The Big Shootout: Our Favorite Thin Neck Guitars

Whether you’re looking to invest in a more comfortable guitar, or you’re trying to achieve the fastest possible neck speed, investing in a thin neck guitar is a great way to achieve your goal, and we think you really need to check out the Ibanez S670QM. It features the iconic Wizard III neck, widely regarded as one of the thinnest and fastest on the market. In addition to being a top performer, it also features high end aesthetics, too, with a stunning quilted maple top on its meranti body. It features an Edge Zero II tremolo bridge with locking nut, delivering flawless tuning stability and trem performance. If you’re into aggressive tones, the Quantum pickups will definitely keep you happy, but this guitar does so much more than metal – it serves up great cleans and a surprisingly broad tonal range thanks to its HSH layout. With a list of features like this, is it any wonder that the Ibanez S670QM won our Top Pick award?

Another fantastic choice for your consideration is the EVH Striped Series Frankenstein Relic. This is a reproduction of Eddie Van Halen’s iconic Frankenstrat, and delivers a blend of EVH accurate aesthetics and performance focused features – namely its incredible quartersawn maple neck, which really does facilitate effortless soloing. It’s built with a basswood body and a direct mount Wolfgang humbucker, a combination that results in a growling tone with solid mids, perfect for recreating the “brown sound”. It’s fitted with an EVH-branded Floyd Rose double locking tremolo, and a D-Tuna that makes drop tuning both fast and reliable. Even if you’re not a fan of the music, it’s undeniable that EVH knew what he was doing when it came to guitar design, and this  EVH Striped Series Frankenstein Relic is testament to that, and that’s why we named it as our Editor’s Choice.

Believe it or not, it’s possible to get a great thin neck guitar without spending a fortune, and the Kramer Baretta Special proves this. It features a fast and comfortable slim profile neck, which is a throwback to the original necks fitted to the fast playing ‘80s Kramers of the same name. This guitar is a masterpiece in simplicity, with a single humbucking pickup in the bridge position, and a single volume control – everything you need for great rock tone. The body shape is fantastically ergonomic, making it one of the most comfortable guitars in its price range. This affordable guitar looks great, sounds great, and was the clear winner of our Best Budget award.

Read more about our review process.

Editor's Choice
EVH Striped Series Frankenstein Relic

EVH Striped Series Frankenstein Relic

Features: Floyd Rose bridge, Relic finish, Oil finished quartersawn neck

Benefits: Lightning fast playability, Rock solid tuning stability, Iconic looks 

Best Value
Ibanez S670QM

Ibanez S670QM

Features: Wizard III neck, HSH Quantum pickups, Edge Zero II bridge

Benefits: Incredible feel and comfort, Versatile tones, Fantastic aesthetics

Best Budget
Kramer Baretta Special

Kramer Baretta Special

Features: High output humbucker, Slim maple neck, Die cast tuners

Benefits: Super forgiving neck, Screaming tones, Classic Kramer looks

Individual Reviews

Top Pick
Ibanez S670QM

Ibanez S670QM

Playability and versatility from a top brand.

Ibanez is one of the most popular guitar brands for good reason, and this guitar is further proof of that. With killer looks and a versatile pickup configuration, this guitar delivers playability and tone.

The Ibanez S670QM is a solid-body electric guitar made with a meranti body to give some roundness to its tone. This tonewood is known for being relatively strong and stable while remaining lightweight. 

We plugged this Ibanez into our Vox AC 30 amp and started our tests with some power chords via our Tube Screamer pedal. We got an aggressive growl on the bridge position, both for leads and chords thanks to the Quantum humbucker pickup. 

The neck humbucker is also a quantum and gave us a rounder tone for leads while chords had an enhanced midrange output, appropriate for a vast number of situations and contexts. Both the neck and bridge pickups are ceramic.

On the other hand, the middle pickup is an alnico single-coil which makes this guitar a very versatile instrument. It gave us the characteristic sparkle of single coils, great for clean rhythms as well as overdriven and distorted leads. The middle pickup also paired nicely with both humbuckers when we played in positions two and four.

