guitar neck profile

3 Of The Most Common Guitar Neck Shapes (U, C or V Profiles)

Are you planning to buy your first guitar? It’s an exciting purchase if you have always wanted to learn how to play the musical instrument. Just make sure that you get something that is right for you. There is no such thing that the best guitar for everyone because each individual guitar neck shapes has a different body type, hand length, comfort level, tonal inclinations, and stylistic preferences. Wanting a nice-looking guitar is understandable but you should also consider how it might feel like when you use it.

Guitar neck shapes deserve your attention as well. The neck of the guitar is the long and slender piece of wood where the frets are. The back of the neck can have different shapes and these can influence how comfortable you will be when using it. This shape is sometimes called the type of neck profile as well. When browsing different guitar models, make sure that you take note of the profiles of your candidates. This shaped neck profile will not affect the sound, but it can have a significant impact on the way that you play. Over time, you will develop your own techniques and find the most suitable neck shape for it.

Note that manufacturers have different naming conventions when it comes to the neck profile. This can make comparisons difficult since you have to figure out what they all mean. However, most will adhere to three basic shapes that are commonly referred to by letters of the alphabet: C, V, and U. These letters look a lot like the profiles and are easy to remember so keep them in mind. Some brands might offer these with their own modifications. In this article, we will describe these guitar neck types and shapes in greater detail so that you can differentiate them in a single glance.

Each shape really differs between each other on how the neck feels.  I say, pick the one that you feel comfortable playing the most.

The C-shape

A semi-circle at the back with gentle curves across the surface. This is very common among guitars in the market today. It is comfortable and adaptable to virtually any playing style that you might want to use. If you place C-shaped guitars with V-shaped and U-shaped ones, then you will realize that the necks tend to be on the shallow side in comparison. Note that there might be models labeled with this tag but are not a perfect semi-circle. It may be more of a flat oval cut in half, also known as the modern C-shape. You can also find slim, fat, nut-shaped, and huge versions of this shape. Using different variations will make you appreciate how subtle changes can make a big difference.  Cshaped necks are my favorite.

The V-shape

This used to be the preferred style among guitar players because of a certain technique that made it quite appealing. These old school guitarists use their thumbs on the fingerboard to try to hit bass notes. Their other fingers would then play the chords and the melody. This neck profile allowed them to switch seamlessly while maintaining stability. If you purchase a reissue of classic guitars, then you will probably find the profile being of this type. The V-shaped necks come in soft, hard, and round-V varieties. The hard Vs are mostly seen in vintage guitars while the soft Vs are seen in the newer models.

The U-shape

Although the C-shape is thought to be the most comfortable among the bunch, it can be a mismatch for guitarists with large hands. There are people who want to have their thumbs away from the fingerboard as much as possible so that these do not accidentally touch anything. A U-shaped neck profile has thicker shoulders that feel more substantial in the hands. Most are balanced while others may be thicker on one side or on the other. More advanced musicians may prefer this type of shape and hunt for just the right level of thickness on each end for their playing style. A few of the famous guitars with this profile include Fender’s Nocasters and older Telecasters.

Neck Shape Considerations

Guitarists spend countless hours on their instrument every day. Comfort is not just a matter of luxury in this case but an actual necessity. If they pick the wrong neck profile, then they might develop joint pain as an overuse injury after a while. This is because they need to contort their hands, thumbs, and fingers to make things work when they are fighting against the design instead of working to its strengths. You need to find something that feels natural for you. This is why you cannot simply pick up whatever your friends have. The model might work for them but you might have a better experience with something else. Try out different shapes and styles then follow your intuition.

Related reading – guitar headstock shapes

Final Words

Guitar neck profile shapes are often overlooked by newer guitar players because they do not yet appreciate how this aspect of the instrument can affect their experience. After a while, it becomes apparent that this part of the design is an important part of the decision-making process when buying a new guitar. Other things to look at including fretboard radius, etc.  People need to think about their own anatomy and playing technique to inch closer to a suitable model. The C shaped neck profile will work well for most but the U shape neck profile should attract individuals with big hands while the V-shape is great for old school guitar players. Within each class are minor variations that provide an even better fit. Get to know these options and choose accordingly.