Updated by Bobby
Updated on February 21st, 2023
Added the Rickenbacker 660 which has a 1.75" width at the nut and removed the Ibanez J Custom RG8570Z. Also replaced the Ibanez Joe Satriani Signature JS1CR with the JS2480.
A lot people are looking for an electric guitar with a thin neck, but what about those that prefer a wide neck? Many guitar players prefer this because the wider neck just feels better in their hands and is easier to play. This has an impact on the shape and thickness of the neck as well, which has a lot to say about the playing feel.
It should also give you slightly more room between each string.
This can be great for people in any of the following scenarios:
- With larger hands or fingers
- Who play a lot of rhythm and/or power chords
- Who are transferring to electric guitar from a classical guitar background (classical guitars have wide fretboards)
- Simply prefer the design of a wider neck
We're going to be looking for electric guitars that fit the following requirements:
- Are not extended range (not seven string or eight-string guitars)
- Are not modded or custom made
- Measure more than 1.68 inches wide at the nut
The "nut" on an electric guitar (for those who don't know) is at the top of the fretboard, near the headstock. That's where we'd be measuring for an electric guitar with a wider neck.
As a result, we'll be looking for electric guitars with a nut width that's wider than the typical 1.68 inches.
Electric Guitars with a Wider Neck (over 1.68")
As far as mainline electric guitar brands go, there are three that typically use a wider neck design, at or above 1.68 inches at the nut. They include, PRS, Gibson, and Ibanez.
Brands that Typically Use a Wider Neck
- PRS: 1.687 inches
- Gibson: 1.695 inches
- Ibanez: 1.692
Other brands that fluctuate more include Epiphone and Jackson. The rest of the mainline brands typically use a thinner neck, around 1.65 inches wide at the nut.
Epiphone Les Paul Modern
Gibson Les Paul Custom
Gibson Les Paul Junior
Gibson Les Paul Studio
Gibson Les Paul Standard
Gibson SG Standard
PRS SE Standard 24
Fender American Ultra Stratocaster
Ibanez Joe Satriani Signature JS2480
Ibanez Premium S1070PBZ
Ibanez Steve Vai Signature JEM77
Jackson Pro Series (Mick Thomson Signature) Soloist SL2
Ibanez Axion Label RGD61ALET
What is a normal neck width?
Most electric guitar necks measure between 1.65 and 1.67 inches at the nut, where the fretboard ends and meets the headstock. While the jump to 1.68 might not seem significant, even minimal space can make a huge difference in how a neck feels in your hands and responds to your playing.
Some of the higher end American Stratocasters cross over the 1.68 inch threshold, though most hover between 1.65 and 1.67 inches.
Like Stratocasters, some Telecasters on the higher quality tiers have a wider neck around 1.68 inches, but more commonly stay near 1.65 inches, especially in the mid to low price ranges.
Most Squier Strats measure 1.65 inches wide at the base of the neck.
Squier Telecasters have considerably thinner necks, as low as 1.6, but usually hovering around 1.65.
What is considered a "wide" electric guitar neck?
The cutoff we've established is 1.68 inches. Any electric guitar measuring 1.68 inches at the nut or higher would be considered to have a wide neck. This of course does not count extended range guitars (seven or eight string electrics) where the added fretboard width is due to additional strings.
Will I even be able to tell the difference?
While it seems like an extremely small difference, the "feel" of a 1.685 inch neck is going to be noticeable compared to 1.65 inches. Shorter scale lengths can also make this distinction feel more pronounced.
What is "scale length"?
The scale length mentioned in the table is the distance between the bridge and the base of the fretboard, per the following diagram:
Are wide neck electric guitars easier to play?
Earlier I highlighted some benefits of wide neck electric guitars, though none of those benefits necessarily make those guitars easier to play. Some players prefer them, because they give you more space between strings going up and down.
Thinner fretboards and longer scale lengths give you more space going side-to-side.
In other words, you might say that wide necks are better for chords and thin necks are better for solos.
Here's another way to break it down:
- Shorter scale length: Easier chords
- Wider neck: Easier chords
- Longer scale length: Easier Solos
- Thinner neck: Easier solos
So it depends on what style you play and what type of guitar player you are. Generally, rhythm guitar players will want a wider neck while lead guitar players will want something a little more thin, but there's no right or wrong answer here.
Obviously this list doesn't cover all electric guitars with a neck wider than 1.68 inches. However, it does highlight the brands and models that are well-known and commonly utilize this design. For rhythm players or people with bigger hands/fingers, it's good to have that extra fretboard space, even if it is a really small amount.
Anything to Add?
Do you know of any electric guitars with wide necks that we missed? Our target is over 1.68 inches, preferably 1.69 and higher. If so, leave a mention in the comments section below and we'll check it out.
