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This thing with Radius - is there anyone that feels it is really more comfortable?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by MatsEriksson, Dec 28, 2020.

  1. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    Now folks!

    While I have heard, and seen from a lot of people, is that the sort of taste, and personal feel of radius necks makes a more comfortable playing when comping and chording it still beats me. While I have no problem with playing radiused necks, heavy ones at 7,5 or whatever, I am bred, and raised up on completely flat necks (nylon string classical) and I always find those flat (non radiused) necks considerably more comfortable and better for barre chord playing.

    So I wonder a few things:

    1. Why it is that the only guitar (classical nylon string) with a neck that is best suitable for bending strings on without choking - i e completely flat, no radius - is an instrument where both strings and music doesn't contain any bending at all? Nylon strings can't be bent that much, and the music played on them doesn't contain any bending ever?

    2. Playing barre chords on a flat neck (non radius) keeps your barre index finger completely straight, and pushes down the strings more evenly all across the fretboard. As fast as you bend it slightly due to radius, the index finger joints may come in the way for certain strings which don't push the strings down as hard as some others. This is most obvious on lower fretted instruments, and the first few frets.

    3. And the ubiquitous choking when bending strings on any radiused neck up there. You need to have higher action on some strings then, and on some not.

    4. Not to speak of the pick/picking arc. You seem more prone to accidentally hit the adjacent string when doing alternate picking or strumming. The strings doesn't align up in a straight path for the picking direction. On radiused necks.

    5. Intonation is - actually - thrown off. The only fretboard where the rule of 18 is nailed dead on, the calculating between frets, is on a FLAT neck with no radius since the angle from the string down to the top of the fret is 90 degrees all the way from last fret to the nut. On any radiused neck it isn't because the narrow down of spacing from strings to nut. Then how can it be intonated on all spots?

    I mean, I have experienced more comfortable gripping and fretting chords on completely flat necks than radiused necks. If I want radius it should be well over two digit, like 12" or upwards, even 16" radius. Compound radius is a compromise too imho.

    I mean, how much do you compromise on intonation, compared to that you want to feel more confortable when chording on a radiused neck?
     
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  2. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    My fingers aren't flat, they never have been flat. Flat fingerboards (not necks) are painful and very uncomfortable to play. No fretted instrument has perfect intonation, so you pays your money and takes your pick..
     
  3. Richie Cunningham

    Richie Cunningham Tele-Afflicted

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    I like a compound radius best. Compromise, schmompromise.
     
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  4. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

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    I have guitars with fretboard radii from 9.5” to 16”. I play all of them with equal facility. I’m not a bender and I more than occasionally fist barre chords. OK. Not classical technique. But there’s something about the 12” neck on my avatar Telecaster. It’s just perfect.
     
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  5. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    So you loathe nylon strung guitars then?
    I can make my fingers flat, and actually the barré finger is flatter, on a flat fingerboard, than on a radiused. I feel that chords are more comfortable on a flat fingerboard, and of course, bending when soloing. But of course, each to their own. I've never got lactic acid, or arthritis sooner on a flat fingerboard, than on radiused. Or getting sooner fatigued in any way.

    Of course, no fretted instrument has perfect intonation, but why exacerbate it even more? Isn't it bad enough as it is?
     
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  6. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    Which gives the question, why has no nylon strung guitars radiused fingerboards?
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2020
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  7. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think the received wisdom is that the smaller radius is more comfy for chords and the bigger for lead, which makes sense to me. Hands curve easier than they flatten.

    You can also get the action lower on a larger radius.

    As a useless noodler, I'm a 12" man, so to speak.
     
  8. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    I don't loathe them, why would I? I just have no use for them.

    I've had arthritis in my fingers since I was a teenager. I'm not going to cause myself any more pain than I have to, so I prefer 7¼", though I play everything from mandolin to bass and they're all different.
     
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  9. tanplastic

    tanplastic Tele-Holic

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    I like playing flat fretboards but they are not ideal for me.
    The prominent treble edge of the flat fretboard forces my hand into a lower position which means the guitar neck has to be higher than my picking hand prefers.
    I also use my thumb to fret so flat boards aren't great for that.
    Bending issues because of fret radius has never been a problem for me.
     
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  10. tedtan

    tedtan Tele-Meister

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    I can only speak for myself, but I have a definite preference for radii between 12" and 17". I can and do play instruments with other radii, but I notice the difference while playing them.
     
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  11. mkdaws32

    mkdaws32 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    To me, I’ve discovered that neck profile is more of a factor than radius when determining whether a neck is more comfortable to me. I like a 9.5” - 12” inch radius best, it seems, but I have played a few 7.25” and 16” that have been very comfortable to me, and it seems to come down to the profile. For a long time I thought I hated flatter fingerboards, but it turns out what I really hate is a thin neck, front to back. A lot of the modern shredder guitars are built this way and I just can’t get along with them. I’m a bit of a shredder, but a Fender modern C or soft V shape suits me much better.
     
