Neck (music)
The neck is the part of certain string instruments that projects from the main body and is the base of the fingerboard
The fingerboard is a part of most stringed instruments. It is a thin, long strip of material, usually wood, that is laminated to the front of the neck of an instrument and above which the strings run...

, where the fingers are placed to stop the strings at different pitches. Guitar
The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

s, lute
Lute can refer generally to any plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back, or more specifically to an instrument from the family of European lutes....

s, the violin family
Violin family
The violin family of musical instruments was developed in Italy in the sixteenth century. The standard modern violin family consists of the violin, viola, cello, and double bass....

, and the mandolin family are examples of instruments which have necks.

The word for neck sometimes appears in other languages in musical instructions. The French term is manche.


The neck of a guitar includes the guitar's fret
A fret is a raised portion on the neck of a stringed instrument, that extends generally across the full width of the neck. On most modern western instruments, frets are metal strips inserted into the fingerboard...

s, fretboard, tuner
Tuner may refer to someone or something which adjusts or configures a mechanical, electronic, or musical device.- Electronic :* Antenna tuner, a device to adjust the resonance frequency of an antenna or transmission line...

s, headstock
Headstock or peghead is a part of guitar or similar stringed instrument. The main function of a headstock is holding the instrument's strings. Strings go from the bridge past the nut and are usually fixed on machine heads on headstock...

, and truss rod
Truss rod
The truss rod is part of a guitar or banjo used to stabilize and adjust the lengthwise forward curvature , of the neck. Usually it is a steel rod that runs inside the neck and has a bolt that can be used to adjust its tension...

. The wood used to make the fretboard will usually differ from the wood in the rest of the neck. The bending stress on the neck is considerable, particularly when heavier gauge strings are used (see Strings and tuning), and the ability of the neck to resist bending (see Truss rod
Truss rod
The truss rod is part of a guitar or banjo used to stabilize and adjust the lengthwise forward curvature , of the neck. Usually it is a steel rod that runs inside the neck and has a bolt that can be used to adjust its tension...

) is important to the guitar's ability to hold a constant pitch during tuning or when strings are fretted. The rigidity of the neck with respect to the body of the guitar is one determinant of an instrument's quality. Conversely, the ability to change the pitch of the note slightly by deliberately bending the neck forcibly with the fretting arm is a technique occasionally used, particularly in the blues
Blues is the name given to both a musical form and a music genre that originated in African-American communities of primarily the "Deep South" of the United States at the end of the 19th century from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads...

 genre and those derived from it, such as rock and roll
Rock and roll
Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of African American blues, country, jazz, and gospel music...

. The shape of the neck's cross-section can also vary from a gentle curve to a more pronounced "V" shape. (The fretboard is typically gently rounded across its width.)

Marker dots (see Inlay (guitar)
Inlay (guitar)
Inlay on guitars or similar fretted instruments are decorative materials set into the wooden surface of the instrument using standard inlay techniques. Although inlay can be done on any part of a guitar, it is most commonly found on the fretboard, headstock —typically the manufacturer's logo— and...

) on the face of the fretboard are usually placed at frets 3, 5, 7, 9, 12 (double dot to indicate the octave), 15, 17, 19, 21, 24 (double dot to indicate the second octave). It's also common that there are marker dots on the side of the neck, near the edge of the fretboard, where the player can easily see which fret he or she is on. Sometimes the dots are replaced with bars, the octave positions having a wider bar. Classical guitars almost never feature position markers, especially on the fretboard's face, whereas electric guitars usually do. This is due to several factors:

1) Electric guitars do not rely on a resonating body chamber to produce sound and therefore the inert bodywood may be carved more deeply to allow better access to higher frets.

2) Electric guitars also sport an extended high-end range, due to the above reason. Typically, up to 24 frets are used.

3) Electric guitars vary greatly in terms of scale length, depth of lower and - if present - upper rout and where these connect to the neck at its heel, and number of frets (usually between 21 and 24). In contrast, classical guitar dimensions are standardised, with the 12th fret aligning with the neck-end of the body, use of only 19 frets, and scale length of 25.6".

While it may be perceived that position markers are featured on popular instruments to accommodate their typically lesser-educated users (in contrast to classical instruments), on the contrary, for the above reasons, position markers are of much help to electric guitarists of any level of competence.


The neck of a violin is usually maple with a flamed figure compatible with that of the ribs and back. The shape of the neck and fingerboard affect how easily the violin may be played. Fingerboards are dressed to a particular transverse curve, and have a small lengthwise "scoop," or concavity, slightly more pronounced on the lower strings, especially when meant for gut or synthetic strings. Many authentic old instruments have had their necks reset to a slightly increased angle, and lengthened by about a centimeter. The neck graft allows the original scroll to be kept with a Baroque violin when bringing its neck to conformance with modern standard.

Other instruments

The neck of a lute is made of light wood, with a veneer of hardwood (usually ebony) to provide durability for the fretboard beneath the strings.


The method of connecting the neck to the body of the instrument varies according by instrument. This ranges from necks that are simply screwed onto the body of the instrument (such as in electric guitars like the Fender Stratocaster
Fender Stratocaster
The Fender Stratocaster, often referred to as "Strat", is a model of electric guitar designed by Leo Fender, George Fullerton, and Freddie Tavares in 1954, and manufactured continuously by the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation to the present. It is a double-cutaway guitar, with an extended top...

) to various types of glued joints.

There are basically four ways of attaching the neck to the body using glued joints:
  • With a dovetail joint
    Dovetail joint
    A dovetail joint or simply dovetail is a joint technique most commonly used in woodworking joinery. Noted for its resistance to being pulled apart , the dovetail joint is commonly used to join the sides of a drawer to the front....

    , where the dovetail is cut into the end of the neck assembly and fits into a mating mortise in the instrument's endblock. This is typically used on acoustic and hollow-body electric guitars.

  • With a simpler mortise and tenon
    Mortise and tenon
    The mortise and tenon joint has been used for thousands of years by woodworkers around the world to join pieces of wood, mainly when the adjoining pieces connect at an angle of 90°. In its basic form it is both simple and strong. Although there are many joint variations, the basic mortise and tenon...

    joint, which is similar to a dovetail joint, except that the tenon is straight instead of tapered. Sometimes these joints are reinforced with screws, nails or pins. Since this joint is inherently weaker than a dovetail joint, it is usually only found on violins and similar instruments with less string tension.

  • With a neck that ends in a "foot" that is glued to the instrument body proper. This method is mostly used in building classical and flamenco guitars. The "foot" is on the bottom of the neck, and affords a large gluing surface to the back of the instrument.

  • By making the neck part of the body. This method is used on some solid-body electric guitars, where the piece of wood that is the neck runs the entire length of the instrument and is laminated to the rest of the body. This makes an extremely strong joint.

The two factors in deciding what type of neck joint to use are:
  1. Strength: will the joint hold under the instrument's string tension without pulling out?
  2. Repairability: can the joint be easily repaired if needed? While the latter two methods (using a "foot" and laminating the neck into the instrument) create very strong joints, they are not very repairable, and require tearing the instrument apart if repairs are needed.

External links

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