What Guitar Has Thinnest Neck? Most Sustain? Lowest Action?


In this article I’m going to try to find a guitar with the thinnest neck. Also, the one that has the most sustain. And finally, the one that has the lowest action.

However, keep in mind that there’s often not a definite answer to these questions. Who knows, maybe someone created the thinnest neck guitar in his own room. And nobody knows it exist.

The same goes for guitars with longest sustain and the ones with lowest action.

Still, I’m going to take my time, give it a shot, and find out those answers.

Stay with me!

What Guitar Has The Thinnest Neck?

Guitars with thinnest necks are the ones that are often directed to those who play faster and more notes. For example, the neck of the guitar that Angus Young plays is among the thinnest in the Gibson family.

So, if you are looking for the thinnest, most comfortable neck in the market, you have to look for shredders, metal heads and virtuoso guitars.

One of the thinnest guitar neck you can acquire today belongs to Steve Vai’s Ibanez Jem EVO. It is the exact replica of the guitar with which he made a name and a career for himself as one of the world’s most famous virtuoso guitar players.

Introducing Ibanez Jem Evo

Here, take a look at this video. Here, Steve Vai introduces his Ibanez Jem Evo guitar. You can see from the video how thin neck this guitar have.

In case you don’t know him, it is a great guitar player to check out. He started playing with Frank Zappa at age 17. He was playing what Frank himself couldn’t. He also plays “The Devil” in the movie Crossroads; that should give you a picture on who this guy is.

Anyway, the brand he picked for his signature guitar is the one we’ll be looking at for the thinnest neck.

Ibanez, loud and proud guitars coming from Japan. The Jem EVO is the thinnest neck but is also a $7,000 guitar. We are going to go for a much more affordable option.

As with any other product in the world, guitar manufacturers have a certain tendency to producing a particular kind of guitar that is appealing for their audience. For example, you can never solve the rivalry between Fender and Gibson in terms of which one is better.

Many people will choose a Stratocaster or a Telecaster while others swear on a Les Paul for life. You have players as diverse as John Mayer, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Keith Richards, Bruce Springsteen or even Jimi Hendrix playing Fenders.

Others like Jimmy Page, Slash, Angus Young, BB King and Chuck Berry play Gibsons for their entire career.

In that choice of one guitar manufacturer or the other, there are plenty of things that players take into consideration beyond the aesthetics. That’s because each manufacturer has a profile, a particular sound, an ease of play.

Also, instruments like Fenders are way more road and battle-ready than Gibsons, which are more fragile.

Why Is The Neck So Important For a Guitar Player?

A guitar’s comfort is based on many things but the neck is the most important one.

For some time I was employed in a guitar shop for a Fender dealer. One of the most important customers in the store was a guitar player who has been playing professionally for 40+ years. He was always doing the same for picking a guitar from the wall. He was putting his hands on the necks as he walked through.

He wasn’t paying attention to the shape, the colors or the pickups, just the necks. When he touched one he liked, he immediately put it out and tested it.

This is an example to show you just how important a neck is to a guitar player. Yes, guitars are beautiful objects that come in many different colors and configurations. Nevertheless, we must never forget that they are musical instruments and as such are meant to be played.

Since you will very likely spend a lot of time playing your instrument, feeling comfortable with it is something of upmost importance. Also, the material of the neck will give the guitar a distinct sound.

There are players who prefer snappier sounds with more twang or kick. For them maple necks are the ultimate truth on Earth. For those looking for a more bassy sound, mahogany and rosewood are a match made in heaven.

The guitar neck is, at least, a 50% of the instrument’s feel and chemistry with the player. The more comfortable you are with it, the more likely you’ll be to try new things and dare to grow as a player.

A friend of mine with whom I played for years always used to say to me one thing. “It all comes down to how much you want to pick it up and play it. It doesn’t matter how pretty it is. If it doesn’t do it for you, just let it go.”

I believe that is completely true. Guitar neck is something that can make you pick up a guitar on a daily basis or not.

The Ibanez S 670QM

Price: 600 $

Amazon Rating: 3.9 / 5

This is the best bang for the buck small-neck guitar in the market today. As with Steve Vai’s guitar, the brand is Ibanez and the neck is as thin as it gets.