Daniel R Musielski says
I learned on classical. My sons now have my late 70s Ibanez Les Paul copy & Fender acoustic. Seriously considering a Strat…just wish It had a wider neck since I play finger style. Any experience with a Strat with a 2-7/32 bridge?
Bobby Kittleberger says
Hey Daniel. I honestly doubt it, but I don’t know for sure. We’ve tinkered around with a lot of Strats. Generally speaking, Strats aren’t the way to go if you want a wide neck.
Tim Marshall says
Really fine article. I am a long time acoustic Rythmn player ( if there were a circle of 12 guitar players being forced to play lead and the worst to be shot, I would save them time and proclaim “ shoot me now ! “ ) and I am venturing into electrics. Previously I have taken different acoustics and have inserted stereo piezo/mic pickup systems (Seymour Duncan Duo Wave 18 v) to get bigger sounds. In particular this applied to a Gibson J-160 e I kept the original P 90 to allow a gain channel with the stereo outputs. So my point is I like the acoustic fretboards for the way I play and write and I like Gibson fretboards in my attempt to electrify my sound. Is there a physical parameter to fretboards that give a particular feel that draw people to the electric guitars they play. Is there a standard to fret height above fretboard base that addresses this or some other parameter that can help me understand why I like what I like and how I might design my search for my “dream fretboard “ ? Thank your patience with this lengthy query but you seemed an ideal portal to unload this posit.
Again great article!
Bobby Kittleberger says
Hey, thanks so much, Tim. I definitely relate to what you said about lead guitar. I’m honestly pretty terrible at it because I think very rhythmically.
As for your question about the fretboard and neck, I think what you would want to look at is the following:
– Width at nut (what this post addresses)
– Width at 12th fret
– Shape of neck (How pronounced is the curve?
For example, PRS guitars are said to have a very unique neck that feels larger with more curvature. Ibanez guitars typically have smaller necks and are designed to be ideal for fast playing styles.
Does this answer your question? My apologies if I’ve misunderstood you. If you have additional thoughts/questions, let me know. Thanks for the kind words.
Foz Foster says
I’m a rock guitarist who studies flamenco and I’ve recently bought and Eastman T64 thin line, the neck is 1.75 and plays like a dream!
Galen Peder says
I’d like to add the ESP LTD M-series. The nut is wider even than the nut on their single-cut offering, the EC-series.
I came across a brand called Halo Guitars that makes a wide neck 6-stting electric variety at close to 2″ at the nut, or 50mm, pretty much the same as a classical guitar.
Yep, I have a little bit of a familiarity with that brand.
the scale lenght illustration is wrong, you put the mesurement over the tremolo…
Should be bridge to nut. Looks fine to me.
What are you seeing different?
The difference is: the illustration is wrong. Being more specific, the left end of the arrow. The bridge is not the tremolo 🙂
So where would you put it? At the beginning of the bridge (near the bridge pickup), or the end, behind the tremolo? I feel like we’re splitting hairs here.
Not splitting hairs at all. The scale length on this guitar and all guitars is the distance from the nut to the *saddle(s)* on the bridge. The arrows on the illustration show the distance from the nut to the string anchor points on the tailpiece. On the Jazzmaster shown, that’s a difference that can be measured in inches. BIG difference.
Oh ok, I see. The saddles are located closer to the pickups on the Jazzmaster which I didn’t realize. Thanks for bearing with me on this and helping me out. I went ahead and just updated both graphics with a Stratocaster. Saddles to nut are a little more straightforward on that one.
Get your semantics in order please.
You want to compare thickness [and thin] separately to wide [and narrow], which will correspond to radius.
Patric Byrne says
Kudos to you for such illustrated article on wide-neck electric guitars. I am a guitar and guitar accessories enthusiast, and I was looking for such resources. Sadly, I couldn’t fall for wide necks since I have “baby fingers!” I was surfing the web and came across this article. Gratitude for writing it keeping the newbies in mind!
I`m a novice!
What is the correlation between nut width and string spacing? I have a fender strat with a 42.8mm LSR nut, I`m having it changed to a bone nut and the string spacing will be increased as allowed by extra room on the neck. Shouldn`t string spacing within limits be the main concern?
Hey Thomas – what size is the bone nut? How do you know it will increase the string spacing?
I showed my guitar to the person that should now be working on it. Him and his father who is an accomplished luthier and guitar builder both thought it would be possible to increase the string spacing. I do not know what the bone nut width is or will be but I`m sure they would tell me when I get the guitar back, hopefully this week. They will custom cut the bone nut to accomplish the increased string spacing. We did discuss that my guitar did have some extra space on the low-E string side they could use. I wonder if when Fender built my guitar if the nut was placed properly. I have a digital micrometer that I can take measurements with when the work is completed. I can`t wait to try playing it to see if it really makes the difference I am looking for. If not I will be looking for a new guitar.
