If you are looking for a guitar that is easy to play with small hands, searching for the best thin-neck guitars seems like a no-brainer, no matter your skill level.
The best thin-neck guitars are often made from solid woods such as maple, easy to play across the entire fretboard, and are often joined directly into the guitar’s body.
Guitars having a slimmer neck and fretboard generally makes it easier for players to move up and down the fret. This makes them extremely popular across all abilities and age groups.
Therefore, it’s unsurprising that many guitar brands are getting into this burgeoning trend. With that in mind, what are the best thin-neck guitars today?
The best thin-neck guitars
First, here’s a quick summary of some of the guitars we are going to look at:
1. ESP LTD KH-602 Kirk Hammett Signature
There are fewer guitar shredders like Kirk Hammett, and budding guitarists have wanted to shred like the Metallica icon for years. Now, ESP has given millions of musicians hope through their LTD KH-602. Designed in collaboration with Hammett, the KH-602 has a beautifully-made extra-thin maple neck that allows players to skim up and down the fretboard quickly. It’s easy to move through the 24-fret neck to pull off wicked hammer-ons, which is nice and sturdy thanks to the neck-thru-body design.
It is a great-sounding instrument too. This comes thanks to the inclusion of dual EMG pickups on the bridge and neck, allowing you to shift between crunching tones and fine melodies. You will also find that the alder body supports the varied sounds and is supported by a Floyd Rose bridge. There are also the signature stylings of the band in the look as well. You’ll find skull and crossbones inlays on the neck and Hammett’s signature on the headpiece. A great signature model worthy of the legend it showcases.
- Easy to play
- Great variety of tones
- Sturdy construction
- Some rough design issues
- The serial number is sometimes missing
2. EVH Striped Series 5150
No one played the guitar like Eddie Van Halen, so you’d expect excellent quality from an axe bearing that name. Thankfully, the Striped 5150 Series brings that and more to the table. With a thin maple neck, this guitar lets users easily access any fret on the neck as quickly as they would like. Like the icon showcased, the 5150’s thin neck and accessible design make it perfect for tapping and picking away. You are also guaranteed to get great sounds when you play, thanks to the body being made of basswood back and maple top.
It’s a particularly striking guitar to look at too. As the Striped name suggests, the guitar’s look is a unique red-white color scheme that no eye could miss. Throw in the large 5150 emblazoned across the body, and you have an axe worthy of the icon. With great sounds and a striking look, EVH’s legacy carries on through this line of axes.
- Stunning look
- Great for tapping
- Produces excellent sounds
- Few cracks in the body design
- Paintwork easy to damage
3. Charvel Pro-Mod DK24
If you are looking for a guitar that feels perfect for holding, then Charvel have you covered. Their Pro-Mod DK24 is one of the easiest instruments to pick up and play. A lot of this comes into the neck design. Sporting a thin C-neck design, you can play almost any style, with this being simple to hold and access all frets as you wish. With ebony inlays to guide you as you play, a tremendous amount of detail has gone into helping make this guitar easily accessible for all players.
It’s a guitar that sounds great too. Charvel has included two humbucker pickups and a hardtail bridge making this the perfect choice for blasting power chords at full whack. The full sounds are ideal for anyone whose an emerging metal guitarist. The full-black matte finish also accentuates that metal feeling. The simple look highlights how the guitar lets the sounds and playing take the headlines.
- Simple to play
- Great detailing on the neck
- Perfect for metal playing
- Plain body design
- It comes without a case
4. Sawtooth Rudy Sarzo Signature Fretless Acoustic-Electric Bass Guitar
- 2-Piece book matched solid Flame Maple top with satin violin hand rubbed Stain, dual bass Clef sound…
You will find that thin neck designs cross over to bass guitars too. If you are looking for a bass that is striking yet simple, then the Rudy Sarzo Signature from Sawtooth could be up your alley. This acoustic-electric bass has everything you would look to find in a guitar. The maple 24-fret neck is sleek and easy to play with, and the ebony inlays offer excellent guidance as you play. You will find this find care throughout the design too. This shines through whether it is the nickel steel strings or the Fishman electronics loaded to help control tone and volume.
