In this installment of Sound Pure Gear Tips, acoustics specialist Barrett Brooks runs us through the basics of nut width and string spacing.
Nut width refers to the width of the guitar’s neck at the nut. String spacing is the distance from the low E string to the high E string and how they spread out as they get closer to the saddle. Some manufacturers take this measurement at the 14th fret, while others take it right at the saddle.
On acoustic guitars, there’s a spectrum of nut widths. They typically go between 1 11/16” to 1 3/4”, but some go to 1 7/8” and 1 23/32”. Even though the differences between these nut widths are incredibly small, your hands can still feel it.
It’s important to keep in mind that there’s no set pairing of nut width and string spacing. You could have a 1 11/16” nut width with a 2 1/4” string spacing, or you could have the same nut width with a 2 3/16” string spacing.
Whether you’re flatpicking or fingerpicking, both of these measurements affect how comfortable your guitar is in your hands. Nut width impacts how your left hand feels, while string spacing has an impact on your right hand.
Barrett suggests that when you’re picking out a guitar, make sure you’re aware of the affects these measurements have on how a guitar feels. If you have a guitar you’re comfortable with, take that guitar’s measurements and use them as a point of reference.
Some people find that narrow nut and narrow string spacing is more comfortable for flatpicking, but other’s want a narrow nut and wider string spacing. There’s no set of measurements that’s more well-suited to one style than another. It comes down to the player’s hands and what you find comfortable. It’s something to experiment with.
If you’d like to learn more about nut width and string spacing, feel free to contact an acoustics specialist! Also, keep in mind that we can order guitars with custom measurements from our manufacturers, so you can find a guitar that fits just right.