Guitar Neck Design, Shape, Angle & Adjustment
Guitar neck is an important part of guitar and bass. Actually, it plays a massive role in playability and determines how comfortable the guitar is when playing.
When design a guitar neck, there are key factors that no luthier or factory can ingnore. Shape, angle and adjustment. Therfore, we try to explain more specifically in this article.
However, since necks of acoustic gutiar and bass are not so complicated, thus, this article may be more helpful for building of electrical instruments.
Back Shape of Guitar Neck Explained
Guitar neck shape refers to the shape of the back of guitar neck.
As you may have noticed, the shape of gutiar necks is vary from one to another. And in nowadays, we can be sure the innovation of design of the shape is till on goning. So, we just want to introduce the most commonly seen shapes.
We’d like you to check the following picture (Pic.1) about the shapes firstly.
Generally, C-shape neck is the most commonly seen one. So, we take C-shape as a reference which is shown as dotted line. This may be easier for you to compare between each other.
C & Fat-C Sahpe
As you can see, C-shape has a smooth curve. C-shape cpmbines some advantages like lighter weight, thin but has enough girth to provide comfortable support for the player’s thumb, etc. And since most of guitarists feel comfortable playing with C-shape neck, this is the most common design taken by guitar factories.
Fat-C is a kind of variation of C-shape neck. The two shapes are similar, but Fat-C has a bigger depth of gutiar neck.
Another popular shape is D-shape. Normally, it is considered as flat version of C-shape. Some call it “modern-C”. Compare with C-shape, it contains smaller neck depth. Thus, it is easier to reach over the fretboard to play fast. So, this type of guitar necks are also called “fast guitar necks”.
U-shape is thicker and feel like a baseball bat due to the rounded shape. Because of the chunky structure of this shape, it is more popular among rock players. Because the players like to grip strongly when bashing chords.
The main difference between U-shape and C-shape is the depth. Therefore, it is usually called “thick version of C”.
V-shape is relatively rare than those mentioned above. Because some feel it is comfortable to play with V-shape necks because they can rest their thumbs on the flat surface. But others may have a different opinion.
Conclusion & Some Thoughts
The profile of guitar necks reflects the evolution of the instrument and the quest for enhanced playability.
Types like Sharp-V and other shapes you’ve seen in above picture is somewhat too extreme. Thus, can rarely be found recently. However, you may choose accroding to your client’s requirement.
What is Guitar Neck Depth
Since we have introduced guitar neck back shapes, we have to introduce guitar neck depth specifically for a better understanind.
Guitar neck depth referes to the thickness of the neck measured cross-section. When design and build a gutiar neck, one common mistake made by beginers is to make the neck too thin mainly for a “faster” instrument. Why “thin” is not always good?
- It may make player’s finger to reach fretboard easier, but it may increase fatigue of the playing hand, too.
- It may be lack of supporting of the thumb, thus affects the playing fingers.
- It is easier to twist and break.
- The thiner the neck, the more difficult to keep straight.
So, what is the minimum thickness of the neck? Theoretically, this is determined by the depth of truss rod pocket. As we all know, thicker necks are regaining popularity, it is better to study player’s preference before bulding.
Guitar Neck Angle - Relation Between Neck And Top
Guitar neck angle is not as simple as what in your mind.
The angle refers to the relation to the body. It determines the function of the top and the bridge hardware that you have chosen. Thus, the angle determines the playability of the instrument.
We’d like to invite you to pay attention on Pic.3 before we are moving on.
Please keep in mind that “flat” is still an angle.
A: This is known as “Fender way”. Because the top is flat, so non-angled neck and bridges can be used. Pickups can be mounted directly in the body or pickguard, or on short pickup rings.
B: Basically, this design is lack of parallelism between the neck and the top. Besides, we can see that the space between strings and pickups is too big. And we don’t think the bridges will work as well.
C: A curved top connected with none-angled neck? Well, we hope you a good luck to find a suitable bridge and pickup mounting hardware. Additionally, we can’t help to notice that the small space between strings and top of pickups. We don’t think this works, too.
D: This is commonly seen on LP guitars. An angled neck fits an archtop better. But need to use bridges for archtops and the pickups should be mounted on high rings.
E: A negative neck angle? You should avoid this design completely.
Truss Rod For Gutiar Neck Adjustment
Although many say truss rods affects tone performance of guitars, they are essential for electrical instruments.
We have talked a lot about the truss rods on this site. So, we’d like to focus on the adjustment of the rods to give you an angle to choose right one for your own.
Therefore, let’s move on to single way adjustment firstly. Generally, we recommend to use single way truss rod for prefectly straight neck. But remember the shortcoming of this type is that they cannot correct an already back bowed neck. Another disadvantage is the channel of the rod must follow a curve, which is harder to route.
Pic.4 shows the placement and Pic.5 shows the action of adjusting.
Compare with single way truss rod, the adjustment of two-way type is somewaht flexible.
Pic.6 shows the placement and Pic.7 shows the way of action.