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Thread: Why no narrow nut options?

  1. #1

    Default Why no narrow nut options?

    Makers like Collings and Northfield offer wide nut options, but no narrow nut options. For me, a 1 1/8" nut feels like a wide nut. Is there a market for narrow nuts and slim necks? Gibsons have a 1 1/16" nut but not a slim neck. Apparently the Skaggs MM has a very narrow nut (just over 1") and very slim neck, but I don't want to spend that kind of $. (I heard Ricky slimmed down a Loar neck so much he hit the truss rod. True?)

    Anyone else prefer 1 1/16" nuts or smaller and slim neck profiles? How hard would it be for makers to offer that option? Maybe if a bunch of people weigh in on their preference for this, we can get the narrow nut option.

    Weren't Loars less than 1 1/8" at the nut? How did 1 1/8" become the modern standard? Probably because guitar players want wider nuts and bigger necks.

    A list of makers who use 1 1/16" nuts (or smaller) and slim necks might be beneficial too. I know some Givens F5 nuts are close to 1". Wish I had kept the one I had. I've heard some Derrington/Daley MM have slim necks--never played one.
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  2. #2
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    Jeff Hildreth is rolling over in So. Oregon.
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  4. #3
    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    My Gil F5 had a 1” nut. Easiest playing mandolin I’ve ever had!

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  6. #4
    Registered User Steve Sorensen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    Love the getting those build requests for 1' to 1-1/16" ! ! !

    Call any time!

    Steve

  7. #5
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    My snake has a 1 inch nut. I love it. but many of the people on the cafe are reconstituted guitar players and you'll way more often hear calls for wider, w.i.d.e.r, w-i-d-e-r!!!!! nuts and complaints about fat fingers not being able to fit on the fretboard.

    Eastman makes a narrow-ish neck. it's the closest I've come to my snake. I would think that if you can afford a luthier-built mandolin, you can specify a narrower nut. And you can always do some surgery on a baseball-bat neck if you're good with tools.
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  8. #6
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    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    Don - Glad to see you've become a 1 1/16" and narrow neck shape player. There isn't a ton of info about Loar necks out there, but it seems like all the measurements and profiles i could get copies of had necks a touch wider than that. i'm convinced by experience the neck shape is at least as important as the nut width.

    The pic of a 4/23 drawing that Adrian added to my old thread looking for a 7/9/23 Monroe batch was verified as the virtually the same shape, so the Stanley A neck was reshaped to that...maybe a touch smaller. There seem to be lots of variations on the Loar neck shapes and this one is really working for me, even tho' my left hand is having to do some things different.

    The things that suit me most about the narrow/triangular shape are: easier for the index finger to reach around, stretch chords are easier, the thumb rests on the hip area better, and it's easier to fret 2 pairs of strings with one finger. Of course, i do understand how some hands are too large and fingers too long for this kind of neck, but i would like to try a 1" width with the Monroe batch profile. Maybe an oval SA some winter is in the cards.

    Glad you brought this topic up and hope you, the hand, and all are well...dan

  9. #7
    Kelley Mandolins Skip Kelley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    Like Steve said, all you have to do is ask for it!

  10. #8

    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    Quote Originally Posted by Randi Gormley View Post
    My snake has a 1 inch nut. I love it. but many of the people on the cafe are reconstituted guitar players and you'll way more often hear calls for wider, w.i.d.e.r, w-i-d-e-r!!!!! nuts and complaints about fat fingers not being able to fit on the fretboard.

    Eastman makes a narrow-ish neck. it's the closest I've come to my snake. I would think that if you can afford a luthier-built mandolin, you can specify a narrower nut. And you can always do some surgery on a baseball-bat neck if you're good with tools.
    Yup... as a 35 year long guitar player, I much preferred the wide, radiused necks on the pair of American Breedloves that I had to my new Eastman MD515. It's TINY!!! I Do however like the necks on my Eastman Mandela and octave mando.

  11. #9
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    My first decent mandolin was 1 3/16" nut because that's what I asked for. I've been getting to like narrower and narrower necks and nuts over the past decade. My Northfield M model measured 1 1/8" nut but because of the 5.5" radius and smooth-V neck, it felt much smaller.
    I often end up taking a sanding block to my mandolin necks to get rid of those bulges on each side of the neck that bothers my fingers.
    My Duff has a 1 1/16" nut that I really like.

    Just saying, "I agree", Don.
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  12. #10

    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    I think my Heiden A5 is an outlier. It has a 1 3/32" nut and a very slim neck. With Michael's perfect setup, it plays like a dream with amazing tone. I have Passernig A5 with a 1 1/16" nut that the original owner did a major reshape on the neck. It's even smaller than the Heiden's neck and it's much easier to reach the 6th fret on the G string with the ring finger. Neck shape is just as important as the narrow nut for playability to me.

