52mm nut compared with 50 mm nut

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
edcat7
Posts: 904
Joined: Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:47 am
Location: Barnet, London

Re: 52mm nut compared with 50 mm nut

Post by edcat7 » Sun Jun 22, 2014 9:40 pm

mmapag wrote:
SusanGRas wrote:I would personally think about what size I wanted for a bit before ordering. 52 and 50 are a big difference to me. I have small hands and do not like 50 mm. 51 is very comfortable and 52 works. As was mentioned they may have started thinner but then went much wider, wider than todays standard. Standard is always an interesting concept. I guess it fits the majority of people. I also find that 52 mm of one luthier can be different from a 52 mm of another because of the actual neck profile. Perhaps the luthier you are going with might have a sample or two to try out.
I think Susan makes a couple of great points here. I have medium size hands and slightly pudgy finger tips. I like 52mm much better than 50 and liked the one 54mm I played. In some ways it is easier to get to certain positions with the smaller nut width and narrower string spacing. But, for me, it is less difficult to play each note more cleanly without muting or buzzing strings with more space. I'm sure there gets to be a point of diminishing returns on that and I didn't play the 54mm for more that half an hour so I don't know if there would have been issues with playing it long term.

You mention that you are a newbie, yet are about to order a luthier built instrument. That is a significant investment in money. You may want to consider getting more experience playing different instruments with different nut widths and string spacing before spend a good bit on a guitar that you may find yourself dissatisfied with in a year or so as you know more about the guitar and what you really want in one.
As a newbie I fully understand that point of view. However I've been playing other musical instruments namely the dizi (Chinese flute) and erhu (Chinese violin) to a goodish level. I've tried buying cheap and working my way up and I wished I had bought the best I can afford from the beginning as it would have worked out far cheaper. I suppose it's cheaper than 20 Marlboros a day, a habit I've now kicked. It's also cheaper than some of my other hobbies I used to do.

I'm meeting with with the dealer on Tuesday with a lot of questions and it did occur to me as I opened the thread to email Stephen Hill directly for advice too. I played my friend's Yu Long Guo and it felt very comfortable and easy to play. A guitar built to the same dimensions as the YLG would suit me fine.

Best wishes

Ed
Remember Anthony Weller, please help. Contact myself or Aaron Green for details.

edcat7
Posts: 904
Joined: Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:47 am
Location: Barnet, London

Re: 52mm nut compared with 50 mm nut

Post by edcat7 » Sun Jun 22, 2014 11:53 pm

Michael.N. wrote:Nut width is more important than string spacing IMO. String spacing can be altered, it's much harder to alter Nut width once it has been established.
John Mills used to have (perhaps still does) a 'test' for the left hand size. Place fingers 1,2 & 3 on the 1st 'E' at frets 1,2 & 3. Keep those fingers in place and reach over with finger 4 to the G# on the bass E. If you can't reach it, you need a neck that is narrower. Don't know how he took into account pre stretched fingers (or not) but that was the test.
I don't understand why some people seem to have problems with inadvertently damping adjacent strings with 50 mm Nut width. . . unless you happen to have fat fingers. Mine are a little pudgy, I can freely play on 48 mm Nut widths and I can assure you that I'm no John Mills. I don't see any advantage to a wider Neck unless you happen to have fingers that really do require 52 or 54 mm's.
That seems impossible as my left little finger only reaches the G string
Remember Anthony Weller, please help. Contact myself or Aaron Green for details.

Michiyuki Kubo

Re: 52mm nut compared with 50 mm nut

Post by Michiyuki Kubo » Mon Jun 23, 2014 1:39 am

Your question is if the nut width has any effect between 50 and 52 mm. The answer is the nut width has no effect on tone. Go with what feels good to you. All the best.

User avatar
zupfgeiger
Posts: 1776
Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:12 pm
Location: Wezembeek-Oppem, Belgium

Re: 52mm nut compared with 50 mm nut

Post by zupfgeiger » Thu Oct 02, 2014 11:51 am

I can tell you from my experience, that with nut width even 1 mm can make a huge difference. Some months ago I bought a new Christopher Dean Santos copy with 51 mm nut width - and I do have problems to get used to it. As the acoustic properties of this guitar are outstanding I will keep it, although the feeling is a bit cramped, especially with slurs like in Tres Canciones Populares Mexicanas, first piece. Much harder to execute these slurs correctly than with my Achim Gropius cedar guitar with "regular" 52 mm.
The secret of getting ahead is getting started (Mark Twain)

Tobias Braun, Santos copy, spruce/yew, 2017
Andrea Tacchi, Enrique Garcia model, Spruce/BRAZ, 2016
Giovanni Tacchi, Daniel Friederich copy, cedar/EIR, 2017
Alain Raifort, cedar/EIR, 2004

Marcus Dominelli
Luthier
Posts: 2774
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 4:52 pm
Location: Victoria, B.C. Canada

Re: 52mm nut compared with 50 mm nut

Post by Marcus Dominelli » Thu Oct 02, 2014 1:13 pm

Go with what feels good. Keep in mind that neck profile and thickness are important too.
But you need to determine your string spacing, as it works in conjunction with the neck width. For example, I would not make a guitar with 44mm e to e string spacing on a 50mm nut because this would place the high e string too close to the edge of the neck, and all but the most accurately placed fingers would be causing this string to slide off the neck.

