Which years were Fender necks thickest ?

Which years were Fender necks thickest ?


telecaster thinline

The electric guitar as an instrument would probably not exist in its current form had it not been for Fender. From the Telecaster and Stratocaster to the Precision Bass, Fender instruments have been pivotal in shaping the sound of multiple music genres. From a distance, their iconic models have stayed the same but on closer inspection, it becomes clear that these guitars have been changing constantly with time. The thickness of their necks is one such feature. Varying significantly over the decades, the neck’s thickness affects not just the playability of the instrument but also the player’s connection to it. Understanding the evolution of Fender neck thickness offers a unique lens through which to view the brand’s history and its response to changing musical styles and player preferences.


Historical Context

Fender stratocaster olymipic white

Evolution of Musical Styles and Their Impact on Guitar Design

The 1950s and 1960s were transformative decades for music, characterized by the emergence of rock ‘n’ roll, blues, and later, the British Invasion and psychedelic rock. These styles demanded more from guitars, both in terms of sound and playability. Fender responded with innovations in guitar design, including modifications to neck thickness. The original Telecaster and Stratocaster models featured thick, “U”-shaped necks that were comfortable to hold and provided the sustain and resonance sought by players of the era.

As music evolved, so did the preferences of musicians. The late 1960s and 1970s saw a shift towards thinner “C”-shaped necks, which allowed for faster play and easier grip for some players. This period also coincided with Fender’s acquisition by CBS in 1965, marking the beginning of significant changes in production methods and design philosophies, including those related to neck thickness.

The changes in thickness of Fender necks over the years reflects a balancing act between tradition and innovation, where every adjustment in design was a response to the changing needs and preferences of musicians.


The top 10 Thickest Fender Guitar Necks – An Approximation


It is very important to understand that neck thickness isn’t something that is always maintained accurately. This is especially true for Fenders made completely by hand. However, here is a list of the guitars that are generally accepted to have the thickest necks.



 Year of Production

 Neck Profile  

 Approx. Thickness at 1st Fret

 Approx. Thickness at 12th Fret


 1952 Telecaster                






 1954 Stratocaster              






 1958 Telecaster                






 1959 Precision Bass            






 1957 Stratocaster              


 Soft V-Shaped 




 1962 Jazzmaster                






 1956 Stratocaster              






 1960 Telecaster Custom         






 1950 Broadcaster (reissues)    






 1963 Precision Bass (Custom Shop)






Let’s take a more focused and nuanced look at the progression of Fender guitars and the thickness of their necks.


Evolution of Fender Guitar Necks


The journey of Fender’s neck design offers a unique and informative look at the constant evolution of the electric guitar. This evolution is marked by significant changes in shape, thickness, and material, each reflecting the changing needs of musicians and advancements in manufacturing technology.

Overview of Changes in Neck Design

In the early days, Fender necks were notable for their substantial "U" shapes, characteristic of the 1950s models like the Telecaster and the original Stratocasters. These necks were thick and rounded, providing a hefty grip that many blues and rock 'n' roll guitarists favored for its comfort and the sustain it contributed to the instrument's tone.

By the 1960s, Fender began to introduce the "C" shaped neck profile, a more streamlined design that catered to players seeking faster action and easier access to the higher frets. This change was partly in response to the surf music craze and the burgeoning rock scene, which demanded more agility and speed from guitarists.

The 1970s and 1980s, under CBS's ownership, saw further experimentation with neck profiles, including the introduction of the "V" shape and adjustments in neck width and thickness. These changes were driven by both stylistic preferences and economic factors, as Fender sought to streamline production and reduce costs.


Manufacturing Techniques and Materials



The manufacturing techniques and materials used for Fender necks have also evolved. Initially, Fender used one-piece maple necks without a separate fingerboard, a method that was both cost-effective and distinctive in tone. By the late 1950s, Fender introduced rosewood fingerboards, responding to players' demands for a smoother fretting surface and a warmer sound.

The transition to polyurethane and polyester finishes in the 1960s marked another significant change, affecting the neck's feel and durability. These finishes were more resistant to wear and environmental factors than the previous nitrocellulose lacquer, though some purists argue they adversely impacted the instrument's resonance and tone.


The Thickest Necks by Era


The thickness of Fender necks has varied widely over the years, influenced by player preferences, manufacturing capabilities, and the pursuit of distinctive tonal qualities. Here, we explore the eras that featured the thickest neck profiles and the reasons behind their design.

