of difference in the feel. Much, much more than the difference between my 1 11/16" and 1 3/4" guitars.

The neck profile makes the spacing feel much more open and uncramped because your hand is more comfortable and makes fretting much easier. I was surprised at the difference myself.
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