The Ibanez S670QM guitar also gave us a comfortable playing experience thanks to its 3-piece maple Wizard III neck. This is a slim neck that gave us a very comfortable feel even for fast runs, all over the responsive mahogany fretboard. 

We also liked how the 25.5″ scale length gave this Ibanez guitar a familiar Strat feel, as well as the nut width of 1.69″ 14-inch-radius. Besides excellent playability, this instrument also gave us good intonation and stability via the Edge Zero II bridge. 

Verdict: The Ibanez S670QM is a solid-body guitar made with meranti wood and featuring a H S H pickup configuration for great versatility. With nice playability, this guitar delivers everything from sweet to aggressive tone and is a great buy for the price.

Budget Option
Kramer Baretta Special

Kramer Baretta Special

A nice option for beginners.

From Eddie Van Halen to Neal Schon and all the way to Richie Sambora, Kramer is a guitar brand that was employed by some of the biggest names in the game. This particular model is a nice choice for folks that are starting out and need a reliable and affordable instrument.

The Kramer Baretta Special is a budget solid body electric guitar that delivers nice playability and is a good buy for beginners. It comes with a single open-coil “zebra” humbucker on a pretty Candy Blue mahogany body. We plugged into our Fender Twin Reverb amp to test this guitar out.

The first thing we liked about it was its simplicity. With just a single humbucker pickup built with Alnico V magnets for the bridge position, this guitar is great for rock or just building your chops on the way to becoming a good player. 

The sound of this guitar is very present, in great part because it only features a bridge position pickup. On clean, we got a tone with a lot of bite, which works well for a variety of rhythm parts, and also for learning and trying out new chords.

When paired with our Ibanez Tube Screamer, we got a punchy distorted sound that was great for working out riffs as well as learning solos and working on scales. Scaling back our distortion level, we were able to dial in some nice overdriven tones that can work nicely for both rhythm and lead playing. 

Regarding playability, we liked how easy to play the 12″ radius felt. With a fingerboard made of maple, 22 medium jumbo frets, a scale length of 25.5″, and a nut width of 1.679, this Kramer was comfortable and fun to play. It is a great instrument to learn on, as it gives you a comfortable feel that is comparable to other pricier guitars. 

Additional features like the Kramer Deluxe die-cast tuning heads and a Kramer Traditional tremolo bridge complete the package. In short, a fantastic instrument for the price, great for beginners that need a reliable guitar to start on. 

Verdict: The Kramer Baretta Special is an affordable guitar with a single humbucker pickup and a good-looking Candy Blue mahogany body. This is an effective guitar that gets the job done for beginners that need a good instrument without spending much.

Editor's Choice
EVH Striped Series Frankenstein Relic

EVH Striped Series Frankenstein Relic

A superior and quirky guitar that pays tribute to the ultimate master.

Eddie Van Halen created the Frankenstein guitar in an attempt to combine the sound of a classic single-cut solid-body guitar with the traits and tremolo bar functionality of a Fender Stratocaster. With a unique look and some truly unorthodox choices (like a non-functioning pickup on the neck position), the Frankenstein became a staple of Eddie's career, and now EVH brings a tribute instrument that celebrates the original.

The EVH Striped Series Frankenstein Relic mimics Eddie Van Halen’s legendary red, black, and white Frankenstrat guitar. Built with a basswood body for a warm tone, this guitar features an exact visual duplicate of Eddie’s original.

We plugged into our Marshall DSL40CR to try this guitar out and put the EVH Wolfgang humbucker to the test. This humbucker reflects Eddie’s attention to detail when it comes to different pickup windings. With distortion dialed in high, we got some beautiful highs, balanced mids, and that renowned fat brown sound while we played riffs and power chords. 

We then tried it on lead, and we got a penetrating and soaring tone that was pure rock. This guitar allowed us to get as close as we possibly could to Van Halen’s tone, although our technique and musicality are nowhere near the master’s level. 

