Jump to content
Greg.Bassman

How to choose the right neck profile for me? [ie. depth/shape/radius]

Recommended Posts

I posted a very similar thread earlier last week, however it seems to have veered off into the realm of general discussion instead of technical discussion, which was my intention for it. Perhaps my wording was misleading. Anyhow, I shall still keep it as I love to hear your stories!

Admittedly, in the few years that I have been playing, I have done very little experimenting with regard to build; particularly when the neck has been concerned [ie. depth, shape and radius etc]. Until now, I have been using a ‘modern c’ shape jazz neck purely because thats what my MIM fender came with; hoping that it would grow on me in time. However, a few years on, I’m trying to love it but I just don’t. So for the first time, I am opening myself up to the vast possibilities, in the attempt to find the ideal match for me. Trouble is, with so many profile types available on the market nowadays, I am left overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin.

The typical approach would be to visit my local guitar store and try what they have. That said, I’m naturally the indecisive type, so I can’t always trust myself to know what I like based on my ‘gut’ instinct or ‘feel’. So I sometimes find it useful to understand the ‘science’ behind the designs as a guide or to sway my overall opinion. For example, I have read that a ‘D’ shaped neck, popularised by companies like Ibanez, is where the shoulders come almost vertically out and come over; which facilitates the idea that instead of the thumb being over the neck, the thumb can be on the back of the neck for faster legato playing. A ‘speedier’ neck, if you will.

I wondered if any of you could shed some more examples like the one above, based on technical knowledge or playing experiences? Cheers.

NECK SHAPES.jpg

Edited by Greg.Bassman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my experience the science has little to do with what feels right. I have relatively small hands but I find the wide flat neck on my 83 P the most naturally comfortable to play. I do usually end up playing a thin jazz neck though just because it’s hard to play fast stuff on the P,  but I never feel ‘at home’ on a J neck as much as on the P. 

I don’t actually think there’s much science behind it, it’s just about feel. Gut feeling will probably be your best guide, just go back and play them a few times if you’re unsure.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would imagine there is no empirical answer to this as everyone is going to have a different left hand.  For me, finding my optimum neck was simply as case of play as many basses as you can, usually bought and sold on at a huge loss, until you discover what it is about the bass neck you like.  It could be the cross section as you have illustrated.  It could be the width of the neck at the nut.  It could be how close together the strings are.  All in conjunction with how far apart the strings are at the bridge.  But I found I had to live with a bass for some time before making a firm decision on it - just trying one in a shop didn't help.

For years I was convinced I preferred narrow necked basses and anything more than 40mm at the nut was a struggle.  Then necessity forced me to play 5 string basses - much wider than 40mm - and discovered that the width of the neck had nothing to do with it, string spacing was the key factor.  It just so happened that narrow necks had tight string spacing.  So I can happily play my 5er with a 45mm wide neck but still struggle with a 43mm wide 4 string P bass.  Actually struggle is the wrong word - just feels less comfortable.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me, it's not just the profile / shape of the neck - it's the combination of profile with width of neck (and not just at the nut)
I tend to prefer C profile, but some C profile necks can have an edge at the fretboard which feels almost "sharp" - so I prefer a C profile with well rounded edges
However, as project_c mentions above, I also find some wider necks comfortable (I recently played a Squier JV P and the neck was wider than my usual, but it felt incredibly comfortable

I've also played some deeper profiled necks and found them quite comfortable too. However, I did discover that I don't like necks that are both wide and deep.
I recently acquired a Fender MIJ Jazz, and I already had a fretless version. I find both these necks seem to be C or modern C profile (the fretless is from the late 80's, the fretted from the early 90's, I think)
They're a tad shallower than other Jazzes I've played or owned, but I find them incredibly comfortable. I'm not sure why this is, but I've not played a MIJ neck I didn't instantly like, whatever width and profile it is.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Only your hands can do this.

No body else can. All you can do is play as many as you can and see what feels comfy and doesn't get in the way of how you play.

 

I play 5 strings mostly. I know that a 48mm nut is too wide for me, and that rules out a lot of instruments.

