Bass Guitar with Thin Neck (Are there bass guitars with narrow necks?)

Bass Guitar with Thin Neck (Are there bass guitars with narrow necks?)

The age old discussion: Bass guitar with thin neck: Good or bad? Many people that are getting started out with bass guitar often want to get their (small?) hands on a bass guitar with a narrow neck. The logic here being that it is far easier to hold the neck and also fret the thicker bass guitar strings. 

In this post we explain why having a narrow neck on a bass guitar is a good thing, and we show you how to get a bass guitar with a thinner neck, if you want one. We will also show you why it might not be the silver bullet that you think it is. 

What is a “Narrow Neck” Bass Guitar?

A narrow neck bass is exactly what it sounds like- a bass guitar with a neck that is thinner and narrower than a traditional bass guitar. The dimensions are actually closer to a standard electric guitar in terms of thickness and width, while maintaining a longer scale.

This is where many people make the switch to a short scale bass, as it aligns more closely with the dimensions of a guitar. People that play multiple instruments find that a short scale bass is a fun way to get into playing bass without unlearning fretting and picking discipline that you learned from a standard guitar.

Many people are under the false impression that a short scale bass changes the tone of the overall sound mix and arrangement of a band, but this is not necessarily true. There is a slight scale length change from a standard bass to a short scale, but depending on the style of music you can really get a great overall sound out of a short scale bass.

The Beatles’ Paul McCartney used a violin bass, the Höfner H500/1 series. This was part of short scale line of basses that is today affectionately referred to as a ‘Beatle bass’ and is 30 inches in length, as opposed to 34 inches of a standard bass.

Why is Having a Narrow Neck Good for Playing Bass Guitars?

The most obvious reason that a narrow neck bass is food for playing bass guitar is speed. The smaller size makes a short scale bass much easier to play faster scales and speed runs, much like an electric guitar. If you have ever wanted to keep up with the lead section of a song with a bass, then getting a bass with a narrower neck is a good place to start.

Another reason why you might want to use a narrower neck on your next bass is that fretting chords is much easier too. Now, you might not  realize it, but bassists play chords too, and the strategic use of chords can subtly alter the overall key of a given song, so it is definitely a skill worth learning more about on bass.

A narrower neck also brings some additional benefits, such as less weight to lug around on stage. A lighter narrower bass guitar neck is also far less likely to suffer from neck dive, which ultimately makes for a more comfortable playing experience. Not many people think about the additional strain and energy that needs to be expended when you are constantly counter balancing against neck dive on a bass guitar or an electric guitar.

How to Get a Narrow Neck Bass Guitar

Unfortunately the most practical solution is almost always going to be a new bass that matches the requirements that you are after. Many instruments can be changes and modified to suit a player’s preferred specifications, but when it comes to bass necks you will almost always get better bang for your buck when you get a different instrument entirely.

This doesn’t have to be a new flashy bass either. There are plenty of basses in the second hand market that are often much cheaper than new. Most musicians have never actually had a brand new instrument as the price of a pre-owned instrument is  much more affordable, especially for those learning how to play and for hobbyists.

Professionals that are looking to experiment with a narrower neck on their next bass are in a better position to go with a custom set up as the cost of a new instrument can be offset against the fact that they earn a living by playing music on them.

Bass guitar with slim neck 

If you are looking for a bass guitar with a narrower neck, then the best option is to buy a used instrument. There are plenty of second hand basses available that come with a wide variety of different neck widths.

In terms of making the best use of your money, there is no better way to find a used bass that is tailored to your specific requirements than to visit a music shop. Many music shops have an excellent second hand selection that you can browse through to find the perfect bass guitar.

A wide variety of bass guitars are available for sale on the second hand market, from a wide variety of brands. When buying a used bass guitar, you should be looking for a bass that is comfortable to play. You want to make sure that the neck is comfortable for you to play the instrument for long periods of time, as this is the instrument that you are going to be playing for the rest of your life.

An old school ‘guitar bass’ with a slim neck is a great option for the bass player that likes to play guitar and bass.

Which electric bass guitar has the thinnest neck?

If you like to play guitar and bass, you can get a good quality bass with a slim neck such as an Ibanez SoundGear. These are very well-made and also quite affordable when compared to some of the more traditional brands of guitars and basses.

Fretboard quality doesn’t get discussed enough when talking about bass guitars. The fretboard is almost the entire instrument if you think about it. It is the area where you make the music of your bass come to life. Make sure that the frets are crowned, polished and level before you commit to buying a skinny neck bass guitar.

I would also recommend checking out a Fender Jazz Bass and a Squire Jazz Bass. They both have thinner necks than a full sized bass, which may be more comfortable for you, although short scale basses are almost always going to be easier to play if you are struggling with the thickness of a bass guitar neck.

Do Jazz basses have thinner necks?

Not necessarily, although they do have a unique profile that makes them very easy and comfortable to play.  

Is bass better for small hands?

No, bass is generally not great for smaller hands- although many famous bassists have smaller hands and they manage just fine. If you have smaller hands then you should consider a thinner, more narrow bass guitar neck, or a short scale bass.

How thick is a bass guitar neck?

There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on personal preference. Some basses have thin necks, while others have thicker necks. Ultimately, it is up to the player to decide what they find most comfortable, as one person may consider a thicker bass neck to be more preferable than a thin one.

Final Thoughts: Thinner bass neck

We hope that this has helped you to think about your bass guitar’s neck thickness and width in a practical way, helping you to avoid rushing out and buying something unnecessarily. Music is one of those life long endeavors that can benefit from new equipment, but cannot practice be substituted with new gear. 

In conclusion, I think that the first thing you should do is to start practicing. I have to admit that I did the same thing. My first bass was an old Fender Jazz Bass that I bought at a pawn shop.

It had a narrow neck and the strings were very thick and hard to play, but the narrower neck really helped me to build up finger strength and muscle training so that I could graduate onto a 5 string bass that needed insane finger strength and dexterity.


Which bass guitars have a narrow neck?

There are several. You may also want to consider a Fender Jazz Bass or a Squire Jazz Bass. The necks of both models are thinner than full-sized bass guitar necks, which may make them more comfortable for you. However, short scale bass guitars are usually more accessible if you are having trouble with thick bass guitar necks.

Which bass guitar is easiest to play?

Compared to the upright, fretless bass, the Fender electric bass guitar was lighter, easier to play, and easier to transport. There was also a more substantial low-end rumble coming from electric bass guitars. The best choice for beginners is an electric bass guitar if you want to play rock and roll.