So first determine the string spacing you like. If it's 42 or less, you should have no problems with a 50mm nut width. I have small hands, and like a 50mm nut too. The saddle spacing is less critical to most players, and typically ranges from 56 to 59mm center of high e string to center of low e string. And this spacing can be altered to work in conjunction with whatever left hand spacing you choose. Good luck with it all.

soltirefa
Posts: 1347
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 3:59 am
Location: Southern California

Re: 52mm nut compared with 50 mm nut

Post by soltirefa » Thu Oct 02, 2014 1:30 pm

What a coincidence - I was reading this thread and on the TV news was a story about testicular cancer awareness.

soltirefa
Posts: 1347
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 3:59 am
Location: Southern California

Re: 52mm nut compared with 50 mm nut

Post by soltirefa » Thu Oct 02, 2014 1:39 pm

When I got my Greg Byers guitar he gave me a nut with 8.5mm center to center spacing. But previously I had told him to make it 8.4. So he mailed me a new nut with the latter. It made a difference and I prefer it. So one idea is to have two nuts made with your new guitar, each with a slightly different spacing. The Byers guitar is a 630mm and feels best with the 8.4mm center to center (42mm total). But on a 650 I actually prefer 8.6 (43mm total). As David Norton said, 44mm is a bit wide, but it does give you a very roomy feel and if you have pudgy fingers will help you not touch adjacent strings inadvertently, or have a vibrating string accidentally hit a fretted finger.

User avatar
zupfgeiger
Posts: 1776
Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:12 pm
Location: Wezembeek-Oppem, Belgium

Re: 52mm nut compared with 50 mm nut

Post by zupfgeiger » Thu Oct 02, 2014 2:01 pm

Marcus Dominelli wrote:Go with what feels good. Keep in mind that neck profile and thickness are important too.
But you need to determine your string spacing, as it works in conjunction with the neck width. For example, I would not make a guitar with 44mm e to e string spacing on a 50mm nut because this would place the high e string too close to the edge of the neck, and all but the most accurately placed fingers would be causing this string to slide off the neck.

So first determine the string spacing you like. If it's 42 or less, you should have no problems with a 50mm nut width. I have small hands, and like a 50mm nut too. The saddle spacing is less critical to most players, and typically ranges from 56 to 59mm center of high e string to center of low e string. And this spacing can be altered to work in conjunction with whatever left hand spacing you choose. Good luck with it all.
I thought a new nut with slightly more space between strings would be a good remedy. A trustworthy luthier changed the nut, but finally the situation was even worse as the first string proved to be set up too close to the edge and my fingers slipped off the neck all the time, exactly as you mentioned. So I re-installed the original nut. It's ok for most pieces, just sometimes I feel a lack of space. Probably I'll get used to it in the course of some more months.
The secret of getting ahead is getting started (Mark Twain)

Tobias Braun, Santos copy, spruce/yew, 2017
Andrea Tacchi, Enrique Garcia model, Spruce/BRAZ, 2016
Giovanni Tacchi, Daniel Friederich copy, cedar/EIR, 2017
Alain Raifort, cedar/EIR, 2004

User avatar
HNLim
Posts: 2243
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:02 am
Location: Singapore - The City in a Garden

Re: 52mm nut compared with 50 mm nut

Post by HNLim » Thu Oct 02, 2014 2:22 pm

I prefer 54mm as it allows me an extra 2mm clearance for the 1st string to the edge of the fingerboard. I have on occasion pull the 1st string off the fingerboard. The extra 2mm reduces that from happening.

larryguitar
Posts: 790
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:03 pm
Location: New York City

Re: 52mm nut compared with 50 mm nut

Post by larryguitar » Sun Jul 16, 2017 6:39 pm

Michael.N. wrote:
Sun Jun 22, 2014 3:53 pm
Nut width is more important than string spacing IMO. String spacing can be altered, it's much harder to alter Nut width once it has been established.
John Mills used to have (perhaps still does) a 'test' for the left hand size. Place fingers 1,2 & 3 on the 1st 'E' at frets 1,2 & 3. Keep those fingers in place and reach over with finger 4 to the G# on the bass E. If you can't reach it, you need a neck that is narrower. Don't know how he took into account pre stretched fingers (or not) but that was the test.
I don't understand why some people seem to have problems with inadvertently damping adjacent strings with 50 mm Nut width. . . unless you happen to have fat fingers. Mine are a little pudgy, I can freely play on 48 mm Nut widths and I can assure you that I'm no John Mills. I don't see any advantage to a wider Neck unless you happen to have fingers that really do require 52 or 54 mm's.
Hello Michael,

