Acoustic Guitar Necks: Your Guide to Neck Sizes and Shapes

Updated July 11th, 2023 . 

Published Categorized as Buying Guides, Guitar selection

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acoustic guitar neck sizes

Acoustic guitars come in all different sizes and shapes – and the necks are no exception. Different acoustic guitar neck sizes and shapes affect the feel of how the guitar is played.

Neck sizes and shapes are more of a playability concern than a tonal one.

These days there are a number of different neck sizes and shapes.

Table of Contents

Neck Size

When I talk about the size of an acoustic guitar neck I am mostly referring to the width of the flat part of the neck. But the shape of the neck also contributes to the overall size of the neck.

Neck Widths

The width of the flat part of the neck of an acoustic guitar varies. Different widths are good for different things.

For example a wider neck makes fingerpicking easier. A narrower neck makes it easier for players with smaller hands and also easier to play certain chords.

The width of the neck – or we could talk about the width of the fingerboard (same measurement) – will be different at the nut end than it is towards the body of the guitar. The width tapers in from the body towards the nut.

The spec that you will most often see when looking at the width is the nut width”. The nut width refers to the width of the fingerboard where the nut is.

Different Neck Widths for Acoustic Guitars

For acoustic guitars nut widths tend to fit somewhere in between the 41mm (1.6″) and 47mm (1.85″) mark. Wider necks around the 45 – 47mm mark are usually seen on 12 String Guitars and Gypsy Jazz guitars.

Most six string acoustic guitars have a width of either 43mm (1.69″ or 1 11/16″) or 44mm (1.75″). These are the most common widths.

Classical guitars tend to have neck widths more around the 2″ (51mm) mark.

>>More details about neck widths here

Acoustic Guitar Neck Shape

As well as the width of the flat part of the neck, the shape of the back of the neck (the rounded part) also differs. This is often referred to as the profile of the neck.

There are some guitars with quite round and wide shapes and others that are more low-profile. The overall size of the neck will depend on both the neck width (as discussed above) and the shape.

The neck depth (aka height of the neck) also tapers like the width does. it’s higher (thicker) towards the body end of the guitar and tapers towards the headstock.

The following are some of the most common neck shapes from two of the bigger acoustic guitar manufacturers. Most guitar neck shapes will be similar to these shapes.

Martin Neck Shapes

All heights here don’t include the thickness of the fingerboard.

Low Oval: This neck shape has a bit of an oval shape to it. it’s also a low profile neck – as the name would suggest.

  • Height at nut end: .580″ (14.7mm)
  • Height at 10th fret: .667″ (16.9mm)

Modified Low Oval: This is virtually the same in terms of the neck but the difference is that the fingerboard has a different curve in it.

  • Height at nut end: .580″ (14.7mm)
  • Height at 10th fret: .667″ (16.9mm)

Modified V: This has a subtle V shape in it. it’s not as low profile as the oval shapes.

  • Height at nut end: .630″ (16mm)
  • Height at 10th fret: .757″ (19.2mm)

Classic: The classic shape is a rounder shape. It is also the thickest of the necks as you go down. Also because of the round shape there is more material in this neck. If you check out the link below you can learn about height 2. The second height is essentially taken from 0.5″ to the left and right of the center of the neck. The height 2?s for the classic are higher than that of the Modified V.

  • Height at nut end: .622″ (15.8mm)
  • Height at 10th fret: .780″ (19.8mm)

Low Profile: The Low Profile neck has a shape similar to the classic shape but not quite as rounded and, as the name suggests not as thick. It is thicker at the 1st fret than the low oval but it’s the thinnest of the necks at the 10th fret (apart from the performing artist). It doesn’t taper as much as the others but tapers more than the Performing Artist.

  • Height at nut end: .596′ (15.1mm)
  • Height at 10th fret: .646″ (16.4mm)

Performing Artist: The performing artist neck has very little taper from 1st fret to 10th fret. That is to say that the height of the neck doesn’t change much compared to the other neck types. The shape is part way between the Low Profile and the Low Oval. The Performing Artist shape also has the fingerboard “shaping into the curve” like the Modified Low Oval.

  • Height at nut end: .602″ (15.3mm)
  • Height at 10th fret: .640″ (16.3mm)

Full Thickness: This neck shape is a very rounded shape making this the bulkiest of the necks in this list. It has the tallest height at the nut but it doesn’t taper out as much as the classic shape.

  • Height at nut end: .650″ (16.5mm)
  • Height at 10th fret: .766″ (19.5mm)

>>You can see more about Martin’s shapes and widths here

guitar necks of acoustic guitars

Taylor Neck Shapes

Taylor’s neck heights here include the fingerboard so it’s hard to make comparisons. Martin Fingerboards are usually 0.22″ (5.7mm) thick so you could work it out from that.

Standard: There isn’t much taper going on in this neck. There’s less than 1mm between the thickness at the 1st fret and the thickness at the 9th fret.

  • Height at nut end: .840″ (21.3mm)
  • Height at 9th fret: .868″ (22.1mm)

Note also that Taylor are measuring at the 9th fret and Martin measure at the 10th fret.

Slim: The slim neck is the slimmer version of the standard. Notice again how there’s less taper compared to Martin’s necks.

  • Height at nut end: .790″ (20.1mm)
  • Height at 9th fret: .831″ (21.1mm)

V: Again notice the only very subtle taper. In terms of shape it is more of a V shape than the standard and slim necks, as the name would suggest.

  • Height at nut end: .835″ (21.2mm)
  • Height at 9th fret: .867″ (22.0mm)

Thanks for Reading

I hope you now know more about acoustic guitar neck sizes and shapes.

The best way to learn which widths and profiles you prefer the most is to try them out for yourself. But, generally speaking a wider width will better for fingerstyle and a slimmer profile and a narrower width will be better for players with smaller hands and probably nicer if you are mostly strumming/playing chords.

Acoustic Guitar Necks FAQs

What are the different types of acoustic guitar necks?

Some common types of acoustic guitar necks are C-shaped necks, V-shaped necks, U-shaped necks, D-shaped necks, and a slim or thick neck profile.

What is the difference between C and U shape necks?

C-shaped necks have a rounded profile that resembles the letter “C” when viewed from the side.
They are often considered more comfortable and ergonomic for most players. The rounded profile allows for a natural grip and tends to fit well in the palm of the hand. C-shaped necks provide a balanced feel, accommodating a wide range of playing styles. They are commonly found on many modern acoustic guitars.

U-shaped necks have a chunkier and more pronounced profile that resembles the letter “U” when viewed from the side. They tend to offer a thicker grip and fill the hand more compared to C-shaped necks. U-shaped necks are often associated with vintage-style guitars. The chunkier profile of U-shaped necks can be beneficial for players who prefer a more substantial grip or have larger hands.
Some players find U-shaped necks provide more support and stability for fingerpicking and chord playing.

What guitar neck shape is best for me?

The choice of acoustic guitar neck comes down to personal preference and what feels most comfortable to you as a player.

By Nate Pallesen

Nate is just your average (above average) guitar player. He's no Joe Satriani, Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page - wait this site is about acoustic guitars (sorry) He's no Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, or Michael Hedges, wait? who!? He's no Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton or Ben Harper - more familiar? Anyway you get the point :-)

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