String spacing at bridge

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
Julian
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String spacing at bridge

Post by Julian » Tue Jan 19, 2010 5:01 am

Hi All:

My guitar has a 59mm string spacing which I think it is rather wide. If I want to replace the bridge to 57mm string spacing, would the tone be affected because the top must be re-finished?

The luthier who made the guitar is hesitant to accommodate my request. If I plan to ask other luthier to change the bridge, would the character of the guitar be affected too?

At last, do I need to replace the bridge to get the 57mm string spacing, after all it is only 2mm different spread within 6 strings?

Julian
Masaru Kohno No.50 - 1981
Yamaha GC 71 - 1984
Gary Southwell - 1997 ex. Julian Bream - a bench copy of 'Hauser 1940'
Oskar Graf - 2000
Fritz Ober 'Hauser 1' - 2007
Richard Brune 'Fleta 1956' - 2011
Andrea Tacchi 'Bouchet' - 2014

Chih-Wei Liu

Re: String spacing at bridge

Post by Chih-Wei Liu » Tue Jan 19, 2010 7:10 am

Why not sell that guitar and order another with 57mm spacing? 59mm is pretty normal nowadays, btw. You don't have to fix it if it ain't broke, IMHO.

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James Lister
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Re: String spacing at bridge

Post by James Lister » Tue Jan 19, 2010 9:47 am

You can make small changes to the string spacing by replacing just the saddle. The new saddle will need to have notches cut in it which control the position of the strings leaving the bridge, rather than the holes in the tie block. You can't use the existing saddle, as the notches will lower the action, unless you want to lower the action as well.

Bear in mind though, that a 2mm change in overall spacing will only change the distance between each string by 0.4mm - about half the thickness of the string itself. Not sure if you'll really notice much difference.

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

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Alexandru Marian
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Re: String spacing at bridge

Post by Alexandru Marian » Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:02 am

I would rather try to plug and re-drill the holes without removing the bridge, first. I have a friend who dislikes 59-60 and much prefers 57-58, he has a small hand.

Slavko Fric
Amateur luthier
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Re: String spacing at bridge

Post by Slavko Fric » Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:33 am

Alexandru Marian wrote:I would rather try to plug and re-drill the holes without removing the bridge, first. I have a friend who dislikes 59-60 and much prefers 57-58, he has a small hand.
I did it once , TEDIOUS JOB

Intune
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Re: String spacing at bridge

Post by Intune » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:33 am

Julian,
I think that cutting notches in the saddle to match your desired string spacing is a much more practical solution to the problem than fitting a new bridge or drilling new holes in your tieblock. I have cut notches in the saddles of my guitars many times to change string spacing, and the technique works perfectly. There is so much down-bearing pressure from the string over the top of the saddle that it takes only a very shallow notch -- more of a scratch than a gully, really -- to securely hold the string in its new position. Therefore, it's possible to use your existing saddle without altering the action if you cut the notch only on the aft edge of the saddle , where the string first passes over it as it leaves the tieblock, and leave the forward edge alone, preserving its current height. If there is already compensation cut into your current saddle, it also will be preserved by notching only the aft edge. I'm not a luthier, but I've done this procedure many times myself and had perfect results. Like you, I prefer 57mm spacing and play more comfortably after I've brought down spacings of 59mm or 60mm by using a notched saddle. Doing this does not change the guitar's sound as far as I could tell. As the strings will now slant slightly inward to make up for the lost 2mm, it's important to space the notches evenly so that the slanting is equal on each string and the visual balance is preserved.

If you try it, let us know how it works out.

Intune
Last edited by Intune on Tue Jan 19, 2010 2:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Intune
2010 Andres Marvi (cedar/Madagascar rosewood)

"...beware of all enterprises that require new clothes..." -- H.D. Thoreau

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Alexandru Marian
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Re: String spacing at bridge

Post by Alexandru Marian » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:56 am

Well, some say it sounds better with notches. I forgot who it was but one thought there is more clarity. At least in theory, if you want, the notch prevents the string from sliding around under attack. I would imagine the difference might be really heard/felt if the string break angle is not steep enough in the first place?

