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REPLACEMENT NECK BUYING GUIDE

WHY REPLACE A GUITAR NECK?

A new neck will give any guitar or bass a fresh tone and feel. We’ll make it easy to navigate the world of neck profiles and fingerboard radii so your instrument gets a guaranteed upgrade.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

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NECK SHAPE

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NECK AND FINGERBOARD MATERIAL

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FRET & FRETBOARD RADIUS

C-V-U?  WHICH NECK SHAPE IS FOR YOU?

The term “neck profile” refers to the shape of the back of a guitar neck in cross section, and it’s often used interchangeably with the term “back shape” or even “neck shape.”


What does all this mean to the average guitar player? First, it’s important to understand that neck profile doesn’t affect the sound of the guitar itself; rather, it affects the way you play it. And there isn’t one shape that’s objectively better than another when it comes to playing. It’s purely a matter of personal preference.


Fender generally uses the letters C, U, V (in addition to Oval) to designate its neck profiles. The actual shape of these letters roughly corresponds to the shape of the back the neck in cross section, and each may have varying depths — different thicknesses from the front of the neck to the back, resulting in terms such as “thick C shape” and “deep U shape,” etc. Let's take a look at some neck profile options and what each can offer you. 

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"C" SHAPE

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"V" SHAPE

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"U" SHAPE

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OVAL SHAPE

C-SHAPED NECK PROFILE

This is the most common modern neck profile: C-shaped necks have a comfortable profile that works well for most playing styles. They are usually not as deep as most U- and V-shaped neck profiles.

V-SHAPED NECK PROFILE

Two versions of this type are popular — a more rounded “soft” V, and a more pointed “hard” V often preferred by players more comfortable with their thumb hanging over the edge of the fingerboard.

U-SHAPED NECK PROFILE

Chunky and rounded, with high shoulders. Deep U-shaped necks are good for players with large hands, and players more comfortable with their thumb on the back or side of the neck.

OVAL-SHAPED NECK PROFILE

Made famous by the Charvel speed neck, some people call this a D-shaped neck, as it takes the classic C shape and flattens the edges for fast playing.

NECK & FINGERBOARD MATERIAL

MAPLE

ROSEWOOD

PAU FERRO

EBONY

MAPLE

ROSEWOOD

ROASTED MAPLE

BLOCK INLAY

WHAT IS FINGERBOARD RADIUS?

When you’re shopping for a replacement neck, one of the dimensions you’ll be presented with is fingerboard radius. What is that? How is it measured, and why is it important?

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The fingerboard radius is the measure of the arc of the fingerboard across its width. A circle with a 9.5” radius yields a 9.5” fingerboard radius, which is slightly flatter than a 7.25” radius. The lower the measurement, the greater the curvature, and vice versa (see diagram below). 


Fingerboard radius impacts playability, as a smaller (more curved) radius is generally perceived as more comfortable for playing chords, while a larger (less curved) radius is generally considered better for single-note playing and bending.

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Fender has a few of its own well-established fingerboard radius conventions that have evolved over the years to reflect player preferences. Today, Fender’s most prevalent radii are the modern 9.5” radius (241mm), which was adopted in the 1980s, and 7.25” (184mm), a vintage-era spec.


You may also see compound-radius fingerboards, in which the degree of curvature gradually changes along the length of the neck, with the arc greatest near the headstock and gradually (but not completely) flattening toward the body. Some guitarists find the more rounded radius near the headstock preferable for chording and the more flattened radius near the body preferable for soloing.

NARROW TALL? MEDIUM JUMBO? FRET SIZES EXPLAINED

While guitar shopping, you will often run across mention of the size of a guitar’s frets – “jumbo frets” or “medium jumbo frets” and so forth.


What’s the difference? Why have different fret sizes?

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Our fret wire maker produces five main fret sizes. Listed by name, crown width and crown height, they are, from smallest to largest:


Vintage: The smallest fret wire found on older Fender necks (.084″ x .039″).

Vintage Tall: Wider but not as tall as vintage (.083″ x .045″).

Medium Jumbo: Used on Player Series and other popular Fender necks. (.103″ x .046″).

Narrow Tall: Used on American Pro II necks (.094″ x .054″).

Jumbo: The largest fret wire available (.110″ x .055″).

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Which size you like is purely a matter of preference, although it can affect your playing style. If you like your fingers to actually touch the fingerboard when fretting the strings, frets that aren’t very tall are for you. 


On the other hand, jumbo fret wire can provide easier playability with better sustain, tone and bending because you don’t have to press as hard to fret the strings, but your fingers probably won’t even touch the fingerboard, which could take some getting used to if you’re accustomed to smaller frets.

MODDING MADE EASY

HOW TO ATTACH REPLACEMENT NECK

HOW TO ATTACH REPLACEMENT NECK

If you’d like professional assistance—click here to find an authorized Fender service center near you.