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I'm making my first mandolin and I've never had to figure string spacing on a double stringed instrument. The nut width will be 1 1/8". I could use some suggestions for the simplest way figure the gaps between the courses and the strings. Also what do any of you like for spacing between the fretboard edge and the first string. I've seen measurements from 1/16" to 1/8". I'm thinking the less the better to give me more space between courses. What do you all think? Thanks all.

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Donald,
They're not tuned the same. mandolin is GDAE and ukulele is GCEA.and the G is above middle C. I've met several fiddle players that play mandolin too. It seems like that transition would be easier than going the other way. Personally, I just don't seem to be able to twist my wrist AND move my fingers to play a violin.

Maybe it's not such a bad idea to learn on four stings first. Coming from a six string guitar background, the paired strings on the mandolin confused my fingers. I kept trying to hold down only one. Now it feels right but it's like I never actually feel the finger board under my finger, only the strings. Not at all like my guitars. The bar cords would be MUCH easier to hold on 4 strings.

I'm rebuilding an old KayKraft Mandolin now, Maybe I'll set it up for four strings and give it a try.

Ned
A mandolin is one instrument that I have never built. I have built guitars, bass fiddles, banjos, and some other oddities that I won't mention here. I always thought that if I ever built a mandolin , I'd change at least 2 things. I'd make the fingerboard wider and I'd install some tuning machines that you could turn without a pair of vise grips. Those tuners are a pain for me. I'm sure some are better than others but most of them I've seen hurt my fingers to try to turn them. Just my 2 cents worth.
Ronnie Nichols
I use shims & a drop or three of CA under the nut til' I get a combination that suits me.Every one is slightly different..but I like a good spread due to guitar playing.It ain't rocket science,it's luthier technology
The previously replaced nut on my antique round back mando had the courses a bit too close together to play with my fat fingers, so I replaced the brown plastic-looking nut with a piece of phenolic material. I did like Martin Edwards described above, positioning the outer courses as wide as I could decently take them then basically splitting the difference for the other two, I may have used a ruler but I don't recall now. One of these days I'll replace that phenolic nut with some deer antler, and the same with the bridge. Years ago my brother replaced a missing piece of the top layer of the bridge with a carved piece of popsicle stick. Maybe I'll post a couple pictures one of these days/weeks/months.
stew mac makes a great ruler for exactly that ....it actually graduates the spacing for thickness of string....one of the few tools ive gotten from stew mac that i like...other wise mark the nut as if it were a four stringed instrument then move the whole thing down and start again

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