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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. raysachs

    raysachs Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Feel is a weird thing. On Fender style necks, I LOVE 7.25" and like 9.5" basically as much, enough that I don't think about the difference. Since it's easier to keep a 9.5" radius well set up and since I do some bending up above the 12th fret, I tend to stick with 9.5" for practicality sake. But when I get a chance to play really nice neck with a 7.25 radius, it just feels sweet. I've never gotten even remotely comfortable playing a 12" radius on a Strat or Tele though - not even a little bit, even with plenty of time to adapt. I've wanted to because I liked a number of guitars that came with 12" boards, but just couldn't get there.

    And YET, on Gibsons or Gibson type necks, 12" are just fine and even 14" has never bothered me. I have an SG with a 12" radius, 24.75" scale, and it plays like butter. And all of the acoustics I've ever owned have been 16" or thereabout and none of those have ever bothered me in the least.

    So there's obviously some weird psychological stuff going on here, but I'm too old to want to fight it. I don't have any idea why a given radius feels right to me or not, or right to me on one guitar but not on another. But I know what I like and what I don't and I generally aim for what I like... As for intonation, cmon, this is a TELECASTER forum, the land of three saddles and a cloud of dust. We don't DO intonation! Although I play strats, not teles. But still, when my ears are good enough to tell perfect from pretty damn close intonation, then I might start to worry about it...

    -Ray
     
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  2. Squawker

    Squawker Tele-Holic

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    I strongly prefer 7.25". I can play 9.5" or 12" without any trouble. By 14" things start feeling weird and I need to acclimatize. I have some flat(ter) things but find them uncomfortable to play.

    Maybe things would've been different if I'd started out with classical guitar lessons as a child, instead of no lessons on a '96 MIM Standard at 30.
     
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  3. ScribbleSomething

    ScribbleSomething Tele-Holic

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    I think it’s been shown in this short thread that it is really a preference thing.

    Considering the variety of guitars I have and enjoy I don’t have a strong preference.

    I do find stretchy jazzy chords slightly easier with a rounder neck. When the silver sky came out I had to see what the deal with 7.25 was. So I got a classic series 50’s strat and it was a like coming home.

    There is more to that neck than just the radius though. The soft V is excellent.

    The only thing that was better was the road worn with the tall frets that I put on my old Squier. Out of my 20-something guitars that’s the one I grab the most.
     
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  4. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Tradition, personal preference, and what we are used to.

    Figure the lute family and the violin family came before the guitar family, we see the bowed violin family needed radius for the bow to hit one string at a a time, while the lute did not need that design.

    Classical or Spanish guitar came after the lute but before steel string guitars.
    Steel string acoustic guitars have heavier harder to fret strings, for more volume.
    As the steel string guitar developed, designers thought some board radius would help with the new instrument design that was physically harder to play due to the heavy strings.

    Now it you build flat board steel string guitars, who will buy them?
    We are not used to them and are not wishing for them, they are unfamiliar and undesirable.

    Doesn't make them bad, but the few who might prefer them for your personal reasons, are not asking the big makers to build them.
     
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  5. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm a simple guy - I've noticed that some guitars are easier for me to play than others, but never really thought about why.
     
  6. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I definitely notice ZERO difference between necks with radius from 7,25"-12".
    They all play equally the same as long as I set them up according to MY preference with zero relief and perfectly crowned and leveled medium jumbos (6150) frets.
    In reality the difference is minimal (draw it on paper and you will see it).
    I have never owned or played classical guitar so I have no idea about it....or flat radiused necks...
    The few metal guitars I have played seemed extremely uncomfortable to me but I guess this was more due to their skinny profile than their radius.
     
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  7. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    still: Which gives the question, why has no nylon strung guitars radiused fingerboards then?

    If there should be any use for radiused fretboards, it would be there, even moreso, you play more chords, and barrés at that, than bending solos ...
     
  8. Speedfish

    Speedfish Tele-Holic

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    My favorite necks have compound radius fretboards. I'm not a huge fan of 7.5. 9.5 is an improvement over 7.5 and 12-16 is even better.
     
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  9. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Friend of Leo's

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    I'm comfortable with anything from 7.25" to a Warmoth with a compound radius of 10-16". I have a lot of guitars, and I try to switch 'em up often. It takes me about thirty seconds at most to adjust to a radius I haven't played for a while.
     
  10. gimmeatele

    gimmeatele Tele-Afflicted

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    I cannot say radius nor neck profile have ever been a concern for but as someone else has said I do like a compound radius neck
     
  11. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    So, are you saying that classical music is stuffy and old fashioned compared to pop rock?

    True dat!
     
  12. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    Another thing I've encountered when there's too much radius is - ok, it's subtle but detectible to the player - is that if you have to do a stretch and extreme reach I find it better to "reach" certain frets on a flatter radius than on anything below two digits. Of course, all this has a lot to do with the WIDTH of the fretboard at the nut and elsewhere as well as the thin, or thick shape contour on the back of the neck.

    I e if I fret with the index finger at the 6th string at - say - 3rd fret (a G) and the pinky at 7th fret on the high e-string I feel I have to stretch a little more just because of the "flare" that occurs or the radii. Also, partial barrés, thumbing, and two-stringed barres as the far end of the fretboard (top strings or bottom strings) turns out you have to press a little more. There's no denial that with radius (7,5 and so on) you have to stretch a little more. This is mostly with chords that needs that stretch where it occurs on classical. Maybe it's why classical has flat fretboards?

