Slim Taper vs Rounded Neck Shape (Gibson and Epiphone)


The Slim Taper and Rounded/ Rounded C are the most popular neck profiles made by Gibson and Epiphone. In this article I’ll directly compare the two neck shapes and dimensions to help you decide which is the best for you.

Here’s the quick answer…

The Gibson and Epiphone Slim Taper neck has a D-profile, whereas the Rounded neck has a C-profile. The Slim Taper suits smaller hands and is approximately 7% thinner compared to the Rounded neck which feels fuller and better suited to guitarists with larger hands.

Slim Taper Neck 101

The Gibson Slim Taper neck is the most common neck shape offered by Gibson and Epiphone. It features on many extremely popular models including the Gibson/ Epiphone Les Paul Standard 60s, Classic and Studio. It can also be found on most SG models and the Firebird, Flying V and Explorer.

The Slim Taper neck has a D profile and as the name would suggest, it is the thinnest (in terms of depth) neck that the manufacture makes.

There are two types of this neck profile:

  • Slim Taper
  • Asymmetrical Slim Taper

The Asymmetrical Slim Taper is thinner on the higher pitch strings but the same depth as the regular Slim Taper on the lower strings. This is a more modern take on the Slim Taper and is seen on models such as the Gibson SG Modern, and the Epiphone Les Paul and SG Modern and Prophecy models.

Rounded Neck 101

The Gibson rounded neck profile is more traditionally and typically seen on guitars which are designed to more closely mimic those of the ’50s. Although it’s not as commonly used as the Slim Taper, it can be seen on quite a few models including the Gibson SG/ Les Paul 50s Standard, and Gibson Les Paul/ SG Tribute.

The Rounded neck has a C profile and is fairly chunky which makes it great for larger hands or those who prefer the feeling of a fuller neck. You may also see the Rounded C (rather than just the “Rounded”) on some models, however the dimensions and shapes are pretty much identical to each other.

Interested in other neck profiles? Check out my complete guide to the Gibson neck profiles to learn everything you need to know,

Comparison

Now we’ve been through the basics, let’s consider the differences between these two necks in some more detail. The Slim Taper and Rounded necks vary in two ways:

  • Profile/ Shape
  • Depth/ Thickness

Profile/ Shape

Before we jump into the depth/ thickness comparison, we need to address the shape of the necks as this also affects how they feel.

The Slim Taper neck has a D-profile and the Rounded neck has a C-profile.

The profile, of a guitar neck is independent of the thickness. It simply refers to the shape of it. Although the thickness of these two necks does differ, I want to address the shape on its own first.

Here’s a diagram to show what two equally thick C and D shape necks look like.

As you’ll notice, the C-shape neck has a curved design and shallow shoulders. It is often referred to as an oval shape neck for this reason. The D-shape neck on the other hand has broader, more square shoulders and as a result is flatter across the mid-section.

The C-shape is pretty universally comfortable and suits most hand positionings. The D-shape is also pretty comfortable for most guitarists but generally suits players who like to have their thumb on the back of the guitar, rather than over the top.

The D-shape neck is very popular for lead-playing and shredding, because the flatter mid-section allows players to anchor their thumb on the back of the neck and keep it nice and stable whilst adopting a more classical hand position.

Check out my in-depth comparison between C and D shape necks for more info.

Depth/ Thickness

The depth or thickness of a guitar neck greatly affects how it feels and who will find it the most comfortable. The depth of a guitar neck is measured at the widest point (usually at the centre).

The exact width of each neck will differ usually only by about 1-3/100th of an inch due to slightly differences in the manufacturing process. That’s why one Les Paul 60s Standard “Slim Taper” neck may be slightly thicker than another LP 60s Standard.

Most Slim Taper necks are pretty much the same thickness across models, but the Rounded neck thickness varies a bit more. Most models have a similar thickness but the Rounded neck on the Gibson Les Paul Tribute is typically slightly slimmer compared to the other models.

  • On average the Gibson Slim Taper neck is 0.82″ thick at the first fret and 0.93″ at the 12th fret
  • On average the Gibson Rounded neck is 0.87″ thick at the first fret and 0.98″ thick at the 12th fret

This means that the Rounded neck is approximately 6% thicker at the 1st fret and 7% thicker at the 12th fret compared to the Slim Taper neck.

The percentages are very similar for the Epiphone versions however the necks are typically 0.02″ thinner compared to the Gibson versions.

Below is a table listing the average thickness of each neck profile on the most popular Gibson models. I have averaged the measurements from at least 5 specimens of each guitar to get some reliable numbers.

Gibson Slim Taper NeckThickness at 1st FretThickness at 12th Fret
Les Paul Modern0.82”0.95”
Les Paul Classic0.81”0.92”
Les Paul 60s Standard0.82”0.94”
SG Standard ‘610.82”0.92”
Explorer0.83”0.94”
Flying V0.81”0.91”
Gibson Rounded NeckThickness at 1st FretThickness at 12th Fret
Les Paul 50s Standard0.90”1.00”
Les Paul Tribute0.84”0.97”
SG Standard0.87”0.97”
Les Paul 70s Deluxe0.88”0.99”
ES-3350.88”0.96”
ES-3450.87”0.97”

Which Neck is Best?

This is very much down to personal preference.

  • The Slim Taper neck is typically more suitable for players with smaller hands who prefer the slimmer design and squarer shoulders of a D-profile.
  • The Rounded neck is better for larger hands and players who find the Slim Taper too thin which can cause some cramping.

I’d highly recommend going to your local guitar store and trying out the Slim Taper and Rounded neck in person so you can really figure out which you prefer.

I have very small hands and the Slim Taper is by far the most comfortable option for me. However, I know a fellow guitarist who hands down prefers the Rounded neck shape as it has a more vintage feel.

Which Gibson Guitars Have Slim Taper and Rounded Necks?

Here is a list of all the non-artist signature Gibson and Epiphone electric guitars with either Slim Taper or Rounded necks available at the time of writing.

Gibson Guitars with Slim Taper Necks

  • Les Paul Modern
  • Les Paul Classic
  • Les Paul Studio
  • Les Paul Standard 60s
  • SG Standard ’61
  • SG Special
  • SG Junior
  • SG Modern (asymmetrical)
  • Explorer
  • 70s Explorer
  • Firebird
  • Flying V
  • 70s Flying V

Epiphone Guitars with Slim Taper Necks

  • Les Paul Junior
  • Les Paul Custom
  • Les Paul Classic
  • Les Paul Standard ’60s
  • Les Paul Special E-II
  • Les Paul Studio
  • Les Paul Melody Maker
  • Power Players Les Paul
  • Les Paul Modern (asymmetrical)
  • Les Paul Prophecy (asymmetrical)
  • SG Standard 1961
  • SG Special
  • SG Standard
  • SG Standard 60s
  • SG Custom
  • SG Classic
  • Power Players SG
  • SG Modern (asymmetrical)
  • SG Prophecy (asymmetrical)
  • Firebird
  • Explorer
  • Flying V
  • Flying V Prophecy (asymmetrical)

Gibson Guitars with Rounded Necks

  • Les Paul Standard 50s
  • Les Paul Tribute
  • Les Paul Special Tribute
  • SG Standard
  • SG Tribute
  • Les Paul 70s Deluxe
  • ES-335
  • ES-345
  • ES-339

Epiphone Guitars with Rounded Necks

  • Les Paul Standard 50s
  • ES-335
  • ES-339

Heather

Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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