Regarding playability, this guitar truly delivered the goods. We loved how the 12″ to 16″ compound radius felt, allowing us to make the most of the different areas of the neck. We also liked the feel of the maple neck with the typical strat scale length of 25.5″. 

Our dive bombs and other attempted pyrotechnics felt stable thanks to the EVH-branded Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo system. Another great feature of this guitar is the EVH D-Tuna (also created by Van Halen himself) which tunes the guitar to Drop D and back with a single flick of your finger.

In short, a superior fast-playing guitar that allows you to get as close to Eddie Van Halen’s tone as possible. 

Verdict: The EVH Striped Series Frankenstein Relic closely imitates Eddie Van Halen’s legendary Frankenstrat guitar. It is made with a basswood and comes with Eddie’s very own appointments from the original, including the bridge pickup and Floyd Rose tremolo.

Also Consider
Charvel Pro-Mod DK24 HH 2PT

Charvel Pro-Mod DK24 HH 2PT

A slick-looking guitar with good tone and playability.

Charvel is renowned for producing fast-playing guitars that deliver good tones and fantastic value. The Pro Mode DK24 is no exception and is a good choice for players that gear toward rock and need great tone, playability, and sustain at a fair price.

The Charvel Pro-Mod DK24 HH 2PT features an alder Jackson Dinky body shape that facilitates upper fret access and felt quite good when we first played it. This guitar also looks the part with a gloss body finish on a slick faded Chlorine Burst color. 

This Charvel features two Seymour Duncan humbuckers, for the neck and bridge position. There’s a Full Shred SH-10 on the bridge and a vintage-output Alnico II Pro APH-1N for the neck. When distorted, the neck pickup gave us a powerful growl that is sure to cut through a busy mix, for both power chords and screaming leads.

On the other hand, the neck pickup gave us a warmer and more balanced tone, with that Alnico II flavor that so many of us love. Together, these pickups make for a versatile humbucker guitar that is equally at ease with modern rock to metal and even a bit of fusion jazz. 

With a 5-way switching system, we also got some single-coil tones that make this guitar even more versatile, although our favorites were still the humbucker in full use as it gave us far more pronounced sustain. A 2-way mini toggle also gave us the option of either series or parallel operation, for even more tonal possibilities.

We also liked how this guitar felt in our hands, with a comfortable 12″–16″ compound-radius maple fingerboard on a scale length of 25.5″ with a 1.6875″ nut width. 

This Charvel also comes with a recessed Gotoh Custom 510 tremolo system that gave us great stability during our tests. In short, a good guitar with modern appointments and nice playability. 

Verdict: The Charvel Pro-Mod DK24 HH 2PT features a slick look with fantastic playability. It comes outfitted with two Seymour Duncan humbuckers that deliver great sustain and tone, and a five-switch system for an even wider variety of tones and options.

Also Consider
Jackson JS Series King V JS32

Jackson JS Series King V JS32

A modern flying V construction for beginners.

Jackson has been around for decades and has developed a strong reputation for offering quality instruments for all budgets. This guitar features a menacing look and a great tone and features for beginners looking to go into high distortion types of genres.

The Jackson JS Series King V JS32 features a stylized flying V type body made of poplar wood with a satin finish. It is outfitted with a pair of custom-built humbuckers made with ceramic magnets. 

We plugged this killer-looking axe into our combo Marshall amp and started our tests with high distortion on the bridge pickup. This Jackson pickup gave us a high-output humbucker tone with tons of punch and bite for everything from riffs to soaring single lines. 

Moving on to the neck position pickup, also a Jackson High-output humbucker, we got an aggressive tone with a rounder quality, perfect for balanced rock solos with a nice attack.

Naturally, a guitar like this tends to be built for fast playing and the JS32 King V does not disappoint. We really liked the playability and comfort that the 12″ to 16″ compound-radius fretboard gave us. With an amaranth fingerboard, 25.5″ scale length, and a nut width of 1.6875″, this guitar was easy to play, even for fast runs. 