1950s: The "U" Shaped Necks

The 1950s represent the zenith of thick neck profiles in Fender's history, with the "U" shaped necks being the most substantial. These necks were preferred for their robust feel and the way they filled the hand, providing a solid grip that enhanced vibrato techniques and contributed to a guitar's sustain. Models like the 1952 Telecaster and the mid-to-late '50s Stratocasters are prime examples of this era's preference for thicker necks.

Transition to Slimmer Profiles

As the 1960s progressed, Fender began to experiment with slimmer neck profiles, culminating in the widespread adoption of the "C" shape. This shift was not abrupt but rather a gradual transition that reflected the diverse playing styles and ergonomic preferences emerging in the music scene.

The move towards thinner necks continued into the 1970s and beyond, with Fender exploring even slimmer and more contoured profiles. However, the 1950s models remain a benchmark for thick neck design, sought after by players and collectors for their unique feel and the tonal qualities they impart to the guitar.


Specific Models with Notable Neck Thickness



Throughout its history, Fender has produced models that stand out for their unique neck profiles, which have become highly sought after by players and collectors alike. Let’s take a closer look at some of the more noteworthy Fender models in this regard.

Telecaster and Stratocaster Variations

  • 1950s Telecaster: Early versions of the Telecaster featured thick "U"-shaped maple necks, providing a substantial grip. These models are revered for their robust tone and the tactile playing experience they offer.
  • 1950s Stratocaster: Like the Telecaster, the original Stratocasters also had "U"-shaped necks, but with a slightly different contour that accommodated the Strat's innovative design. These necks are celebrated for combining comfort with the Stratocaster's versatile sound.
  • 1960s Models: The transition to "C"-shaped necks began in this decade, offering a slimmer profile for faster playability. This era also saw the introduction of rosewood fingerboards, adding a new dimension to the guitar's aesthetic and sonic character.

Limited Editions and Custom Shop Models

Fender's Custom Shop has produced limited edition models that often feature unique neck profiles, catering to specific player requests or paying homage to vintage designs. These models often experiment with thickness, shape, and material to create distinctive playing experiences.

  • Custom Shop "Nocaster": This model replicates the early 1950s Telecasters, including their thick necks, offering players a piece of Fender's history with modern build quality.
  • '60s Reissue Stratocasters: These guitars recreate the slimmer "C"-shaped necks of the 1960s, appealing to players who prefer the feel and playability of that era.


Impact of Neck Thickness on Playability and Tone


The thickness of a guitar neck significantly influences both its playability and the tone it produces. Player preference for neck thickness is subjective, often influenced by hand size, playing style, and genre.


  • Thick Necks: Generally provide a more substantial grip, which can be comfortable for rhythm playing and those with larger hands. The increased mass can also enhance sustain and contribute to a feeling of solidity and resonance.
  • Slim Necks: Preferred by players who value speed and ease of movement along the fretboard. These necks are often favored by lead guitarists and those playing more technically demanding music.


  • Thick Necks: The larger mass of wood in thicker necks is believed to contribute to a warmer, fuller tone with increased sustain. The density and size of the neck can affect the way vibrations are transferred between the neck and body, influencing the overall sound.
  • Slim Necks: While offering greater playability, slim necks may produce a slightly brighter tone with less sustain. However, the difference in tone can be subtle and is also influenced by other factors such as the guitar's body, strings, and pickups.


Player Preferences and Genre Influence


Musicians' preferences for neck thickness often align with the genre of music they play. For example, jazz and blues guitarists might favor thicker necks for their warm tone and sustain, while rock and metal guitarists may opt for slimmer necks for faster solos and easier access to higher frets. Ultimately, the choice between a thick or slim neck is highly personal, with comfort and playability being the key deciding factors for most players.




The evolution of Fender neck thickness over the years is a fascinating narrative that mirrors the broader history of modern music and guitar playing. From the thick "U" shaped necks of the 1950s to the slimmer profiles of today, Fender has continually adapted its designs to meet the changing needs of musicians. This adaptability, coupled with a willingness to incorporate player feedback into design decisions, has ensured that Fender guitars remain beloved by players of all styles.

The story of Fender's neck designs is not just one of technical evolution but also of cultural significance, reflecting the shifting tastes and technologies of the times. As Fender looks to the future, the lessons learned from the past will undoubtedly continue to inform its approach, ensuring that whatever the next chapter in music history may hold, Fender will try to remain at its forefront, crafting instruments that inspire the next generation of musicians.


External Links

Wikipedia Fender

Fender official website


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