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Preferred string setback?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Gopher, Jun 16, 2017.

  1. Gopher


    Jun 12, 2017
    I’m currently working on a 5 string design and I’m uncomfortable selecting the string setback. I don’t have a 5 string on hand and was hoping that some of you might share your measurements or preferences. So that we’re all speaking the same language, I’m calling setback the distance from each of the outer strings to the fingerboard edges. I’m especially curious about Lakland necks as the setback at the nut seems really small to me.

    Here’s what I need to decide..

    Nut, treble side:
    Nut, bass side:
    12th fret, treble side:
    12th fret, bass side:

    All responses appreciated.
  2. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    I'm not a builder, but from a player perspective I like about 3/32" from the outer edge of the string to the edge of the fingerboard. That said, I primarily play fretless. On a fretted instrument i like a little more, perhaps 1/8", to accommodate a smooth fret end chamfer whilst still having plenty of crown to the outside edge. I also like the fingerboard edge and string line to be parallel, ie same 'setback'at the way up, rather than diverging up the fingerboard.
    Hope this helps.
    Gopher likes this.
  3. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Line™ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    I use a constant .125" (3.2mm) between the outer edge of the string and the pre-rounded edge of the fretboard on all my 4, 5, 6, and 7-string basses.
    Means2nEnd and Gopher like this.
  4. Arie X

    Arie X

    Oct 19, 2015
    player's choice. watch your client play for a bit, look at their ergonomics and playing style.
  5. Gopher


    Jun 12, 2017
    This is a spec design not a customer request/order so that's not possible. Just trying to see what makes sense to other more experienced builders.
  6. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    But Isn't it what makes sense to players that matters? There are thousands of us on this site but I would imagine most never go near Luthier's Corner... Why not post the same question to a wider audience?
    Dadagoboi likes this.
  7. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    On my basses, I lay them out to put the outside of the outboard strings 1/8" (0.125") from the side of the fingerboard, fretted or fretless. But, I round off the edges of my fingerboards a fair amount. If you leave the edges of the fingerboard sharper, which is more of a guitar-type feel, you can move the strings closer to the edge, like 0.100" or 0.090".

    But there's no real rule. Most Fenders are in the range of 0.100" to 0.125", so that's what most customers are going to be comfortable with.
    Rodent, Dadagoboi and Gopher like this.