Howdy all,

A friend of mine posed a question to me this morning that left me completely stumped, so I was wondering if I threw it out into the wider community someone might be able to give me an answer.

As a general rule - and I know there are exceptions - the neck of an acoustic guitar is wider than the neck of an electric guitar.

The very simple question is ..... why? Why did the pioneers of electric guitar design choose to spec the neck thinner than was the norm for acoustic guitars? Surely they must have known that their customers were likely to play both instruments, so I'd have thought it would have made most sense for them to spec the dimensions of such a critical part to match what the market had already determined was most comfortable.

Anyone got a logical theory as to why they baulked convention?

Secondly, if you play both instruments, would you prefer it if the neck of your acoustic was thinner, or would you prefer it if the neck of your electric was thicker?
Possibly because acoustic guitars and electric guitars are generally played in a different style. Larger necks are more comfortable for strumming and cowboy chords while the thinner necks on electric guitars are more comfortable for leads.
The "standard" neck width for steel string acoustics and electrics is nominally the same - 1 11/16". Narrower necks than that are sometimes seen on electrics and wider ones - 1 3/4" - are fairly common on acoustics. A lot of acoustic players prefer the slightly wider neck for fingerpicking, and I think that the same doesn't apply to electric guitars because they aren't normally played in a fingerpicking style that needs the same kind of note separation. Also a lot of it may simply be what you get used to. Maybe someone else can offer a better explanation than that. Nylon string guitars have a wide (2" or more) neck and high action to accommodate greater string excursion.

Thick and thin aren't the same as wide and narrow - the former applies to neck profile. I've got small hands, and neck widths and profiles don't bother me much. Because I'm a fingerpicker/slide player, and I had to choose, it would be 1 3/4", with a fairly flat board radius and a modern D profile., though I would find that a bit narrow for nylon strings.

1 7/8"necks are also seen on some acoustics, such as parlor guitars and fusion type nylon strings. The wide necks on parlors are historical, dating form the transitional period between nylon and steel strings, and I guess the narrower necks and slightly radiused boards on fusion guitars are designed to attract non-classical players to nylon strings.