Tighter string spacing = better technique?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by lucas303, Jul 15, 2021.

  1. lucas303


    Mar 11, 2019
    I've primarily been playing basses with 18 mm spacing at the bridge (Dingwall NG and Ibanez EHBs). Recently I started picking up my five string Ibanez Mikro again, which I believe has 16.5 mm spacing at the bridge. I've noticed that I have to pay more attention to my plucking hand technique with the Mikro. It reminds me of a ramp, where there's a tangible thing keeping technique in check.

    Has anyone else noticed having to improve your plucking hand technique when going to tighter string spacing?
    rtav likes this.
  2. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013

    I have noticed that I have to change my plucking hand technique when going to a different string spacing.

    If one string spacing was better than the others, we would not be talking about string spacing because every bass would have the same.
    FRoss6788, Bolsyo, teh-slb and 9 others like this.
  3. lucas303


    Mar 11, 2019
    To be clear, at no point did I say that tighter string spacing is better than wider spacing (or vice versa).
    dkelley, stigbeve and westrock like this.
  4. RattleSnack


    Sep 22, 2011
    I think it's just a personal preference. You can play sloppy or tight on any string spacing.
    FRoss6788, Bolsyo, Artman and 13 others like this.
  5. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2009
    I don't think it's better, it's just different.

    Playing tighter string spacing forces you to adapt to that geometry, but I don't think it's "better technique," it's just different technique.
    teh-slb, sonic 7, Artman and 2 others like this.
  6. JW56789

    JW56789 Guest

    Feb 18, 2017
    String spacing gets a lot play around here, but honestly, if it's a bass I'd really like to play, my hands just adjust. I'm often amazed by the 'got to be _______mm spacing' posts, but hey, if that's how they roll, good for them.
  7. RSerbel


    Jun 10, 2016
    I like around 17.5 for string spacing for my left hand, but my right hand doesn't mind 18-19mm. I wouldn't say I have to "improve" my right hand technique, but I'd say I have to "adapt", meaning just keep playing it until muscle memory sets in.

    My dream bass that I own, a Fodera MG 5 string, has 17.5mm spacing and a ramp. I just had a Muckelroy come in a few weeks ago, a 4 string with the same spacing with NO ramp. I must say, not having a ramp feels more free.

    So yeah - no technique adjustments needed in my opinion, just keeping playing it until your fingers figure it out - whatever exercises or material you're working on. This seems to be consistent with the replies so far.
    FRoss6788 and lucas303 like this.
  8. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I think it's just a matter of what you're used to (muscle memory).

    If you're used to 18mm you don't have to think about it. You just play.

    When you switch to ANY different string spacing, you're right hand is thrown off. So you concentrate more while playing. When you are more focused on technique, it's logical to assume you will play cleaner.
  9. lucas303


    Mar 11, 2019
    That's an excellent point and I think you've nailed the answer here. I hadn't thought of it this way before.
    two fingers likes this.
  10. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    David McIntire and bobba66 like this.
  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Right. You can get used to anything with good technique.
    David McIntire and legalbass like this.
  12. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Practice = better technique.
    teh-slb and legalbass like this.
  13. lucas303


    Mar 11, 2019
    In other news, water is wet.
    tchristian, Artman, FritzM and 2 others like this.
  14. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile, ਵਿਦਿਆਰਥੀ Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    Before i joined talk bass i never thought about string spacing.

    After joining talk bass i can't even look at a bass that varies by half a millimeter from my started preference
  15. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    This is Talkbass. Some people think that knowledge is a handicap.
  16. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Before joining talkbass I never thought about string spacing, active vs. passive, flats vs. rounds, or a lot of those things. After reading many learned opinions from my talkbass brethren, I still don't. :D
  17. JW56789

    JW56789 Guest

    Feb 18, 2017
    I can appreciate this for other people, but this has never been a thing for me. It's certainly subjective.

    I wanted an original Yamaha BB5000 really bad, and when I finally got it, they had crammed five strings onto a 4-string neck from a 3000, basically. If anything, probably a bit tighter at the nut than a Jazz or Ric, but I got used to it real quick, easily the tightest spacing ever. I had to laugh when the TRB's came out, the 5's and 6's felt like diving boards alongside the 5000 !

    The Alembic fives were what they call their 'classic taper' fingerboard, on a five 2" at the nut by 2.5" at the 24th fret, a very shallow flare as you went up the neck, and this was my favorite.
    son_of_mogh likes this.
  18. Gothic


    Apr 13, 2008
    I much prefer tighter spacing and am decidedly faster and more accurate. Maybe it has to do with me also playing guitar but then again, I find the guitar so damn cramped it's ridiculous.
    son_of_mogh and TyBo like this.
  19. Yellow Bang66

    Yellow Bang66

    Jun 5, 2019
    I dont notice any better technique. But I prefer tighter spacing, as I feel faster. I have an issue skipping strings or reaching over a string! So I dont think of it as "Look at my Flawless Technique!" it sjust easier/faster
    son_of_mogh and Gothic like this.
  20. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    My entire buying process for bass or guitar or violin:
    1 - Does it feel good in my left hand, is the neck a good shape for my mitts?
    2 - Does it sound how I like it to sound when I play it? (don't care how it sounds when the clerk plays it)
    3 - Does it look how I want it to look? (Ok, this one seems flaky but let's be honest, it is important)

    Never weighed an instrument intentionally. Never measured nut width or string spacing. And not all my instruments are built to the same spec. Trying to picture James Jamerson with a metric caliper trying to figure out if he can play the session.

    But I can appreciate that some folks follow the path of measurement and validation. That's cool. We are all different.