Types of guitar necks

By | April 11, 2021

The different types of guitar necks can be a confusing topic for beginners, but they can be easily categorized in a number of ways. The guitar neck has everything to do with how the guitar sounds, plays and feels and is one of the most important elements in the guitar itself. One style in the neck can be favored over another with individual preference, so the choice is really quite subjective.


Disadvantages are connected to the guitar with several methods. ‘Bolt-on’ necks are secured by using bolts through the guitar body and easier to facilitate repairs as needed. ‘Set’ necks are glued to the guitar body and are known for increased durability. ‘Through’, the neck is also glued to the body, but the neck length continues throughout the length of the guitar, which gives increased durability and strength. There are some variations in the basic attachment methods, but all can be classified into these three categories. No attachment method is necessarily better than another, as the method used adds to the properties of the instrument itself.


Neck radius or profile is the curvature of the underside of the neck. Because the radius dictates the feel of the neck of your hand, the radius type is quite personal. The C-radius necks are evenly curved, the ‘V’ radius necks are slightly pointed and the ‘U’ shapes are more square. Combinations of some two types are sometimes used, for example ‘CV’ or ‘VU’ where the upper part of the neck favors one shape and the underside favors another.


Neck scale is the measure of the strings from the nut to the bridge. Standard scale guitar necks are usually from 24 to 25 1/2 inches. Shorter scales are used for the benefit of children or smaller adults, and longer scales are sometimes used for special ‘baritone’ guitars and standard bass guitars.


Wood used on the neck is as varied as that used on guitar bodies. Different woods give a distinct ‘feeling’ and dictate resonance and tone, together with the guitar’s wooden house. Mahogany, maple, rosewood and poplar are popular neck forests, but other types are also used.

Fretboard and Frets

Fretboards attached to the neck sometimes use different woods than the neck itself. Rosewood, maple and ebony are quite popular, and each player has their own personal preference. The number of frets also distinguishes the neck and guitar, and several standard configurations are used on modern instruments. Most electric guitars are equipped with 21 to 24 frets to allow popular playing styles for the higher notes. Most acoustic guitars contain 20 frets, although only about 14 are readily available with a standard acoustic body style. Cutaway acoustics allow access to approximately the 18th fret for solo playing in the higher listing registers.

Reinforcement and adjustment

Guitar necks for acoustic guitars in acoustic and steel string are reinforced with adjustable truss rod. Guitar necks require periodic adjustments due to string tension, humidity, temperature and storage conditions. Adjustments are easy, but should be left to a repair professor, as panty liners can sometimes break if improperly manipulated and are very expensive to repair. Nylon strings of classical type guitars are usually not equipped with adjustable locking bars, as the nylon strings provide much less tension than steel bars, but can be internally reinforced by a solid metal, non-adjustable bar.