Guitar Neck Width Guide – What Acoustic Guitar Neck Widths are There?

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acoustic guitar neck widths

There are a variety of acoustic guitar neck widths. And each have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Finding the right acoustic guitar to match your hands and playing style is vital to playing comfortably and progressing on the instrument. With so many options for guitar neck widths available, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. This guide breaks down the common acoustic guitar neck widths, examining how fingerboard width impacts playability. You’ll learn how to determine the correct acoustic guitar neck width for your needs based on your hand size, guitar body size, playing style, and musical genre. Equipped with this knowledge, you can confidently select a guitar to maximize comfort, playability, and musical enjoyment.

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

Types of Guitar Necks

Guitar necks come in various shapes and sizes depending on the type of guitar and playing style it’s designed for. The width and thickness of the neck significantly impact playability, so it’s essential to understand the different options.

Classical Guitar Necks

Classical guitar necks tend to be wide and thick to accommodate the nylon strings and advanced fingerstyle techniques used in classical repertoire. The neck width at the nut averages around 2 inches, providing ample room between the strings for complex chords and fast scale runs.

Many classical guitar necks have a flat profile with little contouring. This allows the thumb of the fretting hand to easily reach over the top of the neck for fretting bass notes. High-end makers like Ramirez and Alhambra craft necks with a subtle “C” shape for ergonomic comfort during long practice sessions.

Acoustic Guitar Necks

Acoustic guitar necks vary in width and thickness since they accommodate both aggressive strumming and intricate fingerpicking. Budget models often have narrow 1 3/4″ nut widths, while premium brands range from 1 7/8″ to over 2″.

The neck profile is also more contoured for comfort, usually with a soft “V” or “U” shape. This allows the thumb to grip from behind while the fingers press down from above.

Electric Guitar Necks

Electric guitar necks prioritize fast, comfortable playability for demanding lead guitar work. The nut width averages between 1 1/2″ to 1 3/4″ with a thin, shallow profile optimal for chording, string bending, and lightning quick runs up the fretboard.

The width between strings, thickness front to back, overall length, and carving of the neck are all factors that contribute to playability and musical performance. While narrow necks offer ease of playing, wider necks provide more room for advanced techniques. Testing different neck profiles is recommended when finding a guitar tailored specially for your hands.

How and Where to Measure the Guitar Neck Width

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 refers 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.

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.

Tools Needed

  • Measuring guitar neck width starts with having the right tools on hand, including:
  • Ruler or calipers, preferably with measurements in millimeters
  • Pencil and paper to note measurements
  • Light source like a flashlight to see the nut and fretboard clearly

Many luthiers use specialized string action rulers with notches carved out to avoid obstructing the strings. For hobby players, any basic ruler with millimeter markings can work fine. Digital calipers also provide precision down to 0.1 mm.

Step-by-Step Process

With tools in hand, measuring guitar neck width follows this process:

  • Tune the guitar to standard tuning and capo 1st fret to avoid obstruction.
  • Place ruler or caliper perpendicular to neck, lining up precisely across nut covering 1st to 6th strings.
  • Note measurement in mm and write it down for future reference.
  • Move the ruler or caliper to the 12th fret and measure the width again, noting the figure.
  • Measure the width of the neck heel by angling calipers to the body joint.

Comparing these three specs indicates how much and where the neck profile tapers. The measurements also help luthiers adjust neck relief, and buyers choose ideal fingerboard spacing.

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.

WidthStyle
1.68 inches – 1.75 inchesStandard steel-string acoustics.
1.81 inches – 1.87 inchesFinger-style acoustic guitars.
2 inchesClassical 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.

guitar neck width

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.

Choosing the Right Neck Width

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.

guitar neck width

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.

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

FAQs

What is the standard guitar neck width?

The most common or the standard neck width on acoustic guitars is 44mm (1.73″, more commonly referred to as 1″).

Are wide neck guitars easier to play?

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.

Is a wider guitar neck better?

It depends on your needs. If you have bigger fingers, a wider guitar neck might help you play chords easier.

What is the width of a 12 string guitar neck?

A 47mm (1 7/8″) neck width is common on 12 string acoustic guitars.

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 :-)

14 comments

    1. Hi Roy

      Thanks for your message. I’m not that familiar with classical guitars. I mostly play and demo acoustic (steel string) guitars. So I won’t be much help with recommending a classical guitar for you, unfortunately.

  1. So who makes these very wide neck guitars? I have a Yamaha classical nylon string and that is wide enough but I looking for a steel string jumbo acoustic

  2. Well done and thanks for the info re neck sizes. I have very thick fingers and i am just starting to learn on an acoustic guitar given to me by a friend but i am struggling with the size of the neck which i am presuming is narrow, Your guide is very helpful and will assist when upgrading to the correct size, (once my fingertips return!!)

    Thanks again
    Regards
    Craig

    1. Hi Craig

      Thanks for your message. A bit of extra neck width, which means wider string spacing can definitely be helpful for thick fingers.

      Your fingertips will come back! – once you get those callouses well and truly set in, you’ll be set.

  3. I have small fingers, I want the thinnest neck depth on 0 size guitar. Which one is best? I tried the Martin 0X2MAE but I feel the neck is a little fatter than the GS Minin though I like the tone of the OX2MAE. Secondly, on 00 size Martins, which one has the thinnest neck? Thanks

    1. Hi Bong

      The thinnest neck depth for Martin is the low oval – you can see more on their neck profiles here – https://www.martinguitar.com/custom-shop/neck-shape-spacing/

      The OX2MAE has the Performing Artist neck.

      It seems there aren’t many models currently with the low oval neck though. The Modified Low Oval and the Performing Artist seem to be the next narrowest depths.

      As far as 0 models go, the 0-18 features a modified low oval and the OX2MAE features a Performing Artist neck profile:

      For 00, the following feature a modified low oval:

      00-18
      00-28
      00-15E Retro
      00-15M
      00-17S
      00-17SE
      00L-17
      00L-17E
      SS-00l41-16

      And 00s with a Performing Artist:

      00X1AE
      00LX1AE

      But the 0X2MAE also has a 1 3/4″ nut width, whereas the Taylor GS Mini has a 1 11/16″ nut width – so the nut width is narrower – so that might have something to do with the feel as well.

      Hope this helps

  4. Very nice website,
    I am looking for full size Acoustic Electric, wide neck guitar, steel strings, I am in Toronto and looking for the best price , where I can find please help… Thanks…

    1. Hi Qamar

      I would look at Seagull guitars – they tend to have a lot of wider neck options and are typically well priced.

      Hope this helps

  5. Seagull guitars ? wider neck yeah but they’re thin diameter wise and if you like a chunky neck you’ll be disappointed. I have been using a 1970s EROS with a 47mm neck which is as chunky as a baseball bat for years; great for finger picking. Why they no longer make reasonable priced guitars like that is a mystery; I have just invested in Larrivee d 60 sbt (47.627mm) neck; cost me a mouth watering ?3.700.

  6. My view is that the classical guitar nut width is as wide as it is has little to do with nylon strings which only came in in the 1940s. The space is needed for both right and left hands is because the music is largely polyphonic – multi-voiced – and often contains complex arpeggios. All the music is so-called finger-style. Picks aren’t used. To appreciate classical guitar dimensions you have to go back to double-strung instruments like lutes, vihuela and baroque guitars all of which were strung with gut. You don’t need the closeness on the nut and saddle for tight chordal patterns as you find in (solo) jazz guitar, say.

  7. I am a 5’2″ woman with small hands and short fingers. I am trying to find a small guitar with a thinner neck but don’t want to pay a whole lot. I am just learning and I’m uncoordinated so don’t know if I will be able to pick it up or not. Therefore, I don’t want to spend a whole lot just yet. Thanks.

  8. Hi, thanks for the info, not much on this subject around.

    I am learning on a borrowed 44mm dreadnought. I do have large hands (large pads from decades of typing). The best example is I cannot form an A chord, there just isn’t the room. Not even if I switch the fingers around. It is a physical limitation.

    Harley Benton offer a 45mm and even a 48mm (especially for large hands).

    Any thoughts? I did learn classical guitar 10 years ago, the wider width doesn’t ‘frighten’ me. I do like strumming though 😉

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