And speaking of fast runs, this guitar is made for pyrotechnics as it features a double-locking Floyd Rose licensed tremolo that took our dive bombs well while providing stability. 

In short, a good guitar for beginners that want to go into harder styles of rock. The tradeoff of it being so affordable is that some of its materials are not top-notch, like the poplar body which limits sustain. 

Verdict: The Jackson JS Series King V JS32 comes in a modern flying V design and features a pair of Jackson custom-built high output. humbuckers. A great option for beginners, this instrument offers a compound radius and a fast-playing neck for greater comfort.

Also Consider
Sterling By Music Man Axis

Sterling By Music Man Axis

A versatile guitar that delivers sweet humbucking tones.

Music Man has grown into a reputable company in the last decades, by making quality instruments and associating with legends such as Steve Lukather and Albert Lee. The Axis guitar brings all the quality and playability that this brand is known for, and at a fair price.

The Sterling By Music Man Axis comes with a lightweight basswood body and an H H configuration with a 5-way pickup selector for splitting coils, making this guitar quite versatile.

We plugged into our Fender Twin Reverb amp to evaluate the pickups at first, both Sterling by Music Man Humbuckers placed on the neck and bridge positions. We went back and forth between both pickups, trying them as humbuckers at first. 

In both clean and distorted settings we got good note separation with decent sustain and projection. The bridge humbucker was our favorite for distorted rhythm work such as power chords and riffs, as the tone here was penetrating and forward.

For leads and solos, we preferred the neck humbucker, as it gave us a more musical tone with a warmer and rounder quality. This was also our favorite position for clean open chord contexts, as we found the sound here to be more balanced. While we tried some coil splitting, we found that this guitar excels as a humbucker instrument. 

The Axis was a comfortable instrument to play with its asymmetrical neck profile measuring 1.65 inches at the nut and going all the way up to 2.24 inches at the last fret. With a 12-inch fingerboard radius that aided playability, this guitar also comes with a familiar 25.5-inch scale length and makes for a fast-playing neck.

Verdict: The Sterling By Music Man Axis comes with a light basswood body and an H H configuration that offers single coil tones thanks to its 5-way pickup selector for splitting coils. With nice playability and a fast neck, this is a versatile guitar at a great price.

Also Consider
Schecter Omen Extreme-6 FR

Schecter Omen Extreme-6 FR

Gorgeous looks with versatile tonal options and nice playability.

Schecter offers good guitars for a variety of styles, but it is more commonly associated with rock and metal. The Omen Extreme-6 FR features that aggressive humbucker tone that the company is known for, but adds single-coil options as well, in a well-made and comfortable instrument.

The first thing that struck us about the Schecter Omen Extreme-6 FR was its stylish and beautiful looks. Designed with figured maple on mahogany and with the use of Crème multi-ply binding, we loved how beautiful this guitar is. 

Soundwise, this guitar gave us some serious crunch as well as balanced cleans in our tests. This came courtesy of the Diamond Plus humbucking pickups, one for the bridge position and one for the neck position. Both gave us nice note separation and punchy distorted tones, with the neck pickup being rounder and the bridge pickup more aggressive sounding.

Beyond the good humbucking sounds that this guitar provides, there’s also coil splitting that works via a simple push-pull mechanism on the tone pot. Here, our favorite tones came from the split coil sounds on the bridge, as it gave us a bit of a nasal quality with that characteristic single coil twang.

This Schecter plays as well as it looks, and we loved the thin “C” maple neck and how responsive it was. The 14-inch-radius fingerboard may feel a bit thick for some looking for a fast-playing neck, but we actually liked it. With 24 extra-jumbo frets, a scale length of 25.5″, and a nut width of 1.625″, the Omen Extreme-6 was a joy to play. 

Verdict: The Schecter Omen Extreme-6 FR features a striking look with a beautiful finish. With a maple top on a mahogany body, this guitar provides great sustain and nice playability, with aggressive to gentle tones thanks to its versatile H H pickup configuration with coil splitting.

