Fender Neck Profiles & Shapes (Differences Explained)

Last updated:
Disclosure: We may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.
  • Learn about the different neck shapes Fender uses in their guitars
  • Discover the differences between neck profiles and how they affect playability
  • Find out which neck profile shape is best for your playing style 

The term neck profile, or neck shape, in guitar manufacturing refers to how the back of the neck is shaped in cross-section. This isn’t the same as the depth or width of the neck or radius of the fretboard. 

Along with factors like body shape, the neck profile affects (sometimes drastically) how comfortable a guitar is to play.

Fender has three primary neck profiles they use in crafting their guitars – C, U, and V. These letter designations give you an idea of how the back of the neck is shaped. Each shape has various offshoots that are slightly different, usually in terms of thickness.

If you’re wondering which is best for you – you’re not alone. In this article, we’ll examine the different profiles Fender uses. Let’s dive in!

What are the Differences Between Fender Neck Profiles and Shapes?

The terms neck profile and neck shape are used interchangeably. Fender labels their necks by letters – C, U, and V. This refers to the general shape of the neck in cross-section.

“Shoulders” refers to the curve of the back of the neck on either side of the center point of the cross-section. Each shape usually comes in thick and thin variations, adding to the playability factor.

fender neck profile differences in shape
Image credit: Fender


This is the most common neck profile and is considered by many the easiest to play. Generally, when you think of a “standard” Fender neck, this is the shape you’re thinking of. C-shape necks are especially common with Stratocasters in particular. 

Fender’s not the only company that uses C-shape designs in their guitar necks. Gibson commonly uses them, obviously using a different callsign for it. 

The shoulders on a C-shape neck are more curved than the U-shape. Regardless of neck thickness, C-shape necks are usually thinner than the other two shapes. Multiple variations like the modern-C, deep-C, and thick-C. Modern-C is commonly called a “flat oval.” The feel is slimmer and fits easily into the average player’s palm. 

Most modern Fender guitars use a C-shape neck, but reissues often come with the neck profile originally used when crafting them. It’s used on newer Stratocaster and Telecaster models like the American Performer and Player lines and Squier models. You’ll find deep C-necks on the American Professional series and thick C on the American 60s Strats.

All around, C-shape necks are comfortable to play for all hand sizes. Some say they’re not as good for back-of-the-neck hand positioning – a standard for many guitarists. But by design, they are the most well-rounded (pun intended!) of Fender’s neck profiles. Players with larger hands might prefer the deep-C shape, while those with smaller hands might opt for the modern-C. 


This is the thickest shape in cross-section and comes in varying degrees of thickness. It’s got a larger, rounded profile, and the shoulders are a lot flatter than the C-shape. U-shape necks are the thickest in Fender’s lineup. You may have heard people refer to thicker necks as “baseball bat” necks. This is the profile they’re talking about. 

But not all U-shape necks are intimidatingly thick. Fender’s do tend to be, but plenty of other manufacturers use the idea to varying degrees of thickness. They’re good for larger hands and players who like to rest their thumb on the back of the neck when playing. They can be difficult to play with if you have smaller hands and/or shorter fingers.

It was used in Fender’s older models like the original Telecasters and the American Original 50’s reissues. Some players think the additional mass of the neck adds sustain and has a better overall tone, but just like all things tone-related, this is subjective.


One of the less common neck profiles is the V-shape. It was most common in the ‘50s during Fender’s salad days. This shape has a more pronounced point in the center cross-section, and the shoulders have a more sloped pitch.

It comes in two primary types – “hard” and “soft.” The hard-V style has a more pronounced point in the middle. The soft V-shape is closer to a C-shape. Both come in thick and thin variations. But both still have the signature point in the center. The thickness just affects how rounded the shoulders are.

By now, you must be wondering, “if this is such an esoteric neck shape, what kind of Fender models use it?” You’ll find it on the Vintera ‘50s, JV Modified, and the American Original ‘50s reissue models. 

Some signature models use it as well, like the ones from two of the best Erics to ever pick up a guitar – Clapton, and Johnson. Ironically, it’s very common to find on modern guitars tailor-built for shredders and fast, heavy styles. This is because the design perfectly fits the shape the palm takes when traveling up and down the fretboard quickly – a must-have for the style.

So, being such a seemingly polarizing neck shape…what kind of player does it suit best? It’s comfortable for guitarists who like to keep their thumb anchored on the back of the neck. If you like to keep your thumb on the top of the fretboard, it might be a good choice for you as well. Some players find it too thin for rhythm work, but your mileage may vary.


This is Fender’s newest neck profile. Created by their Custom Shop, it’s officially referred to as the C-to-D neck profile. This means it’s a compound profile, a modern C-shape that gradually becomes a D-shape toward the neck’s heel.

These necks also have their truss rod at the top of the nut, meaning you don’t have to remove the neck to adjust it. Every guitarist and tech hate adjusting those! Comfortable and playable, this new shape is only available through ordering a Stratocaster or Telecaster through Fender’s Custom Shop.


Which guitar neck shape is best?This is based on player preference. Some players like the thickness and feel of the U-shape. Players with smaller hands might prefer the most common C-shape. Shred heads love the comfort and speed allowed by the V-shape. Try each one out if you can and find the best one for you!

What is the neck profile on a Fender Telecaster?

Original Telecasters had large necks and were built with the thicker U-shape. Newer models use Fender’s C-shape, generally the “modern-C” or “deep-C” profile.

Which Fender neck profile is best for small hands?

Many players prefer the C-shape if they have smaller hands. There are different variations, but overall this shape is the most comfortable to play with. The new D-shape is a compound profile that’s really appealing but only available from the Fender Custom Shop.

What is the easiest guitar neck shape to play?

This can depend on your playing style and the size of your hands. But everyone’s style and hand positioning are different, so it comes down to what feels the best for you. Many players find the C-shape the best compromise of Fender’s neck profiles.

What is Fender’s modern C-neck profile?

The modern-C profile is a flat oval shape. The shoulders are broader than other shapes, and it’s a design style that can appeal to any player. This neck profile is often paired with a compound radius fretboard.