Results 1 to 13 of 13

Thread: 1.1/8 vs 1.3/16

  1. #1

    Default 1.1/8 vs 1.3/16

    Hi All,

    No doubt the subject has been done to death elsewhere but just to compound my confusion what are your thoughts about nut widths?

    I should say I'm primarily a guitar player and happily play a number of different instruments with nut widths between 1.11/16 and 1.13/16.

    All contributions welcome!

    Al

  2. #2
    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Omaha, NE
    Posts
    1,145

    Default Re: 1.1/8 vs 1.3/16

    For playing less then 2-3hr I can manage on a smaller fretboard, even 1 inch is ok for an hour or so. But my fingers of my left hand cramp up unless I have at least 1 3/16Ē on any playing session longer then about the 2.5 hr mark. I have pretty big hands and not particularly long fingers. We regularly do 4hr gigs so it is an issue for me.

    If you have long, slim fingers I think narrower is preferred. Narrower fretboards also have the advantage of easier coverage of two courses (4 strings!) on the same fret by one finger - like the barre chords of guitars.

    It certainly varies by player and there are no rules to it. I know a couple people with larger hands that like the smaller fretboards, and my buddy always loves playing my larger fretboards though his hands are small, says it feels like he has so much space.

    A radius always helps, for me at least, and that is another factor here... I traded a great Gibson A-9 because of the narrow flat fingerboard. Thought I could handle a 1 1/8 radiused fingerboard on a Collings MT but had to get rid of that eventually also. I have reluctantly accepted I prefer the 1 3/16 with a radius.

    Just my opinions, YMMV, you may have to experiment to find what you like!
    I should be pickin' rather than postin'

  3. #3
    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    2,342
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: 1.1/8 vs 1.3/16

    Well ..... the shape of a mandolin neck has a greater impact on a mandolin neck than the fingerboard width. I have 1 11/16" and 1 7/8" fingerboard width guitars that I play regularly. When I first pick up one I have to pay more attention to my right hand than my left..... it is possible I suppose that this may effect your mandolin playing but I have not noticed any impact from the thinner neck A5L to the standard widths on my F model instruments....... Let us know what you think... R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  4. #4
    Pittsburgh Bill
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    817
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: 1.1/8 vs 1.3/16

    My preference is for 1 1/8" as that is what I was accustomed to. My Stiver, was built with a 1 1/16", which I had not anticipated in my build. I have grown to like the 1 1/16". But, it took a little time.
    I have never played a mandolin with a 1 3/16" nut but think I would grow used to that as well. Since I am often transitioning between mandolin and mandola I often wonder if a mandolin nut closer in size to my mandola would allow me to play cleaner. ( any advantage is welcomed)
    Stiver A style (MAS has stopped here)
    Kentucky KM-950
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Rogue 100A (current campfire tool)
    Harley Benton A style (grandchildren's learner)

  5. #5
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Outer Spiral Arm, of Galaxy, NW Oregon.
    Posts
    16,442

    Question Re: 1.1/8 vs 1.3/16

    <guess> As a guitar player you probably would like the wider, a Violin player may prefer the narrower..

    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    6,045

    Default Re: 1.1/8 vs 1.3/16

    I have 1 1/8, 1 3/32 and 1 1/4 and I can play all without problem. I do prefer the first two. Because of the difference of the rest of the neck, I don't notice them being different. I do notice the 1 1/4, as it is my old Gibson, and it has a substantial neck to go with the width. I played that for many many years until I went to ff hole mandolins with more real estate on the neck. I don't play it much these days, but when I do I really don't have a transition time to feel comfortable.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    High Peak - UK
    Posts
    3,169

    Default Re: 1.1/8 vs 1.3/16

    I play everything from 5 string fretless bass to a narrow necked snakehead and can’t really see what all the fuss is about - I just get on with it. Do luthiers really worry about building their instruments to such close tollerances?

  8. #8

    Default Re: 1.1/8 vs 1.3/16

    I play guitar, mandola, octave mandolin and bouzouki. Nut width doesn't seem to make much difference with these instruments.

