Why does thin neck = fast playing

S1Player

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I greatly prefer thick necks. Thin necks cause my hand to cramp after a short time. Thick - I can play for hours without problem.

But, am I missing a speed advantage by not playing thin necks?

The common point of view seems to be that a thin guitar neck is needed for fast playing. Is there a real physiological reason that fingers move faster gripping a slightly bigger neck? I just don't see how having my overall grip wider by an eighth or quarter of an inch would impact the ability to move fingers at speed.

Not trying to stir up a controversy. Really wondering if I need to give another shot at thin necks - to see if they can improve my speed or other aspects of my playing.
 

dewey decibel

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10,729
I prefer thicker necks for the reasons you've listed. I bought a guitar with a thin neck ('62 RI Strat) in order to try and 're-train' myself. It's all about playing with a lighter touch. Anyway it didn't take, and I'm back to playing baseball bats.
 

S1Player

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3,448
I prefer thicker necks for the reasons you've listed. I bought a guitar with a thin neck ('62 RI Strat) in order to try and 're-train' myself. It's all about playing with a lighter touch. Anyway it didn't take, and I'm back to playing baseball bats.
Well, I read that some people use larger necks because they grip too hard. But, the large necks I have are scalloped. So, I know my grip isn't overdone - otherwise I would have sharp notes and out of tune chords all over. But, even when I take that reasonably light touch back to a thin neck - still get the same hand cramps.

And, just playing runs on both types of guitars - I don't notice the bigger neck impacting speed.

Appreciate any other ideas people have.
 

jlw001

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I played guitars with thin necks for years and would experience hand cramps when I played for too long. Four sets would leave my left hand sore and stiff. No matter how much I practiced I just couldn't develop additional left hand stamina.

Then I played a borrowed PRS with a wide fat neck carve. At first it was just an experiment. Then I noticed after playing the PRS my hand felt fine. It actually felt better than fine. I started developing additional left hand stamina and I could play longer on either neck size. That's when I bought an SG with the larger 50's "style" neck. My left hand felt even better and I was able to play things that I struggled with before.

I've had my SG for 3 years now and I'm going to take the next step and replace my strat's neck with a larger neck (I think its called boat back or something) and see where that takes me.

I can honestly say that I can play faster, longer and with more ease. I owe it all playing larger necked guitars. I don't really play faster on the larger necks its just that playing larger necked guitars helped me develop more speed and accuracy on both types of necks.

That's just an account of my experience.

Edit:
I play with D'addario 11's. I used to play 10's on the thin necks. So, I've been able to increase string gauge and still have less trouble with my hands. Its an amazing thing to me.
 

S1Player

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I've had my SG for 3 years now and I'm going to take the next step and replace my strat's neck with a larger neck (I think its called boat back or something) and see where that takes me.
I have Warmoth Fatback Superwide necks on my strat, a warmoth build, and an upcoming Jazzmaster. The Fatback is their thickest carve and I love it. The boatneck is more of a V shape neck - not as thick and I'm not a fan of V shape necks.

59' Round Back is another Warmoth Thick neck I have tried. But, it is not as thick as the Fatback. I like the Fatback better.
 

jlw001

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I have Warmoth Fatback Superwide necks on my strat, a warmoth build, and an upcoming Jazzmaster. The Fatback is their thickest carve and I love it. The boatneck is more of a V shape neck - not as thick and I'm not a fan of V shape necks.

59' Round Back is another Warmoth Thick neck I have tried. But, it is not as thick as the Fatback. I like the Fatback better.
I see. So fatback is probably the one I want. Thanks!
 

S1Player

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3,448
I see. So fatback is probably the one I want. Thanks!
Evidently, USA Custom Guitars also makes a Fatback 1" thick. They also make a "Super Fatback" which is even thicker. They don't scallop the fretboard - otherwise I would give that Super Fatback a try.
 

jlw001

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Super fatback? That might be going a little too far for me, but it would be cool to try a guitar with that carve.
 

bobotwt

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I agree about loving fat necks (I gig 2 DGT's). It frustrates me that I can't get a Floyd-equipped shredder guitar with anything but a tiny neck. I even bought a Suhr Rasmus and while it is an incredible guitar, I just can't play comfortably on the flat radius and thin neck. It's a bummer because everything else about it is amazing. To get a decent size neck, I have to custom order something in the 3-4k range which is too much for a guitar I will only use on a few songs.

Josh
 

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
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33,747
Thinner necks encourage one to grip with the thumb down the center of the back of the neck vs grabbing like a baseball bat. That is the best position for reach/access to the fretboard with minimal motion hence, speed.
But, you find your own range of comfort between too fat and too thin.
If your technique or size does not conform to the norm change the neck. There are so many available.
PRS wide/fat is not particularly wide nor fat.
 

russ6100

Gold Supporting Member
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4,563
When I was in MI retail, around 1999 or so, I was related a story about thin necks and how bad they were ergonomically. Supposedly, at a NAMM show, Hamer was demonstrating this at one of their booths. They had people grab and hold a thick book and hold it out, and do similarly with a thin book - the thin book caused cramping due to the hand being more closed....

Thick necks *can* contribute to great tone as well as being more comfortable.

Thick necks = win win win!
 

msoleno

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128
I am a firm believer that most guitarists underestimate how much the neck actually affects the tone of the guitar. If you swap necks on a guitar it sounds completely different. That said, you want to find your own personal balance between tone and comfort.
 

Lucidology

Silver Supporting Member
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27,185
Exactly the opposite in my case.
Big necks wear/fatigue my hands out way, way too soon.
Thin necks make it so much more fun for me to play ...
 
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flint

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123
I put a Warmoth boatneck on a strat my son and I built and liked it so much I got a fatback and put it on my American Standard. As far as the speed thing goes, I think most people's playing would improve if they would slow down. Just my take.
 

Phletch

Senior Member
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9,896
Yeah, it's not the size; it's the motion of the ocean. :D
Hate thin necks, prefer bigger ones. Can play much faster on bigger necks.
Exactly the opposite in my case …
Big necks wear/fatigue my hands out way, way too soon …
Thin necks make it so much more fun for me to play …
Two great players, two opposite preferences, which is why...
I think you just go with whatever is comfortable for you.
Personally, I'm not concerned with speed for its own sake anyway, so it's purely a comfort or "what feels right for me" thing which is more about neck shape than thickness. I don't get on well with the curved Fender fretboards and prefer the flatter Gibson style ones. The neck on my Dot is thicker than a 60s 335 like my friend's, but I'm comfortable with either because the fingerboards are similar. Going from one to the other I'm not conscious of the difference in thickness after a few minutes.
 

S1Player

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3,448
Thinner necks encourage one to grip with the thumb down the center of the back of the neck vs grabbing like a baseball bat. That is the best position for reach/access to the fretboard with minimal motion hence, speed.
See I actually have the opposite reaction. I have the tendency to have my thumb more on the back of the neck of a thick neck - since it can't reach as far anyway.

With thinner necks, I have to concentrate more to keep my thumb at the back of the neck.
 

ZeyerGTR

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3,912
i don't think I've seen any evidence how fast you can play is a result of how thick the neck of the guitar is. Might be a perception because a lot of metal shredders seem to use guitars with thinner necks, but I bet most of those guys can play plenty fast on any neck. Not to mention all the ridiculously fast jazz & classical players out there that don't use thin necks...

It's not the guitar, it's the player.
 




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