Guitar necks: The Scale, the Radius and the Shape

Discussion in 'V.C.'s Parlor' started by szombat62, Sep 23, 2020.

  1. szombat62

    szombat62 Squier-Meister

    Age:
    58
    182
    Jul 19, 2015
    Rotherham, S Yorkshire UK
    On another thread I made some comments about the differences in the neck shapes of my 3 Stratocaster. Afterwards I got to wonder about them and which if any was my favourite and why.

    From the off the one thing that was consistent for me was the Scale. All my guitars are 25 and half Fenders. I’ve only owned these types over my playing days and I honestly struggle with any other, such is the ingrained memory of where the frets are up the neck. Had I owned or played others more regularly I suspect things may be different, but now not very likely.

    Next the radius. I have again played the vintage 7.25 for the most part, but over the years have had to come to terms with playing a 9.5 modern style. Do I notice the difference - in all honesty not a lot. I think I adapt the bending of strings to the guitar I am playing and know how far they can be pushed, so choking off isn’t a major problem. Alternatively I may not be one who really pushes it too! Do the 9.5s allow me to play faster. No. They are a little easier perhaps, but years of playing vintage ones comes into play here. The fastest, I feel is the Telecaster, though I will often use the Affinity for quicker paced solos.

    Finally, there is the neck shape. For the most part I have played a C shape, mostly the 60s style, but a thinner modern C shape on the Affinity and latterly a U shape on the Fender Strat. I thought I would really struggle with a larger neck as my hands aren’t that big, but very quickly I’ve got used to it and it is surprisingly quick. The Affinity is much thinner and I change my technique slightly with placing my hand and thumb slightly differently and getting my fingers to arch over the fretboard more, which seems to help compensate for the variation in the width of the neck. Over time this has become automatic so isn’t a problem. It’s a different feeling entirely with the SQ an Tele as those feel like coming home. You just know where everything is and can relax.

    So which is the best. In the end it depends on what I want to play. I do have certain limitations and preferences, but to my mind we can place too much emphasis on things like scale, radius and shape and it can be to our detriment as players. I’m aware I have got fixed on the scale of a neck because of my love of Fender and Squier guitars. But surprisingly for the other aspects, I like the vintage feel of a 60s neck, but when it comes down to it this isn’t something I worry so much about.

    Anyway let’s know your thoughts and feelings on guitar necks. And we didn’t even get going on rosewood v maple v any other!
     
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  2. drewcp

    drewcp Squier-holic

    Dec 14, 2018
    Saint Paul, MN
    For me
    There is too thick, front to back.
    There is too thin, front to back,
    There is too wide

    There is rarely too narrow, but they do exist.

    And I don't ever think about fret radius.

    I have a Starcaster Strat right now that is too Thick/Chunky and I have played some shredder Ibanez Wizzard type necks that are too thin for my comfort.

    I have favorites, sure, but there's a lot of middle ground that keeps me happy.

    I generally prefer set neck guitars, so you kind of get what you get on those, and I don’t like partscasters, so I'm not swapping any bolt on necks either.

    I'm usually happy with whatever.
     
  3. jefffam

    jefffam Dr NC Gold Supporting Member

    Age:
    62
    Jan 26, 2015
    Portland, TN
    I find I pay little attention to neck thickness or shape. Neither seem to make much difference after a moment. Width and radius are very imporant, to the point I won't even look at narrower than 42mm or less than 9.5 radius. I far and above prefer 43+mm and 12 inch radius.

    I have learned to adapt to 25.5 scale, but shorter 24.75 is more comfortable by far. I've learned to adapt to bolt necks through concious effort. I still far and above prefer set neck guitars. For me rosewood or something similar is an absolute. Maple fretboards are a total deal breaker and no go. Maple, cooked maple, stained maple, roasted maple or burnt maple are all maple and totally unaceptable.
     
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  4. Caddy

    Caddy Dr. Squier

    Age:
    73
    Nov 29, 2010
    Indiana
    Scale, radius, neck profile, etc. make no difference to me with one exception. Very thin profile necks, then only because they give me cramps in my hand. I really don’t even notice the differences while playing. Don’t even know what neck profiles my guitars have.

