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Old June 20th, 2012, 02:47 PM   #1 (permalink)
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7.25" to 9.5" radius a significant change?

My tele has a 7.25" radius and I don't like it because it makes bending difficult and the strings fret out when I do big bends high up the neck. (The standard solution of raising the strings up doesn't work for me because I prefer very low action and for the strings to all be at the same height (level).

I tried a new tele in a music store the other day and the neck and playability was fine. I assumed it was a 9.25" radius (supposedly that's what all the new teles have). I checked with the the guitar tech in the store and he said he didn't know what the neck radius was and the literature that came with the guitars didn't say either (huh? whatever).

Anybody that is knowledgeable about this, please give me your opinion...

I thought I was going to have to go to a 12" radius like some strat or les paul neck to achieve what I want but it appears that just going from a 7.25 to a 9.5 makes all the difference that I would need to achieve the setup that I want. Does this seem to be the case?

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Old June 20th, 2012, 02:50 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Yes, going from a 7.25" radius to 9.5" makes all the difference in the world as far as string bending goes.
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Old June 20th, 2012, 03:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
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it's all personal preference. I prefer the 7.25 to the 9.5 but I've been told that the 9.5 was developed, more or less, to reduce the string bending issues you speak of, and so many other fender players complained of, that were related to the 7.25 neck. For me it's easier to play a 7.25 neck for several hours, like at a club gig, because I can wrap my hand around it easier and play F positioned barre chords up the neck instead of the traditional forefinger braced barre chords, which makes for less wrist fatigue in my case. Plus I find that a slightly raised action, raised just enough to not fret out on bends up high past the 12th fret, on my 7.25 tele or strat produces a slightly stronger tone and I can play the guitar a bit harder on high intensity rhythm parts. but, again, it's all personal preference.
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Old June 20th, 2012, 03:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by alfbell View Post
I checked with the the guitar tech in the store and he said he didn't know what the neck radius was and the literature that came with the guitars didn't say either (huh? whatever).
Wow. Even most techs working out of their house have radius gauges.
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Old June 20th, 2012, 04:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I go back and forth between 7,25¨and 9,5¨radius all the time, no problem.The difference is actually very small, compare some radius gauges when you have a chance.
I have no problems with bends on the 7,25¨radius 52RI I have and I have pretty low action. Are you sure the setup is correct and that the frets aren´t uneven?
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Old June 20th, 2012, 04:04 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The difference is actually very small, compare some radius gauges when you have a chance.


from one of Ron Kirn's posts on another thread
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Old June 21st, 2012, 01:18 AM   #7 (permalink)
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My setup is ok and my frets are even too. I use very light gauge strings (.008 E) and I want to be able to bend high (like Buddy Guy) and can't do it with the 7.25" R.

Apparently the SRV signature model strat has a 12" radius and so does the Eric Johnson model. That is the standard radius of the Gibson LP too I'm told. I guess that is what I need and 9.5" might not be enough. I always feel more comfortable playing on a LP neck and the bending is so much easier and doesn't have this problem that I have on my tele (altho I know the scale is shorter on the LP, making the bending easier).

