I bought a used Squier Strat just to use with heavy (.011 to .058) strings for practice, to get my fingers used to the heavier strings.

I've been having a hell of a time with certain chords. My fingers just won't fit on the strings as they do on my American Standard and MIM Strats. On an A7 chord, for example, I can't use my first and second fingers on the B and D strings. They will not fit no matter what. I have to use the third and fourth, which is really awkward.

I took a caliper and measure the width of the strings on all guitars. At the fourth fret, the width of the strings on the Squier is .14 narrower than on the other two guitars, which are exactly the same.

Is this the normal design, or just whatever comes off the production line?
Could be. I have an old harmony strat i mess around with and the neck is almost 1/2 an inch narrower at the neck heel than any other guitar I have. Could also be string spacing at the bridge. They may have used some cheaper components there. Could be a setup issue as well?
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Quote by Monkeyleg

Is this the normal design, or just whatever comes off the production line?

Two things. Always check the width of the nut before buying a guitar. I have an original '70's Gibson L6S that has a 1 9/16ths" nut width; this was apparently a common nut width on SGs from that period as well. Current Gibson nuttage is 1 11/16ths", and the L6S reissue is that wide at the nut these days. When you get to the bridge, all this stuff has usually returned to normal (and playing the upper strings on my old L6S is about the same as playing them on the wider-nutted reissue).

Second, Always check the actual width of the strings. A high-end Les Paul has "nibs." The fret ends stop short of the edge of the fretboard and the binding covers the ends of the frets. This was apparently some fanciness that Gibson perpetrated back in the days when folks weren't sloshing their strings all over the place with bends and exaggerated vibrato. But in practical terms, the string spacing is narrower over the entire neck (and you stand a good chance of getting a skinny E string stuck between the binding and the fret). So a cheaper LP without the fretboard binding "nibs" might actually have wider string spacing than the more expensive versions, even though the two have identical nut widths.

Agile makes guitars with a "wide" option -- 1 3/4" at the nut. Like the skinny neck L6S I have, however, the string spacing at the bridge remains the same, so you lose some of that width advantage as you move up the neck.

Other guitar makers, like Jim Soloway, have built guitars that start with a 1 13/16ths" nut width and no nibs, and they're constructed to maintain that extra 1/8th" width all the way up to and including the custom bridge. These are probably the most comfortable guitars I've ever played, but they're in the $2K-3K range (and worth every penny).

And finally -- the extra width works best with guitars that have a relatively flat fretboard radius. The Agiles run about 13.7" radius, while the Soloway I played had a 16" radius.
Thanks for the replies. I learn something new here everyday.

I'll have to see if the nut differs from those on the other two Strats and, if so, if they look interchangeable. I can't see throwing money at a $75 used Squier, though. It's okay if I use it only for practicing on the heavy strings. I can also hand it to a guest who says he plays guitar, and then watch him get frustrated.
The funny part is that I learned the lesson about knowing the nut width *before* buying any guitars the same way, but picking up a Squier strat. I was told that this is because these are intended for younger players with smaller hands. I sometimes practice chords deliberately on my Squier because it really forces me to use only the tips of my fingers and not be sloppy about placement. I also have a mid-60's Silvertone archtop with a 1 13/16 nut. Talk about a mile of room!
ids2, I had that thought, that the guitars were meant for very young people just getting started. I guess Squier didn't count too much on 62 year-olds like me.
The nut on a standard Strat is 1.685" or 42.8mm. The nut on the Squier is 1.6" or 40.6mm. The inexpensive Squiers are designed for newbies and smaller hands, just to make it a little easier reaching areas of the fret board to start off.
Well, I put a new nut on the guitar. Amazing what 2.2 mm will do. I have no problems with any chords now. The strings are still over the fret board enough that I'm not pushing them off when I press.

Thanks for the help.