    I am definitely in those who says thin neck contours are detrimental, and has increased fatigue on hands, which both Rick Toone, and Swedish Ola Strandberg (.Strandberg Guitarworks) has addressed with those outrageous designs in Endurneck profile. Another one is Todd Keehn. It's funny, those with Endurneck profile seems to fly within the metal shred community, they were totally opposed to this before, and wanted superthin necks. However, I've tried those Ola Strandbergs EndurNeck, and it sure is an acquired taste, and then some. Just not my thing. But that's contour. It was about fretboard radii now....

    https://www.tkinstruments.com/id17.htm

    When talking ergonomics, which Ola Strandberg is all about, I always question: Ergonomic for whom? What's ergonomic for you certainly isn't as ergonomic for me. It's the same with different radius I supppose.
     
  13. tanplastic

    tanplastic Tele-Holic

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    As another member mentioned, tradition will have a lot to do with it.
    A player learning classical today will want to play a guitar like Parkening, who learned from Bream, who studied Segovia, who studied Tarrega, etc.
    These are the instruments the music was composed for.
    Another thought is that a flat fretboard with no markers might be easier to "see" for performers that don't just chop chord shapes back and forth or repeat similar patterns.
    Though nylon stringed guitars are featured in Country, Jazz, Bossa Nova, Rock, etc. they have limitations in those genres.
    If you're going to be playing the music of Pat Metheny for example, you'd better have a neck that allows fretting with your thumb.
     
  14. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I used to think that way and sort of bought guitars as if they were mysterious fabrications of wizards in far off lands, magicians who knew the secrets. Or maybe accidents/ random hands of cards that made one "better" than another.

    Later I learned the science behind easier to play guitars, and further learned to watch a customer play and know what science fit their style best, rather than assuming there was one science of guitar setup and specs.

    It seems that on the internet, many still view guitars as mysterious magical creations that cannot be understood or controlled, where you have to keep trying one after the other until one "speaks to you".

    Science applies to guitars, just like any other physical object or tool.
    Not that players need to know the science if they are fine with trying lots of guitars and relying on the random selection.

    Could take decades though, to discover that the well setup guitar you like actually has specs you don't like, but the guitars you encountered in shops that had specs you actually like better, were all so poorly set up that they failed the "easier for me to play test", simply because the seller was too lazy to set them up well.

    Again though, not everybody is going to care, and not everybody demands the best from an instrument.
    Could be players that don't care about guitar setup/ specs/ quality; are superior players?
    Where players that NEED the perfect guitar and perfect setup are not skilled enough to play any and all guitars just fine?

    What I've found is that fairly often, a player has a great guitar and does not know it's great, because it's never been set up well for them.
    I do a setup based on observing their playing style, and they are amazed at how great the guitar is.

    Sad in a way that so many players miss out on well set up good guitars for years, not even realizing the instrument is badly set up.
    Or has build specs that are way off from what actually suits them best.
     
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  15. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Classical technique seems to have a long list of WRONG TECHNIQUES!!!
     
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  16. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    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? No idea, probably tradition? Early guitar boards were just flat?

    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. I find flat quite difficult; my finger digging into the fretboard edges. Also, index finger isn't anywhere near flat, straighten yours out and look at it without pressing on anything.

    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. Not really, choking is only an issue in extremis and I dont have a problem at all on 9.5 radius.

    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. I think you get used to what it is. But I hear you, If I change to a flat radius, I will miss some nuance in the picking until I get accustomed to it. But Flat or curved... when you push down on one string, it's not the same level as the others regardless.

    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?
     
  17. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    Here's what I noticed, and perhaps someone can figure out what's going on:

    Guitars that I found easy to play:
    Gretsch Electromatic Pro Jet
    Fender MIM Standard Stratocaster.
    '92 Gibson Les Paul Standard.
    '86 Heritage H-140
    '89 Ibanez RG with F.R.
    Peavey JF1-EX (easiest of all)

    Guitars that I found difficult to play:
    80's Ibanez Road Star.
    '82 Gibson Les Paul Custom
    Fender 60's Player Stratocaster
    MIM Nashville Power Telecaster
     
  18. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I'm having to sell a really nice guitar because the fretboard is too flat. I can play it fine. But the edge of the fretboard kind of pushes into my hand uncomfortably. I notice it when I go back to my Fenders and think, "oh this is so much more comfortable."
     
  19. tanplastic

    tanplastic Tele-Holic

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    How'm I going to hit that bend in Hotel California with my foot on a danged stool?
    Where's my pick? These p i m as need to fly!
     
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  20. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    It really is just personal preference vs tradition. From an engineering standpoint, I want a radius of some sort. There is nothing keeping a nylon-strung classical guitar from having a radius fretboard, tradition seems to be stronger than innovation there. I have seen nylon-strung guitars with a radius...but usually the maker has gone 'innovative' elsewhere as well and the end result is no longer a "classical guitar" in many respects. Bob Benedetto has produced some nylon-strung archtop guitars...I cannot remember if they had a radius fretboard.

    I specified a conic radius ("compound" is for the geometrically challenged, they're actually a conic surface) for my custom Nechville banjo. IIRC it is 9" at the nut and 12" at the end of the fretboard (22-fret). Turns out that it isn't all that comfortable for me. Naturally, I designed it in my head without ever trying one out. That was before I became interested in Telecasters. Now that I've played a bunch, I find that a straight 12" radius is optimal for me (banjo or guitar). I may re-neck that banjo in the future...
     
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