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Harnessing the optical properties of noble metals down to the nanometre scale is a key step towards fast and low-dissipative information processing. At the 10-nm length scale, metal crystallinity and patterning as well as probing of surface plasmon properties must be controlled with a challenging high level of precision. Here, we demonstrate that ultimate lateral confinement and delocalization of surface plasmon modes are simultaneously achieved in extended self-assembled networks comprising linear chains of partially fused gold nanoparticles. The spectral and spatial distributions of the surface plasmon modes associated with the colloidal superstructures are evidenced by performing monochromated electron energy-loss spectroscopy with a nanometre-sized electron probe. We prepare the metallic bead strings by electron-beam-induced interparticle fusion of nanoparticle networks. The fused superstructures retain the native morphology and crystallinity but develop very low-energy surface plasmon modes that are capable of supporting long-range and spectrally tunable propagation in nanoscale waveguides.