Choosing your the best neck shape for your new guitar is arguably the most important decision you’ll need to make. In this article, I’ll be taking an in-depth look at the C and V neck profiles and their variants, so you can understand what kind of players they are best suited to.
The Quick Answer
C-shape guitar necks are more curved compared to V-shape necks which are more pointed and have shallower shoulders. C-shape necks are well-suited to most hand sizes and playing styles whereas V-shape necks typically suit players who like to rest their hand on the back of the neck or over the fretboard.
|Curved shape with rounded shoulders||Pointed shape with shallow shoulders|
|More universally comfortable||Best suits specific hand positions|
|Suits players who have their thumb “floating” rather than touching the neck||Suits players who rest their thumb on the back of the guitar or over the top|
|Most common neck profile||Rarer neck profile seen mostly on vintage guitars|
C-shape necks are often described as oval shaped due to their curved shoulders. C-shape necks are the most universally comfortable and widely used by many guitar manufacturers such as Fender, Squier, Gibson, Epiphone, Schecter and Ibanez.
There are many different variants of the C-shape neck including the Modern C and Deep C. Most modern Fender guitars typically have a modern C-shape neck which feels relatively slim compared to a deep C which feels a bit chunkier.
Many Gibson guitars including the Les Paul and SG models feature C-shape necks. For example, the ’50s Rounded profile is a thick variant of the C-shape, whereas the Slim Taper profile which is seen on many modern Gibson and Epiphone guitars is more reminiscent of a Fender Modern-C.
Who do they Suit?
C-shape necks suit most hand-sizes and playing styles. They are typically best suited to players who do not have their thumb resting on the back of the neck or over the top. Modern-C necks are slimmer and suit players with smaller hands compared to deep-C necks which are better for players with larger hands.
Guitars with C-Shape Necks:
- Squier (modern C)
- Fender Player (modern C)
- Fender American Performer (modern C)
- Fender American Professional (deep C)
- Fender American Original ’60s Strat (thick C)
- Gibson Les Paul Standard ’50s (vintage C)
- Gibson ES-335 (rounded C)
- Gibson Les Paul Standard ’60s (slim taper C)
- Gibson Les Paul Studio (slim taper C)
- Gibson Les Paul Classic (slim taper C)
V-shape necks are fairly rare nowadays in comparison to other neck profiles. V-shape necks are characterised by their sloped shoulders and pointed shape.
The most common use of the V-shape is by Fender in the ’50s, so you will still find it on some tribute models such as the Vintera ’50s and American Original Stratocaster. However, you’ll also find it on more modern shred style guitars.
There are two main types of V-shape neck: the hard-V and the soft-V. The soft-V is more closely related to the C-shape compared to the hard-V. It is possible to get thick and thin versions of the hard-V and soft-V. The neck will maintain the pointed shape, but the edges will always be very shallow and the thickness more affects how deep the point is.
Who do they Suit?
V-shape necks typically suit players who like to rest their thumb on the back of the neck to anchor it, making it a popular choice for shredders. Some players may also use a V-shape if they like to rest their thumb over the top of the fretboard. It may feel a bit thin around the edges for barre chords so is generally not selected by rhythm players.
Guitar’s with V-Shape Necks:
- Fender Vintera ’50s Stratocaster
- American Original ’50s Stratocaster
- Fender Eric Johnson Stratocaster
- Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster
- Fender JV Modified ’50s Telecaster
Which Neck Profile is Best for You?
The C-shape tends to be the most universally comfortable neck profile, whilst the V-shape may be better catered to more specific requirements.
If you like to have your thumb essentially floating and not touching the back of the guitar, the C-shape will be more comfortable. However, if you like to have your thumb anchored at the back of the neck, the V-shape is likely to be more comfortable.
Players with smaller and larger hands will find some variants of both the V and C shape comfortable. Players will smaller hands will typically suit a modern-C or a soft-V shape whereas players with larger hands will probably lean towards a deep-C or hard-V shape.
The best neck profile for you depends on different factors including your hand size, the position of your hand on the neck and the styles of music you play, for example if you mainly play chords or prefer to shred.
Like with most things guitar related, it’s all personal preference and you’ll only know which neck profile is the best for you once you’ve tried a few different ones.
Here are some more articles you might find helpful:
In the market for a new guitar? I’ve written a complete buyer’s guide for electric guitars which takes you through all the things you need to consider and a step-by-step method to narrowing down your selection and choosing the best option. Here is a link to the article.