Neck Angle Calculator

When desiging a guitar, determining the proper neck angle is important in order to make the instrument playable. Often times, this angle is determined by drawing a full-scale profile of the instrument on a large piece of paper, then taking a protractor and measuring what the string angle should be. While drawing the instrument on paper has some advantages from an artistic point of view, it is a long and cumbersome process to follow if one simply wants to know this angle.

So, the TundraMan is here at your rescue, with a little help from our friend trigonometry. I created this simple calculator that will take the measurements from the guitar and determine the proper neck angle. As an added bonus, it will also determine at what distance the bridge should be located from the point where the neck joins the body. To use the calculator, simply enter the information in the fields, then click on the "calculate" button to view the results.

Here's some more information to help you while entering information in the fields:

Measurement System:

Inches

Millimeters

Scale Length:

Fret Number Where Neck Joins Body:

Height Of Fingerboard At The Neck Join:

Height Of Bridge:

Increase In Top Height From Neck To Bridge:


Why Do I Even Need To Worry About Neck Angle When Building A Guitar?

Getting the proper neck angle on a guitar is imperative to making the guitar play correctly. Not all guitars have a neck angle, so in some cases the correct neck angle is "none". In any event, if you're buidling a guitar you need to know what angle should be used.

This is one of those instances where a picture is worth 1000 words. Here's a side-view of a guitar with different neck angle/bridge combinations. From this picture, you can see why some guitars need a neck angle. Pardon my homemade picture.

My attempt at demonstrating why some guitars need a neck angle.

Basically, the neck angle works in conjunction with the bridge height adjustment to hold the strings the proper distance from the fretboard. Too little of a neck angle, and the bridge may not be able to be adjusted low enough to bring the strings down to a comfortable action. Even worse, too much neck angle and the bridge may not be able to raise the strings high enough off of the fretboard to make the guitar playable.

Many Fender guitars (i.e. Strats and Teles) use a bridge that sits at a low enough profile so as not to require a neck angle. Other bridges, such as the tune-o-matic found on many Gibson guitars have a much higher profile which requires a neck angle. Every new guitar design should be measured and have the proper neck angle calculated; it's not enough to just assume that because your guitar looks like a Strat, that you don't need a neck angle.

This page last updated on 02/11/2011