How to know what shape of a guitar neck should fit your hand?

I've heard that there are four kind of shapes:

  • C-shape
  • V-shape
  • U-shape
  • D-shape
  • 1
    Also D-shape. This is all very much personal preference. This is one of the reasons why I do not like buying guitars over the internet. You need to be able to try a guitar out with your own hands before you buy. – Neil Meyer Dec 12 '16 at 9:36
  • @NeilMeyer Unfortunately you never know what shape the guitar neck is when you play it in a shop. Or maybe you can? – SovereignSun Dec 12 '16 at 9:38
  • Even when the neck has been given a label, (figuretively) it won't mean every other one with the same label will feel the same. And there's soft and hard Vs - and probably everything in between. It's somewhat academic. – Tim Dec 12 '16 at 9:58
  • Those are just fender style profiles. See this: img.xooimage.com/files66/0/b/7/radius-copie-2a9ad27.jpg Note that even though it can help to know you generally prefer a certain profile, not all necks that are described as a certain profile actually have the same shape. Even the same profile from the same manufacturer can vary. The only way to really know how a guitar feels is to hold it. – Todd Wilcox Dec 12 '16 at 13:22
  • @ToddWilcox Great link. I've never seen the Hard (V). – SovereignSun Dec 12 '16 at 13:24

It really doesn't matter what it is called. As Tim points out, even if you find a C profile, it may be of a particular radius, or a variable radius.

You may prefer a D in a wide radius, but a C in a smaller radius? Or you may want to look at a V or even one of the stranger profiles like the amazing Strandberg neck which works really well if you use a classical hand position:

enter image description here

I have Ibanez models with various necks, my favourite has a 250mm fretboard radius, but my Warlocks have a thicker D shaped neck, and the Gibsons have a 12" radius. And they all play well - I like how they all feel.

So don't necessarily worry about it. Just practice with them in the shop and buy one that you like. You may like a different type later so buy that as well.

It's not a coincidence that the correct number of instruments a guitarist should have is one more than they currently have :-)

  • 1
    I'll drink to the last para... there again, I'll probably drink to most things... Seriously, it's a true statement! – Tim Dec 12 '16 at 17:42
  • @Tim Don't drink too much. – SovereignSun Dec 13 '16 at 5:46

The only way to know is to experience playing them. Whilst there may be names for the neck profiles, hand profiles are more difficult to classify - although medical students may have some ideas...

There's also the depth of the neck to consider, at different points along it, and the width often varies instrument to instrument, maker to maker.

Then, there's the radius of the fingerboard, and the kinds of frets, all of which combine. So it's not a case of 'I prefer a D- shaped neck'. That's maybe a starting point, not a be-all and end-all. And- after hating a U shape for a month or two, your hand may get to prefer it!

  • 1
    How to know what shape you are playing while in shop? – SovereignSun Dec 12 '16 at 9:36
  • 2
    I'm sure a salesperson will be able to help you with that, they should have a reasonable knowledge about the neck profiles of the guitars they sell. – Neil Meyer Dec 12 '16 at 9:46

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