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Acoustic Guitar Nut Width + Comparison Chart

In the following article, we’re going to discuss what nut width is on your acoustic guitar and how it affects playability. We’ve also included a handy comparison chart showing the nut widths of some of the more popular acoustic guitars available today, so you can make a direct comparison.

The average nut width on the acoustic guitar is 1 11/16” or 43mm. Some acoustic guitars feature nut widths as wide as 1 7/8” or more. Nut width refers to the width of the nut, which resides at the end of the fretboard nearest the headstock. Nut width dictates the string spacing at the open position on the fretboard (the first four frets).


What is Nut Width

If you’re shopping around for your first guitar something you may want to consider is nut width. Nut width is the term used to describe the width of the nut, the white plastic or bone component on your acoustic guitar that separates the fretboard from the headstock.

The nut is slotted at different depths to allow for the different string gauges. The strings sit within these grooves and the distance between them dictates just how much string separation there is between the strings at the nut.

A wider nut offers more separation between the strings at the headstock end of the neck, while a narrower nut means the strings are closer together. This does not mean nut width dictates the string spacing of the guitar as a whole, as the neck tapers and the saddle is wider than the nut and therefore is spaced more widely at the saddle.

Is nut width the same as neck width?

Some incorrectly refer to nut width as neck width, but this is a more general term that incorporates nut width, string spacing, and fretboard width.

If you look down the neck of your guitar, you will notice the neck taper increases as you continue along the neck toward the higher frets, nut width does not directly relate to neck width, although they are often used interchangeably.


Are nut width and string spacing the same thing?

No, nut width refers to the width of the nut only, string spacing refers to the distance between the strings. And, while a wider nut width often equates to a wider string spacing in the open position (the first four frets), specific nut widths don’t relate to specific string spacings. Both can vary, so the relationship between the two is more general in nature. It’s true that guitars with wider nut widths will often also have wider than average string spacings but there’s no defined standard.

Obviously, string spacing at the headstock end of the guitar is determined by the nut width but the string spacing gets wider (typically about 10% wider) the further along the neck you go and the closer you measure in proximity to the saddle, as the saddle of the guitar is wider than the nut.

String spacing, as a result, is measured directly at the saddle, or in other instances, and for different manufacturers, this measurement is taken at the 14th fret.


How is Nut Width Measured

Nut width is usually measured in inches, usually as a fractional measurement e.g. 1 3/4.

It’s sometimes shown in decimals e.g. 1.750 or millimeters e.g. 44.5mm (rounded up from 44.45mm)

FractionalDecimalMM
1 ¾”1.750”45mm

Common nut widths on steel-string acoustic guitars

There isn’t a standard nut width for steel-string acoustic guitars. Manufacturers build guitars based on their own standards but an average nut width would normally be close to 1 11/16 or 43mm.

However, as you can see on the comparison chart below, nut widths vary, catering to a wide range of players with different preferences.

The list below includes guitars of all price ranges, including the Martin D28 through to the less expensive Epiphone DR100. The different specifications have been listed as either fractional or decimal, depending on which makes more sense as a format for the given nut width.

GuitarNut Width
Martin D281 3/4″
Taylor 414CE 1 3/4″
Epiphone DR1001.68″
Martin LX11 11/16″
Yamaha FG8001 11/16″
Taylor GS Mini 1 11/16″
Gibson G-45 Standard1.725″
Seagull S61.72″ (may vary)
Fender Sonoran1.69″
Blueridge BR-1601 11/16″
Yamaha APX6001 11/16″
Takamine GD931.6875″
Guild M1201.75″
Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat1 11/16″
Breedlove Solo Concert1.89″
Epiphone Hummingbird Pro1.68″
Alvarez Artist Series AF301 3/4″
Washburn WCG55CE1 3/4″

Classical Guitar Nut Width

As the table above indicates, nut width for steel-string acoustic guitars can vary. However, in the classical guitar world, the standard nut width is 2″ or 51mm. This is changing, however, as newer classical guitars from brands such as Cordoba (often referred to as crossover guitars) incorporate a narrower 1 7/8″ nut width.


