Over the years, many musicians have tried different ways to solve the problems of discomfort in their instruments.
One of the main elements is and has always been the neck profile.
Guitar players are in search of solutions.
The most common option is to replace the uncomfortable neck with a new one, but others wonder if a remodeling would be good enough.
In short, a guitar neck can be reshaped if it meets certain characteristics. Necks that are too thin might not be reshaped because they could hinder the guitar’s performance. Also, it goes without saying that you can always make a neck thinner, but not fatter.
As you may notice, this is not an easy question to answer but don’t worry, we are here to guide you and help you.
Throughout this article, we will explain why certain necks can be reshaped while others cannot, and we will describe each relevant aspect so that you can eventually become an expert on the subject.
Can you change the shape of a guitar neck?
Each guitar model has its own neck measurement, size, and shape, thus varying from company to company.
There are different contours such as V Shape, C Shape, U Shape, D Shape, and others.
Some change in thickness, their radius is measured in inches and varies along the length of the neck (thicker at the first frets and tapering towards the higher frets).
In addition to that, the scale length differs even in the same guitar models.
Fortunately, these characteristics can be modified and adapted to the owner’s requirements.
Being made of wood, a malleable material, necks can be reshaped, re-contoured, and re-casted.
You might be wondering why would players intend to reshape their guitar necks.
Well, it can be due to many reasons like comfort or attrition, even because of looks but we will discuss that later on.
Is it common for guitarists to reshape their guitar’s neck?
Guitar necks are a fundamental part of the instrument.
Many of the essential elements of the guitar are found there: fretboard, frets, and truss rod, among others.
Although nowadays you can find guitars made of different materials, the standard is and always has been wood.
As the years go by, this material suffers from wear and tear not only by use but also by the climatic conditions to which it is exposed, maintenance, and storage.
That may be one of the reasons why you would want to remodel your neck, but it will not be the only one.
For many players, some necks feel thinner or thicker than others, which can make this section of the neck uncomfortable to play.
It’s not very common to hear players modify this part on their guitars, but that doesn’t mean no one does.
Some famous musicians have released their own models of guitars with specific features, including the shape and thickness of the neck.
But back to the matter at hand, the only thing I can think of are musicians whose instruments are so thick and large that they cause discomfort to the playing hand.
However, I would say that this is not a viable option since the neck of the guitar plays an extremely important role in the sound and resonance of the instrument.
Therefore, although some guitarists may prefer to alter the neck of their instrument, it is not something that everyone does.
It is perhaps more common for guitarists with small hands who are looking for a piece that fits their body better.
What are the limitations of reshaping a guitar neck?
Although it could be a good option to make your instrument more comfortable, reshaping a guitar neck could present certain limitations.
As it requires woodwork which is destructive activity, remodeling a thick neck will be possible but you can’t go back to the original.
In addition, even though it seems obvious, a thinner neck profile couldn’t be thickened.
Some players embed materials or new pieces of wood to the neck to make it thicker but it won’t be a practical nor smart idea at all.
Furthermore, is important to bear in mind that there’s no way to know at what depth the truss rod is set.
If it is located considerably deep, you may expose it when narrowing the neck so you have to be extra careful.
Apart from thickness issues, there won’t be any trouble when reshaping a neck.
Maybe some shapes like U-shapes will be difficult to reach when going from a hard V-shape because the piece of wood will end up wafer thin and prone to suffer hence unusable.
Do guitar techs reshape guitar necks?
When dealing with electronics and their maintenance it is common to have your instrument serviced by a technician.
They are professionals, they work mostly in pickup mods, soldering wires, and work related to circuit issues.
When looking for a neck reshape it is usual to go for a luthier.
Their main job is to handcraft instruments, hence they specialized in woodwork.
Nonetheless, both usually perform tasks common to the other.
Technicians are a bit of a luthier and vice versa.
Therefore, the two may be able to rework a guitar neck.
The important aspect is that they must be used to and know how to deal with woodwork.
Can a reshaped neck be as good as new?
When changing a guitar neck profile, the player intends to improve the playability and feel of the instrument.
It is said that going for a new neck is better than adjusting your old one but is not always that way.
Obviously, new components are always welcome, being unused pieces, they are ready to be installed and enjoyed instantly without the need to adjust or modify them too much.
Nevertheless, in the right hands, it might surprise you how good a reshaped guitar neck can be.
What is more, the condition of the wood also influences the result. Old and worn wood may not be able to withstand the narrowing process.
Therefore, everything relies on the neck state. In some cases, a reshaping will work perfectly but in some others, the best option will be getting a brand-new neck.
Can any guitar neck be reshaped?
As mentioned before, there are a few things to consider if you want a reshaped guitar neck.
Unfortunately, not all guitar necks can be remodeled.
Extremely thin neck profiles, such as those from the early 1960s, will be risky to work with.
In addition to that, damaged wood is also difficult to treat because it is weak and will be prone to breakage.
As a result, I would say that the thicker the neck is, the easier will be to reshape it.
If you are dealing with a thinner neck profile, you’d better go and get a new one instead of remodeling it.
Is it worth it to reshape the neck of a guitar?
This question is hard to answer.
If you are a regular reader, you will know that here in GearAficioando we always remark that everything relies on the player’s requirements.
Musicians tend to reshape their guitar necks in order to feel more comfortable or maybe to recover damaged sections.
If you feel satisfied with the outcome, it will for sure be worth it.
On the other hand, remember that altering the neck will influence the instrument’s performance regarding sustain and tone.
In those situations, you have to be extremely careful because your precious guitar might end up ruined.
To sum up, analyze every concerning aspect, ask both luthiers and technicians to take a look at your neck and they will give an honest answer.
Show them your guitar, explain in detail what you want, and they will tell you which is the best option for your situation.
Hello there, my name is Ramiro and I’ve been playing guitar for almost 20 years. I’m obsessed with everything gear-related and I thought it might be worth sharing it. From guitars, pedals, amps, and synths to studio gear and production tips, I hope you find what I post here useful, and I’ll try my best to keep it entertaining also.