An observation on neck size and shape

Waraxe

Senior Member
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214
I did something silly last night, and used a fabric measuring tape to check the size of my guitar necks from fretboard edge to fretboard edge around the back. 1st and 12th frets, naturally.

Most of us measure overall depth and width, but never the "circumference".

Well, according to my collection of very thin and very thick necks, I can say that my 3 ibanez (wizard, wizard3, and wizard premium) are all within 1 mm of each other.

My fat necks, which include a 59 round back, a fatback, a boat neck, a carvin holdsworth, an ibby as73, and a Gen 1 revstar, are all within 1/8" of each other.

An interesting one is my 1 11/16" 59 roundback and my 1.65" boatneck.......less than 1/16" difference!!

It seems to me that I can get along with multiple shapes providing they are of a certain "circumference"

Check it out for yourselves.
 
The increase of different fret heights will affect the different heights of String Nuts, which will affect the rise in the perimeter of the cross-section of the overall String-connected neck and the fullness while holding it in your hand.
 
For the way I play, I do notice the "front to back" thickness very much so when I see some of the fat or odd-shaped profiles, I know they're not for me given where I place my thumb. I have some fat necks and that tends to make that muscle that contracts the thumb really sore after a while (had to look it up just now. It's apparently the flexor pollicis brevis).

Probably some bad technique or bad habits on my part, I'll admit.

I think the first time I ever experienced that epiphany was when I bought my Jackson Kelly back in the '90s. It was my first "grown-up" guitar, and the first thing I noticed was the neck profile after having spent over 5 years playing beginner guitars with thicker neck profiles. It was a revelation. So much more comfortable to play and it helped improve my stamina (and therefore, self-confidence).

This was reinforced to me recently when I completed another from-scratch guitar (sorta'; I bought the neck from AP and installed it unmodified apart from the headstock). Holy cow, what a difference. The thickness of the neck made it much more difficult to play. Not to say that I can't, but I can definitely feel that I prefer not to, which is a shame given how much time I spent building the thing! 😀

(Dual humbuckers with coil splitting on both pickups; no reason for why apart from "because I could." 😁)

But the experiment with the dressmaker's/tailor's tape is a great suggestion. I definitely have my favorites in my collection, so I'd be curious how those match up to each other.
 
I’ve been thinking the same thing @Waraxe ! I’ve got guitars that go from 1-5/8” to 1-3/4”, and while I prefer some to others, the majority I can play well. (Or as well as I can play ;))

My Martin acoustic is one that’s 1-3/4”, but it’s “V” shaped so the shoulders are really quite small and it doesn’t feel super wide. On an electric I have a 1-3/4” that feels just a bit too big, but I think the “circumference” is larger than the Martin. The 1-5/8” is a 52RI Tele, so thicker and soft V, like a thinner Boatneck I guess.

I’m kind of curious to try a 1-3/4” Clapton, the wider fretboard is much easier to play cleanly compared to the 1-5/8” but since I like to wrap my thumb over it’s a bit of a balancing act I think.
 
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For the way I play, I do notice the "front to back" thickness very much so when I see some of the fat or odd-shaped profiles, I know they're not for me given where I place my thumb. I have some fat necks and that tends to make that muscle that contracts the thumb really sore after a while (had to look it up just now. It's apparently the flexor pollicis brevis).

Probably some bad technique or bad habits on my part, I'll admit.

I think the first time I ever experienced that epiphany was when I bought my Jackson Kelly back in the '90s. It was my first "grown-up" guitar, and the first thing I noticed was the neck profile after having spent over 5 years playing beginner guitars with thicker neck profiles. It was a revelation. So much more comfortable to play and it helped improve my stamina (and therefore, self-confidence).

This was reinforced to me recently when I completed another from-scratch guitar (sorta'; I bought the neck from AP and installed it unmodified apart from the headstock). Holy cow, what a difference. The thickness of the neck made it much more difficult to play. Not to say that I can't, but I can definitely feel that I prefer not to, which is a shame given how much time I spent building the thing! 😀

(Dual humbuckers with coil splitting on both pickups; no reason for why apart from "because I could." 😁)

But the experiment with the dressmaker's/tailor's tape is a great suggestion. I definitely have my favorites in my collection, so I'd be curious how those match up to each other.

You know, this experiment really showcases how much size and profile really mean.

Take my 59/boatneck example above. Theyvare virtually the same size (measured my way), which is why I like them both. It's a great size for me. Profile? I can play the boatneck faster, longer, and harder than the 59. With no cramping, aches, or hand issues.
 
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