Purpose of large neck heel

Hollowway

Extended Ranger
Joined
Dec 28, 2008
Messages
16,513
Reaction score
12,116
Location
California
I was just looking at a PRS guitar, and when I saw the back I was reminded again how enormous the neck heel is. It’s a huge flat uncontoured part of the neck, and it continues substantially up the neck, away from where it attaches to the body. I’ve seen a number of other instruments with the same sort of profile. In the past, when I asked, people said it has to do with neck stability. But clearly that’s not the case, as there are a huge number of brands that have a neck that has no heel at all.

So the question is, why do some brands persist in keeping a big neck heel? Tradition? Or is there another reason?
 

Metaldestroyerdennis

Heavens Football Bat
Joined
Sep 1, 2012
Messages
1,279
Reaction score
1,174
Location
San Diego
There were a few years that the heel was smaller, but Paul changed it back claiming it was for tone reasons. Paul also refuses to give us 2-point non-locking trems so that's kinda what you get from him.

As a separate consideration, PRS Custom 24's join the body at the 22nd fret and the heel on mine only extends to the 19th fret so there's basically no loss of fret access. If you lock your thumb into the little curve you can touch the pickup with your pinky with no stretching. All this is aided by the lack of curve against the fretboard traditional superstrats have and the massive chunk PRS bites out of the lower horn. Basically I'd say due to the fact that a PRS has better upper fret access than an Ibanez RG (IME) anyway there's fat chance you'll convince Paul to change it no matter how ugly or anachronistic it is.
 

Hollowway

Extended Ranger
Joined
Dec 28, 2008
Messages
16,513
Reaction score
12,116
Location
California
People claim it helps with tone. Then you watch a video of them playing 1 of their 15 exorbitantly priced fiddles and find that they’re awful players.

The rubbish we tell ourselves.
Yeah, it’s weird about the tone thing. I hear a lot of stuff about tone, but there are so many conflicting “rules” about it, I can’t believe anyone can have faith in any of them.
 

Lemonbaby

SS.org Regular
Joined
Jun 3, 2015
Messages
1,516
Reaction score
1,556
Location
Germany
It's just for production reasons. If the heel came straight from the very point where the neck's glued to the body you'd have to work with significantly tighter tolerances. Why invest tons of work and thought in something that doesn't really matter and reduces your profit?

There were a few years that the heel was smaller, but Paul changed it back claiming it was for tone reasons. Paul also refuses to give us 2-point non-locking trems so that's kinda what you get from him.
I'd be happier if they finally used proper fixed bridges on more models and not that wraparound shit.
 

Lorcan Ward

7slinger
Joined
May 15, 2009
Messages
6,688
Reaction score
4,714
Location
Ireland
People say the older block heels on Ibanez Jems/Universes sound better than the AANJ models that came later. That something was lost with the change when they came out. Could be the same with PRS when they tried.

Most likely just tradition and no need to change. It’s like Kiesel with the finish line up the neck or Ormsby continuing the flat heel past the neck joint.
 

Winspear

Tom Winspear
Joined
Oct 23, 2009
Messages
12,332
Reaction score
3,338
Location
Yorkshire, U.K
Right? It irks me so much that PRS figured out the trick required to get around bolt-on construction with a neck pickup requiring some kind of heel and not being compatible with a sweeping horn to horn body style (by extending the neck under the pickup cavity and bolting it under the pickup), and then did...well, this :lol:

Screenshot-2022-02-04-095045.jpg
 

Samark

SS.org Regular
Joined
Apr 1, 2013
Messages
1,147
Reaction score
3,565
Location
Sydney
Don't care who you are. Nobody can tell the difference, especially after an album is mixed/mastered/plastered/distastered/rimjobbed/asslickingdisastered or whatever you want to call it.

