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.
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.
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 ¾ inches).
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 ¾”) and 43mm (1 11/16”).
47mm (1 7/8”) acoustics are also available – more common than 41-42mm but less common than the others.
You can see a great infographic of the different sizes at the link below.
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.
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 ¾”) 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 ¾”) 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.
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 at the link below for an example of some of the different styles you can get.
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?