I want the twang and lightness of a tele so I'll need to get a new neck for it. Eventually I'll get a LP too.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 01:23 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Addendum:
A friend suggested that I don't mess with my MIJ 1950 Tele Reissue and change the neck. He says leave it be and set it up for use for bottleneck and he'll assemble a custom Tele for me with the neck I want, etc. using parts from Warmouth, MusicKraft, USAAG or whatever. Might not be a bad idea.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 01:25 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I've got a 9.5" and plenty compound radius necks to compare it with. I don't have any proba playing SRV on the 9.5. It's possible it's just a really good neck but it does show that a 9.5 is fine for blues.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 02:22 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I guess I'm just going to have to go somewhere (Guitar Center?) where I can have access to trying out Fenders with 9.5" through to 12" radii necks so that I can see what I really like. Also I want to try out the different shape and thickness necks as well. Need to find out what radius and what shape/thickness is the one for me.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 03:10 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I use 11-12" Radius on all my guitars..Les Paul, strats, teles..etc. 9.5 is fine. 7.25 is too round
My suggestion...start moving up in string gauge. 8's are beyond light!! Even 9's are too thin. You are cheating yourself in the tone dept. Even if you nail all Buddy Guy's stuff, it will still sound nothing like it with those strings.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 03:16 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by alfbell View Post
Addendum:
A friend suggested that I don't mess with my MIJ 1950 Tele Reissue and change the neck. He says leave it be and set it up for use for bottleneck and he'll assemble a custom Tele for me with the neck I want, etc. using parts from Warmouth, MusicKraft, USAAG or whatever. Might not be a bad idea.
-1. :-(
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Old June 21st, 2012, 03:23 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I use 11-12" Radius on all my guitars..Les Paul, strats, teles..etc. 9.5 is fine. 7.25 is too round
My suggestion...start moving up in string gauge. 8's are beyond light!! Even 9's are too thin. You are cheating yourself in the tone dept. Even if you nail all Buddy Guy's stuff, it will still sound nothing like it with those strings.
-1.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 06:41 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by alfbell View Post
My tele has a 7.25" radius and I don't like it because it makes bending difficult and the strings fret out when I do big bends high up the neck.

Anybody that is knowledgeable about this, please give me your opinion...
If you have a preference as to fingerboard radius, then you have to find and identify the radius (and fret size) that best suits you - - and then carefully avoid the opinions of people like me.

I don't believe the old, "bending is hard on a 7.25 radius" argument and never will. Between 1954 and 1983, just about all Strats and Teles had a 7.25 inch neck radius, and Clapton, Harrison, Page, Garcia, Guy, Beck, Gatton and millions of others played them without anyone complaining that the radius made string bending too hard.

It's a matter of technique.

However, now the "bending is hard on a 7.25 radius" myth is part of our guitar culture.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 01:39 PM   #15 (permalink)
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You know the "heavier the gauge string, the better the tone" makes sense BUT what about James Burton? His high E is less than a .008. He used to use banjo strings on his telecaster before light gauge guitar strings were available. How do we account for the incredible tone he got live and in studio? (Listen to his tone on everything he's done. Listen to his tone on Emmy Lou Harris's CDs).
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Old June 21st, 2012, 03:47 PM   #16 (permalink)
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alfbell, I can't help you much from this distance, but I can share some thoughts.
The radius does have a big influence on what action is possible for what amount of bend one prefers. the other big variable is the line of the neck. there are good necks and there are bad necks. There are great necks, and there are necks that are not worth putting strings on. ONe has to be able to read the line of the neck to understand this. I have owned, seen and set-up---I do work on stringed instruemtns for a living----7,25" radius necks that played like a dream. I have seen 12" radius necks that were useless because of a bad line to the neck.
Buddy Guy bends.....I have a Strat partscaster that will do those bends. IT has a 7.25" radius. IT also has some high action on the high E string---jsut like B. Guy's guitars...but I can take the string across the neck with ease. Note: short radius necks and/or higher action present the string to the fingertip in such a way that there is better 'purchase'--read: grip--- of the string by the finger...and the bending is facilitated by this. Lower action on a flatter radius will allow the same bend as higher action on a shorter radius neck, but the 'attack angle' of the fingertip to the string is different. Some prefer one thing, some prefer another.
I have a Gibson L>P. Special Plus with a 12" radius...and one of the best Gibson necks I have ever seen. the action at the 12th fet is the same as other 12" radius Gibson necks that I set up....but instead of just achieving a 1 step bend at that action the way most of those Gibson neck yield, this one goes a bit beyond 2 steps....again, Buddy Guy territory, right? Why? Because it has a great---read: ideal---line of neck. You don't often see perfect necks. I remember one vintage TEle that had the same type of situation....it sat up lower than other 7.25" radius Teles...but it bent way up and with ease. I was setting it up with 10's for the player....and I could bend that guitar with ease. Note: I play 9's on 25 1/2" scales normally.

