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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. Fuelish

    Fuelish Tele-Holic

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    Ain't no braggin' or struttin' from here, was just a wild guess and an honest question ;)
     
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  2. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    Exactly. That's why I have objections against anything compound/conical. Two edged sword. Since any truss rod adjustment (no matter vintage, or modern "double throw" truss rod) will make some difference at certain spots at the fretboard, but no difference at all. Truss rod adjustments adjust relief all over the neck as it was one big plank. Doesn't take into account any compound radius at all. So those with compound/conical I'll leave over to Plek adjusment so the relief is actually carried out within the frets, provided that the frets contain enough material in height to get filed off, and reliefed. I do like a slight drop off (built in) in general after 13-14 th fret on any neck though. But that's a bit of topic and we digress now.

    Since I do less bending on any acoustic guitar (steel) anyway, I have less objections to any radius there. But the intonation throws me off anyways on acoustic guitars. One bridge saddle fits all they seem... and tells you "no money above the fifth fret", and we should stay with that in order for it to be in tune, and intonated (especially intonated). Not my kind of bag.
     
  3. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    ... well... if the next to last fret is bent at a radius, the string sure goes uphill while bending and stays clear of the last flat fret don't you think? :twisted: it will be bent "up above it" so to speak..

    - well...if any fret after the radiused one is flat anyway... ;)
     
  4. 2manyteles

    2manyteles TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    My favourite is a compound 7.25- 9.5. Oddly enough, Leo Fender made a few of the very early blackguards with this compound radius and some with 9.5. 7.25 became the standard.

    I don't follow how some of you are experiencing "fret-out" on the rounder radius necks. If it's set up properly this just does not happen, period. Unless you need shredder low action, it functions perfectly with slight relief and 4/64 treble and 5/64 bass. Why anyone needs lower action than that- especially on a tele- is beyond me.
     
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  5. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I seem to like vintage Fender radius best.

    Which is weird because I started on acoustic and then a terrible early 90s starter shredder.

    I have 3 electrics abs and all of them have vintage radius (which makes sense because 2 are beater vintage Tele’s, ha).

    I play rhythm and lead. My favorite roll is guitar 2 where my rhythm can be more riff oriented/partial chords/arpeggios. Kinda like EVH’s rhythm parts, Joey Santiago’s rhythm parts, Jimmy Page rhythm parts with Jimi’s rhythm parts with Marr all mashed together somehow.

    My lead playing is more melodic/riffs than flashy.

    The vintage Fender radius seems to suit me best for that, plus some slide on a standard tuned guitar used mainly NOT for slide.
     
  6. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    This happens, period. IME. What people seems to forget, is that in the vintage days, Teles, LPs, Strats alike where strung with flatwound strings, wound third g-string, and some 012 gauge set at that. NO ONE BENT STRINGS IN THE 50s music not even blues players (they tended to uses ES335s and the like instead) like they did later on. Not until mid late 60s when people detected "banjo" gauges on electric guitars, roundwounds, and went down in gague considerably, you could do large bends. It's the same with the pickup pole pieces staggering that just follows "old time" string gauges and flatwounds. I e spun third (another topic though, don't derail it now).

    All Teles, and strats that I've set up during my repair time, has come from people who complained that it wasn't set up properly. Those "fret out" big time. Then you have to have excess string height on the high B and E string, as well as the low A and E strings if you bend "down" into the fretboard so to speak. Also it depends on what kind of music/bends you'd make. For some it was enough with a whole note bend, but some liked to bend up a third (high up there).

    Ok, so my own personal setup is that I've encountered small problems with too much radius when I do half or partial barre chords. Say, like the ordinary and ubiquituous F major chord, where the index have to strike B and E strings at the same time. Works and feels much better on a straighter radius. Same, if I should use the thumb-over-neck at the other side of the fretboard, covering A and E strings. Same - and here come the "modern" thing - if you should apply some tapping to it too, which I occasionally do but eschews it due to said phenomena. The guitar has to be "made" for it so to speak. Of course, everything is just about being able to adapt, and accustomed to it, and you "learn" it in a heartbeat, but overall, in a theoretical sense, and especially regarding intonation things, and that the string spacing narrows down towards the nut, I find most - if not all - radii below two digit (like below 10") detrimental to me and most other peoples playing when I hear and see them. It is of course, dependent on what music they play and how much or little they bend. Or what chords they are playing or not. Compound between 9-12 and up I can manage and get by.

    It seems that ME is based on that I've encountered too many players that are born/raised/bred on the latter things and styles of music from late 60s and onward, and thinks that was "vintage" and they are in for a let down/surprise. It's not the metal shredders I am after, they didn't care much anyway about teles or single coil pickuped guitars. Think "modern blues" players. Even Eric Johnson/SRV did sacrilege and planed out their vintage fretboards somewhat on all of their strats, and they were vintage "correct" from the 50s. Not that they planed out totally flat with no radii, but "bettered" it so to speak. I feel inclined to side with them. That's all. EJ did even put on slightly bigger frets, too, on top of that.