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  12. beanluc

    beanluc Tele-Holic

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    It's not ubiquitous. Even 9 1/2" players can bend like crazy without "high" action if they have level frets.

    I'm among those who feel that barring is harder on a fretboard with zero radius. It hurts right at the knuckle, the very spot you're saying is easier to flatten. I don't see how - it's a lump of bone, wider than the shafts of the phalanx bones. A radius allows the finger to go concave in a way which both "unprouds" the knuckle bone and simultaneously lets the concave shafts of the phalanges press more closely on the strings under them.

    For me, even a radius of 14" is much more comfortable than zero radius. So, yes, speaking for myself, there is anyone who feel radius is more comfortable.

    Have a look at the hourglass shapes of the intermediate and proximal phalanges here. I'm sure I'm not showing you anything you aren't already aware of, but it really seems to show that the finger itself wants to curve rather than be bar-straight when contacting all six strings. I grant that a concave finger can press on a flat fingerboard, possibly with no more difficulty than a radiused one, but the notion that "straighter is better" seems like one person's experience rather than any universal truth.

    (I'm not talking about the way barring is taught. Of course "straighter is better" for some new player who's working out how to make it happen. But that's regardless of radius and it's not talking about the guitar. It's just what your body has to do, what you have to be told and have to work on before you can get your finger to do it.)

    [​IMG]

    It's even more pronounced on the underside (fretting surface):

    [​IMG]
     
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  13. DjimiWrey

    DjimiWrey Tele-Holic

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    I have two custom made necks with a tight radius at 6.75"
    they fit the natural curve of my fingers
    I'd put them on all of my guitars if it weren't for the price tag
    the gap between string and 12th fret is a 16th of an inch and i can do whole step bends
    that's the distance from the top of the fret to the contact point of the string
    but at $450 each they no longer fit my (retirement) income
     
  14. Jakedog

    Jakedog Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I find a 7.25 radius incredibly uncomfortable for any kind of playing, and the action required for my bending needs is completely unacceptable. It’s an archaic and useless feature. I can deal with 9.5 if I have to. I still find it uncomfortable. I get really comfy at 12-16. Anything bigger than 16 I find too flat, generally.
     
  15. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    i have found i can't get dogmatic about radius, neck shape, and also fret size. there are some neck shapes i actually can't play comfortably at all. for instance the flat, shallow D shape of most firebird necks (at least, that's how i interpret that shape). for awhile, i was believing that i had to have big frets and a big neck. but over time, i found that it was an issue of neck shape more than neck size.

    i was really sure i couldn't play a 7.5 radius until i played a couple of PRS Silver Sky guitars. the radius didn't make any difference to me at all.

    my point is, rather than thinking "i won't be able to play that...", i have to get the guitar in my hand and see what happens. most will work, some will not. generally, i need a radius of 9.5 or flatter. and low action doesn't work well for me, usually.
     
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  16. hepular

    hepular Tele-Holic

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    1. My index finger's not flat fully extended.
    2. when making the pincer-formation required for a barre, there's an inevitable, if slight, curvature that inflects at the distal/intermediate knuckle (& my metacarpal has an enormous bump that means that achieving "flat" would require extra downward tension on the outer phalanges.
    3. so, as @DjimiWrey suggests, i'd guess that everyone's index fingers have characteristic natural radii at extension. Combined with the patterning that occurs in the learning process, this is gonna mean that there are some combinations of fingers and necks that just won't work for some players.
     
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  17. Sparky2

    Sparky2 Friend of Leo's

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    I have played guitar my entire life, have owned dozens of guitars over the years, and don't care one iota about the neck/fingerboard radius of any of them.

    I couldn't tell you what the radii are of any of my current guitars. I just play them, and its all good.

    ;)
     
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  18. USian Pie

    USian Pie Tele-Meister

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    String tension on classical guitars is far, far less than steel string acoustics and electrics. It simply takes less pressure to fret barres cleanly.

    I have a Taylor steel-string acoustic with a relatively shallow neck, flatter radius, and 1 3/4" nut. This guitar excels at many things but I experience significant hand fatigue if I'm playing a lot of barre chords with it.
     
  19. Bob M

    Bob M Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I've played Teles for 50 years. I never thought about neck radius until I bought a couple of Gretsch guitars. My Falcon has a 9.5 radius and it really has a good, comfortable feel. I recently bought a MIM HH Tele with a 9.5 radius and I'm finding that pretty comfortable as well. It appears to me I can get a little lower action with the 9.5 radius and use a lighter gauge string without a lot of adjustment.
     
  20. notroHnhoJ

    notroHnhoJ Tele-Meister

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    (raises hand) yep, me. It’s probably just because my first Fender was a reissue Telecaster, so I’m used to it, but anything flatter than 9.5 on Fenders I find...clunky? Sort of hard to get comfortable on, and its seems I have a hard time finding a sweet spot for action/neck relief/string gauge. That holds true for Gibson type guitars as well. Anything flatter than 12 inches its a similar syndrome. Not a fan of uber flat fingerboard radii.
     
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