Fretboard Radius

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by elihu, Apr 17, 2019.

  1. elihu

    elihu Poster Extraordinaire

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    The way I understand it the classic Fender 7.25" radius is suppose to be easier to play big chords on since it more closely follows the curvature of one's fingers. So I don't understand why I can play longer on my Martin Acoustics (with a 16" radius) before my hands start cramping than I can on my Tele with a USACG neck with a compound radius. I make a point to use less pressure and of course it's easier to fret the Telecaster anyway.

    Am I doing something wrong?

    Maybe I need a new neck with a flatter radius.

    ?
     
  2. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    Your personal technique might just suit a flatter board better.

    Everyone is different. I can play on a flatter board, but 7-1/4" feels like home to me. I wish there were even curvier boards than that, perhaps 6" or 5" radius.

    Fretboard width also interacts with radius in a certain way. I find flatter boards easier to play with wider nuts, as opposed to with the typical narrow 1-5/8" Fender nuts.
     
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  3. deytookerjaabs

    deytookerjaabs Friend of Leo's

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    Hands/ergonomics aren't the same for everyone. Personally, beyond choices like action etc, I can adapt to most boards just fine after a bit yet others have a really hard time. But, I don't like compound radii at all, yuck. Curvy is good, flat is okay, yet everything from neck size to fret height to scale length to type of guitar all come into play.
     
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  4. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

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    As mentioned above, it all works together.
    I prefer a 9.5 radius but coincidentally today I was noticing that fret size and neck 'shape' have a lot to do with your hands interaction and playing comfort.

    Today I was picking out a neck and fret wire for a new axe.
    Radius is only one factor of many. Fingerboard width, neck thickness, neck shape, neck taper, fret width and height and yes - the radius. Neck shape, thickness and taper also change from the 1st fret to where it joins the body and some guitars have a compound radius (generally flattening out from the 12th fret on).
     
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  5. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

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    I have five guitars I play regularly. No two are alike with different scale lengths, fret board radius, neck profile, width at the nut. I find that I’m playing any of them pretty well after 20 or 30 minutes. If any is easier to play than the others it’s probably my Gretsch Anniversary. I was never too concerned about specifications. I just take one out and play.
     
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  6. stefanhotrod

    stefanhotrod Tele-Meister

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    String bending can be a problem on the high frets with a 7.25“ radius. I personally love it flat between 9.5 and 12“. And I also really really dig the Warmoth compound radius from 10-17“ which is the most comfortable radius I‘ve ever played.
     
  7. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Any claims that this tool or that tool among modern well designed tools is universally easier to use by every user is IMO bogus info.

    The 7.25 radius is "modern" but older tech, so maybe such claims come from older users of older tech that find newer tech feels harder to use because they learned on the older tech.
     
  8. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Funny, I thought you were nuts but then remembered that I used to play violin and cello, which have such small board radius as you mention.

    Played sitar for a while too, another extreme board radius, even without the need to bow one string at a time forcing the small radius.
     
  9. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

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    I prefer the smaller radius, 7.25, my hands are smaller, it feels good. Its my wow factor . Each of my primary Teles are 7.25. I also have a few 9.5's I play them , I like them, but I can feel the difference. I also have a 12" radius Gibson. it plays totally different for me. I can take it to a 4 hour gig and it "comes home" after a bit but it's not my preference.

    Sure I'm older , playing for multiple decades ,but I didn't switch over to 7.25's as my primary preference until late in the game. Old age has nothing to do with it. My own style and the feel I want is the driving factor. Consistency from guitar to guitar is paramount.
     
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  10. elihu

    elihu Poster Extraordinaire

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    That's what I'm thinking...if a flatter radius/wider nut works for me then i should get a neck that more closely matches my acoustics to get that consistency.
     
  11. Sparky2

    Sparky2 Tele-Afflicted

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    I love all sizes and shapes of guitar necks.

    If a guitar plays nicely, stays in tune, and sounds great?
    She's a keeper, no matter the radius, width, flatness, roundness, or shape.

    :)
     
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  12. Ahryn

    Ahryn TDPRI Member

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    I usually like a flatter radius as that is what i started on but my MJT tele with the USACG neck with 7.25 and the soft V fits my hand like a glove and is really comfy.
     
  13. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I have a Schecter Ultra III with a 14" radius, which is the flattest I'd heard of on a production guitar. I thought it would feel weird to play (I'm used to 9.5" and I have one 12") but it's stupid-comfortable. It feels different, but chords don't feel more difficult to me. Again, just different, like 2 shirts that fit differently but both still fit. The huge frets on it probably play a part, too.
     
  14. guitartwonk

    guitartwonk Tele-Meister

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    It's all personal taste. A tighter radius seems more comfortable to begin with but for extended periods of playing, a flatter radius seems better for me.

    Aesthetically, I prefer the look of a nice tight radius. It LOOKS more curvy and ergonomic, but of course guitars aren't played by eye...

    Sent from my Phone using Tapatalk
     
  15. Matthias

    Matthias Tele-Afflicted

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    Often, you can get a lower action that the specs suggest at a low radius. People will feel action more than the difference between 7.25” and 9.5” in my opinion. If you find a very well set up 7.25”, it will play as easily as most 9.5”s for lead, even on bends. 9.5” still has enough curve to make barres easier than a 12”+ radius... In theory. But you can get a low action all the way down a 12” radius neck with relative ease. And fret height makes a big difference to the pressure you need to exert...

    So it might not be the radius but the other factors, too.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2019
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  16. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I mean, they are a little bit ;)
     
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  17. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    This is basically everything, right here.
     
  18. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Friend of Leo's

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    I like a flatter radius for 2 reasons. First, I originally learned classical guitar technique when I first started playing so that feels more comfortable to me (although those lessons didn't work well for me). Second, I like to play slide and a flatter radius works better for me there.
     
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