This is a good one. I see lots of different guitars from home made Warmoths to boutique Andersons and Suhrs. But mostly by a large margin I see Fenders. Just because they are the most popular and largest producer in the US. Not the world- that honor goes to some Korean and Chinese manufacturers that make just about every brand you have ever heard of.
So the above means we all look to Fender as the standard if we are building a Strat or Tele style guitar. And I am only referring to the Fender American series, as the MIMs and others do have different measurements.
So the question will xxx’s neck fit the body I have? And the answer is a resounding “maybe”! There is somewhat of a standard as shown here on a Fender Strat blueprint and neck blueprint that has circulated for years on the web. The neck blueprint says that the heel size is 2.190 inches and the Fender neck blueprint says 2.187 to 2.200. So you have a good bit of tolerance there and .010 will make a difference as to how that neck fits. I make my necks to be 2.196 which will cover most installations.
Now for the real world. There is no bureau of standards that says what it will be. Since I see so many necks and bodies I measure a lot of them and I can tell you that few of them are the size that Fender or Warmoth states they are. It’s due to manufacturing tolerances and simply the humidity and temperature. The majority of them measure out between 2.190 and 2.205. On the low side I’ve seen them as low as 2.173 which is a bit too small but will still work.
Here is an example of two Strat necks in my shop right now. So one of these will be loose in the other’s body and the other won’t fit in the other’s body without forcing it, which could crack the paint.
It just means that if you buy a neck from anyone you won’t know if it fits perfectly until you try it in the body that you have.
The neck pocket in the body is also at issue here. Wood shrinks and expands. The pocket may be cut to 2.188 but then it expands to 2.175 or it shrinks to 2.196. Or it was cut big and it’s 2.205. It can go both ways. It is a moving target.
You can get a neck that rattles in the pocket because the pocket is too big or the neck is too small or you can get a neck that won’t fit in the pocket because the pocket is too small or the neck is too big! Whew.
So what do you do? Buy a neck, bolt it on and play it. Your best bet is to buy both the body and the neck made as a matching set which is what I do if you buy both as a set. It is the only way to get the best fit. But often times you just need a neck. All you can do is buy a neck and try it.
The neck should fit just snug, not tight and can have a tiny amount of play. It will not affect the sound if it is a little loose and I challenge anyone to a blind hearing test if you think it will.
Send me an email if you have questions!