The guitar neck is defined as the part of a guitar that connects the body to the headstock. The fretboard, connects to both the body and the neck before reaching the very top of the neck. The neck is an important element of the guitar as it dictates how far you will have to reach to play cords on fretted stringed instruments, such as the guitar.
The dimensions of the guitar neck vary from instrument to instrument. For instance, a mandolin has a narrower, shorter neck as opposed to a guitar. As for electric bass guitars, their necks are longer and has additional depth that allows for easier finger reach.
If you don’t have time to go through the entire article, I’ll sum it up for you:
On average, guitar necks measure 24 to 25.5 inches (60.9 to 64.8 centimeters) long and 1.7 to 2 inches (4.3 to 5.1 centimeters) wide.
As I hinted earlier, the length and width of the guitar can vary depending on the type of instrument. Also, it’s important to note that manufacturers follow different sizing standards when producing guitars.
If you’d like to learn more about guitar neck sizes, keep reading.
Guitar Neck Sizes
There are several types of guitars, including bass and electro-acoustic. However, to simplify things, I’ll mainly focus on the two types of guitars people are most familiar with—i.e., acoustic guitars and electric guitars.
Acoustic Guitar Neck
Acoustic guitars typically have necks that measure 24 to 25.5 inches (60.9 to 64.8 centimeters) in length, while their width is between 1-11/16 to 1-3/4 inches (4.3 to 4.5 centimeters). However, some acoustic guitars are marginally wider at 1-23/32 to 1-7/8 inches (4.4 to 4.8 centimeters).
The difference between thinner and wider guitar necks may seem negligible since we’re dealing with fractions of an inch, but long-term guitar players will tell you that the tiniest change on a guitar can dramatically affect their performance.
Electric Guitar Neck
Electric guitars necks are generally built the same in terms of length and width. They will usually measure 25.5 inches (64.8 centimeters) long and have a width of 1.69 inches (4.2 centimeters). However, some people may round this figure up, giving you a width of 1.7 inches (4.3 centimeters).
For example, a Fender electric guitar has a neck that measures 1.685 inches wide, whereas a Gibson’s neck will be slightly wider at 1.695 inches. A Rickenbacker, however, will have a wider neck that measures 1.75 inches at the nut.
Measuring Guitar Neck Width
Getting the exact dimensions of a guitar neck can be a challenge since different players measure guitar necks in various ways. Some argue that the neck should be measured at the nut, while others swear that measuring at the 12th or 14th fret is ideal.
That said, most people tend to measure the width of the guitar neck by looking at the nut. So, basically, the nut width is equal to the neck width.
So, how do you actually measure the guitar neck width? The ideal tool to use would be a caliper that can record measurements in 1/16 of an inch and/or millimeters. The sliding contact/jaw of the caliper can give accurate readings, which you’ll need to purchase the perfect replacement neck for your guitar.
Guitar Neck Shapes
Whether you want to purchase a replacement guitar neck or buy a guitar for the first time, you should pay close attention to the shape of the guitar neck.
The shape of the guitar neck refers to its curve and depth. If you were to cut out a cross-section of the guitar neck, you would see how rounded or flattened the neck actually is. Some guitars have chunkier guitar necks, while others are slimmer. Allow me to describe them in a nutshell.
A U-shape guitar neck feels chunkier in your palm. It’s akin to holding a baseball bat at the taper or barrel. This is a popular shape among rock rhythm guitarists since its shape can strengthen the player’s grip. Players with smaller hands may find it challenging to hold and play at the same time.
A V-shape guitar neck is easier to notice due to its slightly pointed edge directly at the center of the neck. The main benefit of a V-shape guitar neck is that it allows players to rest their thumb against a flatter surface as opposed to the “sides” of a U-, D-, or C-shaped neck.
C- and D-Shape
A C-shape guitar neck will have a consistent roundness to it from one side to the other. They’re nowhere near as chunky as U-shaped necks, but they vary in thickness.
As for D-shape guitar necks, they are a “modernized” version of C-shape necks. They share more similarities than differences, but the main thing to point out is their slightly flattened bottom.
Something else you’ll notice when looking at different guitar models is the roundness of the fretboard.
When shopping for a guitar, you may come across different radius ratings, like 7.25- or 16-inch (18.4- or 40.6-centimeter) radius. These numbers are derived by drawing a circle with the radius and aligning the outer edge of the circle with the rounded side of the fretboard.
The higher the radius rating, the less rounded the fretboard.
In addition, there are single-radius fretboard and compound-radius fretboards.
A single-radius fretboard maintains a single radius rating consistently along the length of the fretboard, whereas a compound-radius fretboard will be slightly tapered. So, it starts wider on one end and ends with a narrow radius figure on the other.
For example, a common compound-radius fretboard will have a 16-inch (40.6-centimeter) radius where it connects to the guitar’s body and a 12-inch (30.4-centimeter) radius near the headstock.
In this guide, I quickly went over the dimensions of an acoustic and electric guitar neck. To refresh your memory, acoustic guitar necks typically measure 24 to 25.5 inches (60.9 to 64.8 centimeters) long and 1-11/16 to 1-3/4 inches (4.3 to 4.5 centimeters) wide. Electric guitar necks are 25.5 inches (64.8 centimeters) long and 1.69 inches (4.2 centimeters) wide.
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