Guitars like the Fender Player or most Squier models have what is known as a modern C-shaped neck.
Most guitarists usually know that the C-shaped neck is a classic design but why is it special and how does it differ from others?
A c-shaped guitar neck is a type of neck profile that has a rounded curve in the back, resembling the letter “C”. This shape is common on many electric and acoustic guitars and provides a comfortable grip for most players. It is a popular choice for players who prefer a traditional feel.
This guide explains what exactly the c-shaped guitar neck is, what it looks like and more importantly how it affects your playing.
What is a C-shaped guitar neck?
A c-shaped guitar neck is a type of guitar neck shape where the side profile of the neck is curved, usually in the shape of a letter ‘C’.
This design offers more comfortable access to the higher frets due to the shallower depth of the curved neck compared to standard flat-shaped guitar necks.
The ‘C’ shape is popular among electric guitar players, as well as jazz, blues and rock musicians.
It’s a departure from the traditional oval-shaped neck profile found on guitars in the 1950s. So, how did this neck shape come to be? Let’s look at the history of the c-shaped neck.
Plus, I’ll cover the benefits and drawbacks of this neck profile. So, let’s get to it!
Getting to Know the C-Shape Neck: A Comprehensive Guide
The C-Shape Neck is a type of guitar neck profile that is curved and rounded, resembling the letter “C.”
It is a common design found in modern guitars and is regarded as a comfortable and versatile option for players of all levels.
The C-Shape Neck is specifically designed to offer a good grip for players, making it easier to play for extended periods.
What Does C-Shaped Neck Look Like?
A C-shaped guitar neck has a smooth, rounded curve on the back of the neck, resembling the letter “C”. It’s a popular neck profile found on many guitars, especially those modeled after vintage Fender instruments.
The shape provides a comfortable grip for most players, and the curve varies in depth and thickness depending on the manufacturer and model of the guitar.
Generally, a C-shaped neck is wider at the nut and gradually narrows towards the heel of the neck.
What Is A Deep C Neck?
A deep C neck is a type of guitar neck profile that has a more pronounced and thicker curve on the back of the neck compared to a standard C-shaped neck.
The shape provides more support for the player’s hand and can be more comfortable for those with larger hands or who prefer a thicker grip.
Deep C necks are commonly found on modern Fender guitars, and their shape can vary in depth and thickness depending on the specific model.
At the first fret and the 12th fret, the “Deep C” neck is roughly 0.01′′ thicker.
The ’60s C is roughly the same thickness at the first fret as the Fender Modern C, but it is about 0.06′′ thicker at the 12th fret.
The History of the C-Shape Neck
The C-Shape Neck has been around for many years and was first featured on guitars in the early 1950s.
Fender is credited with popularizing this type of neck profile with their Telecaster and Stratocaster models. The C-Shape Neck was a departure from the traditional oval shape found on guitars of that era.
How to Identify a C-Shape Neck
The C-Shape Neck is stamped with a “C” on the neck heel or headstock.
Occasionally, there may be some confusion between the C-Shape Neck and other neck profiles, such as the U-Shape Neck.
However, the C-Shape Neck is universally regarded as a comfortable and versatile option for players.
There are a few ways to identify a C-shaped guitar neck:
- Look at the profile: A C-shaped neck has a smooth, rounded curve in the back that resembles the letter “C”. It’s a common neck shape found on many electric and acoustic guitars, especially those modeled after vintage Fender instruments.
- Check the dimensions: C-shaped necks are wider at the nut and gradually narrow towards the heel of the neck. They typically have a depth of around 0.83″ (21mm) at the first fret and around 0.92″ (23.3mm) at the 12th fret.
- Compare to other neck shapes: If you have other guitars with different neck profiles, compare the feel of the neck to those guitars. A C-shaped neck will have a slightly rounded feel in the palm of your hand, whereas other neck shapes, such as a V-shaped neck, will have a more angular feel.
- Check the manufacturer’s specifications: If you know the manufacturer and model of the guitar, you can check the specifications online to see if the neck is listed as having a C-shaped profile.
Notable Guitars with C-Shape Necks
Schecter guitars are known for their C-Shape Neck design, which is a variation of the traditional C-Shape Neck.
The upchunky C-Shape Neck is a thicker version of the C-Shape Neck, which offers more support for players who prefer a larger neck profile.
The Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster are also known for their C-Shape Neck profiles.
But here are the top 6 guitars with a c-shaped neck:
- Fender Stratocaster: One of the most iconic electric guitars of all time, the Stratocaster has a C-shaped neck that is a defining feature of its classic design.
