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There are a variety of acoustic guitar neck widths. And each have their own advantages and disadvantages.
First of all let’s take a look at what a neck width actually is and then we’ll take a look at the common widths and the pros and cons of each.
Table of Contents
- Where Is Neck Width Measured?
- How Wide Should a Guitar Neck Be?
- The Most Common Nut Widths on Acoustic Guitars
- Necks on Classical Guitars
- The Best Uses
- Who are Each Width Most Suited to?
- Neck Depth and Shape
- Why Do Guitar Necks Get Wider?
- Why Are Classical Guitar Necks So Wide?
- What is the Nut Width of a Wide Neck Guitar?
- What Is Standard Guitar Nut Width?
- Thanks for Reading
Where Is Neck Width Measured?
When we talk about a guitar’s neck width we are talking about the width at the nut of the guitar. This is where the width is generally measured.
So if you see the “nut width” or “neck width” in the specs of a guitar it is referring to the width across the fingerboard at the nut end of the guitar.
As you move towards the soundhole of the guitar, the neck becomes wider. So even if you have a nut width of 43mm say, it might be more like 53mm by the time you get to the 12th fret.
How Wide Should a Guitar Neck Be?
It depends on the type of guitar.
Here is a table that gives you a general overview of neck widths and the kind of guitars you’ll find them on. We’re calling it a general overview because each maker will have its own specific dimension.
|1.68 inches – 1.75 inches||Standard steel-string acoustics.|
|1.81 inches – 1.87 inches||Finger-style acoustic guitars.|
|2 inches||Classical guitars.|
The Most Common Nut Widths on Acoustic Guitars
Acoustic guitars typically have a nut width between 41mm (1.61″) and 47mm (1.85″).
The most common or the standard neck width on acoustic guitars is 44mm (1.73″ or more commonly referred to as 1″).
That said, 43mm (1 11/16″) is almost just as common and you will find plenty of options with this slightly slimmer neck.
41-42mm (1.61-1.65″) is far less common and you are more likely to find this kind of width on electric guitars but there are some acoustics with necks this slim.
45mm (1 13/16″) is the next most common after 44mm (1″) and 43mm (1 11/16″).
47mm (1 7/8″) acoustics are also available – more common than 41-42mm but less common than the others.
Necks on Classical Guitars
Classical guitar neck widths can also vary but the most common nut width for classical guitars is 51mm (2″) – this is to make it easier for playing fingerstyle and also because nylon treble strings are wider than steel treble strings – so the neck needs to be wider to house the wider strings.
And importantly this extra width is also needed due to the extra movement that takes place on a nylon string due to them being under less tension than steel strings.
Necks on 12 String Guitars
Naturally, 12 string guitars tend to also be wider because they have more string to fit in. A 47mm (1 7/8″) width is common on 12 string acoustic guitars.
The Best Uses
44mm (1″) and 43mm (1 11/16″) are the most common for good reason. These widths are a great balance that are good for strumming and fingerpicking.
45mm (1 13/16″) necks are usually found on guitars that are more setup towards fingerstyle but are still fine as strummers.
47mm (1 7/8″) guitars are best for fingerstyle and are often called wide neck acoustic guitars. Some nylon crossover guitars and gypsy jazz guitars also have this width.
Who are Each Width Most Suited to?
The 43mm (1 11/16″) width is the best choice for those with narrow fingers. It is usually the easiest width for kids, women and men with narrower fingers. That doesn’t mean that you can’t play a wider width – it will just be more difficult to get used to.
The 44mm (1″) width is the best for anyone with thicker fingers. If you have thicker fingers then you can still also play on the 43mm (1 11/16″) size but you might find it more difficult.
I find personally that either of these two sizes works fine for me but I would say I don?t have overly thick or overly narrow fingers.
Going with a wider width like 45mm (1 13/16″) is probably more a style choice but if you have very thick fingers then you could go with this.
Why Play a Wide Neck Guitar?
Wide neck guitars are, shockingly, guitars that have a wider neck. There is some evidence that the demand for wide necked guitars is increasing steadily. Many different guitar makers are bringing out their own wide neck ranges. These include Gibson, Ibanez, Zarley, and Jackson.
But why would you want a guitar with a wider neck?
Well, there are two main reasons.
Firstly, many people go for wide neck guitars because they create room for longer or larger fingers. If you’re struggling to fit your fingers into chords, then you might want to consider choosing a wide neck guitar.
The extra width allows for fatter or longer fingers. It can help you keep your fingers behind the fret bars and avoid the dreaded buzzing.