One other note: IF one sets up with all of the strings at the same height, there is a difference in the feel of the strings and there is a difference in the amount of fret rattle that occurs..meaning that the lower strings will yieldmore fret buzz than do the higher strings...because the tension of the lower strings will be less than the higher strings...noticeably so. Imho, a proper set-up leaves an instrument feeling the same at every fret position....and if you can hit one string without getting fret buzz, you can hit any other string with the same pick attack without getting fret buzz. IF you set up the strings at the same height off of the 12th fret, you actually have to reach over the high strings to get to the lower strings.... YEs, I am a picayune person; but when I am through with a set-up, the guitar puts the player at ease, the insturment palys in tune over the span of the 'board, and there is better control over what the player wants to do with the guitar.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 03:59 PM   #17 (permalink)
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The difference is much less of a factor than the fret size. A lot of the smaller radius necks have vintage type frets, hence the greater difficulty bending notes.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 04:03 PM   #18 (permalink)
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it's all personal preference. I prefer the 7.25 to the 9.5 but I've been told that the 9.5 was developed, more or less, to reduce the string bending issues you speak of, and so many other fender players complained of, that were related to the 7.25 neck. For me it's easier to play a 7.25 neck for several hours, like at a club gig, because I can wrap my hand around it easier and play F positioned barre chords up the neck instead of the traditional forefinger braced barre chords, which makes for less wrist fatigue in my case. Plus I find that a slightly raised action, raised just enough to not fret out on bends up high past the 12th fret, on my 7.25 tele or strat produces a slightly stronger tone and I can play the guitar a bit harder on high intensity rhythm parts. but, again, it's all personal preference.
+1 for the 7.25" inch radius and comfort for long periods of time.

But for speed, low action, and avoiding the buzzing, the very flat feeling 9.5" inch radius is great. It's not 12" or 16" inches but to the fingers both 9.5" and 12"+ feel almost completely flat like a classical guitar.

Basically, consider anything from 9.5" inches to infinity as a so-called flat fretboard where you can get the action very low if you like. While you can see a 9.5" inch radius, it basically feels flat to the hand, and when you are at an extreme radius of 16" inches as on some Jacksons then it both looks flat and feels flat but really not much more than a 9.5" inch. Fender did their research and got a great flat feeling radius at 9.5" inches without having to make a completely flat radius which can run into issues. And a radius in the 7.25" inch radius range, or less, is seen as a rounded fretboard and you can definitely see and feel how the fretboard has a curve to make chording more comfortable.

I don't know where the neck feels curved to most players but I get that long term comfort level on my small hands just right on a 7.25" inch radius and I would even welcome a smaller radius from Fender.

Last edited by 63dot; June 22nd, 2012 at 03:20 PM.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 04:04 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Hot Rod 52 AVRI Teles have 9.5 radius necks.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 04:24 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Does this seem to be the case?
Those are exactly the right words.

You see, another 7.25 boarded guitar, might bend great.

Like Wally says, some 12 inch boards are pretty hopeless.

I prefer to see it like this:

All thing being equal, a 12" board is easier to set up to bend. Especially with larger frets.

All things being equal, a 7.25 board is a little harder to set up to bend. Especially with vintage frets and a coating of poly over a maple board.

But things simply aren't equal, not enough of the time.

I love the ease with which I can get up and down the fretboard with a 7.25 neck and vintage fretwire. I give some of that up, on a 10-16 compound radius board with 6100 jumbo wire.

Take the time to identify what they offer you to play. Be honest and objective. There are no "cool points" awarded for bigger or smaller, rounder or more flat. The only thing that matters is is it comfortable and can be played long intervals, does it stay in tune, does it sound great, and can I afford it.
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