Saturday 26 March 2022

Neck nut sizes

The size of the nut on the neck of your guitar pretty much sets the "width" of your neck.  Because I started out on classical guitars, typically 50-52mm (1 15/16" -2") that's what was burnt into my brain. When I was given an electric, at 42mm (1 5/8") I played that with a flatpick, but never really got into it.  In the 90's I bought a Maton acoustic, at 44.5mm (1 3/4") I adapted and played fingerstyle on it for a decade.  But as my fingerstyle grew more complex, I found the neck too narrow and restricting for fingerstyle.  I would play my classical and find it easier, but I struggled to go back to the floppy nylon strings.

I tried a crossover nylon in the 2000's with a nut width of 48mm (1 7/8") and I liked it for a year or two, but once I was re-accustomed to nylon strings I went back to a classical at 52mm (2") nut. Full circle, done.

Now I have a new electric, at 43mm (1 11/16"), yeah, that's really cramped for fingerstyle for me.

Playing solo - I would stick with the classical.  However, when I play in a band that has keyboard, multiple vocals, drums and bass, the classical is lost - it sits too close in sound with the keyboard and the vocals.  Acoustic strummed with a pick fits in nicely because it is super-bright, but I want to do more than strum cowboy chords!

Important distinction: Acoustic with pick (or fingernails) - very bright.  Classical with fingernails, mellow with only a hint of sparkly bright coming through the fingernails.

Another important distinction: Acoustic - tough hard fretting.  Classical - lighter touch fretting, on par with electric guitar fretting.

So to get the electric to fingerstyle playable in a band setting I think I will change the neck over to around 48mm (1 7/8") at the nut.  (Remembering that steel string trebles are nice'n'skinny not like classical, so I don't think you need the full 50-52mm.)

Alternatively, put the classical through a super brightening pedal effect.

I'll get back to experimenting :-)

GuitarNut Width    
Nut Width
Telecaster copy43mm1 11/16"
Maton Acoustic44.5mm1 3/4"
Crossover Yamaha Nylon    48mm1 7/8"
Esteve Classical52mm2"

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