Alongside the great care in design, this bass also has some excellent accompanying gear. The case itself comes with a stunning stars-and-stripes design. It’s also loaded with tech as the case is loaded with a ChromaCast coating to protect it while traveling. It’s an excellent bundle supported by a rock pioneer still going strong to this very day.
- Excellent design
- It comes with a protective case
- Great detail on the design
- Strings may need readjusting
- The bag is large for guitar design
5. Fender Kurk Cobain Jaguar LH NOS 3
- A DiMarzio hum bucking DP103 PAF 36th Anniversary neck pickup and DP100 Super Distortion bridge pickup deliver legendary tone
Fender often brings their A-game to their top models, and their Kurt Cobain Signature is no exception. The Jaguar LH NOS 3 makes the Nirvana singer proud in look and design. Firstly, the 24in neck feels excellent to use, thanks to the alder fretboard and Pearloid inlays. These make the LH NOS 3 simple to play without overstretching your abilities. It also has the classic look of retro models and Stratocasters that broke new ground in the 1960s. A striking piece that catches the eye.
Fender has not held back with loading this offering up with tech too. Featuring premium Dimarzio humbucker pickups on both the bridge and neck, you can be assured that you will get some great tones when you play – regardless of your style. There’s also a great tribute to Cobain as the bundle comes with a hard-shell case and an AV package looking at Cobain’s impact on those closest to him. An excellent all-around tribute to one of rock’s greatest icons.
- Excellent care in design
- Great sounds
- Fascinating supporting bundle
- Binding may unsettle some players
- Plastic pickguard undermines other features
6. Guild Starfire DC I
If you are looking for a thin-neck guitar that maintains classic designs, look no further than the Guild Starfire DC. The thin U-neck design showcases how the guitar is for all modern playing styles and ability levels. However, Guild has pushed forward with a retro body design. This comes in the shape of a Les Paul-esque semi-hollow mahogany body that would look perfectly at home in the 1950s. Throw in stunning full matte color schemes, and the throwback transformation is complete.
Many players might not notice how the guitar can be tweaked fully to your style. For example, it has no less than 18 tuning strings to help you find the sweet spot in the sound you want. When you play, the semi-hollow body mixed with the tune-o-matic bridge ensures less feedback throughout a performance. A tremendous all-around guitar that mixes old designs with new technology.
- Vintage look
- Ability to find the perfect sound
- Easy to tune
- Pickups lack variation
- Difficult to master
7. Ibanez S670QM
- 6-String Electric Guitar: The Ibanez S Standard 6-String Electric Guitar features a Rosewood fretboard that provides a well-balanced solid tone with a focused mid-range
Ibanez has made thin necks one of their premier calling cards, and it’s no surprise when you look at the S670QM. You will find their iconic slim neck design here too. Sporting the Wizard III style, this ultra-thin maple neck is sleek but has jumbo frets installed to maximize playability. It’s perfect for fast technical movements – even if you are practicing before the real thing. It’s backed up by a sturdy mahogany body with a quilted finish to protect the paintwork.
The Japanese brand hasn’t lacked in the tech department either. Ibanez has included their premium humbucker pickups that provide excellent tones and sounds. Furthermore, the bridge has a unique locking function designed to prolong strings holding their tuning keys as you play. Throw in two distinct and sharp paint decals, and Ibanez shows why their thin-neck guitars are so highly revered nowadays.
- Great feel
- Excellent sounds
- Loaded with premium technology
- The neck may need lubricating
- Bridge lock challenging to use
8. Yamaha Pacifica PAC611H
Yamaha’s Pacifica PAC611H is pleasantly surprising, and it’s easy to discover why when you go through the layers. The maple neck looks great and has a tinted finish highlighting every detail. The rosewood fingerboard and Pearloid inlays provide excellent guidance as you play and never feel out of place. There’s plenty of customization to be had with the body’s look, too, with no less than 11 different finishes available to give your axe a personal touch.
What is surprising, though, is the amount of detail and care gone into the tech to find the perfect sound. Yamaha has included two Seymour Duncan Trembucker pickups to give an excellent sound when playing fine melodies. You will also find Grover locking tuner and Graphtec nuts to help the strings hold their tune for longer. This all adds to a guitar that is easy to play and great to listen to.