How does nut width affect how the guitar plays?

Nut width is important. If you are looking for a new guitar, chances are you have preferences with regard to the brand, body shape, tonewoods, particularly the soundboard, perhaps the neck profile, and of course how the guitar sounds and plays.

Nut width also plays an important role with regard to playability because it has an immediate impact on the playability of the guitar, particularly for your fretting hand.

e.g. if you are anything like me with larger than average fingers a wider nut width is useful, as your hand will feel less cramped, allowing you to play more cleanly, especially in open position as you are less likely to fret unwanted notes.

On the other hand, many guitarists prefer a narrower nut width, especially those with a smaller hand span as it makes reaching the individual strings much easier. It really just comes down to personal preference, your physical limitations, and your approach to the guitar.

Do different genres matter?

It’s commonly thought that nut width is important with regard to your approach to the guitar e.g. do you play mostly with a pick or play fingerstyle. But for the most part nut width is less important than string spacing as nut width mostly affects the fretting hand and not the picking hand.

However, the two are often mentioned within the same breath as typically a guitar with a wider nut width will also feature a wider string spacing. However, the string spacing is not necessarily just wider because the nut itself is wider.

Unlike string spacing which refers mostly influences the picking hand, nut width relates most strongly to the fretting hand and dictates the distance between the strings closer to the nut only.


Summary

Nut width, string spacing, scale length, and neck profile are all equally important, but perhaps even more so is how these relate to one another, and ultimately how the guitar then feels to play. That’s why if you are in the market for a new guitar ~ if you can, it’s best if you can test out the guitar by playing it before buying.

4 thoughts on “Acoustic Guitar Nut Width + Comparison Chart”

  1. I ‘m more of finger style player and looking for a 2” or 178” nut steel string, what guitar would you recommend.

    • I’ve played and owned a lot of steel string guitars, and I’ve never seen one with a 2″ nut width. They may exist, but I can say that would be very unusual. The widest I’ve seen on a steel string guitar is 1-7/8″, and that’s rare. The more common widths are 1-3/4″ or 1-11/16ths”. There are reasons for that: with the higher tension of steel strings, I think you would find a 2″ nut on a steel string guitar under full tension really hard to play.

    • use classical guitar and adjust lower the bridge shelf and nut to lower the action of the guitar to accommodate steel strings. sand off the backside of bridge shelf on the classical guitar and possibly at the nut cut the the groves a bit deeper until action height at 12 fret matches that of a steel stringed acoustic guitar. You may want to do this on a cheap classical guitar but the most it would cost you is a new nut and bridge shelf, like 20 dollars to replace both. be very careful doing this . Take only small amount then restring and test it. Good time to to check the neck as well with a straight edge if frets are even from 1 to 12 a slight bow is ok , an arch is bad. adjust your truss rod slightly if an arch , or bowing too much . wait 15 minutes check straightness. 1/4 turns on truss rod. restring check action height , and play ability. don’t cut to deep into nut or sand too much off of bridge shelf. or you may get buzzing strings
      better go through process multiple times to try to get it right rather then take too much from the start and cause string buzz. measure action height at 12th fret 3 mm for 6th large wound string and probably 2.5 mm for 1st small string. there are special rulers to check action heights but it can be done with a ruler as well. Your allowed to experiment with your guitar.

  2. Washburn’s Parlor model has a decently wide neck, and it sports steel stings.

    You can convert a classical IF you use a metal tail piece or trapeze. There are some lice light weight art deco style tail pieces that will hold the strings and carry the tension all the way back to end of the body and the tail block bracing (internal). Then the bridge and saddle only have to transmit the string vibrations to the top.

    Guitar should stay together for a long while. you can experiment with strings, maybe starting with silk and steel and working up … I agree that a craigslist used classical is a good candidate to experiment on : -)

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About Marty

My name's Marty, I've been into guitars for over 30 years. Theacousticguitarist.com is my blog where I write about acoustic guitars, music, and home recording.