Hey Thomas – thanks for sharing this. Definitely helpful information. Let us know how it turns out.
“As a result, we’ll be looking for electric guitars that are higher than the typical 52 mm at this position. ”
My apologies – that was worded strangely and ultimately a typo. Should have said “wider than 1.68 inches at the nut.” Corrected and thank you for bringing attention to it.
James Parrish says
Obviously all focus is on metal string instruments. I have a Godin Multiac Grand Concert, a nylon string electric with a 2″ nut. Guitar plays like warm butter. Yamaha also makes a nylon string electric with a 1.9″ nut. I have XL hands and the additional room makes all the difference.
James are you talking about this guitar? https://godinguitars.com/product/multiac-grand-concert-sa-natural-hg
Wouldn’t that be more so classified as an acoustic/electric?
James Parrish says
It is an electric acoustic. I play as both. I patch into a Roland G55 guitar synth and it becomes whatever you want it to be, with 2”nut!
No, wider necks are not better for rhythm playing, totally wrong. All the barre chords are easier on narrower necks. Wider necks are only good for fingerpicking style players. I wish Gibson knew that and didnt make SG with such wide necks, so uncomfortable.
Massive Fingers says
You have baby fingers, hahaha!
Tony Rex says
Most TRAVELER light weight electric and acoustic/electric have 1.75 inch nuts. Big Lou electrics (when you can find ’em) have 1.875 nuts
You forgot Rickenbacker! The Model 660 is 1.75″ neck width. I’m saving up for one…
This one? https://reverb.com/p/rickenbacker-660-electric-guitar
Do you have any documentation that can confirm the neck width?
From the horses mouth:-
You keep referring to the neck width as ‘wider’ and ‘thinner’… whereas it might be more correct to say ‘wider’ and ‘narrower’. ‘Thin’, to me, references the neck’s general profile (opposite of ‘fat’/’chunky’). I have thick fingers with quite fleshy tips, and I struggle to play most Fenders, and the narrower Gibson models. I tend to have a new nut made if the nut end of the neck will allow a slightly wider spacing E-e; consequently, my guitars are usually picked on the neck’s ability to cater for that aftermarket alteration. Even 0.1mm between strings at the nut (ie a spacing gain of 0.5mm overall) can make all the difference… though I am happy with the ‘typical’ 12th fret dimensions. I did have one of the 2015 Gibsons with the wider neck (though, oddly, they kept the string spacing at the nut the same as normal!) but I found its extra girth just a little too much. For me, 43.1-43.6mm is about ideal, dependent on neck carve. That’s 1-89/128th to 1-92/128th!
Nige – thanks for sharing your take on this. I agree that “narrower” would be a better way to word it. So which guitar did you settle on?
I have a few! Mainly Gibson LPs, chosen primarily because that particular sample had a nut width that allowed for ‘my’ preferred string spacing… often a hieved by having a new nut cut by my very accurate luthier. I am currently waiting on a bespoke guitar from Waghorn Guitars (based in UK), where all dimensions are bespoke. Should be interesting to see if this is the ‘one’!
Chris M says
I always said that if I could find an electric with a neck as wide as my Martin, I’d be a happy man! Many moons ago I learned to play on an old Yamaha acoustic and a Takamine! When my seriousness and love for the guitar was apparent, my dad gave me his 1976 shade top D-35! It was the only guitar I played for a decade or more until I started playing in bands and started buying electrics! It was so unnatural feeling and discouraging! I’m a faster cleaner player on the Martin than my Gretsch or my American Tele deluxe! Going to find a good wide neck guitar or a replacement neck for the tele that has a much wider profile!
Thanks for sharing, Chris. Hopefully list can be helpful to your search.
Jim wood says
I once saw the great Blues Guitar player John Campbell in concert. Amazingly he played Acoustics with added pickups? Perhaps for the wider necks? BTW his version of “ When the Levee Breaks”, blows away Led Zep.
Andrew Stott says
Big Lou guitars makes what appears to be replacement necks for fender guitars with neck width at nut 2” and 2 1/8th “ might be worth a try.. only problem is no fender name on headstock. They are $100 and don’t have any hardware on them.
Galen Peder says
Kiesel offers an electric classical guitar. (They also offer other various acoustic/electric guitars with other nut widths.)
And my Carvin, from before the name change, is the best guitar I’ve ever played.
Just my thoughts. 🙂
Jamie Smith says
I played acoustics for 30 years then found my fingers were getting fatter and I just could play as well. I bought a Seagull S6 which solved the problem.
