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Old 05-24-2012, 08:47 AM
markallen markallen is offline
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Default Traditional Advantages / Disadvantages of a thinner neck?

Hi Gang,

I need help with a dilemma. I have several Talylors with their standard neck profile and also a beautiful custom that has a thin neck profile very similar to a Taylor T5. I'm having difficulty adapting to the thin neck and before I give up and decide to sell the guitar I wanted to at least throw out the question and ask in general what are the advantages of a thinner neck? My playing level falls somewhere between advanced beginner and early intermediate. Generally a combination of strumming and some finger picking patterns. I struggle continually with barre chords and they did seem to improve while using the thinner neck, but I never really could figure out if they improved due to the neck thickness or simply that I was practicing them more. I would rate my barre chord proficiency at maybe a 3 out of 10.

Any advice is greatly appreciated, I fear that if I sell the thin neck guitar, I may end up regretting doing so if there turns out to be a compelling reason to have a guitar with a thinner neck. Does that make any sense?

As always, many thanks for all the help.

Cheers,
Mark
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  #2  
Old 05-24-2012, 08:51 AM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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What styles of music do you play? How do you prefer to position your hand? Thumb over neck or thumb on back?
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Old 05-24-2012, 08:56 AM
markallen markallen is offline
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Originally Posted by WordMan View Post
What styles of music do you play? How do you prefer to position your hand? Thumb over neck or thumb on back?
Pretty much just open chords presently but definitely moving toward fingerstyle. 60's/70's folk, gospel etc. My thumb position seems to be normally over the neck and I've been trying to use my thumb more for picking up notes on the 6th string like when playing an "F" chord.
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Old 05-24-2012, 09:07 AM
Howard Emerson Howard Emerson is offline
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Originally Posted by fallboard View Post
Hi Gang,

I need help with a dilemma. I have several Talylors with their standard neck profile and also a beautiful custom that has a thin neck profile very similar to a Taylor T5. I'm having difficulty adapting to the thin neck and before I give up and decide to sell the guitar I wanted to at least throw out the question and ask in general what are the advantages of a thinner neck? My playing level falls somewhere between advanced beginner and early intermediate. Generally a combination of strumming and some finger picking patterns. I struggle continually with barre chords and they did seem to improve while using the thinner neck, but I never really could figure out if they improved due to the neck thickness or simply that I was practicing them more. I would rate my barre chord proficiency at maybe a 3 out of 10.

Any advice is greatly appreciated, I fear that if I sell the thin neck guitar, I may end up regretting doing so if there turns out to be a compelling reason to have a guitar with a thinner neck. Does that make any sense?

As always, many thanks for all the help.

Cheers,
Mark
Hi Mark,
For what it is worth: I have been playing guitar since I'm 12 years old. I'll be 61 in June. I still don't play barre chords, and never liked playing them as they always felt uncomfortable.

Got that? Okay.......

Just because a neck is thinner, thicker, wider, narrower, etc, etc has nothing to do with any particular style of play. The only thing that counts is your hand, on a particular neck shape/profile/width/depth/ etc, etc and how it feels to you.

It is, very much, like shopping for clothing. Even if you do not have a vast amount of experience as a player, you are more qualified than anybody else to determine what feels comfortable in your hand.

And here is the kicker: Your logic was that thinner would be easier to grab on to, and you were wrong. Your hands are telling you as much.

Small necks (less deep) have always bothered my hands, and I found that out from simple observation: If it hurts, don't do it.

You need to go to a well stocked music store and try out a bunch of guitars that are similar body shapes to what you now enjoy, but with larger necks.

Start with that, and if you notice that it's easier right away, pay attention to what your hands are saying.

They are the only voices that count in the long run, because if they hurt, you won't be playing anything.

HE
http://howardemerson.com/music2.html
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Old 05-24-2012, 09:19 AM
markallen markallen is offline
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Originally Posted by Howard Emerson View Post
Hi Mark,
For what it is worth: I have been playing guitar since I'm 12 years old. I'll be 61 in June. I still don't play barre chords, and never liked playing them as they always felt uncomfortable.

Got that? Okay.......

Just because a neck is thinner, thicker, wider, narrower, etc, etc has nothing to do with any particular style of play. The only thing that counts is your hand, on a particular neck shape/profile/width/depth/ etc, etc and how it feels to you.

It is, very much, like shopping for clothing. Even if you do not have a vast amount of experience as a player, you are more qualified than anybody else to determine what feels comfortable in your hand.

And here is the kicker: Your logic was that thinner would be easier to grab on to, and you were wrong. Your hands are telling you as much.

Small necks (less deep) have always bothered my hands, and I found that out from simple observation: If it hurts, don't do it.

You need to go to a well stocked music store and try out a bunch of guitars that are similar body shapes to what you now enjoy, but with larger necks.

