View Full Version : Neck Thickness

02-24-2016, 10:39 AM
I occasionally hear people talk about the thickness of a neck, yet while researching uke purchases online, I can never get a good sense of how thick or thin (as opposed to wide or narrow) a neck is, and that tends to be an important factor in how a uke feels when you play it.

Do any of the big ukulele brands (from Kala to Kamaka) have signature neck thicknesses? In other words, can one say that Ponos, for example, generally have thick necks, or that Martins generally have thin necks, etc.? Or does it vary a lot from model to model within a particular brand? Buying ukes online, I've often found the necks to be chunkier than I expected. I would love to know how each of the big brands match up to each other in the neck thickness department. Anyone with data?

- FiL

02-24-2016, 11:22 AM
I occasionally hear people talk about the thickness of a neck...

Hi FiL...

Thanks for making this thread. :)

I've often wondered about this too myself. I've seen folks refer to a 'thick neck' or 'skinny neck', which I have two problems with:

1. Thick or thin as opposed to 'what' exactly? Such terms are either arbitrary or subjective depending on context, and of little value without explicit physical dimensions....

2. Thick or thin as 'nut width' OR as in front (fretboard side) to back (thumb side) of neck wood as a whole? Folks seem to describe both nut width and 'neck' width interchangeably here on UU and it is often NOT clear which direction/dimension of thickness they are describing...

This with the two issues above, exact and absolute physical dimensions of BOTH nut width and front-to-back THICKNESS would be SUPREMELY helpful.

Otherwise I just get fed up and have to get off the internet for a while :old:

Joyful Uke
02-24-2016, 11:35 AM
This might not be what you mean, but in case it's helpful:

Comparison of Ukulele Nut Widths

02-24-2016, 04:23 PM
Hooray for this thread. I was actually just thinking the same thing/ wondering.

My Famous (Kiwaya) sopranos have a very thin neck which I love. Thin in terms of the front to back/ kind of flat.
I feel like Ohana/ Mainland are good too in being on the thinner size.
Deering banjo Uke is more rounded/ medium thickness. But really nice silky-smooth neck.
I did not love the rather square fat thick Flea / Fluke / Firefly necks, personally.
The Outdoor Uke tenor is similar to Flea in terms of being kind of thicker squarer, but not quite as bad in my opinion. I actually don't mind it but it's probably as thick as I'd go.
Risa stick/solid are kind of on the thick side too, but that's more a function of the unique design itself.
My Giannini baritone neck is definitely on the thicker side, but has a rounded shape.

Looking forward to other responses - especially for more slimmer/flatter/skinnier neck profiles.

02-24-2016, 04:40 PM
My KPK ukulele has a "flat" neck, meaning not thick from front to back.

02-24-2016, 04:42 PM
This - http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?109805-Neck-Thickness-Comparison-Link - might help some.

I'll add that the Pono chambered-body electrics have thinner necks than their hollow relatives, and Kanilea (and their Islanders) are thin, KoAloha slightly less thin, and Gretsch are relatively thick but I find them totally comfortable even though I (thought I) prefer thin necks.

02-24-2016, 05:42 PM
kala's come with different necks. They're not all the same model to model.

02-24-2016, 05:50 PM
Ponos have thick necks, especially the tenors and baritones that have truss rods. KoAloha necks are thin, although wider at the nut (1.5") than the majority of ukes. In addition to thickness & width, necks vary in profile (the curvature of the back of the neck) and whether or not they are tapered (in thickness) between the nut and the body.

02-24-2016, 05:54 PM
No actual data but some anecdotal evidence: most if not all Kamakas, Koalohas, Kiwayas, and Martins I've encountered consistently have slim necks. Most Islander, Kanile'a, Pono, and Fluke/Flea/Firefly I've encountered have what I'd call a "chunky" neck, as do the Kiwaya Eco-Series travel ukes. And while I've only had the opportunity to see two of them up close and personal, LoPrinzis have wider (slightly wider nut) necks but are still thin/flat and not really "chunky."

02-24-2016, 08:04 PM
I'd love to see some data on various ukuleles in all dimensions, a cross section would be nice.
I hand shaped the few necks I've made and by just doing it by feel, they are not symmetrical, neither is my hand.
Players what do you think? thin or fat from thumb to fingers? My preference is thin.
Asymmetry should be discussed in a separate post.

