If you have often struggled to find a guitar neck that feels right for your fretting hand, then look no further than this handy and comprehensive guide to the thinnest guitar neck, along with three of the options you might consider in purchasing one of your own.
The Bottom Line
Most guitars that you are likely to come across out in the field are going to have necks formed of four basic shapes – C, V, D, and U – characters that go some way to representing the structural body of the neck. Thus, the thickest or thinnest guitar neck will be influenced by one of these shapes.
Some of the more opinionated and contentious guitarists in the room are likely to suggest that a thicker neck is inherently going to produce a ‘better’ tone or sound, whatever that means, and better sustain. These benefits should, however, be weighed properly against the comfort that they are going to properly offer you.
For it is vital at this early stage of scouting out a guitar for yourself that you attempt to find a guitar neck that feels comfortable to you. Using a neck that is too thick or indeed too thin can result in significant discomfort and subsequent joint pain later on. You will at present be sowing the seeds of pains that could plague you your whole life, and all for doing something you love.
It could even result in the infamous carpal tunnel syndrome, a muscular disability that can drastically affect your ability to play whatsoever. It really is not worth the added aggravation later on when you could, to begin with, choose a guitar neck that suits your playing style and hand movements. For though electric guitar necks tend to be thinner than those of electric guitars, those of the latter can still have a detrimental effect to one’s muscular and joint health if left unconsidered.
It is from acoustic guitars that these electric guitar necks are derived, so it is rather interesting that there can be such a discrepancy in the sizes, though this has surely has just as much to do with big corporations’ refusal to communicate with each other effectively as it does with the various language barriers that arise over spans of ocean.
Measuring the Thinnest Guitar Neck
The differences in the thicknesses of the necks of electric guitars and acoustic guitars can be attributed to a number of things, though many would suggest that it has most to do with the discrepancies between classical guitar fretboards and those of electric guitars, the former of which is much, much broader than the latter. The classical guitar fretboard is often measured at around two inches wide, whereas those of the American standard electric guitar at the nut are measured commonly around 1.6875 inches, and while these might seem like fractions of difference at this stage, they make all the difference when felt beneath your fingers.
There are, in fact, several key measurements that one must take in order to suss out the thinnest guitar neck and to compare the relative thickness of one guitar neck with another. The nut width, as mentioned above, is arguably the most common measurement to take, though there are others.
This nut width should be measured across the top of the fretboard at the bottom end of the neck where the nut and headstock are. Since this distance can determine the space between the strings and thus how much room your fingers have to move around freely, this is utterly crucial to a guitar’s playability.
The size of your hands in comparison to these measurements will be the deciding factor and relationship to the playability of the guitar, at least in regards to the fretting hand. For those with smaller hands, for example, a shorter scale length and thinner guitar neck might be just the ticket. However, for those with larger hands, you might want to consider the inverse.
The Thinnest Guitar Neck: 3 Options
So, now you are a little more clued up about what exactly makes a thin guitar neck a thing guitar neck, we can move duly on to a selection of thin guitar necks for your consideration. Try to find these in your local guitar store and take them for a spin!
Fender Kurt Cobain Jaguar
Though you are more often than not going to find the thinnest guitar neck on a guitar suited to metal, this pick might indeed surprise you, being a near perfect copy of the Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s own heavily modified Fender Jaguar.
Because of its incredibly thin 1.65 inch rosewood neck and medium jumbo frets, this is a perfect choice to the guitarist with smaller hands who is more inclined towards alternative genres that does not want to sacrifice any shred of tone in the process – the 9.5 inch fretboard radius certainly helps too!
This version of the Fender Jaguar comes with all of the added extras you have come to expect from such a legendary and road tested piece of Fender history, including the Adjust-O-Matic bridge and the lockable floating tremolo system.
- Perfectly suited for the guitarist with smaller hands, be they novice or otherwise
- Dual humbucker pickups of an exceptional build quality, for humungous tones that can conquer just about anything you throw at them
- Solid alder wood body, crafted with love and care
- Stylish look with a classic sensibility with which to turn all heads
- Comes with a hard case
- On the far pricier side of the thinnest guitar neck’s out there
Jackson Dinky JS22 DKA
On the far more affordable side of the search for the best thinnest guitar neck for you comes this offering from Californian guitar makers Jackson. Though much of their existence as guitar manufacturers has been in strict imitation of eastern brands like Ibanez, they are certainly good at it, and in fact offer a far more affordable way for the more financially strapped consumers to purchase these striking and metallic guitar shapes.
