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String spacing!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Vic, Aug 3, 2004.

  1. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    I got interested in string spacing... especially on 5's...

    I did a little web research as well as played the fool with a ruler in a few music stores, and while this is not at all comprehensive, this is what I found...

    Standard 5: 17mm
    Wide 5: 19mm
    Standard 4: 19mm
    Wide 4: 20-21mm

    Very abreviated list of examples...

    Standard 5's: Peavey (incl. Cirrus*), G&L, Fender, Zon Sonus, Spector...

    Wide 5's: MTD 535, Roscoe LG/SKB, Zon 519, F...

    *The Cirrus' ABM bridge comes standard as 17mm spacing, but judging by my measurements and the amount of lateral adjustment in that bridge, it's theoretically possible to push all the way out to about 18.5. The only caveat at that point would be that the outer string paths would not be as straight as stock, so it may be somewhat possible for a very aggressive player to start breaking G strings, but this is unknown/untested.

    ** The Rosco has a Hipshot bridge with width adjustment, but even though the lateral adjustment on these bridges is less than the Cirrus' ABM, the Roscoe is already at 19mm, so it's likely unnecessary to do much with it.

    Judging by what I've seen in most posts, most hard core slappers seem to really like the wide spacing... either by sticking with a 4 string primarily (like Victor Wooten), or by going with a Wide 5. I believe this is most likely due to modern slap styles where you play "through" the string a lot, where space between the strings may help enable this. Personally, slap expertise is not my strong point, so this is mostly via observation.

    Most of the primarily finger style folks seem to prefer the narrower or Standard spacing... probably for speed and comfort. For myself, I definitely feel a bit more mobile on a narrower bass, but if it gets too thin, I really don't like it.

    However, there are also the exceptions, such as the ultra-narrow 5, which I saw as narrow as 15mm. Also the ultra-wide 4, which I saw as a good 22mm, maybe slightly more.

    Also, at least on a few I thought to check it on, including the Cirrus, which I probably studied the most, it seems the spacing is kept pretty even BETWEEN STRINGS, which means the "centers" got a bit closer as you went from low to high (since the strings are smaller). If this is typical, I'd guess this is a "setup trick" to make the bass feel faster and more consistent for the particular player. I never really messed around with string spacing much, so if this is already well known, it was news to me.

    I started this because I thought the Cirrus I used to have was spaced the same as the Roscoe I use mostly now, but when I found out otherwise, I wondered why I never noticed. With that in mind, what I also discovered, was that, while 17mm and 19mm feel very comfy to me, going down that last mm or 2 to 16mm or less all the sudden felt very cramped. It may not seem like much in absolute terms, but it made a huge difference to me. This is probably most subjective, but that's apparently why I didn't really notice my Cirrus wasn't spaced the same as my Roscoe or MTD. They all just felt "good", which may have more to do with setup than absolute spacing. Dunno. You decide.
  2. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I have 19mm on my four stringer( Godin SD ) and 17mm (ish) on my 5 string (Spector Q5). I agree that wide spacing is more preferable for slapping. The 5 string i dont slap on, (it has flatwounds as well, so thatss part of the reason :p) but even when it had roundwounds i was never comfortable slapping with that string spacing. I prefer it for fingerstyle over slap.
  3. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    It's all preference and experience. I cut my teeth on a five string with about 16.5 spacing (cheap Samick), so to this day it's a little easier to slap on a tight fiver than a wide one because my technique was based around tight spacing. My current five, an Elrick, has 19mm spacing normally and I keep the strings as close as possible at the bridge.
  4. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Thanks for the info - I have been looking at this lately as I have just been learning slap over the past few months and find it much easier on my four string jazz than on my five. I originally liked the narrow feel of the five (for fingerstyle), but feel cramped playing slap. Which is a reason to buy a new bass, right :D

    If anyone has any good ideas on how to package that idea to my wife, please let me know... ;)
  5. pistoleroace