The other reason you might want to play a wide neck guitar, is if you’re more familiar or comfortable with classical guitars. A classical guitar has a width of 2 inches while a standard guitar has a 1.7-inch neck. A wide neck guitar pushes that width to 1.87 inches making it closer to the classical length.
Neck Depth and Shape
Another thing can differ on guitar necks is the depth and shape of the neck.
There a lot of options out there these days and you can have a neck with a flatter profile or a more rounded profile or a semi v-like shape.
You can check out some of the neck shapes that Martin have for an example of some of the different styles you can get.
Why Do Guitar Necks Get Wider?
If you’ve ever looked at an acoustic guitar, you’ll notice that the neck gets wider as it gets closer to the body. The reason for this is pretty simple.
Essentially, the neck gets wider because the string spacing gets wider. you’ll notice that the gap between the strings at the nut is much smaller than at the bridge.
This happens for two reasons.
Firstly, the further away from the nut the string is, the more it vibrates. This is because the strings are freer further away from the nut and the bridge.
Bigger vibrations require more space so that the strings don’t strike each other.
The second reason for the taper is to create room for picking. The extra space between the strings on the body of the guitar allows you to get your fingers or pick between the strings.
Why Are Classical Guitar Necks So Wide?
There are two major reasons for this.
Firstly, classical guitars use nylon strings instead of steel strings.
Nylon strings produce a softer, more mellow sound. They also vibrate a lot more than steel strings. This means that they need more space between them and so the neck is wider to accommodate the increased string spacing.
The second reason classical guitars have wider necks is because of the style of music that is played on them.
Classical guitar players tend to do a lot of fast-finger transitions. The added space on the neck allows them to press down hard on strings without accidentally hitting another string.
What is the Nut Width of a Wide Neck Guitar?
As the name suggests, wide neck guitars are wider than standard guitars. They are designed to give you more room to fit your fingers into chords. These kinds of guitars are ideal for people with longer or larger fingers.
Now many people wonder how wide is wide? Well, let’s take a look.
Standard acoustic guitars tend to have a nut width of about 1.72-inches while electric guitars tend to have a width of 1.7-inches.
Now, it’s important to remember that these sizes are a general guide. Each brand has its own standard. Fender guitars tend to have smaller necks than others, for example.
Wide neck guitars have a width of 1.87-inches. That extra inch and a half might not seem like a whole lot, but it does make a difference. It puts these guitars closer in width to classical guitars that tend to run to 2-inches.
Another question people tend to have about width is how the width is measured. We speak of guitar neck width as the “nut width”. This is because we measure it at the nut. The nut of the guitar is at the end of the neck just before the headstock.
The nut is usually made of plastic and has notches for the string to sit in. Its job is to ensure the strings remain spaced out. It also leads the strings down the neck and body of the guitar.
What Is Standard Guitar Nut Width?
Standard acoustic guitars tend to have a nut width of between 1.61 inches and 1.75 inches.
The most common nut width is about 1.73 inches. This is a comfortable width for most players and these guitars tend to be versatile. You can do some fingerpicking without getting tied up but they’re not overly wide.
Wide neck guitars have a nut width of between 1.8 inches and 1.85 inches. These are becoming increasingly popular and tend to be favored by people with longer or larger fingers.
What Guitar Has the Widest Nut?
Classical guitars have the widest nut of any six-string acoustic guitar. They tend to come in at 2 inches wide.
Even 12-string guitar nuts are shorter than classical guitars. 12-string nuts tend to be about 1.87 inches in width. Of course, the string spacing is significantly reduced on those guitars.
How Is Guitar Nut Width Measured?
Guitar nut widths are measured at the nut of the guitar.
The nut is a small, hard bar that sits right on the join of the neck and the headstock.
Typically, nuts tend to be made from plastic but they can also be made of ivory, bone, brass, or graphite.
The “width” of the nut is actually the length. That is it’s measured longways from one end to the other.
The nut width can be expressed as a decimal as in 1.75 inches. It can be described as a fraction as in 1″ inch. It may also be written in millimeters depending on location and manufacturer.
Thanks for Reading
I hope this post has given you more information on the neck width of acoustic guitars and that it will help in your decision as to which size you want to go with.
What size do you play? Did you think about it before buying or is it just what you ended up with? Do you notice the difference?
Check this out for a guide on acoustic guitar sizes.
The most common or the standard neck width on acoustic guitars is 44mm (1.73″, more commonly referred to as 1″).
If you’re struggling to fit your fingers into chords, then you might want to consider choosing a wide neck guitar. The extra width allows for fatter or longer fingers.
It depends on your needs. If you have bigger fingers, a wider guitar neck might help you play chords easier.
A 47mm (1 7/8″) neck width is common on 12 string acoustic guitars.