 

44.5mm is a narrow 5 like on a Stingray 5 and I like that a lot. The feel of my 45mm nut bass is hugely different to my Ray even though there is only 0.5m difference. The neck profile is very different and the bridge spacing is larger meaning the strings splay out more as I play up the neck. The Ray is quite chunky in the hand and the Marleaux is much thinner, front to back. If the Marleaux was as chunky as the Ray I don't think I would like it - but it's slim and easy to play, just in a different way to the Stingray.

 

Get to a good shop and try as much as you can!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You need to assess different types of neck in conjunction with your playing style.  You often see on this forum (and elsewhere) " I have small hands so I need a thinner/shallower neck"  when in reality it's not so much do with the size of you hands rather the playing style you have chosen to adopt.  The baseball bat type grip will always limit the neck choice more that anchoring the thumb at the back of the neck.  You can easily play a deeper  (U shape) or wider neck with small hands with an appropriate playing style.  Do you know other bass players nearby who you might be able to get together with to check out other guitars?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have basses with C, Modern C, D etc. shapes..... makes very little difference to me. Flatter/Thinner is a little faster, but I have never much worried about width, string spacing etc. String tension and string height I find much more important. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As has been mentioned, only you can get out and see what works for you. There is no ‘science’, some people shred on chunky old bassball bat necks, some people lay down thick greasy grooves on a tiny thin necks.....there is no rule of thumb.

From my experience, it’s more about the instrument than it is my preference. I have P necks, J necks (i’ve no idea what the profiles are) , asymmetric profiles, a shortscale. They’re all comfortable after a very short period, and they all do different things, so I accept them.

Si

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, HazBeen said:

I have basses with C, Modern C, D etc. shapes..... makes very little difference to me. Flatter/Thinner is a little faster, but I have never much worried about width, string spacing etc. String tension and string height I find much more important. 

I am exactly the same. I have a 66 Jazz, a 75 Jazz, a 70's Precision, a Stingray, a Baseball bat on my Mike Dirnt Precision and a Uku bass and the neck profile and thickness makes no difference to my playing. I couldn't even tell you about String spacing. String height and tension is what I notice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Linus27 said:

I am exactly the same. I have a 66 Jazz, a 75 Jazz, a 70's Precision, a Stingray, a Baseball bat on my Mike Dirnt Precision and a Uku bass and the neck profile and thickness makes no difference to my playing. I couldn't even tell you about String spacing. String height and tension is what I notice.

I think it's better not to have any preference for neck profile. Tell yourself you don't care and can play any profile and it will be true.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm also in this camp. When I was playing my Rick last weekend I looked down and the neck looks twice as deep as the Sterling.

It didn't really feel any different but as above it was the perceived tension that I did notice.

Personally the more basses I've played over the years the less I notice what size the neck is

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My son has big hands and long fingers, and has been complaining for a while that his Fender Strat had too narrow a neck, and wanting something with a wider one. He's just moved on to an Ibanez semi-hollow-body, which he loves. I did point out to him that it has the same width at the nut, the same string spacing, and pretty much the same neck profile. The only significant difference I can see is that the body is bigger and differently shaped. So there may be other factors than the neck profile in how easy you find a particular bass to play, in ways you might not expect. As said above, just try as many as you can, with an open mind. 

Edited by josie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, josie said:

My son has big hands and long fingers, and has been complaining for a while that his Fender Strat had too narrow a neck, and wanting something with a wider one. He's just moved on to an Ibanez semi-hollow-body, which he loves. I did point out to him that it has the same width at the nut, the same string spacing, and pretty much the same neck profile. The only significant difference I can see is that the body is bigger and differently shaped. So there may be other factors than the neck profile in how easy you find a particular bass to play, in ways you might not expect. As said above, just try as many as you can, with an open mind. 

This might be very true as I struggle with the Warwick Streamer's that I have had. The neck seems so long and I have to stretch for the first fret more than any of my Fender basses. I've been told its because the body is much smaller on the Warwick.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ve tended to find that radii have quite an influence in combination with other factors. Wider nuts and wider string spacing are more manageable to me when the neck has a smaller radius (more curved fretboard). Flatter fingerboards are ok if the nut and string spacing are narrower. (Anything above an 11” radius I just find uncomfortable.) These combinations allow my fingers to keep their natural curve when playing at the low end. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...