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Much difference between 18mm and 19mm spacing for 5 string?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by nosajwp, Oct 7, 2013.

  1. nosajwp


    Jun 14, 2005
    Winston-Salem, NC
    Is there much of a difference in playability between 18mm and 19mm bridge spacing for a 5 string? I know this will be subjective, but just wanted to see if anyone had direct experience with these.
  2. I've been playing 19mm spacing on my 5's for many years now (probably 20 years). I just got a Roscoe with 18.3mm spacing and LOVE it. The only thing I notice is a more relaxed left hand feel. And to put this in perspective, I REALLY don't like that 17mm Music Man spacing.

    So, for me, not much difference, and the difference is on the positive side for the 18.3mm.
    bass nitro likes this.
  3. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer Supporting Member

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    IMO, it is less about the right-hand feel than it is about how the spacing translates to the neck geometry itself.

    I have owned a few Fender 18mm basses that felt really clunky and at the same time, some 19mm that did not.

    But to your question, if you own one and are interested in the other, it is not that big of a deal in terms of adapting the right hand.

    Oddly though, I found owning a 19mm and 17mm at the same time a bit of a challenge. But, the necks are typically significantly different between the two. I have pretty much given up on 17mm fivers.
  4. +1 in that there is a LOT more to a neck preference than just the bridge spacing.
  5. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    Music Man are 17.5 mm, to be exact. . . which is a palpable different from 17 mm, IMHO.
  6. I've yet to meet a 19mm that played nice with me. I find that the hops I do fall flat on their faces with a 19mm spacing. This isn't to say that the 19mm is the problem. It could very well be the geometry of the basses themselves.

    My 18mm Fender is comfortable. My 16.5mm Spector is my ideal. :D You'd think it would be tight, but I can play it without smacking the other strings quite easily. :)

    The 17.5mm Music-Mans I've played were very comfortable too. That being said, .5mm isn't even a noticable difference to your eyes, let alone your fingers...so I don't get how it's a palpable difference.
  7. Dan Knowlton

    Dan Knowlton Sometimes you're the dog, sometimes the tree Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    Palm Coast, FL
    Yes, there is a difference - 1mm! And that change makes a huge difference for me. I am not comfortable with less or more than 19mm, but that is just me.

    You really need to try all the options and see what works for you.

    Dan K.
  8. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer Supporting Member

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    Perhaps, but it is so hard to say, really. Everything is going to make a little difference here and there.

    For example, Lakland and Sadowsky each claim 19mm (.75") spacing. The Sadowsky has a 1.875" nut. The Lakland has 1.81". So the there is only a single point (right at the bridge) where the string spacing is the same.

    The spacing is a single piece in the system. The only way you could really know it's impact it to mess around with a bass that has an adjustable bridge or multi-ridged saddle pieces (like some of the Fenders) Even then, the difference would be very subjective.
  9. Recently played my old MM5 that I sold to a buddy. REALLY felt tight. Again, more than just bridge spacing. Nut width and other neck dimensions. Could never play one of those again. (well, I could, I can play anything, but would prefer not to!).

    19mm is my preference (i.e., I like the '4 string + another string' feel to those). I was just surprised at how little it took do get used to the 18.3mm of the Roscoe.

    Again, per the OP, very personal preference thing versus good or bad. And, many other dimensions of neck (radius, C, D, shallow D, etc., etc., nut width, the way the neck and body are designed that changes the distance of first position from bass to bass, etc., etc.)

    The only thing I can't play is that John Patitucci 20mm (or whatever it is) Yamah 6. That is beyond my physical capability!
    bass nitro likes this.
  10. nosajwp


    Jun 14, 2005
    Winston-Salem, NC
    If it helps give more background, I'm considering a Mike Lull M5 with 18mm bridge spacing, and wonder how it might compare with another jazz style 5'er with 19mm spacing.
  11. I have basses with all different string spacings, the only real difference is how much you practice on them all. If you practice any of them long enough you will probably get used to them. Not meaning the neck shape, just the string spacing.
    The only ones I really didn't like that I've played was the Warwicks as I think they are around 16mm (I'm sure I'll be corrected). If I practiced on it long enough I'd probably get used to it though. Just harder to slap on, but it can be done. So maybe just adjusting technique.

    Soooooo, probably no help at all
  12. This is why I have my Fender. Much easier to slap than my Spector.
  13. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    No one can tell you what it means to you, only you can determine that by trying some basses and it may take an extended period of time, unfortunately. I can tell you that 18mm works quite well for me and 17mm does not work at all. That 1mm can make a difference.
  14. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer Supporting Member

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    18 mm is same spec as Fender except a Lull neck has less heft and is far "faster."

    I cannot imagine anyone being unhappy with the playability of a Lull.

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