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The easiest way to get a fat guitar neck

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If you want a fat guitar neck, you can't get it from the guitar store, so you have to find it elsewhere.

Before telling you where to get one, hold on there, buckaroo, because there are some things you really need to know first.

Why go fat with a neck?

Easier grip and better ergonomics.

Having more wood means more for your hand to grab, which for many makes it easier to hold chords.

Where ergonomics are concerned, a thicker neck follows the natural shape of your grip better than a thin neck would - as long as you don't go too thick.

How fat is too fat?

This is fortunately a simple answer for 6-string electric guitars. One inch or greater. But it's where that one inch is measured that matters.

Electric guitar necks mainly have their thickness measured in two places, the 1st fret and 12th fret.

A "baseball bat" neck has a 1" thickness at the 1st and the 12th. You don't see necks on electrics carved like this these very often, and there's a reason for that. This is a thickness most players would consider to be too fat - but only at the first fret.

It is much more common to find necks where the 12th fret neck thickness measures at or close to 1" and the 1st fret neck thickness is thinner.

In the Fender guitar realm, where you find the 1" thickness at the 1st and 12th fret are on '52 reissue Telecasters. It is commonly known as a "boatneck" profile or sometimes just "boat". Is that the biggest? Surprisingly, no, because the boatneck profile has slimmed shoulders even though it feels huge. A "fatback" neck has the same thickness but with even larger shoulders on it.

Sensible fatness

Boatneck and fatback profiles are too big for many, so what's the next best option? You get a neck with a 1st fret neck thickness greater than 0.75" (3/4") and 12th fret neck thickness as close to 1" as you can get it.

1st fret optimum thickness: Between 0.84" (21/25") and 0.875" (7/8")

12th fret optimum thickness: Between 0.94" (47/50") and 1.0".

Getting a neck with a 12th fret neck thickness of 0.94" or greater isn't the problem. It's the 1st fret neck thickness where so many guitars in the store are way too thin. The bulk of them will be 0.75" or slimmer.

Where to get a fat neck the easy way

In the USA there are two main places where you can get fat necks. AllParts and Warmoth.

With AllParts, you can go straight to the "Chunky" neck section - but the problem there is that the majority of those are too fat.

You are better off looking at all the necks from AllParts, where you will see more sensible thicknesses. For example, their standard "SMO-C Replacement Neck for Stratocaster" has a 1st fret thickness of 0.84" and a 12th of 0.94". That is something which would agree with many players.

All the necks on AllParts as far as I'm aware do list 1st and 12th fret neck thicknesses, so there is no guessing involved.

With Warmoth, you can have any kind of neck constructed that you want - but you have to do it in a very specific way.

From the custom neck builder section, pay close attention to step 6:

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Instead of going for the Boatneck or Fatback profile, the two that your hand would probably agree with much better would be the Clapton (0.85" 1st fret, 0.94" 12th fret) or the 59 Roundback (0.86" 1st fret, 0.96" 12th fret).

Which should you go with? That's up to you. Personally, I would choose the 59 Roundback because I prefer a little more thickness.

I went with a fat neck and won't play anything else

I play two Telecaster copies, both of which have necks that measure 22mm (0.866") neck thickness at the 1st fret and 25mm (0.984") at the 12th.

Before I started playing on these necks, I had pain in my fret hand from playing guitar. Had. The pain is totally gone now.

I had my pain start when I switched over to an electric guitar with a thin neck. The pain wasn't immediate but developed over a period of a few months. I thought it was a string tension issue. Nope. I thought it was the scale length. Nope. I thought I was having a bad reaction to the metal in the strings. Nope.

After basically trying everything I could think of, that's when I sought out a guitar with a thicker neck. After getting one, the pain started going away. In a few months, my hand healed up and the pain is now gone.

Should you decide to go with a thicker neck yourself, I'll end this on two notes:

Don't think about brand. The neck you get will most likely have no famous brand label on it. In fact, it probably won't have a label on it at all. Your goal is comfort of play first and foremost. Remember this when you're shopping for that thick neck.

Buy it for you. Lots of guys buy guitars just to show off what they bought. Don't do that when it comes to this purchase. As long as the neck looks decent enough, what matters is, again, the comfort. After you get something comfortable, then concentrate on prettying it up if so desired.

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