Despite such a low price point, there is little to suggest it when considering the actual corporeal qualities of the guitar in question; with solid construction, performance, and tonal capabilities at all times, you will rarely be considering the price of the vessel when it can consistently perform so good.
The neck itself is constructed from a single piece of solid maple wood, its fret width coming in at a petite 1.6875 inches, an industry standard within the realm of the thinnest guitar neck. The subsequent 12 to 16 inch compound radius means that this guitar is perfectly suited to the metal and thrash guitar with small hands still looking to tear their foes limb from limb.
Even the finish is metallic, surely a sign that this guitar can shred as good as the best of them!
- Small nut width, which is perfectly suited to the metal and thrash guitarist with smaller hands and a big ego
- Thus, it is generally easier to play, though this will not be the case for everyone who picks it up and gives it a go
- High gain and high output pickups are perfect for shredding and sustaining chords, the latter of which is accentuated by the solid, 1 piece maple neck.
- Classic Stratocaster shape with the classic metal subversion made so famous by brands like Ibanez
- Ridiculously affordable, for the more financially strapped
- This might not be the best instrument for the more experienced guitarist, especially those looking for an instrument to take on the road
Epiphone SG Special
Epiphone have long been known to produce guitars that are more suitable for guitarist’s looking to noodle and shred and to be utterly comfortable while doing it. This is a tradition that likely springs from one of their progenitors and collaborators, the virtuosic and wickedly talented Les Paul, who the now world famous eponymous guitar was designed for and named after.
This is certainly not the thinnest guitar neck, but strikes a strong middle ground between being a thin guitar neck but also being thick enough to encourage the beefiness of tone that thicker guitar necks are so famous for.
In classic Epiphone fashion, the guitar has 22 frets alongside a shorter scale length, for a lower and more comfortable action on the guitar overall, not to mention a flatter fretboard radius of 1.695 inches, making this a perfect choice for those with stubby fingers and / or otherwise smaller hands than average.
- SlimTaper neck makes playing fast and comfortable without a shred of a doubt
- The design is light and sleek, meaning that it can be performed with and carried just about everywhere, perfect for the performer who likes to move around an awful lot
- Strikes a strong tonal balance between bright and warm tones that you are not as likely to find elsewhere on the guitar market
- Overall sports a vintage sound with modern features that make it more comfortable to play, perfect for imitating 1960s era rock and roll without all the added discomforts previously considered so inevitable
- Seeing as it is equipped with humbuckers, this is clearly not a guitar for someone uninterested in these tones or this aesthetic
So, there you have it! Hopefully you are somewhat the wiser on how to navigate the weird and wonderful world of neck widths and fretboard radiuses and are not better equipped to make a purchase of your own, informed as you are of the appropriate terminology and jargon!
FAQs Thinnest Guitar Neck
This will largely be rather subjective, as it is hard to quantify and then triangulate a lot of the different measurements and characteristics that many take into account when assessing the thinness of a guitar neck, or specifically how thin this neck feels to them. Since we are all approaching such a query from a different place, with different sized hands as well, then each guitar neck is going to feel different to each and every one of us. No matter how much we might try to objectify the situation and look at the hard data, a guitar neck’s thinness or thickness will still feel different to each one of us.
Many would suggest so, though this is not necessarily the case. It is best in the first steps of purchasing your own instruments to purchase one that is best for you, that suits your various needs and comforts, and not just a guitar that is either aesthetically pleasing or pleasing to people other than yourself. The right guitar and guitar neck will feel right and comfortable to play, regardless of your abilities or skill level.
There is no one guitar neck that is better for those with smaller hands, though it certainly makes practical sense that a thinner guitar neck would be better suited to those with smaller hands than a thicker guitar neck. A more thin guitar neck shape, such as the C shape for example, would probably be best for those with smaller hands, though most of the different neck shapes come in all sorts of sizes, and those other shapes might be better suited to one’s playing style and gait.
Indeed they do! This discrepancy is most obvious between acoustic guitars and electric guitars, though can be found to be rife among just about every guitar neck you are likely to come across to a greater or lesser extent. Different eras were fond of different guitar neck shapes and sizes, and this has found its way into the present day, with various guitar companies seeking to imitate and learn new things from these decisions from years of yore. Choosing the right size and shape of neck for you is vital to your development as a guitarist without future physiological agonies.