Start with that, and if you notice that it's easier right away, pay attention to what your hands are saying.

They are the only voices that count in the long run, because if they hurt, you won't be playing anything.

HE
http://howardemerson.com/music2.html
Thanks Howard, that makes a lot of sense. I've obviously been listening to my brain more than my hands. Time to give the hand a bit of a listen!

One of my concerns was if I hold onto the guitar and it just ends up sitting in a closet or under a bed, it's not fair to the guitar as it really should be getting played on a regular basis. I would hate to see any bad guitar Karma come my way!!

Last edited by markallen; 05-24-2012 at 09:33 AM.
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  #6  
Old 05-24-2012, 09:29 AM
kerbie kerbie is offline
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I probably have slightly smaller hands, so I like the standard C-shaped necks. I also like Martin's low profile necks, but I don't own one. I tend to the think the thinner-to-average necks are easier to play for a lengthy time than the thicker ones. This is an issue though that is completely personal preference. So, I agree with Howard... play a lot of guitars and decide what's best for you. What's best for somebody else may be the worst choice you could make.
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  #7  
Old 05-24-2012, 09:39 AM
Howard Emerson Howard Emerson is offline
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Originally Posted by fallboard View Post
Thanks Howard, that makes a lot of sense. I've obviously been listening to my brain more than my hands. Time to give the hand a bit of a listen!

One of my concerns was if I hold onto the guitar and it just ends up sitting in a closet or under a bed, it's not fair to the guitar as it really should be getting played on a regular basis. I would hate to see and bad guitar Karma coming my way!!
Hi Mark,
I agree about selling a guitar that you won't play much. The only concern that you'll have will be potential buyers 'worrying' about the fact that it hurt your hand to play it.

That will mean it will hurt their hand too, right?

<sigh>

Don't blame your brain too much. It was probably being influenced by random internet ramblings as well.

HE
http://howardemerson.com/music2.html
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  #8  
Old 05-24-2012, 09:58 AM
JanVigne JanVigne is offline
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Here's the "logic" of a narrow at the nut fretboard - I assume that is what we are discussing here when you say "thin" neck.

Let's say you need a 20 Lb package of baby back ribs for the Memorial Day BBQ you're having at your house. The Fiesta Mart three blocks from your house has ribs on sale for $4.99 per pound plus they have the fixin's for the cole slaw you want to make at a good price too. The neighborhood deli/coffee bar/cool hangout place you like to visit has ribs for $8.99 per pound but they are clear over on the other side of town. They don't sell the makin's for the slaw. You happen to have forgotten to put gas in the car last night because you were busy picking up beer but there's a gas station on the way to the deli/coffee bar/cool hangout. It's an easy in/out at that station but they have gas for a dime more per gallon than the Fiesta Mart station which gives you a discount when you purchase groceries. The Fiesta Mart's gas station is always busy.

You know you'll probably see a friend at the "deli/ ... " and you'll get distracted which means you'll spend more time there when there's stuff to do around the house. Plus the Fiesta Mart has plenty of check out lanes and plenty of checkers so you'll get out of there quicker than the "deli/ ... ". There's also a friend you like to visit to play their high end boutique guitar and they are on the way over to the "deli/ ... " So, if you sort of ignore the stuff that needs doing around the house for awhile longer ...

And your daughter wants you to drop her of at her friend's house which is just down the street and around the corner from the Fiesta Mart. You need to get to the store as quickly as possible so you can begin the dry rub and let it sit for the night. The speed limit on all the streets between you and the two stores is 30 MPH and you know the police are watching for speeders over the holiday weekend. You'd hate to get a speeding ticket with your daughter in the car with you since that would set a bad example. And your car is parked up hill in your driveway so you'll have to back out.

Which store do you go to?


Well, obviously, there are a lot of red herrings in that shaggy dog story that have nothing to do with the thinner neck on a guitar. The only details that matter would be the Fiesta Mart is closer to where you are at than is the deli/coffee bar/cool hangout and the speed limit is the same for any direction you take.

Get how that is relevant to a thin guitar neck?

I thought you would. It's pretty simple when you think about moving your fingers from this note to that note. The speed limit of the trip is fixed and cannot be exceeded. Therefore, if you want to make the trip from your house to the ribs in the shortest amount of time, you go where? To the Fiesta Mart because it's closer.

On the guitar neck, if you have your fingers located on a C7 chord and you need to get to a G7 in the shortest amount of time, you want the strings that are the closest to where you are starting out from, right? That's the logic of a narrow fretboard.


