fretboard radius question.

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by tele-envy, Oct 11, 2011.

  1. tele-envy

    tele-envy TDPRI Member

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    I've been asking questions lately about neck size and shape, fret size, etc.... cause I'm trying to determine "the one" you know, the one they'll bury me with. lol. which i know i'll eventually have to find by playing a bunch of guitars....but I'm trying to understand more....

    radius, i believe, works like this, the larger the number the flatter the board. So a 7.5, like the 57 RI has, will be more concave (or sunken in) than say the EJ which is 12.

    If that's correct, can you guys tell me the pros and cons of each and why you prefer the radius you do?

    by the way, i have an 06 Am St with the 9.5
     
  2. Old Cane

    Old Cane Poster Extraordinaire

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    None should be sunken in. Seems like gretsch used to make one in the '70s with a concave fingerboard but looks like it never caught on.

    You have it inversely backwards if there is such a thing. Yes, a 12" is flatter but a 7 1/4 is more "convex" or "more rounderer" as we say in the south.
     
  3. rolling56

    rolling56 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    yup rounderer :lol: 7.5 is rounderer than 20. Not so much difference between 7.5 and 9.5 but 7.5 is rounderer
     
  4. tele-envy

    tele-envy TDPRI Member

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    ah, wasn't sure if i had that backwards or not.. OK, so the 7.5 is rounder, and getting flatter as it approaches 12....

    so, what are the pros and cons between the two and why do you like the one you like?
     
  5. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Some folks say a smaller radius makes barre chords easier to play whilst a flatter radius is better for lower action and string bending. (Some necks have a compound radius to try to get the best of both.) I think it's still mainly about how it feels to you. Play a bunch of necks and see what you like. To me, the neck contour (the back of the neck: C, deep U, soft V etc...), the nut width and the fret wire size matter as much, if not more.
     
  6. Alex M

    Alex M Tele-Meister

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    Besides bending, it's easier to play rapid scales or arpeggios moving across strings on a flatter radius, hence the shredder's 16" board.
     
  7. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    True, but liking a flatter fretboard doesn't mean you can only be a shredder, of course. Classical guitars have flat or nearly flat fretboards, and many acoustic guitars have quite flat radii, too.
     
  8. guitarzan13

    guitarzan13 Friend of Leo's

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    Flatter board=Lower potential action and bends don't buzz out as quickly
     
  9. Old Cane

    Old Cane Poster Extraordinaire

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    First lets get the numbers right. It's 7 1/4 (or 7.25 for those of you that grew up in the digital age) not 7 1/2. And everbody says you can play faster on a 12 or 16 but it never really stopped anybody when I believe all fenders came with 7 1/4" radius. Maybe I just don't play that fast. But yeah, this is something you need to find out for yourself. It's as easy as going to a guitar store and playing different guitars.

    I'm with Big Daddy. There's a lot more to it than just the radius.
     
  10. clayfeat

    clayfeat Tele-Afflicted

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    I find that a properly set up guitar with a 7.25 inch radius fretboard is much more comfortable to play for the picking hand; especially when fingerpicking.
     
  11. TG

    TG Doctor of Teleocity

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    Imagine a pencil tied to a string. Pin the string 7.25 inches from the pencil and draw a 2 inch arc. Then pin it 12 inches from the pencil and draw another arc. The 12 inch one will be flatter because it's a segment of a larger circle.

    The traditional notion is that a more curved radius is generally more comfortable for chording than a flatter board and a flatter board better for lead playing and string bending, but as mentioned, there are other factors such as the fret size and the contour and thickness of the neck itself.

    Some fretboards have a compound radius, that is, they are more curved on the lower frets and then gradually flattened out as you go up the neck. That gives comfy chording at one end and better lead playing up at the other.
    It also makes the fretboard a section of a cone in essence. A board with the same radius all along it is basically a section of a cylinder. A string going parallel along it will quickly touch the surface if you take it out of parallel...as you do when you bend a string.
    But a string stretched along a cone can be moved much further before that happens, so a compound radius gives you the best of both, and is better for bending.
     
  12. tele12

    tele12 Friend of Leo's

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    These days most guitarists prefer a flatter radius than 7 1/4". Look at Fender's signature models and almost all have 9 1/2" or flatter. I think Fender is the only company still making anything as round as 7 1/4"
     
  13. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    In that case, everyone else is wrong and -- all together now -- Leo got it right the first time.
     
  14. flyingbanana

    flyingbanana Poster Extraordinaire

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    Well..I'll venture this. A vintage style fretboard radius of 7.25 would normally be a bit easier to play chords on. A modern style fretboard with a radius of 9.5 would offer a fair balance between playing chords up top and bending notes below the 12th fret. A relatively flat radius of say 12 to 16" like you can find on metal type guitars makes for a sweet playing guitar that can handle very low action, and note bending without fretting out.

    Some guitars come with necks that have different radii. They will start out at 9.5 near the top and end with a 10 or 12" radius down by the neck pocket. This is called a compound neck, and offers an even better compromise...to some people. I like them. The guitars I build for myself have a 9.5" radius up top down to a 12 or 16" sometimes. I love them. They play like butta. Arpeggios are easy, and again...no fretting out when bending notes, and the action can be super low.

    To each his own.
     
  15. Old Cane

    Old Cane Poster Extraordinaire

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    My strat has 7 1/4 and has never ever been a problem in over 35 years. My road machine has a 12-16 and is fine. My partscasters all seem to have 9.5 because, well, they were on sale. I know I always sound like a know it all but hand me a guitar, cord and amp and I will play it. It's not that big of a deal. Not sure why everybody sepnds so much time worry about things that just don't matter that much. That's time you could be out playing.

    If it doesn't stay or play in tune, now we have an actual problem to worry about.
     
  16. clayfeat

    clayfeat Tele-Afflicted

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    Amen. Just hand me something that stays in tune. I will figure something out.
     
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