    I've had a fair number of mandolins come through here that sound great, but the necks just don't work. I want to be able to play with fighting neck shapes and wide nuts.

    The other thing I like about the Heiden neck is that it doesn't get huge as it approaches the heel. Same with the Passernig with the reshaping that was done to it.
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  13. #11

    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    Quote Originally Posted by Philphool View Post
    My Duff has a 1 1/16" nut that I really like.
    +1. Perfect width; perfect neck profile.
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  14. #12
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    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    Modern Gibsons are pretty narrow [except for the "wide nut" model], and have been for a long time.
    There are always a few used ones floating around.

    New ones are hard to find. So far as I can tell, there are only 3 Gibson mandolin dealers-- The Mandolin Store, Morgan Music, and Guitar Center/Musicians' Friend. None appear to have many instruments in stock.

    Gibson doesn't seem to have much interest in mandolins these days. Although they are apparently still making them in very small numbers, they don't list any as current models on their website.

    I'm sure there are many modern builders who will be happy to build you a narrow nut instrument.

  15. #13

    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    I believe Duff's are typically 1 1/6" with a flat fretboard, but I have seen others 1 1/8".

  16. #14
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    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    Comparing different sources I have I found in my original Siminoff book he never wrote a number but had several different measurements from one drawing to the next between 1" and 1 1/16".
    Stew-Mac's print was actually taken from a 30's or 40's F5 at a time they had gotten wider and that's where I got the idea 1 1/8" was correct.
    Adrian has studied a lot of data and compiled it as 1 5/64".
    Mike Kemnitzer measured David Grisman's Loar at 1.09" which is hard to fractionalize but is very close to 1 3/32". Or maybe 1 5/64. but we're splitting hairs.

  17. #15
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    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    I have measured a May 29, 1923 F-5. It was 1 3/32".

  18. #16
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    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    Just looking at Monroes it looks really narrow. I always said that's why he played up the neck so much.

  19. #17
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    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    I think Dan Voight in Nashville builds some 1" to 1 1/16". Carter Vintage did have one for a while, not sure if its still there.

    d

  20. #18
    Registered User O. Apitius's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    I'm sure that most small shops and independent luthiers would be willing and able to make a custom mandolin with the nut width of your choosing.
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  21. #19
    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    I am so glad to hear about other players that prefer the slim nut width,with so much talk about wider nuts..my Gibson fern,'03, has a nut just a hair over 1 " and a very thin neck,it has a radius fingerboard and for me it just can't get any more faster or comfortable..

  22. #20
    Registered User Mark Seale's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    Quote Originally Posted by sgarrity View Post
    My Gil F5 had a 1” nut. Easiest playing mandolin I’ve ever had!
    It still is It is just a hair over 1", but the neck shape is very abrupt from the fingerboard down to the V.

    I recently picked up a mod 3 with Gil's standard nut, right at 1 1/16" and the earlier more aggressive radius (compound 9-12".) It works equally well.

  23. #21
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    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    I'm a wide nut guy. 1 1/8 is as narrow as I'm likely to ever go in the future (love my Kelley at that width). I have an Eastman 315 that's narrower as pointed out above, and I can adjust to it after a couple of minutes, but really have to be careful to not mute adjacent strings with my fretting fingers. My RM-1 is 1 1/4 I believe. It also requires a minute or 2 of adjustment when I play it, but, man, I really like the extra room. I don't have fat/long fingers, but do typically wear large sized gloves.

    We all have our preferences, it's one of the things that makes this place interesting!
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  24. #22

    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    I guess there's just a few of us who need narrow nut/slim neck mandolins and that explains why there's no narrow nut options from the makers who offer wide nut mandolins. I found a couple with necks that work, so I'm set.
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  25. #23

    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    I walked into a guitar shop one day looking for an old J 45. They had five. I played them all. Then I picked up a 1965 Epiphone Texan I just could not put down. It had the much maligned 1 5/8 neck along with the hated adjustable bridge. It played and sounded superior. Took it home.

    I don't pay attention to neck width when I go into a store to try them. I just go by how they feel.
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  26. #24
    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
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    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    Play some Gibson A5L mandolins. Preferably from the Carlson period. I have a 90' with a very playable neck. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  27. #25

    Default Re: Why no narrow nut options?

    I have an old left hand injury, so nut width and neck shape are critical to my ability to play at all. Before the injury, I could play most mandolins with no problem. Now, the wrong neck will set off the old injury and cause me problems.
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