Guitar Neck Shapes – We get a lot of enquiries about the shape, radius and length of guitar necks from customers who understandably want to know how a guitar will actually feel when they play it. There can be a significant difference in terms of playing comfort from a ‘U’ shape through to a hard ‘V’ shape and of course everyone’s fingers are unique, so learning a little about neck shape is a valuable exercise if you are seeking your perfect guitar.
Guitar neck shapes vary considerably from thick necked ‘U’ shapes (which are great for players who employ their thumbs on the back or side of the neck) through to a medium ‘V’ shape which are popular with blues and country players.
Beyond neck shape, other factors that influence the feel of a guitar neck include; depth, width and radius. Depth is the thickness or the distance from front to back. For example, 50’s Fender guitars run from .870″ at the first fret through to .980″ at the 12th fret. Width is measured from side to side and usually at the nut. An American Standard Stratocaster is measured at a width of 1.6875″
Radius refers to the curvature of the fingerboard and can very much affect playing comfort, especially if you bend strings a lot. The flatter the radius of a neck the easier it will be to bend strings and lower the action if you so prefer.
Many modern guitars also feature what is referred to as a compound radius, which usually means that the curvature of the fingerboard is more evident in the lower registers and gradually flattens as you progress up the fingerboard.
So whatever your preference is as regards the neck on your dream guitar, you can now see how all these factors will affect your playing experience.