Guitars, Paramedics, Linux, and Me

May 1, 2014

Neck Profiles: Fender Guitars

Filed under: Guitars,Music — S. Kindley @ 2:24 am
Tags: , , ,

As I stated in my article on Gibson neck profiles I think most guitar players look for a particular “feel” about the neck when trying to choose a guitar. Obviously that doesn’t just apply to Gibsons. In this article we’ll discuss Fender neck profiles, shapes, and variations.

Gibson guitar necks are generally categorized into two types, or profiles, with slight variations while Fender has had a long tradition of either three or five basic neck shapes depending on who you ask. I’ll try to address the discrepancy and let you decide for yourself.

The Basic 3

First: The “3” basic shapes as explained by Fender today and published on the Fender website. Fender defines “neck shape” and a “neck profile” as the “back shape” of the neck when cut into cross section as illustrated below. Neck width, neck depth, and fingerboard radius are not to be used to compound or complicate the basic neck shape/profile of Fender guitars.

 

Fender Neck Profiles

Fender Neck Profiles

Fender uses variations of the “C“, “V“, and “U” designation for their necks. The illustration above shows from top to bottom “C“, “V“, and “U“.

C-shaped neck profile: The most common modern neck profile. C-shaped necks have an oval profile that works well for most playing styles.

V-shaped neck profile: Two versions are popular. A more rounded “soft” V and a more pointed “hard” V.

U-shaped neck profile: Chunky and rounded, with high shoulders. Some consider to be “baseball bat” necks.

There are also further subdivisions of each type, usually denoted by a design year or era (i.e., ’50s V shape, ’61 C shape, ’70s C shape), in which subtle period-specific variations in one of the basic neck profiles is recreated precisely.

There is occasional confusion about C, U and V neck profile designations and A, B, C and D neck width designations. From the early ’60s to the early ’70s, Fender referred specifically to the nut width of its instrument necks using the letters A (1 ½”), B (1 5/8″), C (1 ¾”) and D (1 7/8″). These letters were stamped on the butt-end of the necks and had nothing to do with neck profile.

— Source: Jeff Owens, Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. Nov 20, 2009.

http://www.fender.com/news/fender-neck-profiles/

Read on for more …

Now let’s address the “5” basic shapes some use to describe Fender necks using the image below from fretboard.com.

The Basic 5

5 Fender Neck Shapes

5 Fender Neck Shapes

Some recognize the shapes “U”, “Soft V”, “Oval”, “Hard V”, and “Flat Oval” as the 5 basic Fender neck shapes/profiles choosing to not designate a “C” shape/profile. While this is contraindicated by Fender in the article citation earlier in this article it is an interesting point. That point was addressed earlier in the Fender citation:

“There is occasional confusion about C, U and V neck profile designations and A, B, C and D neck width designations. From the early ’60s to the early ’70s, Fender referred specifically to the nut width of its instrument necks using the letters A (1 ½”), B (1 5/8″), C (1 ¾”) and D (1 7/8″). These letters were stamped on the butt-end of the necks and had nothing to do with neck profile.”

— Source: Jeff Owens, Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. Nov 20, 2009.

http://www.fender.com/news/fender-neck-profiles/

Fretboard.com once published:

Here are the basic neck shapes Fender uses:

  • No. 1 – Essentially a round, chunky, ’53 Tele shape – the “U” shape, with lots of shoulder
  • No. 2 – Also called the “54” or “soft V”; it has some shoulder, but less than No. 1
  • No. 3 – The 1960 and ’62 “oval” shape; thinner, front to back, at the 1st fret than at the 12th
  • No. 4 – Different from the large, soft No. 2, this is a “hard V” that’s .030″ thinner front to back, generally found on Strats from ’56 and ’57
  • No. 5 – The contemporary “heavy metal” style neck; similar to the ’80s neck on Jackson, Charvel, Ibanez and other models; much flatter
  • No. 1056 – Patterned from a 10-56 neck (10 = October, 56 = 1956), it’s a very big V neck. You could call this a good example of the ‘boatneck’

Any one of these patterns can be altered slightly to differentiate between one model guitar and another.

As to fret board radius dimensions, the vintage radius for early Strats and Teles was 7¼”. These days the typical radius is 9½”, which is nice for Blues bending and is used on the Eric Clapton model. There are a few differences, though. The SRV and Eric Johnson models have a 12″ radius, which makes for easier bends and less fretting out of the strings.

—- Source: Fretboard.com

http://www.fretboard.com/fenderneckclarity.html

 

Further confusing the issue with Fender neck shapes/profiles I ran across a number of images I’ve found that I’ll share with you here:

The 6 shapes:

Neck Shape 6

Neck Shape 6

The 7 Shapes:

The 7 Shapes

The 7 Shapes

 

The Granddaddy of Fender Neck Shapes/Profiles:

The Granddaddy

The Granddaddy

Conclusion:

As you can see Fender neck shapes/profiles are all over the map with slight variations due to year of manufacture, physical shape, and heavily dependent on variations to command a specific “named shape”. As usual there is no right or wrong and I imagine there are plenty more out there that I may not have covered here.

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3 Comments »

  1. GREAT ARTICLE, THOROUGHLY ENJOYED READING THIS…….I’M A U SHAPE MAN, WONDERFUL TO SEE THEM ALL TOGETHER LIKE THIS….SO INFORMATIVE!

    Comment by Matt Bullard — April 2, 2015 @ 3:11 am | Reply

  2. In this article we’ll discuss Fender neck profiles, shapes, and variations. Gibson … sstratocasterf.wordpress.com

    Comment by volkhardreussc8 — August 19, 2015 @ 9:28 am | Reply


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