Total Beginner: Neck Profile

Discussion in 'Electric Instruments' started by BonMat, Aug 26, 2017.

  1. BonMat

    BonMat New Member

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    Looking to tap your collective wisdom about the impact of neck profile for a beginner.

    I'm a total beginner to guitar, starting at age 39. (I tell my wife, there are worse mid-life crises.) I've been goofing around with my kid's 3/4 scale Squier for a few months now. After a lot of reading and numerous trips to various guitar stores, I've narrowed down my first purchase to an SE Tremonti or an SE Zach Myers. I love the ZM look, weight, and satin finish neck. But I've got small hands/short fingers, and it seems like the Tremonti's Wide Thin neck works better for me than the ZM's Wide Fat. It feels like I can more easily and cleanly fret chords on the Wide Thin. It also feels like the Tremonti's neck's shoulders (at least the one I've been able to handle) are less pronounced -- more rounded -- which feels easier to play. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to play the two side-by-side. And I realize that small differences among individual units could also account for some of the difference too.

    Is my perception legitimate? Or is it simply that I'm a beginner, lacking experience, and that the minimal difference (only 1/16th inch of depth, per PRS' Neck Profiles page) would mean very little over time?

    I realize there are other differences between the Tremonti and ZM -- weight, pickups, and the trem bridge -- but those are less important factors to me.
     
    #1 BonMat, Aug 26, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2017
  2. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Go for what feels good in your hand. Trust your judgment as to what feels best.
     
  3. grausch

    grausch New Member

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    Welcome to the forum - first rule is quite simply that you should get both...

    Neck profiles do make a difference and there is a good reason certain guitars (like the Bernie) have a reputation from being extremely comfortable to play. I measured my hand and finger size once - hands are pretty small and pinky is very short. My favourite neck profile is that of an Ibanez Fireman which is bigger still than my Bernies. The only neck profile that I have had issues with was that of a '58 reissue Explorer and that is visually bigger than the Fireman. I like having extra shoulder (which makes the neck wider still) so that I can vibrato without the strings falling off.

    With smaller hands, scale length matters more than neck size. Playing down the neck (1st to 3rd fret) means that the typical blues chord (index finger on 1st fret and pinky on 5th fret one string down) tends to be a stretch that I struggle to do. However, raising the guitar (I am still far away from Petrucci's height) and seeing Billy Sheehan describe how to tuck in the elbow to allow bigger stretches helped a lot. With practice the stretches became more manageable, but it is still not a position I like playing 12-bar blues in.

    I have no issues with getting my thumb over the neck with any of my guitars. Depending on what I play, the thumb can mute up to the D string easily.

    Biggest issue with thinner necks (Gibson 60s slim profile in my case) tends to be that my thumb cramps up with the aforementioned blues chord. Playing any song that relies heavily on these chords is much more difficult with my SG than with any of my PRSi - once the thumb cramps up it is only a matter of time before the rest of the hand does too. Except for the cramping, I get used to the other differences quickly.

    Now, getting back to scale length...Moving from a Bernie (24.5") to a Strat (25.5") is a massive jump. 25" is manageable and is a decent trade-off between string tension and my chording ability. The ZM is 24.5" and the Tremonti is 25", so both will play differently even with the different neck profiles. 24.5" is great for blues and bending and 25" is great for Maiden type gallops.
     
    BonMat likes this.
  4. stratlanta

    stratlanta How do brushstroke birds fly?

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    As a former guitar store employee when I was much younger, I'd say don't over think it right now. I'd get the guitar that speaks to me and that I can't get out of my head. As you get more experience the neck profile won't make as much difference. I too have small hands and I'm pretty neck-agnostic - I can play classical guitar necks, big fat PRS 594 necks, "slim taper" Gibson necks.... Of course I play ALL of them badly. Haha. But for now, I'd buy the guitar that makes you want to go back to it over and over. That's going to make the difference at this point. You can always experiment with neck sizes and shapes down the line. Or do like most of us seem to do - just buy them all... HAHA!
     
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  5. Casi1

    Casi1 New Member

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    Hello,

    My situation was similar to yours... I first picked up an electric guitar at age 37. I've been taking lessons since then and I am really into it.

    I recommend not overthinking it (like I did). Try as many necks as you possibly can before deciding on 'the one'. You will know the one because it will feel like it was designed for your hand. Is there any way that you can try them both side by side back to back?

    My first guitar was a Gibson with 60s neck, then I held my first PRS with Pattern Reg neck (and said bye bye to the Gibson) then I met an old PRS with a standard/regular neck and promptly fell in love. The PRS standard neck was simply made for my hand; all other neck shapes feel wrong (I can, however, tolerate the Fender C shape neck and I like the neck on their new American Prof series well enough). Of the recent PRS pattern necks, I've found that the Pattern shape is most similar to the old Standard shape even though the dimensions show that the Pattern Reg should be a better fit... I just know what feels right to me. As of today, I only stick with old Standard/Regular necks or new Pattern necks.

    Also you may end up as one of those folks with more than one favorite guitar with each guitar having a slightly different neck profile. It was difficult for me to do that but some folks have zero issues with switching things up like that and re-adjusting to a different neck shape on the fly.

    :)
     
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  6. BonMat

    BonMat New Member

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    Wow! Thanks, everybody. I really appreciate the advice. I'm certainly drawn to the ZM's look. It's the one I can't get out of my head, I'll be inclined to play it any chance I get. But each time I pick up the Tremonti, it feels like my hands move across more naturally. And the sustain is great (a cliché, I know), despite the tremolo bridge. So I'm torn. I'm still looking for a shop that has both in stock, so I can play them side-by-side; and see how much variation there might be between units of the same model. No easy task. But I'm in no rush.
     