A couple of years later I decided to venture into electric guitar. I found a luthier in the UK on Ebay who makes wider (46mm) Strat style necks. I bought a Strat and changed over the necks.
I sold the original Fender neck and it covered the cost of the wider one.
Sounds like a good deal. Seagull S6 is the way to go and the neck mod seems like a good find. Thanks for sharing.
Jamie Smith says
I also have a Stonebridge (Furch) acoustic with a wide neck which cost double the S6 and, to be honest, the S6 is a just as good.
Fred Overcashier says
I bought a Seagull S6 because of the wide nut. It was slightly damaged is what was stated and come to find the fretboard crushed at the 12 fret. I called Seagull but got no help from them. I guess Seagull sales junk.
They didn’t help you? I’m honestly a bit surprised at that.
Adam Danger says
Can you tell me this UK ebayer’s name? I’d love one of those necks
Jamie Smith says
I’m afraid I can’t. I bought it in 2018 and Ebay only keeps my purchase records back to 2019. I just searched wide guitar neck and wide guitar nut on there but he doesn’t show up. Shame because I had an idea to buy a Telecaster and fit one of his necks.
I can only recommend doing what I’m going to do and make regular searches, see what crops up.
As a newbie player i literally cannot deal with the standard nut widths on guitars. Mine is a 1.65 width and it seems so cramped to play that i get angry at times and just put it away for days/weeks at a time. Have never understood the logic of why guitar strings have to be so ridiculously close together. I am going to find a guitar with a 1 7/8 nut or even a 2 inch model that is made by Big Lou guitars and give this a try. There is just no way that i will ever be able to play proficiently with one of these standard neck guitars no matter how much i practice. Without these wide neck options available i’d be forced to just give up guitar playing permanently, and that would break my heart
Tim – thanks for sharing. Yeah it’s hard to find wide necks on electric guitars. You’re lucky to see anything above 1.65″ and above 1.7″ almost always requires some kind of a custom job. I hope you find something that works for you. Maybe start out on a classical guitar?
Totally agree with you Tim. My fingers are not that big but I still find the fretboard cramped on a standard guitar. I bought a classical guitar with 2.00 inch nut width and it made a big difference to the playability. Now I’m looking for something similar in electric. Big Lou guitars seem like the best option but I hate to buy a guitar with ever having had the chance to hold it and try it out. Probably have to though.
Chris B says
Hendrix had very large fingers. SVR and Clapton both had huge hands and sausage like fingers. They played strats just fine. then you have guys like Angus Young with tiny hands playing wide Gibson necks.
It’s about practice, practice and practice. Bigger fingers you need to be more precise in finger placement and learning tricks to cover the fact your fingers will touch more than one string down low (like the first three frets on the B string).
All that said, I love a wider (Gibson style) neck. But the 12″ radius makes a huge difference too compared to a 9″ strat radius.
Good luck and keep playing!
David G. Off says
Bobby @ Guitar Chalk
You may wish to double check the illustration under “What is scale length.” You appear to have marked the string “anchor point” on the Fender Jazzmaster not the “bridge” as one end of the “scale length.” It’s a small but important bit.
David – are you just saying it should go all the way to the end of the bridge hardware?
The scale length goes from the nut to the middle of the bridge. The strings often extend beyond the bridge but the vibrating portion of the string only goes to the bridge. That vibrating portion is the scale length.
David G. Off says
I’m saying that the left facing arrow in the illustration of the Fender Jazzmaster (IE the left most extent of the scale length) should point at the bridge (which is just to the left of the bridge pickup). The current illustration has the left arrow of the scale length pointing at the vibrato tail piece where the ball end of the strings attach. The segment of guitar string from the bridge to the vibrato is not part of the scale length if you define scale length as the string length from the nut to the bridge.
As classical guitar player I do prefer wider nut (classical guitar 53 mm / typical Gibson 43 mm). The difference is huge and it is much easier to play on wider one. Pity that majority of the makers stick with 43 mm which is, form my humbe opinion, not enough for comfortable play…
Interesting to have that perspective from a classical player. Is it just having the extra fretboard room? Makes sense.
David LaFlamme says
Ronda has “damn wide” guitars at a reasonable price and 1 7/8″ at the nut.
Ronda? Not sure I’m familiar with Ronda.
I think he meant “Rondo”
Not familiar with them either. Found one site but it just looks like a sketchy overseas deal.
Rondo based out of New Hampshire I believe. They have been around for a few decades or more. Well established and well liked.
I have two T635 Tagima Strat styles that have a 43mm nut and it is a world of difference compared to the standard 42mm on most other electrics. They advertise everything as 43mm however from experience, only the T635 is actually as advertised the others are 42mm.
I’ll keep an eye out for those guys. Thanks so much for sharing, Vince. Interesting take on the 43mm vs 42.