Gibson is one of the top guitar manufacturers, and beginning in 1960, they made guitar necks with a slimmer profile. Earlier Gibson models had larger necks, but their neck design evolved to what is known as the "slim-taper neck." Much of Gibson's guitar-making process is done by hand, and no two Gibson necks are exactly the same. While each neck feels different, the basic characteristics are recognizable.
Slim-Taper Neck Features
The slim-taper neck was designed for ease of play. It was meant to promote speed and allow players to perform longer while reducing fatigue. Many guitar players love their Gibsons because they are easy to play. Most guitar necks have a slight taper from the first fret to the 12th, and the slim-taper necks have only about one-tenth of an inch difference. Guitar necks also get slightly thicker as they get wider, and since the increase in width is so minimal on the slim-taper necks, they do not get very thick, either.
The classical guitar has a neck width of about 2 inches; the acoustic guitar averages at about 1.72 inches; and the standard electric neck is at about 1.7 inches. The Gibson necks are at about 1.68 inches. There are variations among different brands and designs of guitars, so it is best to try many guitars. In general, standard-size necks work well for most people; the slim-taper necks might provide some challenges for people with large, thick fingers. While there is relatively little difference in the width of standard necks and slim-taper necks, the tenths and hundreds of an inch do make an impact on how the guitar feels and plays.
The purpose of creating the slim-taper neck was to make a more comfortable neck size. Most players agree that their ability to play for long periods of time without fatigue is an advantage of the slim-taper necks. These necks are also ideal for players with smaller hands who have difficulty with a wider or thicker neck. Slim-taper necks also seem to be more ergonomic than standard-size necks, so they are comfortable and reduce the risk of poor technique and injury.
Gibson guitars are immensely popular, and the SG and Les Paul varieties are most often made with a slim-taper neck. These guitars are, however, on more expensive side of the price spectrum. Try out several Gibson guitars and explore how they feel. If price is an issue, try other brands and compare how they play and feel. With the popularity of Gibson guitars and the slim-taper neck, many other manufacturers are implementing a similar style.
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