GJ guitars high action and wide necks????

I've owned and played quite a few guitars and I'm thinking of taking the plunge and getting a proper GJ guitar. Most of the GJ guitars I've looked at and played seem to have wide necks and high action. I understand that there is an element of tradition at work here but my question is: Is there anything specific to or unique about GJ that requires a guitar to be set up this way?
I do understand that you need fairly high action to reduce buzzing if you're playing hard with a stiff pick but is a wider, flatter neck more conducive to this style of playing?
Any recommendations for a guitar with a slightly narrower neck? My everyday guitar is an old Guild archtop.


  • seeirwinseeirwin ✭✭✭ AJL J'attendrai | AJL Orchestra
    Posts: 115
    I'll leave it to someone else to comment on if/why the necks have to be shaped that way. You're in luck - the budget line of guitars (Cigano GJ-10 and GJ-15) sound pretty great (especially for the money), are super cheap, and have a more "rock and roll" neck profile. Very thin and easy to get around on. Of the two, the D hole has a wider neck (more like a classical guitar), so if you're looking for the easiest neck, the oval hole Cigano has to be high in the running.

    Welcome to the style!
  • pinkgarypinkgary ✭✭✭
    Posts: 282
    It's just easier to play this music with that kind of guitar. The big thing for me is the strings & how they work with a neck like that. It's a perfectly happy medium between a classical & dreadnought, for the way the strings feel & the spacing of them. It was obvious to me the first time i played a sel-mac how the proportions just worked to do all that gypsy stuff that is just alien on any other type of acoustic, like pushing 2 strings down with one finger without barring it, or using your thumb on the bass string for lots of chords, or having enough room for your hand to do the gypsy picking effectively without the top getting in the way.

    It might seem strange to start with, if you haven't been doing this music very long, but for me (being a lefty) i had been trying to do this stuff for a couple of years before i could afford to get a sel-mac, or even try one, that when i did everything slotted into place and was much easier to achieve with those strings, that neck, that bridge, etc...

    Oh, and i don't have very big hands, and do struggle, but the neck shape helps when you get used to it.
  • I find neck shape and width to be a very personal thing as people's hands are quite different

    I have played a number of thicker neck guitars of the traditional GJ variety Selmer, Busato DiMauro and the modern equivalents and find that while I can work with any neck given time to adjust I find many of them not comfortable to play on.

    When I got my my two Dunn's made for me I spent a few weeks working out the ideal neck shapes for both. I suggest trying as many as you can til you find one that feels best for your hand if possible.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • StringswingerStringswinger Santa Cruz and San Francisco, CA✭✭✭✭ 1993 Dupont MD-20, Shelley Park Encore
    Posts: 465
    Shelly Park makes Selmer style guitars with modern neck profiles. My Favino has an almost modern neck profile. They vary, but they often tend to be wide, probably because most European guitars had wide necks and that is what players in the Selmer guitar marketplace wanted.

    High action is useful for playing loud, though it is not that great for playing fast. Some Selmer style guitars need a high action for optimum tone, others play fine with a low action.

    Guild archtops have a great neck profile. You might find a Shelly Park or other similar modern Selmer guitar (Hahl, etc.) to be the best move.

    I think finding the easiest playing guitar will move your playing forward. Why make it difficult? Playing fast lines through a multitude of chord changes is hard enough.

    Good luck in your search. Every acoustic guitar is different. Find one YOU like, (not one any of the self professed experts on this forum likes!)


    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass
  • Jeff MooreJeff Moore Minneapolis✭✭✭✭ Lebreton 2
    Posts: 476
    I want to second everything Pinkgary said, but let's be specific.
    There are two basic models of GJ guitar. Long scale 26 1/2" and Short scale 25 1/2"
    So there's a super long neck guitar and a "regular" length neck.
    The long one is almost always 1 3/4" wide at the nut. This is the same width as at least half the flat top guitars out there. So pretty normal width on a long scale.
    Making a guitar longer has great sonic advantages but takes a willingness to get used to for the uninitiated.
    The short "normal" length guitar typically have 1 7/8" or wider necks. That's gonna feel kinda classical like to a newbie. So either way, there's a difference.

    I would just add that the slightly flatter fretboards than "normal" mean also a flatter pattern of strings at the bridge. I think that this flatness adds a lot to the absolutely wicked right hand technique you will learn in this music.
    Especially when your picking across the strings and skipping a string very fast. Flatness flat out wins out over say a fender. Not that it can't be done, but why bother.

    Just to be specific again. the radius of 50's style fender fretboards tended to be 9". Gibsons 12" Classicals of course have no radius - are flat, and our guitar's fretboards tend to be around 16" radius. which is far from flat and not to far from "normal".

    You can put the action on these guitars anywhere you want. Some like it low and put up with the buzz. Some not. But GJ is not all about high action guitars.

    I'd second the suggestion too for the Ciganos. Especially the short scale. (comes with a wide neck but you'll adapt real quick I think). The tone of the more pricey long scale guitars is kinda the thing you'll be after in the long run, but a Cigano has a feel that I love (once its set up good) and a sound you can use to get into this stuff. Be your own judge!
    "We need a radical redistribution of wealth and power" MLK
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