We all still love EMG's into 5150's. Just a selling point to get your money. We all fall for it in everyday life. Focus on being a better musician
 

tedtan

SS.org Regular
Joined
Dec 2, 2009
Messages
5,549
Reaction score
2,150
Location
Never Neverland
They had small neck heels through some point in 1995, after which they changed to the current large heel. The change was supposedly intended to cure wolf tones common to small heel guitars (specifically, the 12th fret octave G of the G string), but IME the wolftone is still there on large heel instruments, so it serves no real purpose.

Not coincidentally, PRS started working with former Gibson president Ted McCarty in 1994 and began making changes to their line based on his input (including developing the McCarty line of guitars), so I wouldn’t be surprised if this change was something Ted brought to the table rather than Paul or the PRS customers.

Personally, I prefer the small heel, though I find both are quite playable.
 

CanserDYI

Yeah, No, Definitely.
Joined
Sep 23, 2020
Messages
4,842
Reaction score
6,958
Location
419
People claim it helps with tone. Then you watch a video of them playing 1 of their 15 exorbitantly priced fiddles and find that they’re awful players.

The rubbish we tell ourselves.
Yes, dude. Holy shit, yes. I love it when someone links their YouTube page or something underneath some heavy tone talk, or bashing something for sounding like crap, and then proceed to play like junk. It's way too often.

Not to be misconstrued, I'm no virtuoso, and I wholeheartedly do not judge people by their playing level, UNLESS they're on a forum talking crap about tone.
 
Last edited:

MaxAidingAres

SS.org Regular
Joined
Jun 30, 2012
Messages
560
Reaction score
208
Location
Reseda, CA
Could be a weak point, some prs actually break in that area. I think they sculpted it out on the Herman Li custom and the neck snapped off when he mortal kombat kneed it during a set.

I own a Prs and thought the same thing, until I played it and dont even notice its there so why care about. Just play the guitar, fantastic guitars for what they are (vintage inspired)
 

Hollowway

Extended Ranger
Joined
Dec 28, 2008
Messages
16,513
Reaction score
12,116
Location
California
I own a Prs and thought the same thing, until I played it and dont even notice its there so why care about. Just play the guitar, fantastic guitars for what they are (vintage inspired)
Yeah, I wasn’t questioning whether it’s playable, more about why the design choice. When I see it, it looks so incongruous it makes me wonder what the thinking was to have it that way, and that’s what I was wondering. Interesting to hear that the heel size hasn’t been consistent over the years, though.
 

John

New album out now: https://goo.gl/PdPVYh
Joined
Jul 26, 2016
Messages
1,518
Reaction score
4,580
Tradition? Or is there another reason?
Tradition. Some folks will insist on it "sounding better" or some other snake oil tripe. Usually they're the same folks with either 1) horrid chops 2) horrid tone no matter how you slice it, or 3) they have the same rehashed crap anyway like anything will even come close to salvaging it into something remotely palatable.

On an interesting side note about PRS, they weren't always that way. Having owned an early 90's build, they used to have a much less prominent heel and a noticeably thinner neck that's nice for shreds.

13913789_10209846065531240_630051027552754084_o.jpg
 

Viginez

SS.org Regular
Joined
Feb 21, 2011
Messages
993
Reaction score
452
Location
D
esp neck thrus have a bulkier one now too, sadly
 
Joined
Dec 2, 2014
Messages
7,416
Reaction score
5,401
Location
... perto de onde a terra acaba e o mar começa...
As said, it is a stress point on guitars, specially due to the neck pickup proximity (and on those who have it). Its cavity weakens the neck/body joint on all guitar construction types, from bolt on to neck through. So it's a compromise... Then it's also a production thing, changing production old routines takes time and money, so many brands avoid it unless necessary and justify it with mambo jambo marketing stunts... and you all know how susceptible we guitar players are to brands' marketing stunts, we eat it all and crave for more... and in the end, when somehow a brand tries to innovate things, it finds trapped in its own marketing stunts by their own targeted public... Gibson and Fender can't stray away much from the old ways path or they'll be crushed by the audience... like AC/DC... so we're to blame on this... 😁
 


Top