U-Shaped Necks: How Shape Affects Feel

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  January 13, 2023

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When buying a guitar, one can come across different neck shapes because not all guitar necks are the same, and it can be difficult to decide which type is best – C, V, or U. 

A guitar’s neck shape doesn’t affect the instrument’s sound, but it does affect how it feels to play it. 

Depending on the neck shape, some guitars are more comfortable to play and better suited for beginners.

U-shaped guitar neck guitarist guide

It’s no secret that the modern C-shaped neck has taken over, but a u-shaped neck definitely has its advantages, especially for players with bigger hands. 

A U-shaped guitar neck (also called a baseball bat neck) is a type of neck profile that is curved in an upside-down U shape. It is wider at the nut and gradually tapers down towards the heel. This type of neck is popular among jazz and blues guitarists due to its comfortable playing feel.

The U-shaped neck or thick neck has a curved upside-down U-shape. It is well-balanced or has one side that’s thicker than the other. 

This model, popularized by the older Fender Telecasters, is best suited for players with large hands.

It allows them to keep their thumbs on the neck’s side or back while playing. 

This guide goes over what a u-shaped neck is, what it’s like to play these types of guitars, and the history and development of this neck shape over time. 

What is a u-shaped neck?

U-shaped guitar necks are a type of neck design for guitars that feature an arched shape, similar to the letter ‘U.’

Letters are typically used to mark guitar neck shapes to denote the form they take. 

In contrast to a guitar with a “V” shaped neck, a “U” shaped neck will have a smoother curve.

This type of neck is usually found on electric guitars or archtop acoustics and provides increased access around the frets. 

A U-shaped guitar neck is a type of guitar neck that has a curved shape, with the middle of the neck being wider than the ends. 

The U-shaped neck is also known as U neck profile.

The shape we would observe if we cut the neck in the direction of the frets parallel to the truss rod is referred to as the “profile.” 

The top (nut area) and bottom (heel area) cross-sections of the neck are explicitly referred to as the “profile” (above the 17th fret).

The guitar neck’s character, feel, and playability can vary depending on the size and form of the two cross-sections.

So, a U-shaped guitar neck is a type of guitar neck shaped like a U.

This type of neck is often found on guitars designed for comfort and playability, as the U-shape of the neck allows for a more comfortable playing experience. 

The U-shaped neck also helps to reduce the amount of fatigue that can be felt when playing for extended periods of time.

The reason why players enjoy a U-shaped neck is that this shape allows for a more comfortable playing experience, as it allows the player’s hand to rest more naturally on the neck. 

The shape also allows for easier access to the higher frets, making it easier to play lead guitar.

The u-shape also helps reduce the pressure needed to press down on the strings, making it easier to play chords. 

U-shaped guitar necks are typically found on electric guitars but can also be found on some acoustic guitars.

They’re often found on guitars with a single cutaway body, as the shape of the neck allows for better access to the higher frets. 

U-shaped guitar necks are popular among many guitarists, as they provide a comfortable playing experience and make it easier to play lead guitar, especially if they have larger hands. 

Players with small hands tend to avoid the U-shaped neck because the neck is too thick and less comfortable to play.

The most typical profile for both electric and acoustic guitars is a semicircle or a half oval. A “C profile” or “C-shaped neck” is the name given to this kind.

The V, D, and U profiles were developed but are different from the C profile. 

The fretboard profile, scale, symmetry, and other variables, as well as most profiles in general, can vary practically infinitely depending on the neck thickness.

So this means not all U-shaped necks are identical. 

What is the advantage of a U-shaped neck?

Although some players may find the decreased tension caused by this neck design too loose, they are generally favored due to their increased comfort and playability. 

A thick U-shaped neck is generally more sturdy and less prone to warping and other issues.

Also, arpeggios and other classical-style playing exercises are more comfortable because your hand will have a firm hold, especially if your hands are bigger. 

U-shaped guitar necks provide an improved playing experience for certain styles of music and are becoming increasingly popular with guitarists today.

For people with longer fingers, it is a highly comfortable design that helps to provide a more comfortable reach around the fretboard.

What is the disadvantage of a U-shaped guitar neck?

Unfortunately, the thicker neck profile isn’t the best option for players with small hands.

The increased tension caused by the U-shape can be too stiff for some, making it difficult to play certain chords or notes.

The decreased tension can also make it more difficult to keep the guitar in tune, as the strings have less resistance and are more prone to slipping out of tune.

It can be challenging to solo if you’re accustomed to putting your thumb over the neck to muffle some of the lower strings.

Overall, U-shaped guitars are a great choice for many players but may not be the best option for those with smaller hands or who find the decreased tension too loose.

Popular guitars with U-shaped neck

  • ESP LTD EC-1000
  • Gibson Les Paul Standard ‘50s
  • Fender ‘70s Classic Stratocaster
  • American ’52 Telecaster
  • Gibson ES-355
  • Schecter Banshee GT
  • ESP LTD TL-6
  • ESP LTD EC-10

Who is U-shaped neck for?

The design is generally favored by jazz, blues, and rock guitarists who need the flexibility to play quickly and accurately across all the strings.

U-shaped necks are also popular for their sleek appearance, adding a unique aesthetic to an instrument.

U-shaped necks are great for players who want to play lead guitar.

The shape of the neck allows for easy access to the higher frets, making it easier to play fast solos and complex chords.

It’s also great for players who want to play barre chords, as the shape of the neck allows for more comfortable fretting.

