The acoustic guitar neck: materials and features

The acoustic guitar neck is one of the two fundamental parts of this instrument, together with the harmonic case.

Its importance is due to the fact that this part holds in tension the strings. These are anchored to the headstock on its top and they are fastened to the bone placed on the case.

For almost the entire length of the vibrating rope portion, the diapason, these are suspended above the fretboard, which is the neck component located on its front.

Woods for the acoustic guitar neck

The acoustic guitar neck is made up of various types of wood, which give different sound characteristics to the instrument, according to their peculiarities.

The first essential wood feature is that it has to be dried for good, by a long process of natural seasoning or by drying in a temperature-controlled oven: a green wood that still contains a residue of moisture can deform itself over time and it would alter the aesthetic and acoustic qualities of the instrument.

In any case, the wood that makes up the instrument tends to improve with aging, but you need to take care of your own guitar because moisture and atmospheric factors could negatively affect the guitar conservation state.

Very hardwoods are usually used for the acoustic guitar neck because it is constantly subjected to the high tension of the strings, both at rest and especially during use.

The most used wood types are mahogany, used in Gibson and Paul Reed Smith models; the maple used by Fender and Ibanez; the rosewood.

Spruce is perhaps the best wood for its sound features, but it does not have enough hardness to withstand the forces acting on the acoustic guitar handle. It is often used for the harmonic case to have an excellent sound amplification.

Guitar neck shapes and features

The acoustic guitar neck can be made up by a single piece of wood, but it is almost always composed of the union of several pieces.

This depends on the fact that by extracting it from the same wooden block entirely, about 60% of the precious wood is dried off; but obviously, the glued pieces offer a sound quality lower than a neck made up of a single piece.

Often the socket and the headstock are glued to the neck and the socket is connected to the case.

Inside the neck there is usually a metal bar, the truss-rod, his function is to oppose itself to the perpetual tension of the strings and it serves to create a slight curvature of the guitar neck.

The truss-rod consists of a bar locked in a neck side and threaded to the opposite side, adjustable with a screwdriver or an Allen key through the hole on the harmonic case. There are also models with a double adjustment, both on the headstock and on the neck.

On the neck front, there is the fretboard, which starts at the headstock and reaches the case.

Fretboard helps to make comfortable the handle and has different sound characteristics depending on the radius value.

Another element to distinguish the various models is the length of the neck scale. This value is expressed in inches and depends on the manufacturer’s standards and on the number of frets.

Shape in acoustic guitar neck

Acoustic guitar neck: materials and features

The back of the acoustic guitar neck usually has a curved shape. Shape indicates the type of curvature of the neck section and it is named by letters that recall its features.

There are also soft and hard shapes that describe the hardness of the curve.

The most widespread form is the C because it is useful to the modern playing style.

The shape instead makes the mid-neck thumbnail very uncomfortable and is preferable to those who use the exposed thumb outside the fretboard.

The U represents a sturdy neck and more often than the others with his long back.

The shape can remain constant throughout the neck length or it can progressively change from the height of the first fret to the harmonic case.

In the guitar market where lutist contrasts with industrial brands, each company uses its own distinctive sign: so there are special shapes with its own nomenclature that are produced by a specific manufacturer.

Such names often refer to the physical characteristics of these famous necks or to the guitarist who used that model: Even C, Vintage V, Wide Fat, Wizard.

There are also guitar models equipped with asymmetrical necks with different curvatures between their two halves, such as the EVH and Axis made by Music Man and the Wolfgang produced by Peavy.

As always, to find the model that best suits your needs, you have to try different guitars to understand which one fits most to the palm of our hand.

As far as personal choice is concerned, with small and toothed hands it is advisable to have a thin neck, while those with tapered fingers and a large palm may prefer a larger shape.

[Photo credits: Angela Quitoriano, Rocket Music]