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Guitar neck thickness vs. shoulder


This is yet another reason why you can't determine how a guitar neck feels by numbers and/or letters alone.

I've talked before about electric guitar neck shapes. The ones I'm going to talk about here are C, D and U.

In very basic terms, these are how those three neck shapes work:

C: Semi-circle.

D: A wider C with a flatter back.

U: A deeper C. Sometimes much deeper. Not to be confused with a deep C profile.

Some believe that the shoulder of the neck counts more than the actual thickness of it where playing comfort is concerned.

These are my thoughts on that.

Better to have "squat" shoulders than hardly any shoulder at all?

This is what thin C vs. thin D vs. thin U looks like (more or less):

Thin C:


Thin D:


Thin U:


Thin D and U have what I call squat shoulders. Thin C has little shoulder to it.

My fret hand complains whenever I play a neck that has a thin C shape. Not during play, but afterward. I get a dulling pain/soreness just under the index finger palm-side. That's my hand saying "don't play that shape". When I don't and stick to thicker necks with actual shoulder to them, my fret hand doesn't complain at all and I'm fine.

But if I played a thin neck with squat shoulders, such as the Gretsch Electromatic Jet with its thin U shaped neck, would just the shoulder without the thickness be enough to keep my fret hand from complaining?

I honestly don't know. I'd have to own such a guitar, set it up to my liking and then play it for some time (at least a week) to see if my fret hand would complain or not.

What I do know however is that from limited experience (as in trying the guitar out in the guitar store), my fret hand seems to like the Jackson "speed" neck profile, which to the best of my knowledge is a thin-ish D shape. This neck is even on the cheap Jackson JS Dinky.

Does this mean I'll get a Jackson JS Dinky at some point? Maybe. It's certainly less in price by several hundred dollars compared to the Gretsch, but doesn't look as cool. I do wish Jackson would put their Monarkh headstock on a Dinky model. That would look oh-so nice. The Monarkh has one of the best looking headstock designs I've ever seen, but unfortunately is on the totally wrong body shape. Definitely needs to be put on a Dinky model. Maybe call it the Monarkhy. Okay, bad idea for a name, but if anybody from Jackson reads this, please, make a low-cost (as in entry level) Dinky with the Monarkh headstock on it.

Aside from that...

Shoulder (unless I find something that proves otherwise) isn't enough

Thin with no shoulder is no-go territory for me.

Thin with squat shoulders such as with a Gretsch thin U or Jackson thin D? Maybe.

Thick with shoulder? To date, this has always worked for me.

However, this is not to say that I would be 100% comfortable with an "early '50s" Gibson D neck shape or "late '70s" Fender U neck shape, both of which are seriously chunky.

What I am saying is that I don't get along with modern thin C neck shapes, and that maybe I can get along with a thin neck as long as it's not a C. Time will tell from guitars I try (and possibly buy) in the future.

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