The thinnest commercial guitar neck in the world was the EVO for a long time with 17.7 inches. The guitar we are reviewing here has 19mm of width at the first fret and 21mm at the 12th fret.

Besides this Wizard III ultra-thin neck, the guitar belongs to the S series by Ibanez. That means that it is a very light-weight guitar specially treated to be thinner on the sides and a tad thicker in the middle.

The ergonomics of the body, the dual humbuckers and the fixed bridge make this an easy to use. It is super stable and yet versatile guitar. The neck besides being thin and fast is fitted with jumbo frets allowing for easier and lighter pressing.

The sound and the looks of this guitar are very modern and you can virtually play any style you want on it. Ibanez manufactures it in Dragon Eye Burst and Sapphire blue and both are stunning.

It is a reliable, great-playing and sounding instrument that looks good and has a good resale price.

Anyway, if you want to read some customer reviews, check it on Amazon, here.

If you want the Steve Vai signature guitar, you can check it out also.

Its price is slightly better. 500 $.

Check out the reviews from Amazon, here.

2. What Is The Best Guitar For Small Hands?

As a guitar player with small hands myself I’m always struggling to find a guitar that can fit them.

The best thing you can look for are smaller necks with a profile closer to the 60s than the 50s or 70s. For example, in terms of Fender, you should always look at 60s reissues or modern guitars to get the thinner necks.

It’s the same with Gibson. They have a profile called “slim-taper” that is a 60s neck quite thin and comfortable (like the one you´d find in the hands of Angus Young).

These are the models I would suggest for you:

Gibson (or Epiphone) SG Standard

This is the friendliest neck of any Gibson guitars in the market today. The Gibson and Epiphone models are far away in terms of sound but also in their price tags.

You’ll find an Epiphone way more affordable. That being said, you can accommodate your budget to either and get the same beautiful, great playing neck.

Fender (or Squier) Stratocaster Standard

The American Standard by Fender is an all-time classic. This guitar has a very friendly neck and is one of the most versatile in the business.

You can easily find them anywhere you go. The Squier version is the same as the Epiphone version of the Gibson that will cost you drastically less. Also, it sounds very different but will have the same neck profile and comfort.

Ibanez RG and S

These two series by Ibanez are very well-known for their slim necks, versatility and wide variety of options.

You can buy a super affordable RG421 or can go for a Prestiege RG 5120 and you’ll get the same beautiful neck with differences in price, sound and accessories.

Check out the beautiful Ibanez RG421 model with beautiful sunburst color on Amazon, here.

3. Are Wide Neck Guitars Easier To Play?

The answer to this question is completely subjective because it has to do with many things.

First of all, there’s personal taste. There are guitar players who love to have a fat baseball neck.

In fact, there are many companies that manufacture the same guitar with different necks in terms of width to suit different players.

The second thing to bear in mind is the size of the hand of the player. A thicker neck will be more difficult to play if you have smaller hands.

Third thing to bear in mind is the sound. Sometimes fatter necks are more resonant and give the instrument a different vibration and timbre.

I was lucky enough to taste it with my own ears and the same guitar with different necks sounds very different.

To answer the question if wider necks are easier to play, we can say that mostly is the opposite, but some players love the fat neck.

4.  What Makes a Guitar Sustain?

Before answering this question, we should do another, more basic one: what is sustain?

Sustain is when a note can sound uninterruptedly for some time preserving all its tonal qualities. Great examples of guitar players with seemingly infinite sustain are Santana and David Gilmour among many others.

If you want to see someone doing very particular things with sustain look for “For the love of God” by Steve Vai on YouTube.

Now, What Makes a Guitar Sustain?

Well, there are several factors that make this happen. Some players say it is because of the pickups, that the more gain and low-end from them, the more sustain you’ll have.

Others say it is something to be attributed to the wood of the instrument and those made with mahogany, which is less snappy and more low-to-mid oriented, will have more sustain.

Some even say that it has to do with the thickness of the strings.

Truth is there is not one element that can cause it or not. Pickups, type of wood, string thickness…It’s the combination of all of them and the definitive one that is the hands of the player.

5. What Guitar Has The Most Sustain?

The guitars that have been credited for having the most sustain are mahogany-made and have humbuckers.

