I have a guitar here and noticed the neck inclines ever so slightly off the body:

enter image description here

None of my other guitars seem to do this: their necks run parallel with the guitar body. You can see in the image, thanks to the fretboard being a different shade of brown, that there's an angle. Shouldn't the "angle" be zero?

I just wonder if this is a defect and if so, whether it's fixable with a setup.

  • 2
    The neck may not incline off the body, the body may be sanded down to dip back.
    – user50691
    Jun 5, 2020 at 20:03

3 Answers 3


It may look funny, but this is not an indication of a bad setup. Necks may be shimmed or set at a slight angle to achieve the proper action.

Check if you have buzzing on any fret and if the action is appropriate. If it plays well, then it's fine. If there are problems with action or intonation or buzzing then you'll need a setup, but not just for the neck angle.

Should a guitar's neck be parallel to the body or at an incline/decline?

It all depends on what's needed to achieve the desired action. If you're trying to get the action lower and the saddles are already at their lowest position, then the neck may need a back angle. If the strings are fretting out and the saddles are already at their highest position, then the neck may need a forward angle. Or if the neck is very flat and the truss rod won't allow for relief, that's another case that may require a forward angle.

  • Interesting, I had no idea. The action at the 1st fret is very low (I'd say on the cusp of being too low) but the action at the 12th (and 24th) is relatively high. If it was shimmed as part of a factory setup to get the action lower, I would assume removing the shim would raise the action at 1st, lower it at 12th and 24th. I'll still have to get it setup (a new guitar always deserves one). For now, the guitar plays fairly well (besides it feeling a little low as you get closer to the nut), but there's no deadspots or anything.
    – gator
    Jun 6, 2020 at 14:58

I agree with the answer given by luser droog and would add that you are assuming that the top of the body is perfectly plane in two directions and it may not be. At the end of the day on a solid body electric the body is just a platform for the neck, bridge, and electronics. You can float the bridge (as with a 2 piece tune-o-matic on a Gibson) and as long as the plane of the fret board can be brought into alignment with the bridge, all is good. In fact the fret board doesn't even have to be a plane, e.g. look at the scalloped job on Yngwie's ax. The frets need to be properly level. It might seem ugly and if you paid top dollar for a brand name guitar this is the kind of thing that makes you shake your head but it is not an indication of a serious problem.


I would guess that, with this sort of guitar, the Fender-style bolt-on, you will have problems getting the action low enough. The height of the saddle itself will hinder your efforts. This was certainly true of my 1988 MIJ Telecaster.

(Les Pauls have an incline, but generally the other direction, so that the strings are further from the body at the bridge than when they left the neck.)

I decided to shim the neck: I cut a business card into appropriate shape, placed it into the back of the neck pocket, and screwed the neck back on. There are some that would say, with the business card being paper and thus soft, I've lost sustain and tone, but I'm happy with it. You can buy maple shims from places like StewMac, or bring it in to your local luthier for this work.

By changing the neck angle, it raised where the saddles would be for the same action, allowing me to get the action to where I needed it. This could be a thing your luthier takes care of in a setup, but if you don't notice a problem with your hands, you shouldn't stress.

  • 1
    So you didn't actually change the angle at all. You raised the whole height of the neck. (Your last para.)
    – Tim
    Jun 6, 2020 at 5:36
  • 1
    The card wasn't the size of the whole pocket, so it did change the neck angle. Jun 6, 2020 at 12:01
  • You'll be surprised at how a SMALL amount of change in the neck pocket translates to a LARGE effect at the bridge. I know I was! Jun 9, 2020 at 18:15
  • I wouldn't! I've done it several times to change the angle. It's just that your original wording made me question what went on.
    – Tim
    Jun 9, 2020 at 18:46
  • (second response was in general, not to Tim) Yeah, I can see I was unclear. Jun 9, 2020 at 19:32

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