I'm sorry to bring up an old post but the questions remain the same. ;-)

So, I tried the John Mills test. With a tight, over the top?, curl on 2 and 3, I can reach the G# but it is certainly not easy. The test leads me to all sorts of questions. How much of the 4th finger should be in contact with the low E? I can manage a little bit past the end of the finger. Is it cheating to tilt the hand to the right?

Could I play comfortably that way? I would say no. So, perhaps I should try a 50mm nut. The nut on this guitar is 54mm.

Thoughts?

User avatar
HNLim
Posts: 2243
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 1:02 am
Location: Singapore - The City in a Garden

Re: 52mm nut compared with 50 mm nut

Post by HNLim » Sun Jul 16, 2017 9:59 pm

Over the years, I am more inclined to a 54 to 55 mm wide nut. All the guitars that I have made or planning to make will have 54mm nut width. The 6 strings spacing are set at 9mm at the nut, 10mm at the 12th fret and 11mm at the bridge. With a 5 mm clearance of 5 mm for the 1st string and a 4 mm clearance at the 6th string.

Nikos_Greek
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu Jun 22, 2017 9:18 am

Re: 52mm nut compared with 50 mm nut

Post by Nikos_Greek » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:53 am

Hello! If i am allowed to express my thoughts on the matter, the soundest advice is go with whatever width you feel comfortable with. The critical factor as rightly pointed out already is string distance at nut E6 to E1. But nut width is also important, if you do for example vertical exercises, a too wide nut will make your life difficult. I had problems with my Bernabe M 50 at the beginning, I had thought it was too narrow, only 51 or 50,5 at nut, but it is a matter of technique as well. after a few months I love the narrow space, only 0,5 or 1 mm of the neck. It makes barre so easy, and takes fatigue away. Of course, the whole set up of the guitar is important as well. so the bottom line is there are no standard dimensions as far as width is concerned.

larryguitar
Posts: 790
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:03 pm
Location: New York City

Re: 52mm nut compared with 50 mm nut

Post by larryguitar » Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:56 am

Everyone's opinions are welcome.

I'm just going to have to experiment with different nut sizes to see what works for me.

A luthier mentioned to me that every .5mm matters. While narrow necks are easier for barres, there is a concern of pulling the high E string off of the fretboard when playing descending slurs. There is also the problem of feeling too cramped on the fingerboard.

So, there are limits and issues with a narrower neck.

User avatar
bacsidoan
Posts: 2329
Joined: Sun May 10, 2009 1:59 am

Re: 52mm nut compared with 50 mm nut

Post by bacsidoan » Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:06 pm

larryguitar wrote:
Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:56 am
Everyone's opinions are welcome.

I'm just going to have to experiment with different nut sizes to see what works for me.

A luthier mentioned to me that every .5mm matters. While narrow necks are easier for barres, there is a concern of pulling the high E string off of the fretboard when playing descending slurs. There is also the problem of feeling too cramped on the fingerboard.

So, there are limits and issues with a narrower neck.
How do you "experiment" with the nut width short of reshaping the neck, the headstock and refretting the guitar? You of course can change the distance between the strings at the nut easily by making a new nut.

larryguitar
Posts: 790
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:03 pm
Location: New York City

Re: 52mm nut compared with 50 mm nut

Post by larryguitar » Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:21 pm

bacsidoan wrote:
Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:06 pm
larryguitar wrote:
Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:56 am
Everyone's opinions are welcome.

I'm just going to have to experiment with different nut sizes to see what works for me.

A luthier mentioned to me that every .5mm matters. While narrow necks are easier for barres, there is a concern of pulling the high E string off of the fretboard when playing descending slurs. There is also the problem of feeling too cramped on the fingerboard.

So, there are limits and issues with a narrower neck.
How do you "experiment" with the nut width short of reshaping the neck, the headstock and refretting the guitar? You of course can change the distance between the strings at the nut easily by making a new nut.
You buy multiple guitars, each with a different width nut. Surely, the people on this forum can understand that strategy. :-)

Return to “Luthiers”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: adamjohnson, Alytw, bacsidoan, Carter53, CommonCrawl [Bot], iim7V7IM7, ivan, Jorge Oliveira, mqbernardo, Pat Dodson, SeanWinkler, souldier and 32 guests