    Part of that my be due to having a lot of both electrics and an equal number of acoustics in addition to playing mandolin, five string banjo, ukes and fiddle. Now that is where scale and necks really vary! Each instrument feels different but still very playable and I never give it a second thought.

    So I really have no preferences and just play them and each feels different but fine. But as I have said before, I have only been playing since 1957 so maybe not long enough to have developed any real preferences or become too particular about such minor details.

    One preference I do have is my Strats and Teles have to have maple fretboards, but only for aesthetic reasons. I notice no real differences while playing them.
     
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  5. so1om

    so1om Squier-Axpert

    Age:
    53
    Feb 10, 2010
    Chicago now Sarasota
    In the 40some years I have been playing, only recently have necks become a concern. Likely because I have just about every guitar I could want. And thereby I seem to have all the most common configurations of neck specs..

    Too chunky is bad. My hand cramps up terribly with chords and slow with lead work. I’m looking at you, 1960 Melody Maker and 2012 VM Jaguar.

    I like a bit of radius and 9.5 is just right. Too flat like my G-400, 67 Gretsch Rally, Kramer Baretta, similar issues to too chunky, slow and cumbersome.

    The 2014 Bullet, with super slim neck, man... I can play that for days on end with no fatigue. I would like to have a neck so thin, it’s only a fretboard.

    Frets, no particular preference, but the old Gretsch are really too thin. Same with The Rick. I like medium to jumbo width, not too tall.

    finish, less so on guitar, but basses, I like a nice gloss to grip and lock in position without sliding around.

    Rosewood is the preference over finished maple.

    Width at the nut, your average tele, Strat. The Gretsch is almost like a classical neck, wide and flat. Very easy to miss strings without getting adjusted. The Epiphone Everly Brothers is god-awful narrow. More like a tenor/banjo neck. Things get tight on a Bass VI.

    basses, Jazz over Precision.

    guitar and bass scale can be anything, no difference.
     
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  6. DougMen

    DougMen Squier-holic

    Age:
    66
    Jun 8, 2017
    Honolulu, HI
    I'm not a big fan of V shaped necks or super thin D shaped Jackson and Ibanez types. I can deal with 7.25" radius, but I prefer 9.5", and nothing over 12". I had a great LTD Strat that was 14" and it was too flat for me. I can live with vintage, medium jumbo, jumbo, and narrow tall frets (probably my favorite), but I don't care for super jumbos. And, I usually prefer RW/IL boards to maple, but I don't care for PF, 'cause it's too hard, and actually hurts my fingers after awhile.
     
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  7. DrBeGood

    DrBeGood Squier-holic

    Dec 9, 2014
    Sutton QC, CANADA
    Contrary to many of you Fender types, narowness and compressed radius are a negative to me. 7.5", what is that ? Didn't even know it went that far except for violons and such.

    To me wide is better, thick is also required. I love my LP Jr and LP Special for that. I have a PRS SE Soapbar with 24.5" and what they call a wide fat neck that would give some of you a heart attack, but I love it.

    Got an idea here: why don't you include your hand size in your comments ? It might help some relate to why they love this, but hate that. My stretch hand from tip of thumb to tip of twinky is a tad over 10". From first fold before my wrist to tip of my major finger is 8½".

    So 8.5" X 10" for me.
     
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  8. strat_strummer

    strat_strummer Just a kicked back frog... Silver Supporting Member

    Age:
    58
    Nov 24, 2018
    RC addiction....
    I'm honestly not bothered by any size of neck. One of the lucky ones I guess..
     
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  9. CVSteve

    CVSteve Squier-holic ‎‎‎‎‏‏‎ ‎

    Age:
    66
    Dec 28, 2017
    Texas
    I want a v neck, what warmoth calls a boatneck, with a 1 3/4” nut and a 12” radius ebony board. A 25 1/2” scale is fine, but a 24.5 to 25” scale is better.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2020
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  10. Toddcaster64

    Toddcaster64 Squier-holic Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2013
    Ventura
    Ok, physical infirmities and such, that’s one thing. But honestly, give me twenty minutes and I can pretty much adapt to most any neck profile. And having trouble between 25.5” and 24.75”? Not hardly.
     
