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Fretboard width

Larry Davidson

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There really is no "correct" width for a fretboard.  Those who build 3-string traditional diatonic staple-fretted boards make them about 1" wide.  Most 4-string fretboards are around 1-1/2" wide --- 1-3/8ths to 1-5/8ths.  1-1/2 is convenient because it's a stock lumber size called a 1x2. 

Part of the choice has to do with the "look" of the board on the design.  A really wide fretboard on a narrow-waisted hourglass. IMHO doesn't look as good a s somewhat narrower board.  A wide-bodied elliptical like a Galax design looks good with a wider board, as does a Tennessee Music Box.

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All but one of my dulcimers have a 1 1/4" wide fretboard.  One dulcimer has a 1 1/2 inch wide fretboard.  I play all styles (chords, noter, etc.) and these widths are okay for my playing style.  I also have all of my dulcimers configured with double melody strings.  A person might like a little wider fretboard if the strings (3, 4, or 5) were going to be arranged as equidistant.


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