- Accessible for all player levels
- Great tech features
- Customizable finishes
- Locking tuners are awkward to use
- Fret bevel in an awkward spot
9. Washburn Parallaxe Michael Sweet Signature
Everyone loves a flying V, and Washburn has adapted this into a thin-neck format. Their Michael Sweet Signature Parallaxe looks sleek from any angle. The maple neck is easy to play with and is designed with jumbo frets to make it easy to strum and tap. It’s just the start of an instrument designed to make people notice. That comes through the production of excellent tones. This is generated through the whole mahogany body and supported by Seymour Duncan pickups on both the neck and bridge.
It also has a specially designed tuning system to help notes and tone for longer. This comes through installing the Buzz Feiten Tuning System and using Grover tuning keys to fine-tune everything to the perfect sound. And there’s the look. Thanks to the yellow and black body paint and the same scheme on the inlays, you will find the striking colors of the Stryper frontman everywhere. It’s all part of a guitar that is designed to make you take notice.
- Striking design
- Holds tune
- Great for tapping and finer playing styles
- Design is unchangeable
What are the advantages of a thin neck guitar?
For many, the neck size may not mean much, but it dramatically impacts someone’s overall playing style. That’s because the neck size defines several critical points of your play, such as speed, comfort, and reach.
It’s not surprising then that some guitarists are keen to solely use thin neck guitars. But what sort of advantages can this give you when playing?
A thin neck generally means moving your hands faster up and down the entire fretboard. Having a thinner neck means you can extend your reach more manageably than you would on a fatter or thicker neck.
This means that many metal bands and guitarists like to have guitars with thinner necks. The easier reach across the fretboard means that the guitar is suited for tapping and playing fast individual notes. It’s the same feeling for those playing progressive pieces or improvising as they can reach play notes at speed without much to think about.
Ability & Style
Many guitarists also forget to consider whether an instrument is suited for them before buying. Testing neck size for guitars is an excellent example of this.
For many beginners, using a thin neck guitar is much easier to practice when first starting. The narrower depth makes reaching all the frets easier and learning all the basic positions relatively simple.
It’s a similar story for those with smaller hands who may struggle to reach the end of the neck on thicker models. That’s why a slender neck may be better suited for them.
Are thin neck guitars good for playing metal?
Yes – thin neck guitars are suited perfectly for playing metal. Their slimmer designs make playing notes easier and quickly pull off tricky techniques such as finger-tapping.
Are thin neck guitars easier to break?
No – thin neck guitars are just as sturdy as those with a thicker fretboard. Most guitar necks are made from solid hardwoods such as maple, meaning they have the same structural quality as other types of guitar.
Do thin neck guitars have fewer frets?
No – just because the neck is thinner does not mean it will have fewer frets included there. Many models will comfortably have 24 frets included on them, even if others may have less than 20.
Are thin-neck guitars easier to play?
Yes – especially if you have smaller fingers and hands. If you have larger hands, you’ll find playing them to be more challenging than standard guitars. Practicing with a smaller guitar will tell you whether or not they are comfortable and, therefore, easier to play.
What guitars have the thinnest necks?
Steve Vai is said to be behind the scenes of many of the guitars with the thinnest necks. However, the company best known for thin-neck guitars is Ibanez, mainly because of its solid balance of affordability and quality.
In the end, many of the best thin neck guitars will be a great addition to your musical collection. They are not only easy to play with but also come with excellent designs, and many of the high-end features larger models include. Some options, such as the Yamaha Pacifica and the Ibanez S670QM, are loaded with quality pickups and gear to give off the perfect tones.
You will also find plenty of iconic signature guitars within the spectrum too. Whether it is the striking look of the Washburn Parallaxe Michael Sweet Edition or the throwback designs of the Fender Jaguar Kurt Cobain LH, you will see how many rock icons have enjoyed using thin-neck guitars. However, our top recommendation is the ESP LTD Kirk Hammett KH-602. It has an outstanding balance between tone and style and is perfect for beginner and virtuoso players. It is why we consider it one of the best thin neck guitars today.