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Hi everyone,
One problem I have is that I'm quite small handed. I suppose I'm also a bit more used to electric guitars which have much thinner necks. So my hand doesn't fit quite so comfortably round the neck of most Classical (or Flamenco) guitars.
I was wondering if there's anything I can do besides stretch my hands! I've heard of necks being shaved (both on electric guitars and Classicals) to give a thinner neck, and am considering doing this to my current Classicals if it is worthwhile. My new Yamaha is due any day now and I'm pretty sure it's not gonna have a much thinner neck than any of my others. So it might be worth doing to all my guitars.
Thing is, how do I go about this? It probably can be done myself, but I definitely wouldn't feel confident in doing so... it seems like such a tricky job to get the surface smooth (lumps and bumps definately wouldn't help playing), then there's the varnishing/finishing, which I doubt I'd be able to do.
It seems more like a luthier's job, I think. Anyone know if this sort of thing is expensive to get done? If it is, it probably isn't worth doing on my cheaper guitars. plus, where do I go for this? Personally, I've never met any luthiers, and looking up "Luthiers" in the Yellow Pages didn't help! Can anyone in the UK recommend a reliable place?
Ofcourse, if it turns out to be more trouble than it's worth, I'll forget about it (until I order a custom-made guitar, then insist on having it done as part of the package). As usual, any informed opinions are greatly appreciated. Thanks.


musicalgrant -> RE: SHAVING MY NECK (WITHOUT A RAZOR!) (Mar. 26 2005 21:08:51)

Hi James

Sounds like you are in for a lot of fun!!LOL

Anyhow, I have just read your post, and all I can think of is having a chat with my flamenco guitar maker/luthier....his link is on my website,,,, phone him I'm sure he will be helpful in makings such decisions.
Guitar maker

Hope this helps

Jamey -> RE: SHAVING MY NECK (WITHOUT A RAZOR!) (Mar. 27 2005 4:16:33)

Don't shave the neck, just get used to the width. If you are a long time electric guitar player, then you probably have the "clutch" grip habit. I.E. your thumb of your left hand pokes over the top of the neck across its' width while the back of the neck is in your palm. Place your thumb in the middle of the back of the neck across its width and leave it there. Don't let it creep over the top. No part of your palm/hand should be touching the neck. Just your thumb on the back and your fingers on the finger board.

If this isn't the case, consider getting guitars with a width at the nut of 52 mm or less. Shaving the neck won't help you because the string spacing at the bridge will still be the same. A narrower nut with different string spacing will create a really screwy change in string spacing as you move up the neck. If part of your problem is the reach across frets, two things will help. First, make sure your left hand technique and placement are correct so that your fingers can reach (the "clutch" grip binds the hand too much and shorten's your reach). Second, get a guitar with shorter scale length (650mm or less).

Thomas Whiteley -> RE: SHAVING MY NECK (WITHOUT A RAZOR!) (Mar. 27 2005 4:41:10)

I have seen and played some electric guitars with thick necks. Some classical and flamenco guitars have thinner necks then others. That is subjective enough.

I know many flamenco guitarists from Spain who are about 5’ 4” tall and have small hands. They do very well with any standard flamenco guitar. It is a matter of position of the hand as Jamey pointed out. It is very important to have correct left hand and right hand positions. Be sure you understand what this means and if you have any questions just ask!

Whatever sound you produce with your guitar should be clear and not limited due to the thickness of the neck of the instrument. There are exercises you can do to help stretch your hands to facilitate reaching further across the frets.

To shave the neck would weaken the instrument and you would have to refinish it to boot!


Thanks for the advice so far everyone. It seems most of you think I should stick with the wider neck and just "get used to it". You are right though... I do have a tendancy to grip the neck in the same way as I would an electric guitar neck. Thanks for pointing out that this is wrong! I suspect when my new guitar arrives and my lessons with a professional begin he will be quick to tell me what I am doing incorrectly, and how to do it the right way.
But I'm not sure what getting a guitar with "a shorter scale length" means... I assumed all Classical or Flamenco guitars had a standard fretboard size. Unless you are talking about getting a "scaled down" guitar which is like a standard guitar but smaller (the sort of think kids learn to play on). But I'm not sure I'd want one of those. I assume the Yamaha CG171SF is a standard sized Flamenco guitar.
I got the neck shaving idea from a Nueva Flamenco duo who apparently have their guitars custom made for them, with "slimline" necks to facilitate ease of movement both when doing fingering work, and when moving rapidly up and down the neck. But if what you say is true, it may not make it that much easier.
I'll keep trying, but this time with the correct left hand positioning, and see if I find it any easier.

Miguel de Maria -> RE: SHAVING MY NECK (WITHOUT A RAZOR!) (Mar. 27 2005 18:46:17)

the title of this thread is maybe the funniest I have seen.

A good rule of thumb (so to speak) is to keep the thumb touching an imaginary centerline on back of the neck. The thumb is a dynamic balancing operator, and actually keeping it there all the time would introduce tension--still, it could be a good way to adapt your style to nylon string. Just keep your thumb on the centerline at all times. This wil help you get a new equilibrium for these types of instruments.

As Tom pointed out, you don't need to have classical guitarists' hands to play flamenco. Plus, you should play using a capo...this will make it even easier.



the title of this thread is maybe the funniest I have seen.

Well, I do try... and after Jon's Pegheads/Deadheads title I felt I had to come up with something slightly witty. Anyway, thanks for the advice!

Armando -> RE: SHAVING MY NECK (WITHOUT A RAZOR!) (Jun. 13 2005 11:02:57)


I recommend not to shave the neck as well. It may change not only the playability but also the sound of the guitar, even though this might be only sligtly and not noticable for everybody. If you really want to do it, then i recommend to bring the guitar to an experienced luthier. The shaving could be done without a spokeshave. I personally use a file and a cabinet scrapper to shape my necks. However the use of a cabinet scrapper needs some practice as well. After having thinned the neck, you'll have to re apply the varnish or maybe even french polish. This may end up with a big mess, unless you are experienced. Therefor i suggest to get used to the neck dimensions instead of changing it.



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