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Author Topic:  Fender offered three different Stringmaster nuts...
Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post  Posted 24 Aug 2019 4:47 pm    
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I'm rereading my 1995 copy of Richard Smith's Fender The Sound Heard 'Round The World, and on page 120, he writes: "Fender offered three different Stringmaster nuts, each machined for different string-spacing widths."

Would anyone know what the measurements were for the three different spacings, and which one would have been standard? Or is Smith mistaking string spacing for string diameter?
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Jeff Mead


From:
London, England
Post  Posted 25 Aug 2019 1:05 am    
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The only variation in Stringmaster nuts I am aware of is regular or bass (the bass ones have wider slots to allow heavier strings for low bass tuning). 3 and 4 neck Stringmasters came with the furthest neck set up for a bass tuning. The spacing between strings was identical on both.
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Jeff Mead


From:
London, England
Post  Posted 25 Aug 2019 1:08 am    
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Jody Carver gives the lowdown in this thread. Seems they did offer nuts for different string spacing as a special order. The option wasn't listed in the catalogs but the sales reps told the dealers about it. He only mentions wider spacing but I guess that narrower might have been available too...

https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=8468&sid=3e81d3ba730e119dea5b5f45f91626c0
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Jeff Mead


From:
London, England
Post  Posted 25 Aug 2019 1:41 am    
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Thinking about it a bit more, would changing the string spacing at the nut by a fraction even make a noticeable difference at the bridge end where you are actually picking? What difference does string spacing make under the bar? If they were offering different spacing at the bridge end it would make more sense.
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Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post  Posted 25 Aug 2019 6:58 am    
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Thanks for the link to Mr. Carver's comments, Jeff. The man knows of which he speaks (writes).

I agree that wider string-spacing at the nut would have little if any effect down at the bridge. But with wider-spaced nut slots, bar slants on the lower frets would indeed be easier. Especially on the 24.5" and 26" scale instruments.

I love my little rescue Studio Deluxe, but being pretty much a diehard Gibson lap steel guy, would definitely appreciate wider string spacing on both ends.

I highly recommend Smith's book for fans of Fender in general, and their steels in particular. There's books a-go-go covering the Tele, the Strat, the basses, and all those wonderful amps, but Smith gives equal coverage to the steels -- everything from the little K&F student guitars to the pedal steels.

The photos themselves are a treasure trove. Lotsa pix of the classic west coast Western Swing steel players -- who Leo befriended and trusted for advice, since he couldn't pick a note -- and so much more. Seeing Leo presenting the first Fender 1000 to Shot Jackson, and "Buddie" Emmons playing his quad Stringmaster (in addition to Buddy playing a Fender 1000), are priceless. Great book.

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C. E. Jackson


Post  Posted 25 Aug 2019 2:13 pm    
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Jack, my Stringmasters have the different size nuts.

I have a 10 string Gibson which was ordered from Gibson with 2 different nuts for different string
gauges. I have the original letter sent to Gibson.

GIBSON EH-185 (v.1a) 10 STRING C.C. pu: c. 1940



See Duchossoir (Ref. 1), page 47 for a photo of this instrument. Mr. Donald Costen, Ridgeway, PA,
was the original owner of this 10-string EH-185, made to his order.

This model has a U-magnet pickup and metal insert is painted glossy black. The instrument was
shipped by Gibson with two different nuts for tunings (string gauges) specified by Mr. Costen.
See Duchossoir (Ref.1), pages 30-31, 45-47, 56-57 for model specs and
additional information on EH-185 models.

Ref.1 GIBSON ELECTRIC STEEL GUITARS 1935-1967, By: A. R. Duchossoir

C E. Jackson Smile
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Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post  Posted 26 Aug 2019 7:15 am    
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That's interesting, Mr. Jackson. The EH-185s in your collection are indeed a treasure. Many thanks for making them available for Mr. Duchossoir and his photographer(s). His book would not be the same without the pictures of your impressive collection of Gibsons.

Can't help but wonder if Gibson offered that option when they produced the Century-10 in the late '40s - early '50s. I've been toying with the idea of fabricating a new nut for mine, with the strings spaced as wide as possible. It's difficult to make bar slants on the lower frets with the narrow string spacing of its factory nut.

Two questions:
1) Do you play your 10-strings with any regularity?
2) If so, what tuning(s) do you favor?
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C. E. Jackson


Post  Posted 26 Aug 2019 9:37 am    
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Jack, thanks for the kind words regarding my EH-185s. I currently own 14 EH-185s, at least 1 of each type shipped by Gibson,
except for a left-hand model which I have not been able to track down. They are my favorite of all Gibson vintage steels. My
single favorite is a 7 string C.C. pu:c.1939 from the first batch shipped.

As for the photos in Duchossoir's book, blame me for any errors. He asked me to photograph and send him photos of certain steels
and he used my photos in his book.

I don't play the 10 string instruments very often, since 7 string instruments usually suit my playing needs better. Also, the above
10 string E-185 weighs about 13 pounds and is 34-1/2" long. All string spacings at the nut and bridge are 3/8".

I use an A6 tuning on all steels, except on a few special occasions.

C. E. Jackson Smile
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Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post  Posted 26 Aug 2019 7:30 pm    
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Thank you for that additional information, Mr. Jackson. Fascinating!

C. E. Jackson wrote:
10 string E-185 weighs about 13 pounds and is 34-1/2" long. All string spacings at the nut and bridge are 3/8".

Wow! That thing is a horse! My Century-10 weighs about 5-1/2 pounds -- only a few ounces heavier than my comparable Century-6. It's about 34-inches long. The string spacing is tight (about 17/64"), as seen below:



My concern with a wider-spaced nut would be the likelihood of both the second and third (and possibly more) strings not clearing the preceding string post(s). But since the second string is in contact with the first string post from the factory (see above), one or two more may not be a huge issue.

Two more questions:

1) Do you set up your 10-strings for A6, too?
2) If so, what is your first string? E? F#? A?

Aside from that guitar and the modified rescue Ultratone-7 below, the rest of my lap steels are 6-strings. Most are C6. The U-7 is A6 -- it's also my favorite. The bridge and nut are spaced similar to most postwar Gibson 6-strings. It's butt-ugly, but it plays and sounds awesome:

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C. E. Jackson


Post  Posted 27 Aug 2019 1:08 pm    
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Jack, thanks for the reply. Here are answers to your questions:

1. I set up the 10 string for A6.
2. The first string is E.

C. E. Jackson Smile
_________________
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My YouTube Steel Guitar Playlists
My YouTube Steel Guitar Songs
A6 tuning for steels
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Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post  Posted 27 Aug 2019 4:45 pm    
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Thanks again, C.E.
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