Guitar necks and their thicknesses.

Once you have strummed your first cord on a guitar, you will notice the shape of the neck and how it feels. For me, the feel of the neck defines the guitar. Maybe it’s even the most critical element for comfort and playability.

Today, most budget and mid-priced guitars come with standard, thin neck profiles. It seems that, for most manufacturers, thin is still “in”. While many players grow up playing thin necks and love them, an increasingly large number of players find the extra girth more practical, comfortable and tone righteous.

Thick necks equal more mass, which stabilizes the headstock and prevents much of the strings energy from dissipating. This results in a more complete, robust sound and, some say, better tone.

If you like thick necks, you may have trouble finding one “off the rack” that suits you. Today, some of the re-issue models from the major manufacturers offer thicker vintage neck profiles as do their Custom Shop models — both of these options come with a premium price.

With a Custom guitar, you can get the size and neck profile that manufacturers may not offer. You select the size, back contour, and other features so the neck feels comfortable in YOUR hand.

You, with my guidance, will spend time hand shaping the neck in the final stage so that it feels like you have played it for years. Then, the nut is accurately slotted and shaped, intonation is adjusted properly, and frets are leveled, crowned, and polished to eliminate buzzing.

One more thing about necks; as players get older, they often complain about their hand cramping while playing. The solution: a thicker neck that fills up the area between the thumb and index finger and provides relief to those muscles. And bigger necks can also work great for people with small hands — sounds counter-intuitive, I know. But, the right combination of neck thickness, back contour, fretboard radius, and neck width can dramatically improve comfort and playability.

If you’re accustomed to playing thin necks, I encourage you to find a guitar with a thick neck and give it a spin. You may be surprised at how comfortable it feels. Check out the neck profiles and common thicknesses below. Measurements are in inches and include the fretboard thickness.

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