    With mandolin my left thumb gets tired playing a 1 3/16th or wider nut. I don't know why, but it's consistent.
    Girouard Concert A5
    Trillium Mandola
    Dunwell B-1 Bouzouki
    Collings MT2-0
    www.singletonstreet.com

  9. #9
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    St. Paul, MN
    Posts
    1,286

    Default Re: 1.1/8 vs 1.3/16

    The shape of the neck, more than the nut width makes the biggest difference for me. Maybe my guitar background. Have discovered am not a fan of wider 1 3/16 fingerboards with really sharp v necks. For some reason those make my hand cramp after a while. Then again, am also not a huge fan of the mid 1930's Gibson guitars with the wider fingerboard and sharp V neck. (Love the sound, just can't play them for long periods of time.)
    2017 Northfield F5SA, 2008 Weber Gallatin F, 2018 Collings MT, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 2018 Eastman MDO-305
    http://ericplatt.weebly.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/LauluAika/
    https://www.lauluaika.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/Longtine-Pl...4404553312723/

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    30

    Default Re: 1.1/8 vs 1.3/16

    Iím in the same camp as Eric and UsuallyPickin, and Iíd also throw in fret wire size as another factor. I find my 1 1/8 Northfield F5 to be extremely comfortable to play due to the neck shape. My Calhoun had a C shaped neck with 1 3/16 width. I enjoy the spacing quite a bit but the chubby neck causes some hand pain after a bunch of playing. My Eastman is 1 1/8 and a very deep v neck. Comfortable to play but the fret wire is of the smaller diameter variety and doesnít play nearly as easy. The nut width doesnít seem to play much role in it for me

    All this to say, try out a bunch of different mandolins with different neck profiles if you can. If you canít right now like most of us, I think v shaped necks are the most commonly enjoyed

  11. #11
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lower alabama
    Posts
    385

    Default Re: 1.1/8 vs 1.3/16

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    I play everything from 5 string fretless bass to a narrow necked snakehead and can’t really see what all the fuss is about - I just get on with it. Do luthiers really worry about building their instruments to such close tollerances?
    Me too, including double bass, but I'm pretty sensitive to neck size and shape on mandolin. 1 & 1/16 was too small, 1 &1/32 is a little large and puts my thumb in a bind because the V is proportionally deep, although I am coping with it. I have one ordered that will be 1& 1/8 and I hope that will be just right. Some of it might be age. 20 years ago I might not have even noticed a difference.

  12. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    High Peak - UK
    Posts
    3,169

    Default Re: 1.1/8 vs 1.3/16

    Quote Originally Posted by lowtone2 View Post
    Me too, including double bass, but I'm pretty sensitive to neck size and shape on mandolin. 1 & 1/16 was too small, 1 &1/32 is a little large and puts my thumb in a bind because the V is proportionally deep, although I am coping with it. I have one ordered that will be 1& 1/8 and I hope that will be just right. Some of it might be age. 20 years ago I might not have even noticed a difference.
    I suppose I should have added that I don’t have the slightest clue as to what width the necks on any of my mandolins actually are - I just pick ’em up and play ‘em!

  13. The following members say thank you to Ray(T) for this post:


  14. #13
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Redwood City, CA
    Posts
    2,293

    Default Re: 1.1/8 vs 1.3/16

    Well, it's complicated. I agree with many others that the neck profile shape (deep or shallow, V or C) and the fingerboard type (flat or radiused) play at least as large a role in individual playing comfort as the nut width. Furthermore, the nut width, per se, may not be nearly as important as the inter-course spacing, which sets the gap between the A and D pairs and their outside neighbors, G and E. That gap counts quite a bit more than the overall nut width, in my opinion!

    Some of the famous Lloyd Loar era Gibson F5's are easily playable, and those had nut widths closer to 1", or up to 1-1/16". A lot of modern mandolins run closer to 1-1/8". Today, so-called "wide nut" mandolins start at 1-3/16" and go up from there. Even a 1/16" difference can afford a different feel, so these distances, although all quite similar, can mean a lot to some players -- but not to all. It really comes down to personal preferences. Unless they have giant, hammy hands with wide fingertips, most folks should be able to handle a mandolin nut width as small as 1-1/16". Conversely, most folks with smallish hands can still get by at 1-3/16" -- provided that the inter-course gaps are about right for them.

    It is true that folks crossing over from guitar are used to larger string spacings, and therefore many of them are inclined to think -- incorrectly, in my opinion! -- that they are better off with a wider nut. (And the converse applies, but to a smaller extent, to folks crossing over from violin/viola.) But the left-hand hand positions for the mandolin are less "guitar-like," and more "violin-like," making the narrower nut widths a better choice in many cases.

    That said, it's always down to a matter of personal preference. You really don't know what you work best with until you try. And even then, your opinion about the optimal nut width/string spacing for you may evolve after a few months, or even years, of playing! You will find that some folks on this Cafe will declare narrow nuts to be "unplayable." But there are others who will declare wide nuts to be "unplayable." Whenever you read such broad pronouncements, always add, in your head "well, maybe for THEM, anyway..."

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •