Understanding the different types of wood used for making guitars is important because it influences the feel, tone and sound of your instrument. But one area that is often missed is the guitar neck. There are a total of 4 guitar neck shapes and they come in various types of tonewoods such as Mahogany, Rosewood, and Koa. Let’s check out these different neck shapes and why you should know them as a fledging guitarist.
Guitar tonewoods and fretboard
The guitar neck is the piece of long wood connecting the headstock and the body. It sits under the fretboard. The wood of the guitar neck is not always the same as the fretboard. The wood of the fretboard is sometimes glued to the guitar neck. Sometimes, the same wood material is used.
The guitar’s tonewood and material used for the fretboard has a big influence on its tone and aesthetics. Together with the neck shape, it defines the guitar’s playability and the sound produced from it. For instance, different tonewoods determine whether the sound is warm or bright.
The most common guitar necks
Most people can easily recognise the different shapes of a guitar and tonewood used. However, not many beginners notice the differences in neck shapes. A guitar’s neck shape, also known as the “neck profile” is the back of a guitar’s neck when viewed sectionally.
The guitar neck shape does not affect the way the instrument sounds. But it determines the way guitarists play the instrument. The playability of a guitar conditions the outcome of the sounds and contributes to the feel a guitarist has for his or her instrument.
The 4 guitar neck shapes
Some guitar neck shapes are chunky while others are slim. There are 4 common guitar neck shapes: “U”, “V”, “D”, and “C”. Let’s go through each of these guitar neck shapes and how they are likely to affect the way you play.
“U” shaped neck is different from the “C” and “D” shapes as it is deeper, and is suitable for guitarists who like to have a strong grip when playing chords. This is especially true for rock guitarists who like to bash on the chords. “U” shaped necks are unsuitable for those with small hands.
“V” shaped necks do not have a smooth curve compared to the others and come with straighter edges. The bottom of the “V” shape can either be a rounded or a ‘hard’ curve. Guitarists who enjoy resting their thumbs on a flatter surface would usually prefer a more curved guitar neck like the “V” shape.
The “D” shaped neck is similar to the “C” shaped neck except it has a more flattened curve. “D” shape necks are also thinner and allow the guitarist to reach over the fretboard more easily to play fast chords.
If you are looking for a smooth curve all the way around the back of the neck, a “C” shape neck would suit you. Most modern guitars use the “D” and “C” shaped necks. “C” shaped necks are not as chunky as the “U” shaped necks even though they can vary in thickness.
Most guitarists are comfortable playing with “C” shaped guitar necks. But everyone is different and has a unique style of holding and playing the guitar. In order to find out which guitar neck is more suitable for you, it is recommended that you try it out first at a shop before purchasing your guitar.