How To Choose The Right Guitar For You

For most players, the size of the neck is a very important factor that directly affects how they play. And just like most things that relate to playing guitar, the specifics of your ideal neck will come down to preference and feel

A thicker neck will be more difficult for some players, while a thinner one may be just as difficult for other players. And yes, folks with smaller hands will usually favor thinner necks, while those with long fingers and big hands prefer regular-sized necks. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. 

At the end of the day, the size of your ideal neck comes down to personal choice. In order to truly know what you prefer, there is no replacement for playing different guitars for different neck types. That said, below there are a few things to look for. 

Neck shapes

Guitar neck shapes tend to be labeled with letters to approximately describe the shape they make. In other words, an instrument with a ‘U’ shaped neck will have a less angular curve compared to a ‘V-shaped neck.

In the case of U-shaped necks, they tend to be preferred by players with larger hands as they are thick with a rounder form. On the other hand, C-shaped necks present a smooth curve all the way around the back of the neck and are often featured in modern guitars.

There’s also the D-shaped neck, which is not as common and a bit flatter than a C-Shaped neck. Finally, V-Shaped necks are not as common for newer instruments, as they have a more angular curve.

Scale Length

The Scale length is the distance between the nut and the bridge. Said differently, a guitar’s scale length is dictated by the space between the main parts where the strings rest or touch the actual guitar itself. 

In theory, a guitar with a shorter scale length is easier to play as you don’t have to stretch your fingers as much to get from point A to point B. However, a shorter scale length may be uncomfortable and harder to play for folks with large hands and fat fingers, as they’d rather prefer the extra space so as not to feel so cramped. Again, it is all a largely personal choice.

Two of the most common scale lengths are 25.5″ and 24.75″. The first one is featured prominently on Fender guitars and many others that want a larger and proven scale length. The second is featured on Gibson guitars and is a bit shorter. As you may know, the Fender vs Gibson debate is a legendary one, and one of the aspects that makes part of the discussion is which has the better scale length. That is only for you to decide, but realize that you can also enjoy playing both. 

These two scale lengths are the most prominent. However, there are also others. Take for instance PRS’s typical 25″ scale length. It sits right between a Fender and Gibson scale length and many players swear by it. Try it yourself and see what works for you and which you like best.

Other choices

When picking a thin-neck guitar, you will also have to decide which tonewoods, neck wood, and pickups you like. All of the considerations that come into play for regular guitars also apply to thin-neck instruments.

Final Thoughts

Thin-neck guitars are popular among players with smaller hands and those that want the best instrument to play blistering fast music passages. These instruments feature necks that are thinner and typically come with frets, wood choices, and an overall focus on fast playing. 

Metal, fusion, and even some jazz players favor thin-neck guitars as they offer less resistance and focus on playability. Naturally, there are other regular aspects to consider, such as sound, tone, price, wood choices, etc. 

To recap our top choices, the Ibanez S670QM is our Top Pick for this list.  This solid-body electric guitar is made with a meranti body and produces an aggressive tone with some roundness to it, thanks to a H S H configuration that allows for nice versatility on a lightweight and comfortable instrument. 

The Kramer Baretta Special is our Budget Choice. This guitar delivers nice playability and is a good buy for beginners looking for a reliable and affordable instrument. It comes with a single open-coil humbucker and a nice Candy Blue mahogany body. 

Finally, The EVH Striped Series Frankenstein Relic is our Editor’s Choice. This fantastic instrument mimics Eddie Van Halen’s legendary Frankenstrat guitar, and delivers a soaring tone via its bridge humbucker, while also providing great playability on a fast neck. 

  • Rodrigo Sanchez

    Rodrigo is an award-winning songwriter (Best Popular Song Of 2018 for Ibermúsicas), and has worked with the prestigious EMI Music Publishing Latin America. He has production credits on artists such as Descemer Bueno, and has also composed alongside Grammy and ASCAP award-winners such as Sebastián De Peyrecave and José Luis Morín. For over ten years, he's been an editor/writer for Recording Magazine, and spent a year as head of translation for Brazilian magazine Musica & Mercado.

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