String spacing ... again....while building a 6 string bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bdegan, Jun 22, 2020.

  1. Bdegan


    Feb 12, 2020
    Hello all,
    I am new here, posting anyway. Been reading on and off for years.
    I am building a 6 string as the title states.
    I have been reading and watching videos about spacing at the nut. Most seem to space the strings with even spacing between the strings and not spaced center to center. I haven't really paid any attention to this over the years over multiple basses. But that aside. This is leading to part two of my thoughts.
    If the majority of basses are spaced measuring between the strings and not on centers. Why is the spacing at the bridge an equal distance from center of string to center of string?
    Just my Friday night thought process.
  2. TrustRod

    TrustRod Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2016
    Northern California
    For me I think center to center is the overwhelming norm, I've seen people who do it edge to edge but not often. It also makes more sense to me. I don't play the sides of the strings I play the tops. I want those evenly spaced.
  3. Keith Guitars

    Keith Guitars Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 25, 2004
    Woodstock, NY
    Builder: Martin Keith Guitars
    For a 6-string especially, center-to-center at the nut will feel a bit odd. The apparent space between the lowest strings will be significantly smaller due to the diameter of the strings themselves.
    Most nuts are therefore cut with a progressive spacing which slowly increases from 1st to 6th.
    This is not necessarily equal spaces between string edges...that also can feel odd to some players. Often it splits the difference.
    Bridges are almost always mass manufactured/machined and thus are more easily produced for equal center-to-center spacing.

    Interestingly enough, it doesn't make any difference for intonation accuracy on a conventional fretted instrument - the string will still intonate even though the strings are not spaced the same at both ends.
    You can run a diagonal string at any angle over a fret scale and it will play in tune (i.e. you could run a string from the G string bridge to E string tuner and the notes would still play in tune,
    as long as you didn't bend the notes.)

    Note that this is NOT true of fan-fret basses, where nut and bridge spacings have to be proportional in order to have proper intonation.
    When I've made fan-fret basses, I've either used equal-center spacing at both ends (the easy way) or spaced my single-string bridges unevenly as an enlarged version of the nut spacing (the hard way).

    TolerancEJ likes this.