- Fender Telecaster: Another iconic Fender guitar, the Telecaster also has a C-shaped neck that is popular with many players.
- Gibson SG: The SG is a popular solid-body electric guitar that has been played by many famous guitarists, including Angus Young of AC/DC. Some SG models have a C-shaped neck.
- Taylor 314ce: The Taylor 314ce is a popular acoustic guitar that has a C-shaped neck profile. The neck is made from mahogany and has a comfortable feel that many players enjoy.
- Martin D-18: The Martin D-18 is another popular acoustic guitar that features a C-shaped neck profile. The neck is made from mahogany and has a smooth, comfortable feel.
- PRS SE Custom 24: The SE Custom 24 is a popular electric guitar that has a C-shaped neck profile. The neck is made from maple and has a comfortable feel that is well-suited to a wide range of playing styles.
These are just a few examples of guitars with C-shaped necks, and many other guitar models also feature this neck profile.
Pros and Cons of C-Shaped Guitar Neck
The C-shaped guitar neck has several advantages and some drawbacks as well. Here are some of the pros and cons of a C-shaped guitar neck:
- Comfortable grip: The smooth, rounded curve on the back of the neck provides a comfortable grip for most players.
- Traditional feel: C-shaped necks are a popular choice for players who prefer a traditional feel, especially on vintage-style guitars.
- Versatility: C-shaped necks are found on a wide variety of guitars, including electric and acoustic guitars, making them a versatile option.
- Easier to play chords: The rounded shape of the neck makes it easier to play chords and move up and down the neck.
- Not ideal for all playing styles: Some players may find that a C-shaped neck is not suitable for their playing style, especially for more technical playing or fast playing.
- May not be suitable for small hands: The wider nut width and thicker grip of a C-shaped neck may not be comfortable for players with smaller hands.
- Less ergonomic than other neck profiles: The C-shape is not as ergonomic as some other neck profiles, such as the modern “U” shape or the flat “D” shape.
Generally, the C-shaped neck is a popular choice for many guitarists due to its comfortable feel, versatility, and traditional vibe.
However, it may not be the best choice for all players, depending on their playing style and hand size.
Is a C-Shape Neck Right for You?
If you’re a player who values comfort above all else, a C-shape neck might be the perfect fit for you.
The rounded profile of the neck feels great in your hand, and the slightly asymmetrical shape means that it’s easy to play for long periods without experiencing fatigue.
This makes it a great choice for players who want to focus on their playing without worrying about discomfort.
Is C shape neck good for small hands?
The suitability of a C-shaped neck for small hands depends on the specific measurements of the neck and the player’s individual preferences. But yes, most players with smaller hands like the feel of a c-shaped neck.
There are plenty of c-shaped necked guitars that are designed with thinner c necks so they’re very easy to play, even with smaller hands.
In the past C-shaped neck used to be thicker. Even now some C-shaped necks have a wider nut width and a thicker grip, which can be less comfortable for players with smaller hands. However, some guitar models may have a C-shaped neck with a narrower nut width and a thinner grip, making it more suitable for players with smaller hands.
If you have small hands, it’s important to try out different guitar neck shapes to find the one that feels the most comfortable for you.
Some players with small hands may prefer a flatter or thinner neck profile, such as a modern “U” or “D” shape, while others may find a C-shaped neck to be comfortable.
Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and what feels comfortable and easy to play for each individual player.
Is c shaped neck good for beginners?
For novices, a C-shaped neck can be a wonderful option because it’s a cozy and adaptable neck shape that can be found on a variety of guitar models.
Most players can comfortably handle the neck’s smooth, rounded curvature at the back, which makes it simpler to play chords and glide up and down the neck.
However, the preferences and hand size of each player will determine whether or not a C-shaped neck is appropriate for novices.
A C-shaped neck may not be as comfortable for smaller-handed novices, while others might prefer a flatter or thinner neck profile.
The most crucial thing for a beginning guitarist is to experiment with various guitar neck shapes to determine which one is most comfortable and simple to play.
In order to improve the quality of the playing experience, it’s crucial to select a guitar that is well-made and within your price range.
For Acoustic and Electric Guitar Players
C-shape necks are found on both acoustic and electric guitars, making them a versatile option for players of all styles.
They’re often referred to as a “standard” neck shape, and many guitar brands offer models with this type of neck profile.
Whether you’re a professional player or just starting out, a C-shape neck is a great choice for both acoustic and electric guitars.
For Players Who Want a Great Value
If you’re on a budget, a C-shape neck is a great option. While some custom or vintage guitars may have more expensive neck designs, a C-shape neck is usually found on guitars that offer good value for the money.
