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Background

Normal guitars have strings that fan out somewhat towards the bridge. There can be as much as a centimetre's overall difference between the width at the nut and the width at the bridge. I presume this is mostly traditional. As I understand it, it may be because people originally plucked strings with their fingertips and the fingers had to be able to get in between the strings.

Nowadays we use fingernails and picks of all kinds. It seems sensible to remove this restriction. My guess is that it will make picking between strings much faster if we have strictly parallel strings with a narrower bridge. Also left-hand fingering of chords would have to change less as the strings wouldn't space out

Question

Apart perhaps from Hawaiian types of guitar, has anyone ever made a parallel-stringed guitar? Are they available for sale?

Are there any disadvantages?

NOTES

  1. I am an experienced guitarist and have played classical, electric and bass guitars for many years.

  2. Most classical players use their nails these days (I'm one). Also the strings on a classical guitar are more widely space at the nut than say electric. There should be plenty of plucking room.

  3. I intend to suggest this idea to manufacturers. In addition to having a question, I am publishing this idea here. If I have invented the idea of a parallel-stringed guitar, I don't want anyone to patent it (including me). I believe all such innovations should be free for all to experiment with. I do not want any financial remuneration for myself if this turns out to be a good idea. I just want to see if if has been tried or will be tried. This would apply to classical, acoustic, and electric guitars.


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    classical?..... – user50691 Dec 30 '20 at 14:05
  • @ ggcg - It would be interesting to try (and easier) on a classical guitar. I might try it! I've added an edit to my answer. – chasly - supports Monica Dec 30 '20 at 14:27
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    I play classical but to tell you the truth I am not sure if they are truly parallel but I think it is. – user50691 Dec 30 '20 at 14:32
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    9mm spacing at nut and 11mm at bridge, you are correct. Though I suspect the change is more noticeable for an electric. – user50691 Dec 30 '20 at 15:02
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    I agree with you – user50691 Dec 30 '20 at 16:06
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I would guess that a luthier has thought this and tried this already, but there are reasons why it wouldn't take off.

First is that we already have a sense of what a guitar should be shaped like, and the associated parts exist. You'd have to custom-build bridges and pickups if the strings get grouped much tighter, and your neck blanks would have to be much wider if instead we widened the nut.

I mean, I already think bridge pin spacing is a bit tight for me...

And I've played 12-strings, and the lack of space between the string pairs made me feel like I couldn't dig in and play dynamically, and I suspect the narrower spacing of parallel strings at standard nut width would be similar.

So this is very much where, if you had one, I'd pick it up and give it a shot, but I'd never custom order one just to see.

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    I agree with you Dave, it’s not a restriction like Chasly says, I NEED the extra space! For bass even more so. Chasly, try turning a guitar over and placing your right hand by the nut to get a sense of what an instrument like that would feel like. What do you think? – John Belzaguy Dec 30 '20 at 22:01
  • @John Belzaguy - Interesting. Instead I just tried plucking as near the nut as possible with the guitar the normal way around. I quite liked it. I think I'm going to have to buy a cheap guitar and try this properly! – chasly - supports Monica Dec 30 '20 at 22:24
  • @chasly-supportsMonica I guess you don’t have mini baseball bat upright bass player fingers like I do! Are you thinking of using an electric or acoustic? I assume steel string since classical guitars are close to the same width on both ends... – John Belzaguy Dec 30 '20 at 23:40
  • @chasly-supportsMonica, I think something like an archtop with a trapeze tailpiece and a bridge held down by string tension would be your easiest way forward, even if a low-end one still costs the same as maybe five Tele copies. Good luck! – Dave Jacoby Dec 31 '20 at 1:55
  • @John Belzaguy - I already have most types of guitar. You'd be surprised. If you measure them, you'll find they all fan out considerably. Yes - maybe my fingers are slim enough to make this idea better for me but not for everyone. – chasly - supports Monica Dec 31 '20 at 10:27

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