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We run through the most common types of guitar neck profiles
An in-depth look at what makes Gibson necks so special
And help you identify which neck type will work best for you
Gibson is one of the most well-known guitar companies in the world.
They’ve produced plenty of iconic electric guitars like the Gibson Les Paul or Gibson ES-335, which quite literally influenced the course of both music and guitar playing.
Since the introduction of the Gibson Les Paul in the 1950s, the neck profile of many Gibson guitars became incredibly popular, prompting many guitar companies to try to replicate them on their own instruments.
Before we dive into the world of Gibson neck profiles, let’s first take a look at different neck profiles for electric guitars.
Electric Guitar Neck Profiles
The C-shape neck is the most common guitar neck profile you’ll find. It’s a rounded oval neck in the shape of a C, which is a comfortable neck profile for most people.
But for players with large hands, bigger and deeper neck profiles will be a better fit. You can find C-shape necks on some Gibson guitars such as the ‘59 Gibson SG.
A U-shape neck is a thick guitar neck that is often referred to as a “baseball bat” neck, because of its rectangular and chunky nature.
The U-shape neck is great for players with large hands, and players with long fingers that wrap around the guitar neck, think Paul Gilbert playing that ludicrously huge Ibanez Fireman.
You’ll find a U-shape guitar necks on many classic Gibson guitars like Gibson ES-335<span style=”font-weight: 400;”> and Gibson Les Paul Standard ‘50s.
A modern flat oval, also called a D-shape or ‘modern’ neck, which has wide shoulders and a flat feel when playing.
This is one of the most common neck shapes for electric guitars, with the D-shape making fast playing and rapid movement across the fretboard that much easier. You’ll find D-shape necks on many Gibson Les Pauls.
Asymmetrical necks are unique guitar necks that are thinner on the bottom (high e string) and bulkier towards the top (low e string).
Asymmetrical necks are designed to be easier on the hand and allow for a more comfortable grip.
You’ll find asymmetrical necks on some signature guitars like Brad Paisley Signature Telecaster, and some newer Gibson models like the 2018 Gibson Les Paul HP.
Gibson Neck Profiles
Now that we looked at the various common neck profiles for the electric guitar, let’s take a look at the neck profiles that Gibson specifically uses.
You can find U-shape necks on the earlier Gibson guitars, and the early “baseball bat” style necks were heavy on the hands and caused hand fatigue.
Many Gibson guitars during the 1950s had U-shaped necks, but Gibson soon replaced them with rounder neck profiles to be a little more ergonomic and comfortable for the player.
Pro: More sustain, vintage, and naturally connects to the guitar body
Cons: Easily causes hand fatigue, not comfortable as rounder or thinner necks
Rounded XL/ Vintage 50s
Rounded XL or Vintage 50s is a chunky type of Gibson’s neck, which lies somewhere in between a U-Shape neck and a Rounded D-shape neck.
Many Les Paul fans compare the ‘50s and 60s Les Paul, and one of the key elements of the ‘50s Les Paul is the Rounded XL or Vintage 50s neck profile.
Many guitar players argue that the chunky ‘50s style neck provides more sustain and many old-school guitar fans still prefer the chunky Rounded XL or Vintage 50s neck over a thinner and modern neck profile.
Pro: More sustain, iconic ‘50s Les Paul neck
Cons: Harder to play chords, and harder to play fast and move around on the neck
Gibson’s Slim Taper necks came about in 1959 when Gibson started to explore more modern options for the guitar neck, making an effort to slim down the neck to a rounder and thinner size.
By 1960, all the new Les Pauls now came with the Slim Taper necks.
Slim Taper necks are thinner D-shaped necks with wider shoulders than the ‘50s style ones. They were designed to be more comfortable and reduce player fatigue.
Although it comes down to personal preference, many players refer to the Slim Taper neck as the most playable Les Paul neck.
Pros: Comfortable, easier to play fast, classic ‘60s Les Paul style neck
Cons: Not as much resonance as the thicker and chunkier necks
The C-shape neck is the most common type of guitar neck that you’ll find across all kinds of electric guitars, and that’s because the C-shape neck lies somewhere in between a thick and a thin neck. Which most players find to be the best middle ground.
The C-shape neck is slightly deeper than the Rounded D shape and is a lot shallower than the U-shape. Both sides of the neck are perfectly symmetrical, and it’s truly an all-around neck.
Many Gibson standard models come with a C-shape neck, and if you are unsure about what neck profile you want, a C-shape neck is a great place to start.
Pro: Comfortable, all-around neck
Cons: Hard to imitate the vintage feel
Slim Taper Asymmetrical/Rounded Asymmetrical
Gibson decided to make improvements on the classic Gibson neck shape and came up with a more ergonomic construction for the hand.
These two asymmetrical necks have a trimmed and rounded bottom (high e string), and the top side (low e string) is pretty much identical to the original Slim Taper and Rounded neck.
Although it might take some time to get used to these asymmetrical necks, these modern Gibson necks allow players to have better access to upper frets, and for many makes fretting chords that much easier.
Lead guitar playing on a Gibson is much easier with the asymmetrical neck.
Pro: Ergonomic, modern, easier to play big chords and harmonies
Cons: Different from the vintage and classic feel
To recap, we reviewed various Gibson neck profiles and looked at the pros and cons of each neck type.
Many players have strong opinions of their favorite type of guitar necks, and the decision ultimately comes down to your preference.
Just because a guitar neck is thinner, it’s not always going to make you play faster or play better.
We recommend you to go to a guitar store and try out all the guitar necks from vintage to modern to form a better picture of what works best for you!