The shape and feel of a neck are one of the most important things for a guitar to feel right. No matter how pretty a guitar is or how good it sounds, when you don’t love the way the neck feels in your hand, you’re not going to play it much. Due to variance in hand sanding, finish and other details, no two guitar necks are exactly alike – even from manufacturer model to model. So the only way to get close to that ONE neck that feels right, you need to measure it.
I tell my customers to pick up a cheap set of calipers from the hardware store and follow these quick steps to give me those critical neck measurements. Contact me with your specifications, and we can get started talking about your new custom guitar.
Using the calipers, measure the width of the fingerboard right in front of the nut. Depending on your guitar, you should get numbers from 1.625 up to 1.750 inches.
With the strings removed, put the calipers on the nut side of the first fret. You want to be in the center of the fingerboard in between where your D and G string would be. You should get numbers anywhere from .775 to 1 inch. Now do the same at the 12 fret.
The contour is the basic shape of the back of the neck, such as a C, U, Soft V, etc. If you are unsure of the shape, look at the Neck Back Contours drawings on the USA Custom Guitars site.
You will need a special gauge to determine the guitar neck radius – the curve of the fingerboard. Luckily, you can download, print and cut out a free neck radius gauge, supplied by our friend Tony at Pickguardian.
The gauge has four numbered sides. Place it on your fingerboard and find out which side matches your fingerboard exactly.
Fret Size – Width and Height
With the calipers, measure the width of the fret at the point where it meets the fretboard, and measure the height of the fret. You can look at the Fret Sizes Chart on the USA Custom Guitars site to determine the size that matches with the fret you have.