In at least one embodiment, the apparatus of the invention is a read sensor which includes a shield, a sensor element, a read gap positioned between the shield and the sensor element, and an extra gap positioned between the shield and the sensor element and adjacent the read gap. The sensor element is positioned in a sensor layer. With the sensor element and the shield separated by only the relatively thin gap layer, high sensitivity of the sensor element is obtained. Further, by placing the relatively thick extra gap between the shield and the sensor layer and about the sensor element, the potential for shorting is minimized. The shield can be planarized to keep the read gap and the sensor layer at, and about, the sensor element substantially planar. This, in turn, results in improved control of sensor track widths and greatly reduces the potential for pooling of photoresist. In at least one embodiment, the method of the invention is for fabricating a read sensor and includes depositing a read gap onto a planarized shield, depositing an extra gap adjacent an exposed portion of the read gap, and depositing a sensor element onto the exposed portion of the first gap and adjacent to the extra gap.