With the exception of David Gilmour, most players looking for sustain play those. Let’s review two models that can give you long sustain with the right amount of gain and the right touch.

Gibson (or Epiphone) Les Paul Standard

The Gibson or Epiphone (cheaper) Les Paul Standard is an instrument made entirely of mahogany, with a maple top.

That gives it a full, mid to low sound and a bright snap on the high frequencies, because of the maple top. It is capable of some serious sustain.

On Amazon, all customer reviews gave a 5 star rating! Check out what they have to say about it, here.

PRS Custom 24

Just like with the Gibson model, this guitar has two different incarnations, the PRS Custom 24 and Custom 24 SE.

They are manufactured in different locations and have very different price tags. Both share the same 25” scale and mahogany body and neck that make them have great sustain.

To give you a hint, this is the brand that manufactures Santana’s guitars.

Check it out on Amazon, here.

6. How Do You Get the Most Sustain Out Of Your Guitar?

The resulting sustain of a guitar comes from the interaction between the fingers, the wood, the strings and gain.

This last variable can also be called distortion, fuzz or overdrive. it can come from pedals, amplifiers and digital units and interacts directly with the pickups.

Humbuckers have more gain than single coils and are more prone to generating sustain. That being said, you can create combos that have a lot of sustain adding the skill of the fingers and the gain from a pedal.

A great example is David Gilmour who is able to get infinite sustain from a maple-neck seventies Stratocaster with a fuzz pedal.

If you think your guitar has little sustain you should check first your own skills to see if you are doing it right.

Second you should check the pickups (more gain means more sustain capability). Then, you should check the gain stages and finally the strings. Learning to make your guitar sustain is an acquired skill, make sure you walk that path with patience.

7. What Is Considered a Low Action Guitar?

A low-action guitar is an instrument that has the strings as close to the fretboard as possible without any rattle or fuzzy sound.

The lower the action on the guitar, the less pressure you have to make with the fingers to make notes sound. Hence, the easier it is to play.

For each guitar, the lowest action possible is different. Acoustic guitars generally have higher action. But even among the same types of guitars there are differences.

8. How Low Can The Action Be On an Acoustic Guitar?

Just like with any other guitar in the world, acoustic guitar strings can have an action as low as the neck, frets and bridge allow it.

If the action is really low but the strings touch the frets in more than one spot, you get a “dead” or “buzz” sound that is very annoying. A qualified technician has to measure the bow of the neck to accommodate the lowest action possible.

The one thing that you have to bear in mind is that the action on a guitar affects the overall sound of the instrument. The lower the stings the less they can vibrate freely and the sound becomes darker with less sustain.

You will notice if you lower the action on an acoustic guitar too much that it sounds “dead”. Also, those who are into playing with a slide, a higher action is more recommendable since the pressure made with the slide is different than the fingers.

9. What Guitar Has The Lowest Action?

There is no unique answer to this question. Still, there are some models of electrics and acoustics that can fit this made-up category.

In the case of the electrics, all guitars for virtuosos and shredders can be very low. The Ibanez we recommended above can be a wonderful example of that.

Let’s check three acoustics with small necks and low action.

Fender California Series

The California series by Fender is the closest you can get to having an acoustic with an electric neck. These guitars sound amazing, look even better and play like a dream.

Imagine the neck of a Fender American Stratocaster (1.625 inches) with a dreadnought body. Well because of that, the number one in my list is the Fender California series in any of its amazing colors.

Martin X Series Little Martin

This guitar is small in every aspect you can think of and it has a great neck profile (1.68 inches) that allows for the strings to be lower.

This lower action together with the slim neck and the small body make this a great guitar to play every day and take with you wherever you go.

Takamine Pro Series 3

In case you didn’t know them, Takamine is one of the world’s largest acoustic guitar manufacturers.

This model has one of the slimmest necks in an acoustic with only 1.67 inches. The action can be really low and with such a slim neck, the comfort of playing this Takamine is amazing.

Conclusion

I hope this article gave you a valuable insight on what you were looking for. Keep in mind that there’s more than one guitar model that has very thin neck. The same goes with guitars that have a long sustain, and low action.

Anyway, don’t forget to check out other interesting articles from this site.

Cheers, and rock on!

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