Otherwise, as has been posted, its all in what feels best to your hand.
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Old 05-24-2012, 10:03 AM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Hi Mark,

I think Howard's advice makes complete sense. You have to evaluate what works for you. For some people, how their hand fits a guitar neck is a really big issue, and in your case, this sounds like the situation. I understand your trepidation about selling off an expensive custom guitar. But sometimes the only way to know what works for a person is to try something. You can't always tell until you have lived with a guitar for a while. I know I would feel that same way, but eventually, if the guitar doesn't work for you and even causes you trouble, you are better off getting your money out of it. Somebody will get a wonderful guitar and you will need to move on.

Good luck with this...

- Glenn
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Old 05-24-2012, 10:10 AM
markallen markallen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JanVigne View Post
Here's the "logic" of a narrow at the nut fretboard - I assume that is what we are discussing here when you say "thin" neck.

Let's say you need a 20 Lb package of baby back ribs for the Memorial Day BBQ you're having at your house. The Fiesta Mart three blocks from your house has ribs on sale for $4.99 per pound plus they have the fixin's for the cole slaw you want to make at a good price too. The neighborhood deli/coffee bar/cool hangout place you like to visit has ribs for $8.99 per pound but they are clear over on the other side of town. They don't sell the makin's for the slaw. You happen to have forgotten to put gas in the car last night because you were busy picking up beer but there's a gas station on the way to the deli/coffee bar/cool hangout. It's an easy in/out at that station but they have gas for a dime more per gallon than the Fiesta Mart station which gives you a discount when you purchase groceries. The Fiesta Mart's gas station is always busy.

You know you'll probably see a friend at the "deli/ ... " and you'll get distracted which means you'll spend more time there when there's stuff to do around the house. Plus the Fiesta Mart has plenty of check out lanes and plenty of checkers so you'll get out of there quicker than the "deli/ ... ". There's also a friend you like to visit to play their high end boutique guitar and they are on the way over to the "deli/ ... " So, if you sort of ignore the stuff that needs doing around the house for awhile longer ...

And your daughter wants you to drop her of at her friend's house which is just down the street and around the corner from the Fiesta Mart. You need to get to the store as quickly as possible so you can begin the dry rub and let it sit for the night. The speed limit on all the streets between you and the two stores is 30 MPH and you know the police are watching for speeders over the holiday weekend. You'd hate to get a speeding ticket with your daughter in the car with you since that would set a bad example. And your car is parked up hill in your driveway so you'll have to back out.
WOW!! Are you a psychic?? You just pretty much described my life!

Oh, and my initial thoughts were concerning neck thickness, not nut width. Not to worry though because as a psychic you already knew that!!
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Old 05-24-2012, 10:24 AM
JanVigne JanVigne is offline
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Knew what?
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Old 05-24-2012, 01:17 PM
markallen markallen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glennwillow View Post
Hi Mark,

I think Howard's advice makes complete sense. You have to evaluate what works for you. For some people, how their hand fits a guitar neck is a really big issue, and in your case, this sounds like the situation. I understand your trepidation about selling off an expensive custom guitar. But sometimes the only way to know what works for a person is to try something. You can't always tell until you have lived with a guitar for a while. I know I would feel that same way, but eventually, if the guitar doesn't work for you and even causes you trouble, you are better off getting your money out of it. Somebody will get a wonderful guitar and you will need to move on.

Good luck with this...

- Glenn
Thanks Glenn (and everyone),

As much as I don't want to let it go, the custom is going to be showing up soon in the classifieds. I really appreciate the input from everyone on this as it's dramatically helped me to focus on the issue at hand (no pun intended).

Cheers,

Mark
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Old 05-24-2012, 02:06 PM
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mikealpine mikealpine is offline
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I really don't know the answer to this, but if you love the custom, can you have the neck changed to something you like better? Can that be done without hurting the integrity of the guitar? I would think you could approach the luthier and ask. Of course, I have no idea how much that would cost, but if you love the guitar, it might be worth the exploration.
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Old 05-24-2012, 04:18 PM
markallen markallen is offline
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Originally Posted by mikealpine View Post
I really don't know the answer to this, but if you love the custom, can you have the neck changed to something you like better? Can that be done without hurting the integrity of the guitar? I would think you could approach the luthier and ask. Of course, I have no idea how much that would cost, but if you love the guitar, it might be worth the exploration.
Mike, we think alike as this was my first inclination, I spoke to the luthier and got a quote on replacing the neck, but financially it just didn't make sense. Besides, once I sell the custom, I can get in line with the same builder to have another one built!!
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Old 05-24-2012, 05:19 PM
ikravchik ikravchik is offline
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Default Slim

Slim necks are faster and better especially for playing barre chords. The reason why I play Taylors is because they have a slimmer=more comfortable neck. If you're playing simple rhythm guitar the neck size doesn't really matter, but if you want to play fast and complex with lots of chord changes and soloing a slim neck is the way to go. (Gibson started making slim necks for Les Paul in the 60's to accommodate the increasing complexity in guitar playing).

I know that I definitely play better on a guitar with a slim neck.
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