Intune
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Re: String spacing at bridge

Post by Intune » Tue Jan 19, 2010 12:04 pm

Alexandru Marian wrote:
I would imagine the difference might be really heard/felt if the string break angle is not steep enough in the first place?"
A shallow break angle is a different problem altogether, I would think. For this you could always convert your tieblock to 12 holes, which would make the break angle steeper. Yes, 12 holes and 6 notches should solve most of these problems.
Intune
2010 Andres Marvi (cedar/Madagascar rosewood)

"...beware of all enterprises that require new clothes..." -- H.D. Thoreau

Mike Spiess

Re: String spacing at bridge

Post by Mike Spiess » Tue Jan 19, 2010 8:30 pm

My experience is that a change in string spacing at the bridge isn't noticeable till you play up the neck past the eighth fret. A change in the nut will be more noticeable than at the bridge. I think it a waste to change it only at the bridge and not at the nut also. Just my experience. Wish I had your problems as I got sausage fingers and even with wide nut I have problems getting my finger between the strings.

Matthew22
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Re: String spacing at bridge

Post by Matthew22 » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:36 pm

I actually noticed a very nice improvement with a notched saddle. it seems to transfer energy better so everything in the guitars sound that has to do with string energy is heightened. I also feel that the clarity and separation are better, but that is really hard to measure without accurate recordings.
To Julian, I agree with the former, but in less delicate words - changing the bridge, IMO, is crazy! just have a luthier make you a notched saddle.

Julian
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Re: String spacing at bridge

Post by Julian » Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:02 am

Thanks to you all.

All responses are very obvious that I should keep the existing bridge in tact.

I once tried to redo to saddle by creating grooves for strings with spacing of 57mm, as per the luthier advice. But because I am not aluthier and think I didi a very poor job, the tone turned very dull.

Now as said here somewhere, the notches must be shallow just to create the 57mm spacing? I will try to change the saddle again with the notches to accommodate 57mm string spacing although I though the pull of strings will move the string to its origin which is 59mm???

I will try it again and let you know the result.

Julian
Masaru Kohno No.50 - 1981
Yamaha GC 71 - 1984
Gary Southwell - 1997 ex. Julian Bream - a bench copy of 'Hauser 1940'
Oskar Graf - 2000
Fritz Ober 'Hauser 1' - 2007
Richard Brune 'Fleta 1956' - 2011
Andrea Tacchi 'Bouchet' - 2014

Matthew22
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Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2009 5:46 pm

Re: String spacing at bridge

Post by Matthew22 » Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:54 pm

Julian, if done correctly it will hold its 57mm spacing forever. unless you deliberately pull the string but under tension even that would be very hard to do.
when you say "I will try it again" I hope you mean a luthier, pay once to have it done professionally and you'll be happy, IMO unless you have good experience and the right tools, doing these things yourself is a pain.

SteveL123
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Re: String spacing at bridge

Post by SteveL123 » Thu Jul 20, 2017 1:19 pm

Old thread revival!

On a luthier built guitar, how are the 6 exit holes on the bridge laid out? If they are divided equally into 6, then the spacing between strings will not be the same due to different diameters of the strings.

My saddle spacing is at 55 mm (too narrow for me) and I am about to cut notches in a new saddle to make it wider at 59 mm. What's the best way to lay it out?

Thinking out loud, since the bass strings have greater displacement than the treble strings, and P is fatter than a,m,i fingers, I'd make the spacing between the bass strings wider than the trebles.

Imbler
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Re: String spacing at bridge

Post by Imbler » Thu Jul 20, 2017 8:57 pm

Steve, I've seen only two methods of spacing (three if you count sloppy workmanship!)
1) equally spaced strings
2) equal spaces between strings.

I've done it both ways and my fingers don't notice the difference, others might be more sensitive though,
Mike

SteveL123
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Re: String spacing at bridge

Post by SteveL123 » Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:11 am

Imbler wrote:
Thu Jul 20, 2017 8:57 pm
Steve, I've seen only two methods of spacing (three if you count sloppy workmanship!)
1) equally spaced strings
2) equal spaces between strings.

I've done it both ways and my fingers don't notice the difference, others might be more sensitive though,
Mike
Hi Mike,

Mine (non Luthier built) must fall under sloppy workmanship. Besides tie block holes drilled too narrow and uneven, the bridge was not centered with respect to the fret board (shifted more towards the base side). It's saving grace is that it has very good intonation, and good action (after I adjusted it), and sounds very good most of the time (seems to be temperamental to the weather).

I have chosen the equally spaced and decided to use the existing saddle instead of making a new one, which is a lot more work. I had to file the notches much deeper than I thought was needed, otherwise the treble strings that were shifted to the right more would pop out of the notch if plucked with a hard rest stroke. Because the action was very low already, the deeper notches caused fret buzz. I had to add a thin piece of cardboard under the saddle to raise the action to avoid buzz.

Here's a pic after it was done, ended up at 57 mm. You can see the treble strings bend as it exits the tie block.
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