I've heard or read - I can't remember which, that classical guitar necks are as wide as they are, in part, because a famous classical builder from way back was a large man with big hands and built it so that it would be comfortable for him to play. Other builders emulated/copied his instruments and that is part of the reason necks are the size they are today.

I can't say whether there is any truth to that or not because I can't remember where I heard or read the story. I could re-read every guitar book I own, read back through all my school notes, etc and I'm sure I would find it, but I was hoping someone here had read this same story and could tell me who the builder was and where the story can be found.  It would do me good to read it all again anyway, but I'd rather know now, not next year!

Thanks in advance!

Tags: Classical Guitar, Fingerboard Width, History

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In 1974 (I think) Arthur Overholtzer published his book on building classical guitars.  He was that big guy who insisted that necks should be really wide.  Far as I know, most folks view his preference for super wide necks with an understanding that it was just that - his preference.  

Previously, classical guitars had the same wide necks as we see around today, so I think it's fair to say he didn't start or influence a trend toward even wider necks in the industry.

Classical players use a hand position that works well with wide necks, where steel stringers are much more likely to grab the neck like a baseball bat.  You don't see the classical players gripping the low E with the thumb, for instance.  

I heard that it was a player (Segovia) rather than a builder that influenced width of necks.

Segovia is well-known as a player who "broke the rules"  about hand size.  His were quite small. . .

I understand that his fingers were short but thick,

Thanks, Frank! You saved me quite a bit of time digging around through books trying to find something which is rather trivial. These kinds of things drive me nuts sometimes!

I've read Overholtzer's book "Classic Guitar Making", so that must be it. I'll have to check this out again. But as this book is not that old and classical necks were wide long before 1974 I suppose this really has nothing at all to do with the neck size and it is as you say - just that the wider spacing works better for the types of music typically associated with classical guitars.

...never heard that one nor have I really wondered 'til now but I'd guess that since the instrument evolved from ancient instruments,the kind the Moors,Afghanis,Iraqis,Persians,Pakistanis played w/names like Oud,Ood,Lute,Ud which really had wide runways had more to do with the Classical/Flamenco fretboard so imo the folktale is a mythunlogical premise.Ud btw... I only recently discovered means "wood".Evolution even exists in musical instruments.Whoda thunkit?


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