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Timothy Coyle

Hello Rick,

I have a question for you regarding the Trapazoid neck profile. My palm is normal size and my fingers are a bit short and stubby. I have found that It has been most comfortable for me to play 42mm nut widths because of my finger length. My problem with this is that when playing certain chords (Especially A) towards the nut my fingers are really crowded and uncomfortable. The problem is not as noticeable on a 43mm nut but everything else seems to take a bit more effort.

So my question is, Do you think that your Trapezoid Neck profile with a 43mm nut width would be more comfortable and easier to play than a regular 43mm nut width neck considering my finger/hand size? or do you think I should stick with the 42mm and deal with the finger crowding.

Rick Toone

Timothy — Excellent question, thank you.

You've noticed a comfort difference regarding nut width, with a wider nut more comfortable. The wider nut seems to allow more space for your fingertips to press together. Let's call this variable "Nut Width" (NW).

You've also mentioned with the wider nut that everything else seems to take a bit more effort. That would indicate the ever increasing width of the strings toward the bridge is forcing you to reach further across the fretboard to grab notes. Let's call this variable "Bridge Width" (BW).

You have not yet mentioned the effect of scale length on your playing comfort. So, for example, is a Gibson Les Paul (24.75") or a Fender Telecaster (25.5") more comfortable for you? Let's call this variable "Scale Length" (SL).

Without yet knowing the effect of scale length on your comfort, three trends emerge:

1. Choose 43mm nut width over 42mm nut width, because the wider nut is more comfortable for you.

2. Choose a narrower bridge than your current bridge, in order to achieve tighter string spacing at the bridge saddles. This will cause the string geometry to form less of a trapezoid, i.e., the two E strings remain more parallel. String-to-string spacing throughout the fretboard will more closely match the 43mm nut width your fingers prefer. You will find substantial improvement with this change when using the classical grip.

3. Regarding the Trapezoid Neck Profile, the consistent perception from players is always that the shape allows deeper access across the fretboard, especially in pinch grip or palm grip positions. There is less neck wood to interfere with movement where the index finger joint meets the palm (pinch grip), or where the thumb joint meets the palm (palm grip).

Timothy Coyle

I have many back problems Degenerative Disc Disease, Bone Spurs, Scoliosis, Osteo Arthritis, and an extra vertebrae that's not fully formed, and finally Fibromyalgia all at age 23.

I have found that this creates issues for me when playing production guitars. My torso is long compared to my arms, because of this reaching with my arms and bending of my back is very painful. Playing in a modified classical position (Both feet flat on the floor and guitar end resting on lap, the foot stool bothers my back) is the only way that I have found that I can play halfway comfortably.

I have found that for comfort I prefer a 24.75" scale length as I do not have to reach as far with my left arm(Also due to the bulky bodies on most guitars pushing the neck further away from my arm). To my ears though I like the sound of a 25.5" scale length a bit better in most instances. While testing out many guitars at guitar center, friends houses, and pawn shops I have found that a smaller bodied guitar (like a MusicMan) helps immensely with comfort.

I know that all of these issues would be taken care of if I commissioned a build with you but because of my back problems I am without employment. I am working hard right now to find a job but it will most likely be a part timer so I wont be able to gather up the funds to acquire a build from you for years.

I had researched different options of custom guitars and I came up with an option that would be much more realistic for me price wise (although your one of your instruments would be ideal) as I could purchase it one piece at a time as money allows and would be cheaper overall. I was researching at Warmoth guitar parts and they have a 7/8 sized 24.75" 24 fret model of both there Strat and Tele guitars.

This would work as it is the shorter scale and the body is smaller, also I could possibly send the neck to you to get it reshaped into the trapezoid neck shape. I would like to try your Fretboard Flare and Aluminum fixed truss rod designs but I don not think that would be possible with a Warmoth. I was planning on a vibrato bridge with my next guitar and I think that most vibrato bridges have a wide string spacing. Do you have any suggestions for vibrato bridges that may fit with your suggestion of a narrower bridge width?

Sorry if this is the wrong place to post these questions and about the rambling. I have been searching for years to find a way that I can practice for longer periods of time in a less painful way so I can become a better musician. It has been my obsession.

Rick Toone

Timothy — Email me photos of you playing guitar and I'll have a look. Might spark some ideas...

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Rick Toone

Neck Profiles

Tuning Systems

  • Nut

    Intonation adjustable.

  • Bridge

    Ultimate tone and sustain.

  • Tuner

    Precise headless tuning.