18mm vs. 17.5mm string spacing, any tangible difference?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by LowEndOperative, May 22, 2018.

  1. LowEndOperative

    LowEndOperative ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ Supporting Member

    Oct 8, 2013
    It amounts to just a 2mm difference across 5-strings, so I might head to my LMS and look into the feel of 17.5mm spacing, if there's that much of a difference for me personally.

    For anyone who has compared, is it enough to matter?
  2. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    You should be able to feel the difference. Whether that affects your playing is purely individual. I find that I can play basses with spacing as narrow as 16.5mm, but 19mm is my favorite and 18mm works very well too.
  3. jim nolte

    jim nolte

    Oct 26, 2006
    Is 5/8 of a inch the same as 16.5, if it is that's too narrow for me, that was my first 5 string a Jazz Bass Plus 5, I went from that to a EBMM SR5 at 11/16 and I could feel the difference.
  4. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    16.5mm is the spacing on Ibanez Soundgear basses. My first five was an Ibanez I bought in 1987. The spacing must have been 15mm. I played it once and went back to my Yamaha BB2000, maybe a top three bass among all the fours I ever had.
    jim nolte likes this.
  5. LowEndOperative

    LowEndOperative ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ Supporting Member

    Oct 8, 2013
    An Ibanez GSR205 I just experimented with had 17mm @ the bridge, but I with my large hands was able to negotiate it well enough. This opens things up considerably, for I thought 18mm was as narrow as I could go.
  6. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
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  7. Double Agent

    Double Agent

    Mar 10, 2006
    Lakeland, FL
    I can tell the difference, but it’s a subtle difference at the most. It wouldn’t be a deciding factor for me either way.
  8. eastcoasteddie

    eastcoasteddie Guest

    Mar 24, 2006
    I can definitely tell the difference between my 17.5mm L2500 and 18mm Jazz V. The Fender “18mm” is more like 18.4mm, so that actual difference is noticeable.
  9. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I think too many people are overly concerned about things like this. I've played primarily P necks for over 30 years. I sat in at a gig a few weeks ago where the bassist was playing a jazz. Did I feel the difference when I first picked up the bass? Yes. Did it make any difference in how I played? No. Did I forget about after about 30 seconds? Yes.
  10. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    It's a very personal thing - some notice and care a lot, some don't care at all. You'll have to compare for yourself and see.
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  11. Gnal


    Apr 22, 2014
    I've played/owned basses with 17mm, 17.5mm, 18mm and 19mm. I was very happy with the 17 / 17.5 spacing when I mainly used a pick and sometimes fingers. When I started to learn how to slap/pop (still mainly play finger style), my preference changed for 19mm.

    I can feel the difference between the various spacing from bass to bass, but the spacing seems to mainly to make certain techniques easier or more difficult. For me, the narrower spacing was good for using a pick and wider better for slap.
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  12. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Only if you want it to be.
    Max Blasto and LowEndOperative like this.
  13. The narrower the string spacing, the easier it becomes to do fast pick and finger style passages. The wider the spacing, the easier it is to slap.
  14. Tom Baker

    Tom Baker

    Feb 3, 2016
    Austin, TX
    Feel is a funny thing. I can tell the difference and it depends on what I'm playing as to how much impact it has. Warwick 5/6's at 16.5mm are tight to me so I stick with Warwick 4's, EBMM SR5's are 17.5mm and that seems to work as a good compromise. I had a Jazz V was 18mm and it felt clunky but I also had an Elrick 5 for a while(year-ish) that was 19mm and it felt great but I just didn't dig the sound. The neck shape has lot to do with how you'll perceive that spacing with your left hand. I prefer wider at the bridge BUT again my SR5's are a good compromise and get a sound I like.
    Omega Monkey and bassomane like this.
  15. TrustRod

    TrustRod Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2016
    Northern California
    16.5mm is .65 inches.

    5/8 inches is .625 inches or 15.875mm.
    jim nolte likes this.
  16. Everyone has an opinion on this topic and it’s been kicked around for years. From my experience, the difference can be felt and is noticeable but, that’s also varied.
    My Ibanez has the standard 16.5 for the soundgear 5 string. My band plays a lot of rock and 90’s metal. My fingers have to move quick all the time and my pick has to move even faster when used. This suites MY needs due to my situation. Further, my slapping capability is rather limited due to my fat, yet humorously short fingers.
    My Marcus Miller Sire V7 5 string is just a wee over 17.5 at the bridge. The tone is great for church music on Sunday’s and I’m playing 120-140bpm quarter notes with an occasional slap. The spacing works out just fine because I’m not ripping 16th note runs at church.
    I have used the Sire at a band gig and halfway through the first set I had to case it and pull out the I Ibanez. I was missing notes and working “too hard” to keep timing and hit runs and fills.
    This is just my opinion. At the end of the day whatever feels best in your hands for the music you’re playing should be all the guide you need.
  17. My Fender 5 string Jazz basses are 17.5. My Ibanez is a little narrower and I find that when I have been playing the fenders a lot I am sloppy on the Ibanez. Slow easy stuff is no problem, but a fast riff with a bunch of notes just screws me up.
    Now I just play the Fenders and all is right with the universe...........
  18. Tom Howland

    Tom Howland Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    I find if I play any bass less than 17.5mm. spacing My left hand tends to cramp from playing. 20mm.is my favorite.
  19. Doug Parent

    Doug Parent Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    San Diego, Ca.
    Dealer Nordstrand Pickups.
    17.50 is the gateway drug into the dreaded danger zone of overly tight cramped spacing. Having said that I'm digging my G&L M2500 and thats 17!
    Last edited: May 23, 2018
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  20. Eminor3rd

    Eminor3rd BLAAAAARRGGHH!!

    Feb 10, 2008
    Played 17.5 on my main bass for years. Ordered a custom, wanted 17.5, but the pickups I wanted were only available in 18. Decided to go with 18, but was worried.

    I don't notice a difference at all. Don't worry about it.