3

As a mid-life learner of Acoustic Guitar, my collection is extremely humble and comprises of 2 beginner-level (i.e. laminated, entry-level range) steel-string acoustic guitars - both of which are cut-away, and a Yamaha C40 entry-level nylon-string full-size classical guitar (that by the way has the best sound) that is not cut-away.

As I'm beginning to play a bit more fingerstyle and would like to do so on steel-string guitar as well, I've thus been looking (for a good 5 months now as evidenced by a related question in the past) for wider-nut steel-string acoustic-electric guitar, but with at least solid top -- since that is all I think I can afford.

I think I might've found a decent guitar that checks many boxes (solid body, excellent pickup etc.) but still a 43mm nut. Have got few reports of the guitar being very nice sounding and a pleasure to play. However, I am torn between putting my money on another 43mm (which otherwise is a step-up for me in all other ways), or waiting somemore time to find a 47-48mm, which seems to be extremely hard to find, where I live.

Thus, the question -- How significant is the real effective difference between a 43mm nut and a 47-48mm nut width guitar, after all it is just about 1mm extra between each string, compared to the one with 43mm nut ?

I find playing (fingerstyle) my current entry-level Yamaha F310 with 43mm nut-width, somewhat cramped now, i.e. after playing the 52mm nut-width Classical guitar for a while. I notice lack of clarity (muddy sounding), more mistakes with inadvertent neighboring strings being muted (thanks to both left hand and right hand) or mis-struck on the narrower neck (i.e. 43mm nut) -- but perhaps it is because I am returning to the 43mm neck guitar after several months (of playing the Classical guitar, almost exclusively), and I am still very much learning.

Will 43mm nut width guitar be a life-long handicap in playing clean, good sounding, finger-style and thus should be avoided ?

Edit-1: Here is an interesting youtube video sharing poster's views on appropriateness of wider neck for finger-style playing. The problem that the poster refers to, is one of the problems I am facing with my left (fretting) hand fingers, i.e. the pads of the fingers seem to touch the next/lower string, there by causing some muting/buzzing.

Edit-2: After reading around this subject a bit, I tend to think that industry is using inconsistent terminology. For example, the definition of Nut-width in may places is noted as the distance between lower-E and higher-E (6th string and 1st string) at the nut. However, here is what I measured just now on 2 guitars:

  • Yamaha C40 (Classical): 36mm, 43mm, 50mm for eE, NW, BW respectively
  • Yamaha F310 (Steel St): 42mm, 52mm, 60mm for eE, NW, BW respectively

where eE is distance between lower-E and higher-E at the Nult, NW is Nut width, BW is Bridge Width (but distance between lower-E and higher-E at the bridge).

Edit-3: (Oct 26, 2018) So what I did since posting the question was that -- against advise, I fell in love with a guitar that had a 43mm nut-width. The guitar sales guy turned out to be a good fingerstyle guitarist and I absolutely fell in love with the sound of the guitar. The guitarist had fatter fingers than mine and he put my doubts at rest. Now, few months after playing on this guitar (43mm nut-width), I am happy to report that I have not noticeable issues with the nut width or the bridge width. It takes getting used to. I'm pretty sure that if I were to spend few weeks with my Classical guitar and come back to this one, I might struggle again.

  • 1
    There are no life-long handicaps in playing guitar (well, maybe if you lose a finger, but check out Django). You will get used to the different string spacings. If you buy a guitar that you end up liking less after you have played it for a while, you can always trade it in or sell it and buy another. Fingerstyle is a pretty broad category, and whether you really need a wider spacing comes down to you and the specifics of how you play and what style you play in. – David Bowling Jul 9 '18 at 12:36
  • 1
    did you find this online or in a shop? i'm not sure i would ever by a guitar without playing it first. if you have a shop near you go play as many guitars as you can. do all the ones you like have the same feature, then maybe that feature is important. of course playing for an hour may not be enough as it may take time to get used to something you will ultimately come to love. – b3ko Jul 9 '18 at 14:42
  • 1
    The fact that you play fingerstyle won't be much affected by the nut width. The fingerstyle part all happens at the other end - by the bridge, which will be pretty much the same on most guitars. Whatever style you play will be affected by the nut width, and if your fingers are on the broad side, a wider nut will obviously suit better. – Tim Jul 9 '18 at 16:04
  • Thanks @DavidBowling, that is encouraging. I should've been more specific to say Fingerstyle Blues. – icarus74 Jul 9 '18 at 16:21
  • @b3ko, this particular model is available only online. The wide-neck models available in brick-n-mortar stores, that are claimed to be finger-style friendly are at least twice my budget, most often much more. I've played 4 different guitars (all different makes, but all entry-level ones) that have 43mm nut-width, and one Classical guitar with 52mm nut-width. Right now, the 43mm ones do seem fairly tight together, and I seem to fumble more, make more mistakes playing those. – icarus74 Jul 9 '18 at 16:25
2

I've been having real issues with my fat fingers muting the strings. I have tried classical and it was OK, but the 43mm nut width on my acoustics isn't working for me. I've been looking and looking, and I have an additional constraint, I'm a leftie, but found a Seagull S6 with a 48mm nut, and I'm going to make it work, as I don't want to go back to classical. Hopefully, as I learn and practice more I can do a 43mm.

1

The whole difference in any style of playing is if your finger tips interfere with the other strings then you might want a wide neck and they cost more. For finger style picking, if you strike a high E and then strike the B, does the E die from your finger touching it when striking the B? Then you probably want a wider bridge. Also,it has a lot to do with the size of the finger tips.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.