    Sep 13, 2002
    The Roscoe 5-stringers are actually 18mm. About the only 20mm spaced basses that I know of are the Warwick Streamer Stage 1's although someone else that I'm not aware of may make one. Personally, I love the 19mm spacing although I can get by fine with the 18mm.
  6. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Curbow offers 20mm spacing, the Modulus Quantum wide 5 option is 20mm(five strings on a six string neck), the Warwick Streamer Stage I 5 is 20 mm, and all of the bolt on Warwicks are offered as a wideneck with a 20mm spacing.
  7. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    After 20 years of bangin' on standard-spaced fours, I'm not comfortable on anything but 19mm fivers. Slap has nothing to do with it... 19-20mm is simply the optimum spacing for gettin' my groove on. :bassist:
  8. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    Yep, without a doubt, the wider spacing allows you to be a lot sloppier and get good slap tone. I prefer to slap 4 string.

    As for finger style, I'm torn. Some songs I just prefer my 4 over the much narrower spacing I have on my 6. On the other hand, chording is MUCH MUCH easier on my 6.
  9. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    Interesting. I just rechecked mine and you're right, but they have adjustable spacing, and at least on mine, the two outers (B and G) are a little farther apart (almost 19mm). Initially, I just measured the B, but this time I measured them all. Just assumed (oops) it was a "standard wide" spacing. Oh well. Love it tho. :D
  10. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I really dislike wide spacing, actually. My fretted has narrow spacing (4 string), and I got my chops on it, so I can slap on just about anything now. When I first got my fretless, which had much wider spacing, my right hand kept jumping too far and I'd either pluck the wrong string, or pluck air. I still don't like the wider spacing on it, but it's now my main bass.
  11. Little G

    Little G

    Feb 27, 2003
    I'm assuming the string spacing measurements are from the string edge to edge rather than string centres??
  12. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Well, it'd certainly be an impressive task to find the centre of the string.
  13. Little G

    Little G

    Feb 27, 2003

    Valid ;)
  14. I just changed basses because string spacing was one of my issues with my old Sonus. It was about 17mm and I really didn't notice until I played other wide spaced fives.

    I am more of a fingerstyle, tap, and false harmonics kind of guy. For those 3 techniques I noticed a huge difference when playing a 19mm Benevente vintage Vortex and a Fender RB5. It was then that I knew 19mm spacing was for me. Now a 17mm feels cramped. It never ceases to amaze me how Leo Fender got it right. Or maybe its because I started on a Fender that it feels "right". I do notice a difference in hand fatigue. The 19mm spacing just lets me "breathe" and lay into the pocket more IME.
  15. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    I checked my Dingwall 5 last night, and allthough it was a little tricky to get an acurate measurement, seemed to be 18mm.

    I had noticed any difference when switching to it from my old Ibanez 4. I guess cause there isnt much of one hehe. I got big hands, id prolly stick with 18-19mm on a 6 or maybe even a 7 before it got unruly.
  16. CrazyArcher


    Aug 5, 2004
    I have 4-str Eko, which has a 20mm space. It seemed kinda wide for me, since I started with guitar and not with bass (electric guitars have 10-11mm spacing :p), and basses I played before (which were not mine, lol) had smaller spacing. However, I feel fine with what I've got, since I have the feeling that when I pass a string, I virtually pass 2 strings on electric guitar.

    Wow, it was my 1st post here. :)
  17. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    Actually, it was center to center, because that's what it is from the bridge's perspective. However, noting what you're getting at, the actual playing space between strings, is why I made the later comment about the spacing changing a little as you go from B to G on the Cirrus. My Roscoe's not like that, tho.
  18. Corwin81


    Mar 18, 2003
    Ames, IA
    my Schecter V is about 5/8" spacing. too lazy to convert to metric.
  19. How exatly do you calculate the spacing so i know if its 17 or 19.
  20. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    Confused... whaddya mean calculate? I just got a metric ruler and measured it.