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String spacing measurement

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by mgood, Jul 22, 2003.


  1. mgood

    mgood

    Sep 29, 2001
    Levelland, Texas
    How do you measure string spacing? From center of one string to the center of the adjacent string I would think. Yes/No?

    [EDIT: at the bridge, yeah, I know that.]

    What if you have a bridge with adjustable string spacing and all the strings might not be exactly the same distance apart? Center of top string to center of bottom string and divide by the apropriate number [distance/(# of strings minus 1)] to get an average spacing? Or just the center of the adjustment of the bridge saddles even if you don't have your's in that position?

    I know it doesn't matter if it feels right. But I hear people talking about 19mm spacing and 21mm spacing, etc. Just curious.
     
  2. From what I've been able to gather from my playing experience, you typically refer to the spacing with regard to string center to center, and the industry has established standards for what they typically offer, like (on a 5-string) 5/8", 11/16", and 3/4" (I don't know the metric equivalents) at the bridge. Manufacturers seem to specialize in a particular spacing for a given series of instruments if they make more than one (Ibanez, for example, with the narrow Soundgear series, vs. the wider BTB series).

    Also, more generally, you can look at it also as the spec measured outside of the end strings, both at the nut, the last fret, and at the bridge. You could have tight spacing at the nut, while having a broader fanout at the bridge, compared to some other model or maker. Two companies might have same spacing at the bridge, while having very different spacing at the nut, and vice-versa. Lots of subjective choices in this area.
     
  3. mgood

    mgood

    Sep 29, 2001
    Levelland, Texas
    Thanks for the quick reply.

    Yes. I've always thought of 3/4" and 5/8" as being the common standards. All my basses have 3/4"-spacing, sort of. My five and my newer four both have 3/4" (19mm) at the bridge. But my older four has width-adjustable bridge saddles. (Schaller bridge on this one.) The fretboard is the same width as the new four-string, both at the nut and at the 24th fret. But the way I have it adjusted, the average spacing is 20+mm, maybe closer to 21mm. (I've seen lots of string-spacing measurements on this board given in milimeters. Seems easier than saying 13/16" or 27/64" for precision.)

    I know that spacing at the nut is an entirely different subject. I'm talking about spacing at the bridge and should have made that more clear. That's what happens when I hit "Submit" before I really think about what I'm saying/asking.:oops:
     
  4. 3/4" is I guess the spacing of either a Fender Jazz or Precision (probably the J). I play only 5-strings now, and when I started (on a Carvin LB 75), I was dealing with 5/8" spacing. My ErnieBall MusicMan StingRay 5 has 11/16", as does my Modulus Quantum 5. 3/4" on a five is considered more on the wide side, but that's what guys looking to emulate their 4 strings want, and thus spacing is like that on Lakland fives, and plenty of other brands, I'd assume. For me, when the bridge spacing is that wide, the instrument is usually a bit wider than I like at the nut, because of my small "carny folks" style hands :). But there's nothing but choices out there.
     
  5. mgood

    mgood

    Sep 29, 2001
    Levelland, Texas
    That's why I like the 3/4" on fivers. I was used to the spacing on my four. For years every time I picked up a five, it had the narrow spacing, 5/8" I guess. I couldn't play it. It was just too foreign to me with the strings so close together it felt like a guitar. I couldn't get my (pl)ucking fingers in there. :bassist: Once I discovered the wide fives, I fell in love.

    My Carvin BB75P has the 3/4" spacing at the bridge. But at the nut, it's the same spacing as the LB75. So it's not that difficult to reach anything with the fretting hand. Up where the frets are far apart, the strings are still pretty close together. By the time the strings are spread out more, the frets are much closer together. I have smaller than average hands and find this tapered fretboard very comfortable.
     
  6. mgood

    mgood

    Sep 29, 2001
    Levelland, Texas
    Only slightly off topic. :cool:

    This is not the greatest pic, but you can see that it's wide at the bridge and fairly narrow at the nut.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Nice bass! Is that the "regular" walnut? Is yours a 34" or their special 35 1/4" scale length (isn't that wild?)? My early 90s LB 75 had a Schaller bridge that let you roll the string holders (? - the roller mounted on the saddle) a little to the left and right the adjust the spacing, but Carvin went from that bridge to the Wilkinson and then to the Hipshot. They're one nutty company, but I do like their stuff. Except my LB 75 had these old style pickups on it (pre-dating the HB50Ns) that were real dogs. That's a whole other story.

    But it's good you've got a setup you like. That's a large part of the battle. I like the 11/16" spacing on my MusicMan. I've no trouble with it.
     
  8. mgood

    mgood

    Sep 29, 2001
    Levelland, Texas
    Thanks.

    That's koa body sides and the maple/koa neck and ebony fretboard.
    Below, the bass on the right is a BB70WP. It has a 1/2" figured walnut top, 1/8" maple center, regular walnut back, maple/walnut neck, and ebony board.
    The LB70 has a maple neck and poplar sides and ebony board.

    All mine have the 34" scale. The 35.25" scale is on the XB75 and XB76. The wide five-string neck is standard on the BB75, like mine above, and optional on the LB75 and XB75.

    My LB70 (the red bass on the left in the pic below) was built in late 1989. It has the Schaller bridge you're talking about. (And I prefer that one over the Wilkinson or the Hipshot.) That's a big part of the reason I started this thread. The way I have the bridge saddles adjusted, the spacing is actually quite a bit more than 3/4".

    Your pickups are probably the H50B's, or HB50's (same thing I think). The p'ups on my LB70 are also stacked humbuckers like your LB75 had, but mine are older than that. They are H13B's. The BB75P has an HB5W bridge pickup and an H50N (instead of the usual J99 single-coil) neck pickup, and the piezos in the bridge. And the BB70WP has a pair of HB4 p'ups and the piezo bridge.

    More pics on my website.

    [​IMG]