However, it’s not ideal for rhythm guitarists, as the shape of the neck makes it harder to play chords quickly. 

Additionally, the shape of the neck can make it harder to reach the lower frets, making it difficult to play bass notes.

In summary, u-shaped necks are great for lead guitarists but not so great for rhythm guitarists.

Learn more about the differences between lead and rhythm guitarists here

What is the history of the u-shaped neck?

The U-shaped guitar neck was first invented in the late 1950s by the American guitar maker Leo Fender.

He was looking for a way to make the guitar easier to play and more comfortable for the user. 

This neck shape was designed to provide more space between the strings and the fretboard, making it easier to play chords and riffs.

Since its invention, the u-shaped guitar neck has become a popular choice for many guitarists.

It has been used in a variety of genres, including rock, blues, jazz, and country.

It has also been used in many different styles of guitars, such as electric, acoustic, and bass.

Over the years, the u-shaped guitar neck has evolved to become more comfortable and easier to play.

Many guitar makers have added features such as a thicker neck, a wider fretboard, and a compound radius fretboard.

This has allowed guitarists to play faster and more accurately.

In recent years, the u-shaped guitar neck has become even more popular.

Many guitarists prefer this neck shape because it is comfortable and allows for more freedom of movement.

It has also become a popular choice for custom guitars, as it can be customized to fit the individual’s playing style.

The u-shaped guitar neck has come a long way since its invention in the late 1950s.

It has become a popular choice for many guitarists and is used in a variety of genres and styles.

It has also evolved to become more comfortable and easier to play.

Fretboard radius & U-shaped neck 

A U-shaped guitar neck is thick and chunky. Therefore, it has a thicker fretboard radius. 

The fretboard radius of a guitar neck is the curvature of the fretboard.

It affects the way the strings feel when playing and can be a major factor in the overall playability of the instrument. 

A guitar with a smaller fretboard radius will feel more comfortable to play, as the strings will be closer together and easier to reach.

On the other hand, a guitar with a larger fretboard radius will feel more difficult to play, as the strings will be further apart and harder to reach.

Generally, a guitar with a smaller fretboard radius is better suited for playing chords, while a guitar with a larger fretboard radius is better suited for playing lead.

U-shaped neck vs C-shaped neck

The main difference between a C-shaped neck and a U-shaped neck is the shape of the back of the neck. 

A C-shaped guitar neck is a type of guitar neck that has a C-shaped profile, with the two sides of the C being of equal depth.

This type of neck is usually found on electric guitars and is often favored by rhythm guitarists for its increased comfort and playability.

A C-shaped neck has a more rounded shape, while a U-shaped neck has a more pronounced curve.

Players with smaller hands often prefer the C-shape as it provides a more comfortable grip. 

The U-shape is often preferred by players with larger hands, as it provides more space for the fingers to move around.

U-shaped neck vs V-shaped neck

U-shaped neck profiles are comparable in depth to V-shaped profiles.

Because the U shape profile has a wider base than the V shape profile, it is frequently more suitable for people with longer handspans.

V-shaped guitar necks and U-shaped guitar necks are two of the most common neck designs found on electric guitars.

They are usually differentiated by the shape of their headstock and the profile of their fretboard.

A V-shaped neck has a thicker profile that slopes down towards the nut, creating a ‘V’ shape.

This design is primarily found on electric guitars in the classic style and provides increased sustain and a heavier sound. 

The shape also allows players to use the entire length of their fretboard, providing increased access and range when playing.

What is a thin U-shaped guitar neck?

There is a thinner version of the classic U-shaped neck, and it’s called a thin u-shape.

This means the neck is thinner and better suited for players with smaller hands compared to the classic U-neck. 

Playing this neck is generally quicker than playing the conventional U. Just for reference, the thin U-neck form is used on most ESP guitars. 

With this form, the neck is easier to move up and down, and you have better access to the fretboard than you would with a standard U.


Which neck shape is best?

The best neck shape depends on your playing style, hand size, and preference.

Generally, a U-shaped neck provides more comfort and better playability for players with larger hands, while a C-shaped neck is often preferred by players with smaller hands. 

Both shapes are popular and offer different advantages.

Are U-shaped necks comfortable?

Yes, U-shaped necks are comfortable.

The U-shape provides more space for your fingers to move around, making it easier to reach higher frets.

The shape also allows for a more comfortable grip, which can be beneficial for those with larger hands.

What’s the difference between a D-shaped neck and a U-shaped neck?

There is some confusion about the D-shaped and U-shaped guitar necks. Many people believe them to be the same thing, but that’s not the case.

Technically speaking, the D-shaped neck is also known as Modern Flat Oval. It is comparable to the U-shaped neck but has a smaller profile that makes fingering faster. 

A D-shaped guitar neck is a type of guitar neck that has a D-shaped profile, with the two sides of the D being of equal depth.

Additionally, guitars with a D-shaped neck frequently come with a fingerboard that is flatter.


In conclusion, a u-shaped neck is a type of guitar neck that is shaped like the letter U.

It’s a popular choice for guitarists who want to play faster and have more access to the higher frets. 

Guitar necks with U-shapes are heavy to hold. They have a rounded shape that makes them feel like baseball bats.

The neck’s depth distinguishes U shape necks from C or D shape necks. 

It’s important to consider the type of guitar you’re playing when deciding which neck shape is best for you.

Remember, a u-shaped neck can give you more control and speed, but it’s up to you to decide if it’s the right choice for you.

Read next: Best wood for electric guitars | Full guide matching wood & tone

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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