Fiddle neck width/distance between strings

Fiddle neck width/distance between strings

So I’ve been playing fiddle (coming off of banjo) for maybe a year. I recently played a friend’s fiddle, and I noticed her strings are farther apart than mine.

I didn’t realize this wasn’t standard. Is there one or the other that’s considered more conducive to Irish fiddling?

Re: Fiddle neck width/distance between strings

I was taught that fiddlers (in general) tended to have slightly narrower string spacings to make stopping two strings with one finger easier, although I’m not sure I totally follow the logic - classical players also regularly cover two strings with one finger if necessary, though they will avoid it if they can.

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Re: Fiddle neck width/distance between strings

The ‘standard’ measurement is 16.25mm between the centres of G and E string, but may vary 0.25mm either way. Basically you want them as far apart as you can get them without running onto the radiused edge of the fingerboard.

Cheap fiddles often have the strings set too close together at the nut as this means they can get away with bigger errors in neck joint alignment.

Re: Fiddle neck width/distance between strings

Depends on the size of your fingers!! Thin finger, thin gap, thick fingers , big gap
Just as a chin rest relates to neck length its a personal thing.

Re: Fiddle neck width/distance between strings

I don’t think finger size comes into it. No one has fingers so skinny they can’t span the standard 5.5mm between strings when they need to for double stops, but closer spacing makes the instrument harder to play, because it requires more precision to avoid stopping two strings when you shouldn’t.

Re: Fiddle neck width/distance between strings

//The ‘standard’ measurement is 16.25mm between the centres of G and E string, but may vary 0.25mm either way.//

Hi Mark, do you know where this measurement originates from? The classic Italian instruments, perhaps? Mine is 16.25, as measured with a standard ruler.

//I was taught that fiddlers (in general) tended to have slightly narrower string spacings to make stopping two strings with one finger easier, although I’m not sure I totally follow the logic - classical players also regularly cover two strings with one finger if necessary, though they will avoid it if they can.//

Calum, I don’t see the logic either. Fiddler or violinist, you’d still need to cover two strings with one finger if you are playing those two notes (eg E + B), either consecutively, or as a double-stop. The only difference with a classical player is that he might use the "pre-emptive strike" 🙂 … eg playing the note sequence BGE, he would cover the two strings with the 1st finger (notes BE), to avoid lifting the 1st finger after playing the G, and putting it back down again on the E note.

Re: Fiddle neck width/distance between strings

Ok Mark my point was larger fingers require a bigger space not so much the reverse . I was taught you should be able to place the finger sideways between the strings .
I can play any size fiddle from 1/4 to a double bass so its possible, but for the standard fiddle im much happier with a wide fingerboard and space to play double stops or arpegiated chords with clarity. I have wide hands and fingers, “ alien” was the description of my feet from a friend !🙂 Size 11 gloves are a bit tight .

Re: Fiddle neck width/distance between strings

Where do you measure that, on the nut?

I think my fingers are fatter than many but not as fat as some. I do like covering two strings with just my tip, without having to flatten. But it is kinda hard to not accidentally touch a string I’m not trying to touch.

Re: Fiddle neck width/distance between strings

//Where do you measure that, on the nut?//

@Arthur - yes, on the nut.

Re: Fiddle neck width/distance between strings

Will: "Ok Mark my point was larger fingers require a bigger space not so much the reverse" Yes, I appreciate that, but my point was that wide spacing is still an advantage not a hinderance to people with little fingers, so the string spacing needs to be as wide as the fingereboard will allow, regardless of who is going to play the fiddle.

Re: Fiddle neck width/distance between strings

Ok thats interesting mark, so many seem to be set up for people with tiny hands or children!! Your earlier post explained that i suppose but still if I go into custys all the fiddles will likely be set up tight.

Re: Fiddle neck width/distance between strings

The string spacing on my fiddle is 15 mm (5 mm between two strings). That means 1.25 mm smaller than the standard. I only realized that my fiddle has such a small non standard neck a few years ago, when i played the fiddle of a friend. For me it felled a bit awkward because i’m used to play this fiddle for 45 years now.

Re: Fiddle neck width/distance between strings

@Will Evans - on a slightly off-topic point - sometime large meaty fingers are advantageous. Not for playing fiddle, but acoustic guitar, jazz-style, where you need to damp the inner strings while fretting the outer ones.

Re: Fiddle neck width/distance between strings

Ive never found them disadvantageous 😉

Re: Fiddle neck width/distance between strings

//Ive never found them disadvantageous //

I believe you. Violinist David Oistrakh had really big chunky fingers, and I am amazed at him playing "The Labyrinth". It’s full of arpeggio chords where the outer strings are stopped, and inner strings are played open. No mean feat!

Sorry, off topic 🙂

Re: Fiddle neck width/distance between strings

I kinda like having them close together because it’s easier to stop two strings and keep them in tune with just the tip of my finger, as opposed to having to flatten it out. But some things are tricky: like playing a D on the A string and an F# on the E string in quick succession without one finger touching the wrong string.

Re: Fiddle neck width/distance between strings

For what is sometimes referred to as the "New York" setup, center-to-center E to G is 16.5mm at the nut, which should have a width of 24mm. E to G are 34mm c/c (straight measurement) across the bridge.

Some have expressed the notion that the strings might be shifted very slightly toward the G side of the nut & bridge, as the player’s fingers have a tendency to pull the strings toward the E-side. However, not sure if this idea has any real currency.