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Playing the guitar is an incredibly fulfilling hobby or profession! But choosing the right guitar can be daunting. Especially when it comes to the neck. The neck of a guitar plays a crucial role in how the instrument feels.
One of the key considerations when choosing a guitar neck is its thickness. When it comes to a thick vs thin guitar neck, does it matter?
Yes, the neck thickness is important. Thin necks are designed for faster playing styles. Particularly leads and technical playing. Metal players tend to favor thin necks for this reason.
Thick necks on the other hand are better suited for rhythmic playing because there is more to grab on to. But in the end it’s really about preference. Your technique is in your hands.
In this Killer Rig article, we’ll explore the differences between thick and thin guitar necks. We will look at their advantages and disadvantages, and the types of music and playing styles that benefit from each.
Thick Vs Thin Guitar Necks
A quick comparison of the advantages of each neck thickness can be found in the table below. They are the key takeaways when considering guitar necks.
|Thick Neck||Thin Neck|
|Better for players with larger hands.||Better for beginners.|
|Less likely to cause hand cramping.||Easier for people with small hands.|
|Larger fretboard radius.||Preferred for faster playing.|
|More space between strings.||Contributes to a lighter guitar.|
Thick Guitar Necks
Thick guitar necks are generally wider and rounder than thin options. They offer a more substantial grip for the hand. They can vary in thickness from moderately chunky to almost that of a baseball bat in size!
Depending on the manufacturer and the guitar model, of course. Thick necks are generally heavier due to the extra mass. Depending on how thick it is, the guitar overall can be heavier. This does have the benefit of added sustain.
Thicker necks also have a rounder fretboard. The radius is not as flat, which can be great for barre and other chord shapes. Another characteristic is additional space between the strings due to the extra width.
For a person with any form of arthritis, this can make playing more comfortable. People with larger hands will enjoy a thicker neck when looking for a better grip.
Related: What is a guitar heel?
Advantages of Thick Necks
Thick guitar necks have many advantages. This does depend on the player’s preferences and style. Some of the advantages of thick guitar necks include:
- More stable feel. Thick necks offer a more substantial grip. It will feel more secure and stable in the hand. This can also prevent hand cramping.
- Better for players with larger hands. Players with larger hands or fingers may find it easier to play on a wider neck. The extra space between the strings also contributes.
- More sustain and tone. The additional mass in the neck can contribute to a fuller, more resonant tone. You may also experience more sustain.
Guitars with Thick Necks
There are more guitars with thick necks available than thin. The thicker neck was where it all started and is still preferred by many guitarists. Here are a couple of examples of guitars with thick necks.
Gibson Les Paul Tribute
The Gibson Les Paul Tribute has a neck that is like the vintage models. It’s thick and round and is easy to grip onto and hold. Anyone can play this guitar, but not everyone will find it comfortable.
Fender American Professional
The Fender American Pro is also a guitar made to be like a classic. The neck on this guitar is called a deep C. It’s a great neck but has a deeper profile that will fill your hand. This means it’s a thicker neck and is great for all kinds of play styles.
Thin Guitar Necks
Thin guitar necks are generally narrower and flatter than thick choices. They offer a faster playing experience and are great for anyone with small hands. This is because there is less material to deal with when fretting.
Because there is less material, thin necks also contribute to lighter guitars. They can make the instrument more balanced. This can help when playing for long shows and gigs. Thin necks also bring with them a tighter string spacing. This can be great for people with small hands. But also for technical playing.
This can be more comfortable for some, but isn’t for everyone. They can vary in thickness from moderate to very slim! It’s important to try them out and find the one that’s right for you!
Advantages of Thin Necks
Thin guitar necks also offer many advantages. Some players prefer them as a result. But again, they are not for everyone. It’s best to try them to see what you prefer. Here is what you can expect for advantages of thin guitar necks:
- Faster playing. The narrower neck can make it easier to move quickly across the fretboard. This is beneficial for players who perform fast, technical pieces or soloing.
- More comfortable for players with smaller hands. People with smaller hands may find it easier to play on a thinner neck.
- Easier to play with a lighter touch. The low weight and size of the neck can make it easier to play with a lighter touch. This is great for performing intricate fingerpicking patterns.
- Easier for beginners. Thinner necks are easier for new players who are just getting use to the instrument.
Guitars with Thin Necks
There are many guitars out there with thin necks. Most of them are designed to be used in the rock and metal genres of music. Here are a few necks that are considered thin designs.
The Ibanez line of guitars has always been considered more rock and metal. They are known for their thin necks, and players love them. The Prestige comes with a few different necks designs that are known as wizard. You will also find super wizard, which is another variation of the already thin neck.
The Jackson necks are also quite thin. They are not as thin as the Ibanez wizard necks, but are not considered thick either. The thing that sets them apart is that while they are thin, they are also wide. This gives them a different feel altogether, as the string spacing is also larger.
Schecter is also known for metal guitars. They, too, have an ultra-thin C neck shape that is very fast. The KM-6 is a signature model of Keith Merrow.
Choosing Between Thick and Thin Guitar Necks
Choosing between thick and thin guitar necks doesn’t have to be difficult! It ultimately comes down to personal preference and playing style. Here are some factors to consider when deciding which type of neck is right for you.
|Comfort||How does the neck feel in your hand?|
|Play Style||Do you need a light touch for speed?|
|Hand Size||Consider the size of your hands and fingers.|
|Ailments||Do you have arthritis or any other ailments that affect playing?|
The main considerations are comfort and play style. This can only come by trying out different necks. You will notice pretty quickly if a neck thickness is right for you or not. For a long time, I preferred thin necks.
But over the years of playing, I realized that thick necks also have some good advantages. Maybe you also may like certain neck thicknesses for different techniques or music styles. These are normally things that take time to develop.
But if you are new, it’s best to start with a thinner neck. It doesn’t have to be ultra slim. Just don’t choose a baseball bat thick neck! Unless, of course, you have some very large hands.
Does Neck Thickness Affect Tone?
So now you may be wondering if there is a difference in sound between thick and thin necks. There is a debate between this, and some players say the difference is huge. One would assume that more mass would have an effect on the sound.
The tone of a guitar is affected by its thickness, yes! But in reality, the variations are too minute to even be considered in a comparison of the two. A thicker neck does have a small impact on sound. If you listen closely, you will notice a slight increase in low frequencies. But this is practically impossible to tell because it’s so small.
Personally, I find that the differences are too small to recognize. Even the sustain increase in a thicker neck depend on so many other factors. You can’t include this when considering a neck thickness. Instead, when choosing a neck, you should focus on feel and comfort. Does the playability work with your style?
Which guitar has the thinnest neck?
There are many very thin necks, so this is hard to say. Some players claim that Steve Vai’s Signature EVO has the thinnest neck out there. And while this might be true, just remember that the thinner they are, the smaller the string spacing. This isn’t good for all players.
Can a guitar neck be too thin?
From a mechanical standpoint, a neck can be too thin, yes. As material is removed, the ability for it to resist the string tension lowers. This means that the neck is easier to bend, which can be bad for tuning stability. So if you have a very thin neck and are experiencing tuning issues, this might be why.
Are thicker necks more stable?
Thicker necks are more stable because of the extra wood alone. They can handle changes in humidity and temperature much better than thin ones. But all necks have a truss rod which provides them with stability. Even thin necks have a good level of stability. But environmental changes will affect them more, in which they could warp.