Ken Franklin
02-24-2016, 09:34 PM
It might be nice if everyone measured the thickness of their necks at the first and eighth frets and posted it here. You can just hold a ruler up to the side and make your best guess or use a caliper if you have one. There is also the profile of the neck to consider. Some are flat. Some some are rounded and some are almost triangular. The profile can affect how thick it feels. A triangular profile feels thinner than a flat profile of the same thickness. The neck of the uke that I play the most is about 5/8" at the first fret and about 11/16" at the eighth fret not including the fret height. It has a flat profile. I think most players would call it thin. Your turn.

Croaky Keith
02-24-2016, 10:45 PM
My Kalas tend to have reasonably thin/thick (?) necks, approx 1/2" at the nut, to approx 3/4" by the heel, (plus fretboard depth of 3/16"), with a flat C shape.

My RISA solid/stick is 3/4" where the nut/headstock would be, going up to 1" where the traditional heel would be. The frets are cut into the neck on this instrument so no extra thickness of a fretboard, & it has a rectangular shape with rounded edges.

I'm used to my Kalas which I find comfortable, but having to adjust to the feel of my new RISA. :)

02-25-2016, 01:22 AM
Here are the neck thicknesses (depth) of the following ukes I've measured.

Mya Moe..............0.700"
Compass Rose....0.860"

There are some ukes I have not listed because they had customs dimensioned necks. As far as I know the above are all factory standard. I will say one thing the shape or profile has as much or more of a determining factor as to whether I like the feel or not. I do prefer deeper necks like the Pono or LfdM. The Mya Moe neck felt very slim to me but it has a flat spot at the apex of the radius that makes it feel "shallow"and I just don't like it. The Collings and Koaloha are actually shallower but feel better to me because of the full D shape.

mm stan
02-25-2016, 01:37 AM
Ukes like people have different preferences, the longer you play one gets used to thick or thin necks
But i do agree for newbies that neck thickness and wideness is a factor on playability and comfort.
Id call the store or seller for neck dementions and type of neck shape, round, flat or tapered
Some with small hands prefer fast necks while others with bigger hand or guitar background prefer Thicker and
Wider necks. All you have to do is inquiry and or ask...good luck and happy strummings

02-25-2016, 07:24 AM
Interesting thread. Here are some measurements at just below the 1st fret and just below the 7th.

1943 Martin Concert .61" & .74" D cross section
Little River Tenor .61" & .78" D cross section
SS Stewart Soprano .61" & .69" Shallow V cross section
Sam O Soprano .62" & .88" V Cross section last reading the start of the heal
Vega Baritone .85" & .86" Half circle cross section

The V cross section (not now a common shape) doesn't feel that bad as it puts your thumb on the top half of the neck up and down the fret board and bar chords become a pinch.

02-26-2016, 02:45 AM
Thanks all for the replies. I guess the bottom line is there are so many factors the affect feel and playability that nothing beats trying before you buy, if you happen to live somewhere that allows for that.

And nothing beats playing as many different ukes as you can to get a sense of what feels best in your hands.

I'm still on that journey.

Down Up Dick
02-26-2016, 03:11 AM
I dunno, but it seems to me that thin necks would be more prone to twisting--just sayin' . . . :old:

02-26-2016, 04:55 AM
I made a thread about this a few weeks ago, with little responses. Glad it's an interesting subject after all.

My Dolphins neck is 20 mm at the nut, that's about .787 of an inch, and about 21 mm at the seventh fret, that's about .826 of an inch.
My Hora baritones neck is about 22 mm thick at the nut, that's about .866 if an inch, and 25 mm thick at the seventh fret, that's about an inch.

02-26-2016, 06:29 AM
My thinnest neck top to bottom is my vintage Silvertone with a noticeably "flatter" profile. The thinnest neck width is the Zither Heaven

mm stan
02-26-2016, 09:02 AM
Ive got a uke in the 50s custom made for a woman , its a tenor and the thinnest i have..
However the fretboard is quite tight even for my fingers..even thinner and narrower than a vintage martin.

02-26-2016, 03:07 PM
I've played ukulele since about 1966 and I can say that based on my many decades of ukulele playing, it is the width of the neck and string spacing that makes far more difference than the thickness of the neck. Thickness can be comfortable with a rounded or "C" shaped neck. It can be comfortable with a flatter or "D" shaped neck. I've even played "V" shaped necks. A lot depends on how long your fingers are. But, the key to all of this is the balance of the instrument and are you a finger-picker or do you primarily strum the instrument? Believe it or not, you adapt pretty fast to new neck configurations when you play a lot of instruments.