  7. G-Man

    G-Man New Member

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    My best advice is to not over think the neck profile too much. Your hand will adapt to the shape of the neck as you play more and more. Neck profiles have changed over times even the label people put to the necks may be different. You are on the right track but also put some thought into they type of sound you would like from your guitar. Do you want a vibrato or hard tail, aggressive pickups or more creamy sound and what style of music you like to play. Both guitars you are looking at are nice guitars for hard rock, metal, sustain type of music.

    The key thing to remember is that most PRS guitars can be aggressive as hell but also clean up nicely at lower volume and gain settings.
     
    BonMat likes this.
  8. JoeDirt

    JoeDirt New Member

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    I also have small hands/short fingers, and I prefer the thin neck profile myself. I was shopping for either a SE Standard 24 or a Standard 245. Would have preferred the 245 I think because of the scale, but it didn't feel all that comfortable to play. It had a wide fat profile. When I picked up a Standard 24 though with it's wide thin profile it felt really good. So definetly get what feels best in your hands and you'll be happier.
     
  9. Elliot

    Elliot Still a New Member

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    I'm also in the short finger camp. I began a long time ago with an old Kramer strat copy it had a medium sized neck. I was happy with it and didn't really know much else. I got used to it over a a couple of years.

    I stopped playing guitar for a pretty long time and started playing again with a custom 24 with a wide thin neck.The wide thin neck was great and I found it really easy to move up and down the board and the neck. I couldn't envision wanting to play a guitar with a chunkier neck.

    Not too long ago I decided to spring for a ted mccarty DC 245 with a wide fat neck. I love it. I was a bit worried it would be hard to get used to but it feels much better honestly. Plus, I'd imagine the 245 scale length helped a lot. I'd say go for it. The chunkier neck may even be more appealing than the thin neck, even with short fingers.
     
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  10. alantig

    alantig Sassyless pants

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    Lot of good advice here. I'm in the neck agnostic camp - but I wasn't always. I have what one of my friends calls "Billy Barty hands". There was a time I didn't think the wide fat profile worked for me. Then one day, I realized I was playing a wide fat neck and hadn't thought about it.

    That said, I definitely have preferences - the DGT neck is pretty much perfect to me.

    But I can't do the wrap-the-thumb thing on pretty much anything I have.
     
  11. walrus

    walrus New Member

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    Good advice here - I'd agree it's all about "feel" - different for everyone. Good luck!

    walrus
     
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  12. ArnaudS1979

    ArnaudS1979 New Member

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    It is all about the feel. Don't worry about the specs go with what your hand and your ear are drawn to. That's how I pick up my SE Cu24 last weekend. My first ever PRS. I was interested in this model so I tried every iteration in the shop and took the one that felt great in my hand and sounded the best - I guess I got lucky that both came from the same guitar :)

    While you should not worry about specs, I find that the finish on the neck of a guitar has a massive effect on how it feels. For me, it is satin finished (i.e. thinly applied) neck all the way.
     
    #12 ArnaudS1979, Aug 27, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2017
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  13. TwelfthTangent

    TwelfthTangent Drop D Sonic Assault

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    I couldn't agree more. Unless it's a one-off piece you're mainly going to collect and not play as much, I'd go with feel and then sound.
     
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  14. ArnaudS1979

    ArnaudS1979 New Member

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    When I wrote sound, I meant unplugged sound, you can always change the pickup if need be.
     
  15. BonMat

    BonMat New Member

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    Interesting point about the sound unplugged. I find the SE Tremonti's unplugged sound really appealing. I don't know if it's the thicker body, the tremolo bridge and springs, or both. But it sounds good to me.

    I'm on the road right now and managed to find a shop with an SE 245 and two SE Tremontis on the floor. Which meant I could try Wide Fat and Wide Thin side-by-side. (And I could even see how much variation there is between two Wide Thin units.) The difference between Wide Fat and Wide Thin is there, for sure (although not the less pronounced shoulder I thought I'd noticed with a different SE Tremonti). I simply don't have the same reach on the Wide Fat. It's not terrible, but it's not optimal.

    Between the sound and the neck profile, I might have to admit to myself I like the look and idea of the ZM's semi-hollow body more than I like it's neck and sound. Tough decision. ...Maybe PRS will introduce a Trampas Green SE Tremonti for 2018?!
     
  16. andy474x

    andy474x Knows the Drill

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    If you want to try a nice neck for small hands... look at an S2! Not as bulky as the W/F, not as flat as the W/T. Truth is I like them all, but the S2 profile best.

    But the ZM and Tremonti are sweet guitars too... the Tremonti has a maple neck, maybe that's contributing to what you like about it sonically?
     
  17. BonMat

    BonMat New Member

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    Would love to consider, the S2, but my budget says no.
     
  18. Iceman101

    Iceman101 There's always room for one more.....

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    Maybe a little off topic, but do you want/need a trem (tremonti) or a stoptail (Myers). ? If you are a beginner I would't recommend a trem. Just to let you know:cool:
     
  19. Elliot

    Elliot Still a New Member

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    I wouldn't agree that you should avoid trems as a beginner. I think it's more of a personal choice depending on what you like to listen to. Trem is a bit more work but its worth it if you want to get trem sounds.
     
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  20. Atomic

    Atomic Who Dat

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    For me, I find that the neck carve matters less than the shape of the fretboard edge and the frets. a little bit of roll goes a long way. I dont like necks that are too flat though. the Ibanez Wizard and I do not get along.
     

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