Neck Profiles: What does each mean?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Hugh Jazz, Dec 8, 2002.

  1. Hugh Jazz

    Hugh Jazz

    Sep 13, 2001
    Atlanta, GA
    When people are talking about neck profiles and feels, most will use descriptions like "Jazz neck," "P Bass neck," "Warwick/baseball bat." However, I know that each type of neck as a letter/name that describes its profile, eg. A, B, C, D, V, etc. etc.

    What do each of these mean? I initially I thought the letter described how the neck looked/felt (eg. C and D, as those were the first I had heard mentioned). However, as far as I know, that's not what it is, as "A" and "B" necks would be utterly retarded, and I do know that older, super thin Jazz necks were type A. My inclination is to believe that the higher the letter, the rounder/fatter/wider the neck, but I'm not too sure about this.

    So if anyone can care to elaborate, I'd appreciate it very much. I'm looking at a new (custom) bass as my college graduation gift to myself, and I want to know what each of the designations mean so that I'm not in for any (unpleasant) surprises.

    Hugh Jazz
  2. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Sometimes people are describing the shape of the neck (C, D, U, etc). Sometimes it's a Fender thing, A,B,C,D I'm not too sure but I think it was the succession of neck shapes Fender used on a given bass.
  3. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    To use the examples you mentioned, the "letter" or descriptive term usually refers to the width of the neck at the nut, the radius of the neck from bass to treble side, and the depth, or thickness, of the neck from its back playing surfact to the fingerboard.

    Usually, when a letter is used (C, D, V, etc.), that letter is referring to a profile that somewhat resembles the letter itself. For instance, a guitar neck with a "pronounced 'v'" will slope dramatically on the edges of the fingerboard and will come to a point at the will not only be able to feel a V, but will also see one when you look at the neck itself. A "soft" V will have a similar profile, but will not be as sharp in its sloping to the back and will not come to such a fine point.

    For Fender bass necks, the primary differences between Jazz and Precision necks is the width of the neck at the nut-1 1/2" for Jazz, 1 3/4" for a P bass. Most of the early Fenders from the '50's had thick, "baseball" necks...another term used in describing necks. They had a D shape (almost oposite to a V) in that there was very little sloping from the fingerboard. The neck, from back playing surface to fingerboard, was quite thick, and felt/looked like the letter "D", or felt thick like the head of a baseball bat.

    A C-shaped neck (or flat C, as it is often called), is similar to the D, but tapers off more to the back and is not so thick. The neck itself is thinner and flatter on the back playing surfact. Draw an imaginary line from the top of the letter C to the bottom (chopping off the open ends a bit) and you get the picture of how it is is slimer and thinner.

    By comparinson, Warwick necks tend to be similar to Fender's D-style neck, in that they are thicker have have more wood on the back playing surface of the neck. Of course, some modern bass manufacturers go the oposite way and make a neck that is extremely thin, with a lot of slope from the edge of the fingerboard to the back of the playing surface and with a shallow profile from the fingerboard to the back of the neck. It really just depends on what feels comfortable to you, although it is important to note that, traditionally, a thicker neck is ususally considered to be more stable and to produce a better general, and up to a point. Hope that helps! :D
  4. Hugh Jazz

    Hugh Jazz

    Sep 13, 2001
    Atlanta, GA
    Thanks, that helps!

    I, myself, like flatter, W-I-D-E necks. I play a 6 string BTB and really like the feel of the neck, and was wondering what profile it would translate to. Based on what you've said, I think it would be a "C," but I could be wrong.

    Thanks for you help though.
  5. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    Sounds like a "flat C" to me. Just watch out that an extremely thin neck, although it may be comfortable and fast, may significantly impact the tone of the instrument in a negative way. These types of very thin necks, often referred to as "shredder necks" (like the Steve Vai-inspired Ibanez guitars of the late '80's) can be somewhat unstable, if not reinforced, and can zap the tone right out of an instrument.
  6. southpaw76


    Feb 20, 2007
    Charlotte, NC
    Although I do agree with the theory behind "less wood=less tone", I did find an instrument that completely challenged that. It was a Carl Thompson 6, the neck was thinner than any neck I had ever seen on such a large instrument. However, the sound that came out of it was enormous and beautiful.
  7. MobileHolmes

    MobileHolmes I used to be BassoP

    Nov 4, 2006
    This is a pretty cool reference for the cross section shapes (for guitar necks, but the basics still apply). The A,B etc designation are more fender things that I don't know the intricacies of.
    Scroll about halfway