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  11. guitalias

    guitalias Squier-Meister

    Age:
    56
    151
    Apr 21, 2020
    Australia
    I have just found something interesting about scale length. I used a Squire Bullet Mustang 24" scale as a sacrifice guitar to make a guitar body. Pleased with the result so want to purchase a 24" scale neck to replace it & the hardware on the SBM & sell it as a complete guitar.
    Found a suitable 24' neck with the same neck heel.

    BUT. Though it has the same number of frets, fret 22 is on a fretboard overhang. So the bridge will have to move further away from the neck to maintain the scale length, by half the distance of fret 21 to fret 22.
     
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  12. DougMen

    DougMen Squier-holic

    Age:
    66
    Jun 8, 2017
    Honolulu, HI
    Every Fender from 1950 until 1986 was a 7.25" radius. It didn't seem to bother Jimi, Jeff, Eric, Joe Walsh, Blackmore, Gilmour, Gary Moore, Roy Buchanan, SRV, Danny Gatton, Eric Johnson, Jerry Reed, or a thousand other players better than we will ever be. And what is a violon?
     
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  13. fuelish

    fuelish Squier-holic

    I can pretty much get on with any neck after a bit of playing on it. I can talk scale lengths and radii, but I’m clueless as to shape. ... comes downto thick/thin, narrow/wide, but, they all work fine for me.
     
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  14. szombat62

    szombat62 Squier-Meister

    Age:
    58
    182
    Jul 19, 2015
    Rotherham, S Yorkshire UK
    Thanx to everyone who’s commented so far. It’s really interesting to hear people’s experiences and views on this. For those that do feel able to move between different neck types, I wonder do you notice any changes you make to accommodate this. Also fo those who move between different scale lengths - have you always had access to different guitars?

    Keep those thoughts and comments coming..
     
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  15. beagle

    beagle Squier-Nut

    907
    Nov 19, 2017
    Yorkshire
  16. Stratlover84

    Stratlover84 Squier-holic

    Age:
    36
    Jun 16, 2016
    NY - EC
    You gotta be kidding me, now you're pushing for hand measurements too :rolleyes:

    Back on topic: necks that are wide enough to be on a classical are not for me, but neither are some really thin, cramp-inducing necks. I used to prefer 9.5" radius, but recently some Epiphones have switched over to 14" on their LP Specials which I thought I'd hate but after a good setup they play just as well as any other guitar.

    Prefer 22 frets and rosewood on my fretboard, I grew up and learned playing on 25.5" scale guitars, but find that 24.75" is very comfortable for me as well.

    Neck shape: any but those odd V shape or 'slim-taper D' that are wide enough to be on a classical guitar, preferably C shape profile.
     
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  17. guitalias

    guitalias Squier-Meister

    Age:
    56
    151
    Apr 21, 2020
    Australia
    I'm looking for a replacement neck, front runner is maple, neck & fretboard. I've no maple experience, what is it you don't like about them? Thx.
     
    mb doug likes this.
  18. Robbmonster

    Robbmonster Squier-holic

    I just adapt.

    My favourite ever guitar is my 99 Indo Affinity Strat, and the prime reason is because of the neck profile. I guess it's C shape, not too thick, not too thin, nice low frets (I think I prefer lower frets).

    Up until very recently I had an Epi SG, different profile, different radius, also felt great.

    Squier 51 necks - chunkier, but still love them.

    Like others, my issues come when a neck is either too thin or too thick. Too thin means Jackson Kelly and similar 'shred' guitars. Too thick means vintage acoustics with gigantic V profile necks.

    But anything in between I just adapt to. Having said that, there are always some that simply don't *feel* right, and often for reasons I couldn't even begin to understand.
     
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  19. DrBeGood

    DrBeGood Squier-holic

    Dec 9, 2014
    Sutton QC, CANADA
    All I remember saying is I didn't know about such a small radius and it wouldn't fit me. :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:
     
  20. beagle

    beagle Squier-Nut

    907
    Nov 19, 2017
    Yorkshire
    I don't know what's wrong with them, all my Strats and Teles for the last 45 years have had maple one or occasionally two piece necks.