Neck dive is when your guitar’s headstock feels heavier than the body, meaning you have more weight in your fretting hand, and your headstock “dives” towards the floor when you let go of the guitar instead of staying in a playing position.
Neck dive happens when when there is an uneven balance of weight in your guitar such that the center of gravity ends up somewhere along the neck instead of being between the two points that your straps attach to the body.
Some common/famous guitars that suffer from neck dive are the Gibson SG and Explorer range, the BC Rich Mockingbird and Stealth, and many smaller body flying V guitars such as most Rhoads style Vs.
While many opt to either live with it or avoid guitars with neck dive entirely, there are a few ways to either solve it or work around it. Let’s take a look.
Add Weights To Your Guitar
This is one of the most popular options because honestly it’s the least “hacky” and is the most reliable as far as results.
Simply get a pack of adhesive wheel weights or similar and attach them inside the cavity of your guitar. This cavity is typically located below the bridge of the guitar, so right at the back of the body, making it an ideal point to act as a counter to the weight of the neck.
People also use BBs or lead fishing weights in a sock, but you have to be very careful about having anything in there that could effect the guitar’s electronics. You can make a barrier using electrical tape, but the great thing about the wheel weights I liked to is they are coated, so no risk of any kind of short.
Add Weights To Your Strap
Like the above, this works by increasing the weight on the guitar body side, but this time instead of putting the weights inside the guitar, you can just attach them to the strap.
There are a couple of options here, for example something like a velcro wrist weight for joggers is perfect – just wrap it around your guitar strap at the bridge side of your guitar to balance out the weight of the heavier neck.
You can also get these “thru weights” for divers that you can just slide your strap through, though personally I would be concerned about them damaging the finish of the guitar.
Alternatively, get some lead weights (again often used by divers) and sew them into a pouch in a good quality leather guitar strap.
Easy to swap on and off (eg if you want to sit with the guitar instead of standing), less invasive than putting weight inside the guitar, and potentially more balanced too.
Get a Wide or grippy strap
Another popular option for those with just a little neck dive is to get a strap that will grip to your shoulder a little better, thus stopping the neck from dropping. For this, you can look at either a wider strap, or better yet a strap with a cotton or suede back that will naturally grip onto your shirt a little better.
However, while this may help with your neck dive issue, oftentimes you’re still going to feel a little weight in the palm of your hand as you play, and the neck dive can cause your shirt to rise up and make you look like a goof on stage, and nobody needs that.
Reduce The Weight At The Headstock
No, I’m not suggesting you cut off some of the headstock (though I’m sure some have gone so far). Those of us who use locking tuners know they can oftentimes weigh more than non-locking tuners, but even if you’re not using locking tuners, there may be some opportunity to reduce the weight at the headstock by swapping out your tuners for something lighter. While you can find tuners with pearloid buttons rather than metal ones, you can also often find specially made lightweight versions of many existing tuners.
While tuners on their own aren’t likely to be a silver bullet, combining this with a small amount of body weight or a new strap could solve your problems.
Move The Strap Buttons
This is where you get into more drastic measures – but also where you get the best bang for your buck.
Realistically it’s the position of the strap buttons themselves that are the biggest cause of neck dive. Moving the neck side strap button to a better location on the guitar will solve 99% of neck dive problems without adding any weight to the guitar or having to swap out tuners. Oftentimes a guitar with a strap button on it’s upper horn by the neck will balance like a charm once the button is moved to the heel.
That being said, before you take a drill to your guitar, experiment with moving your strap to various locations on the body of the guitar to ensure the move will have the effect you’re hoping for. A good strong gaffer tape will help in this situation.
Finally, if you do want to move the button to the horn but your guitar has a steel heel plate, you might want to consider just swapping out one of the screws from the plate for the screw that goes through the button. Just make sure it’s not too long or you’ll come out the other end.
Attach Your Strap To Your Belt
There are two other ways people deal with this issue, and both come down to using your belt. The more simple one is to loop your guitar strap through your belt on the bridge end, the slighly more involved version has you putting a carbiner on the strap and attaching that to your belt (or to the loop in your jeans).
In both instances, you’re looking for your belt to keep the guitar in place, though this is obviously hugely dependent on the height of your guitar.
The funny thing about neck dive is everyone has their own way of dealing with it – some people think weights are a no brainer way to never have to think of it again while others think that’s a bridge too far. Some swap out the tuners while other think it’s an expensive way to deal with a simpler problem.
So how about you – what do you to do deal with neck dive?