I've spent some time today trying to learn and memorize the pentatonic blues scale in open D tuning. Either I've got fat finger syndrome or very narrowly spaced strings. So I've got a few questions, if ya'll might indulge me.

Do acoustic guitars tend to have wider spaced strings than electric guitars? I've got my six string now and it's built using parts from another electric guitar but for future builds it might be worth using the neck from an acoustic guitar if they've got wider spaced strings?

Do some electric guitars have wider spaced strings or is there a standard among electric guitars where they're all the same? Other than measuring the string spacings, would there be another tell tale way of knowing that one electric guitar has wider spaced strings than another?

On a slightly different topic, and hence why I'm posting this in here, is there a way of knowing where your plucking hand is in relation to the string you're fretting with the other hand? I'm plucking away at the individual strings to play the pentatonic scale and I can JUST ABOUT keep up when I'm going up and down the strings one after the other but later, when I'm improvising some blues, I just know I'm going to be lost. The one hand not knowing what the other is doing. I'm sure they talk about that in the bible lol

Do any of you have helpful links to youtube tutorials that will give some help with this? I've got the information about where the pentatonic blues scale notes are and I've not got a problem with that. It's the more basic issue of not knowing where I am from one hand to the other and getting lost in there. Maybe a link to some practicing techniques that I can do?

Would I find it easier with fingerpicks? Am I supposed to be using fingerpicks when improvising the blues scale? I struggle with a regular pick the same way I do with using my fingers. Maybe fingerpicks would help?

Where can I find some exercises to do to get from one fret to a hammer-on a few frets down? Are there any finger strengthening exercises I can do?

Loads of questions but I'll stop there for now. Much appreciated, as always.


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  • As no one responded to the finger exercises, I'll throw one out there.  There are guitarists out there with huge hands that can play anything, but it will take some time to make your fingers do what you intend them to do.  I remember some rather boring exercises that you start on one string and pick the first fret, second fret third and fourth using your four fingers and go up and down 1,2,3,4,3,2,1.  Move around the fretboard to different locations and strings.  Alternate how you fret, maybe the next time do first finger, ring, bird then pinkie - keep changing it up.  Just before you go crazy with boredom go back to the scales.  An accomplished player can play mostly without looking at their hands.  For me when picking notes, sometimes I look at my fretting hand, sometimes the picking hand, once in a while I don't have to look at either but when learning something new I need to look at both! 

    Also try picking while holding a chord, that way only one hand is doing stuff, then when that is working start with simple finger movements with your fret hand keeping most of the fingers planted.  The opposite is strumming chords, only the fret hand needs attention.

    • Mind = blown. There're numbers in there, it's 3:48am and I've just woken up hearing Dani coughing and worrying she was running a fever from having caught my bug. I'm in a synthetic morphine induced zombie thingy and I saw numbers lol. I'll have another look in the morning and do your exercises. Need to get down to the store tomorrow morning and buy me some fingerpicks to see if they help. Probably only a few quid so I'm sure I can raid the piggy bank for them.

      Hey, thanks for the help and information, Kigar. No, really, thanks :)

  • No rules. My two factory guitars are slightly different on string spacing, but my fingers seem to feel it as a very significant difference. You'll have to play some to get a feel for both the scale length and the string spacing your hands prefer. Same goes for regular picks or finger picks - whatever works for you is the right answer. With my long arms and long fingers, I like a long scale and wide neck. That won't be the right answer for everyone though. Oh yeah, practice is probably the most important thing.
    • Seems like a trip to the store to buy my future guitars rather than online buying then lol. Otherwise it's going to be an expensive lesson in buying them and finding out they're the same issues as this one. Thanks for replying and for the information and help.

  • First, let me say that string spacing is anything but standard. Generally speaking electric guitars can have width at the nut of between 1 9/16" to 1 7/8" That gives string spacing of between 0.260" and 0.312"

    Acoustics tend to have nut width of between 1 3/4" and 1 7/8" which would give string spacing of between 0.291" and 0.312"

    Classical guitars can have a nut width as much as 2.0" with string spacing up to 0.333".

    This may not sound like a lot, but it quickly becomes noticeably. If you have a set of vernier calipers, set them to each of the four spacing to get a real feel for how much we're talking about.

    Now, having all that said, most CBG builders make the string spacing whatever they feel comfortable with. I have one friend, a very good builder, that has short, fat fingers. He sets up most of his personal players with string spacing up in the 3/8" to 1/2" area. On a three or four stringer, this is not difficult to do.

    I have found that closer spacing of strings can pose a problem, but if I practice carefully, I can work my way up to playing cleanly. It's still fun, however, to take a wide spaced four strings and just bang away and let the strings take care of themselves.

    I say, you need wider spacing on your strings, you should do so with a new nut and a little time spent.

    • Thanks for replying, Tom. I'd like to keep the six string I've just built as I really like it. I might look at a wider fret board and changing the nut out then. Either that or make another build with wider string spacing from a classical guitar neck and a bit lighter than the one I've just built. Or build my own neck. Glad to know that it is fat fingers anyway and not just my ineptitude in playing/learning haha. Of course it's possibly, and perhaps probably, my inability to play too but I'll look on the positive side until I'm totally bald from pulling out the little bit of hair I have left ;)

      Thanks again :)

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