You can find solid electric and acoustic guitars with C-shape necks at a variety of price points, making it easy to find one that fits your budget.
For Players Who Want Easy Playability
C-shape necks are designed to be easy to play. The neck is slightly thinner than other neck shapes, which means that it’s easier to wrap your hand around.
The edges are also rounded, which means that it feels smooth and comfortable in your hand. This makes it a great choice for players who want to focus on their playing without worrying about the neck getting in the way.
Can a C Shaped Neck Be Modified or Adjusted?
Yes, a C-shaped guitar neck can be modified or adjusted, but the extent to which it can be changed depends on the specific guitar and the type of modification.
Here are a few examples of modifications that can be made to a C-shaped neck:
- Refretting: If the frets on a C-shaped neck are worn down, it’s possible to replace them with new ones. This can improve the playability of the guitar and make it easier to play.
- Neck shaving: If the neck of a guitar is too thick or uncomfortable for the player, it’s possible to have the neck shaved down to a thinner profile. However, this should be done by a professional luthier to avoid damaging the guitar.
- Nut replacement: If the nut on a C-shaped neck is worn down or causing tuning problems, it can be replaced with a new one. This can improve the intonation of the guitar and make it easier to play in tune.
- Neck profile change: While it’s not common, it is possible to have the profile of a C-shaped neck changed to a different shape, such as a V-shaped or U-shaped profile. However, this is a complex and expensive modification that should only be done by an experienced luthier.
In general, any modifications or adjustments made to a guitar neck should be done by a professional luthier to ensure that the guitar remains playable and in good condition.
The Battle of the Curves: C Neck Shape vs U Neck Shape
When it comes to guitar necks, the shape and profile can make all the difference in how comfortable it feels to play. The two most popular neck shapes are the C and U shapes, but what sets them apart?
- The C neck shape is a bit flatter and has rounded edges, making it a great choice for players who prefer a modern feel. It’s found on many standard models of electric guitars, including the famous Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster series.
- The U neck shape, on the other hand, is a bit thicker and has a more pronounced curve, making it a popular choice for players who require a little more support for their hand. It’s found on certain models of guitars, such as the deluxe versions of the Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster, as well as on guitars from brands like Ibanez and Schecter.
Which one is easier to play?
Both neck shapes have their pros and cons when it comes to playability. The C neck shape is generally considered easier to play chords on, while the U neck shape is better for technical playing and faster runs up and down the fretboard.
Which one is more comfortable?
Comfort is subjective and depends on the player’s preference. Some players find the C neck shape more comfortable because of its flatter profile, while others prefer the U neck shape for its more uniform curve. It’s best to test out both neck shapes and see which one feels better in your hand.
Which one is more expensive?
The price of a guitar is not necessarily related to the neck shape. Both C and U neck shapes can be found on guitars at various price points.
However, certain brands and models may have additional features that affect the price, such as a thin neck profile or a super small size.
C vs D Shape Neck: Which One is Right for You?
When it comes to guitar neck shapes, the C and D profiles are two of the most popular options. Here’s what you need to know about each:
- C Shape Neck: This profile is often described as “soft” or “rounded,” with a substantial curve that fits comfortably in the hand. It’s a popular choice for blues and rock players, as well as those who prefer vintage-style guitars. The C shape is also convenient for chord playing, as it allows for easy access to the upper frets.
- D Shape Neck: The D profile is similar to the C shape, but with a flatter back and slightly sharper shoulders. This makes it a bit easier to play fast and technical music, as the thumb has a natural anchor point. The D shape is often found on modern guitars, and is suited for players who prefer a thinner, faster neck.
Which Neck Profile is Best for You?
Ultimately, the choice between a C and D shape neck comes down to personal preference. Here are a few things to consider when making your decision:
- Playing Style: If you play a lot of chords, the C shape may be more comfortable. If you play fast, technical music, the D shape may be better.
- Music Genre: If you play blues or vintage-style music, the C shape may be more appropriate. If you play modern music, the D shape may be a better fit.
- Hand Size: Consider the size of your hands when choosing a neck profile.
- Neck Width: If you have larger hands, a wider neck may be more comfortable.
- Try Before You Buy: If possible, visit a local music store and try out guitars with both neck profiles to see which one feels best for you.
In the end, both C and D shape necks are great options for electric guitar players. It’s just a matter of finding the one that feels the most comfortable and convenient for your playing style.
So there you have it- the history, benefits, and drawbacks of the c-shaped neck. It’s a comfortable and versatile neck profile that’s perfect for playing long periods without fatigue, and it’s great for both technical and chord-playing.
So don’t be afraid to try a c-shaped neck guitar!
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.
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