Two of the most popular yet iconic electric guitars have always been the Stratocaster by Fender and the Les Paul by Gibson. I’m sure if you’re a musician and into playing guitars, then there’s no way you would’ve missed out on either of these guitars.
Many people reach a point where they want to buy at least one of these two, and the first thing anyone would wonder is which one is easier to play? Are you asking yourself the same question?
I’d say that the answer is pretty subjective since many factors come into play. Some find the Strats easier because of the lower weight, a relatively comfortable neck, and increased upper fret accessibility.
Others would disagree and argue that Les Pauls is more straightforward to play due to the short scale length.
To help you decide which one of the two might be better for you, we’ve decided to go through these points:
- Let’s Compare Them
- Thick Or Thin Neck?
- Does The Playability Vary?
- What’s Best For You?
Guitar Neck: Strats Vs Les Paul
If you’re looking to buy a Les Pauls or a Strats, then these are some of the things you need to go through before:
|Neck Width||1.650 inches||1.695 inches|
|Neck Profile||C profile||U profile|
|Scale Length||25.5 inches||24.75 inches|
Neck Width: Strats vs Les Paul
The width of the guitar’s neck is quite significant in affecting its playability. This neck is where you will place your hand while playing. The neck width does not vary massively between a Strats and a Les Pauls.
Learn more about tone and playability on thin and thick guitar necks.
Neck Profile: Strats vs Les Paul
This factor is more significant in playability because the various profiles can change how one feels while playing the instrument. The profile is the neck’s shape behind its fretboard.
Strat has a more C profile, while Les Pauls has a U profile. It clarifies that Les Pauls is thicker compared to Strats. You can only find out which one suits you more by holding both of them and feeling what’s suitable for you.
Scale Length: Strats vs Les Paul
The scale length is measured from its nut to its bridge. While the Strats scale length is 25.5 inches, the Les Pauls measures 24.75 inches.
The Les Pauls has a shorter scale length, so most people find it easier to play.
String Tension: Strats vs Les Paul
It’s wise to remember that the scale length and string tension are two factors that go hand in hand. If the scale length is long, the string tension will increase accordingly.
Because the Les Pauls have a shorter scale length, it decreases the string tension.
Which Is Better: Thick Or Thin Neck?
The choice between thin or thick neck depends entirely on your preference. People with big hands tend to like thicker necks – while smaller hands like thin neck guitars. Neck thickness doesn’t change tone.
I have a personal experience where my fellow guitarist and I bought our new guitars together. It turned out that he preferred thick-neck guitar because of his big hands and personal preference. On the other hand, I had to pick up a thin-neck guitar because it fits in my hand more.
Most beginners prefer thin-neck guitars; ever wondered why? It is a myth, but most beginners find it easier for a thin-neck guitar to fit in their hands properly. Whereas in some cases, the players with more extensive hands would want their guitars to be thick-necked.
Here’s a guide on changing guitar’s fretboard and neck if you’re not satisfied by it.
Does The Playability Vary By Guitar Neck Thickness?
Besides the fit in your hand and your personal preference, there is a very slight difference between the tones of different neck thickness.
Any sound might hit you as a musician, but a very slightly noticeable variation among the different neck sizes is observed. The thick neck has more mass, making a somewhat fuller and heavier sound. The best example is Les pauls which many jazz musicians use because of its extraordinary sound and comfort.
Similarly, guitars with thinner necks are among the most compatible guitars for people with small hands. Although, many musicians say that the sound of thin-necked guitars is slightly punchy and snappier.
No wonder every classical rock musician loved Strats because of its thin neck.
What Type Of Guitar Neck Is Best?
Practically, there is not much difference between different sized-necks of guitars. Like I said before, it is subjective, and you should go for the one that suits your needs.
To make it easier for you, let me tell you the best one according to your needs. The people with smaller hands should go with the thin neck guitars because it fits your hands much easier than the thick ones. If you are the one who has small hands and likes to play jazz or need a punchier sound, then go with a thin neck.
People with naturally bigger hands and the preference to play rock, classical rock, etc., or who want to have a barely noticeable slightly heavier sound, go with thick necks.
Even though many experts say that it doesn’t particularly affect the tone, if the thickness of the guitar’s neck varies, it’s best to try different sizes and decide what suits your hand size and preference. You have to make sure that the guitar doesn’t make your fingers get tired.
Do consider that a thick neck would add up to the total weight of the guitar. Guitars made with the same wood, but different neck widths would affect the overall weight.
I’d recommend you visit a store or a friend with both the Strats and Les Pauls and hold both guitars. You will only figure out which guitar is right for you by holding and playing them.
It would not be fair to decide whether you should go for a thick-necked guitar or a thin one without considering your personal preference. As long as one of these two options works for you, it does not matter which guitar you get.