    Given EJ's nitpicking for anal details, I wonder if he had the fatter frets evened out at a flatter radius than the actual fretboard, so he kept the "wood" part of the fretboard at a certain radius, but the frets where levelled to a flatter raidus, so they ended up "taller" at some places and lower in the middle, so to speak. But this I don't know about, and can't really tell.
     
  7. viking

    viking Friend of Leo's

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    There are some that flatten the curve without touching the wood .With low vintage frets going from 7.25 to 9.5 is probably asking a bit much.

    Many iconic guitars have been measured , and found to be flatter than 7.25. It always amuses me when people just assume the stars of yesteryear didnt make changes to their gear.

    Some of the changes were probably not intended , a playing style like SRVs probably meant a refret quite often.

    I think Steve Morses No 1 EB guitar can be seen on a YT clip as he brings it by for refret number nine or twelve , or whatever. When they work on fretboards that often , things can easily change.

    Dan Erlewine installed new frets on the Bloomfield Tele ( the one with the extra cutaway ) , he measured the radius several places on the fretboard to be UNDER 7 inches. Nothing is impossible......
     
  8. bobk

    bobk Tele-Meister

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    I’ve gotten to the point where all my guitars are 14” radius.....and pretty darn straight(no relief)......I started on 7.25.....and went to 14” 28 yrs ago and just where I’m comfortable.......both on acoustics and electrics....some of them I use fairly large strings, others a light top/heavy bottom.....two of them have larger frets( one higher action, one lower) Two of them have smaller frets,another somewhere in between....but I find if I have that consistent flatter fingerboard,I find my way around......
     
  9. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    Just a random quote from one interview out of the blue:

    https://www.ejfans.com/an-underground-legend-surfaces

    "---The '54 is also a sunburst; I've had it since 1977. The fingerboard has been flattened and refretted, so it's quite as flat as a Gibson's..."

    Sacrilege! Blasphemy! How dare he do that to a 54 strat!! ;);)

    I could go on all day, with similar findings.

    Fender stopped using the 7.25 radius eventually, because it was just too tight for many players - it causes problems when bending strings, especially in the upper positions, among other things, as the strings 'choke out' as they move across the steeply cambered fretboard and touch adjacent frets. It also suits single-string players better than chordal players - one reason why early Fenders were never really popular among jazz guitarists, who preferred the shorter Gibson scale, wider neck and flatter radius (about 10" and up to 12").

    What I really think, is that the idea of a radiused fingerboard was taken from classical practice in the violin family, where it exists for good reasons because of the need to separate the strings of a bowed instrument from each other in the vertical plane to avoid the bow fouling adjacent strings. I have never been able to see any real reason to copy this practice in the guitar family (and indeed a lot of early steel-strung acoustic and arch top guitars have flat or near-flat fingerboards).

    There's no money above the 5th fret, as the saying goes. Now, to whom does this apply? Staying to the cowboy chords, only?

    In other words, it's an example of a commercial product being adapted to the frailties of its mainly amateur and unschooled target market rather than designed from scratch with the needs of a slightly more skilled, above intermediate, even virtuosos in mind.

    I don't think that it's a coincidence that as the technical skill of the best players of the electric instrument did increase dramatically (from the late 1970s, 80s on), electric guitar manufacturers have responded by producing instruments with necks that are wider, more nearly parallel-edged, and flatter-radiused: more like classical necks, in fact. When they really discovered there was money above the 5th fret, so to speak.

    Now, all this may cause some kind of flame debate, but make one thing sure. I have yet to be able to play something on a heavily radiused neck that I can't pull off apblomb and the same way or better on a flat (non-radiused neck). Not the reverse though! There are things I can't pull of on a radiused neck, which I do can pull off way better on a completely flat neck. Of course all other things comes into play too, string spacing at the nut, fret height, total WIDTH of the neck and so on. But I've come to things that this has dawned on me slowly. It's not a clear cut, black and white thing.
     
  10. Frankentronics

    Frankentronics TDPRI Member

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    One thing that gets in the way of progress, which we see a lot in the guitar world, is tradition. That's why Fender still makes guitars with 7.25 radius, that's why Les Pauls don't really have the best heck joints, or headstock, etc. Too many people in the guitar world want vintage specs. But the fact is that vintage specs are from an era before they figured out what they were doing wrong.

    There is no real reason why classical guitars should not have radiused fretboards. I would not put a 12" radius on a classical, but I would in fact do a 20". The main reason why it's not done is because it's not done. But a tight radius on a nylon string would in fact work against the player.

    The 7.25 radius should just not be made any longer. Perhaps as part of a compound radius would be fine, but a guitar should not have a 7.25 at the head of the neck. Geometry dictates that you need to raise the action, if you want to bend strings. So, there's no benefit of a 7.25 at the heel of the neck. Just problems.

    Interestingly, the next "standard" Fender radius is 9.5". However, I don't see many Fender guitars that actually have a 9.5" radius. I do work as a full time guitar tech in a very busy shop and I measure all guitars. I can say with absolute certainty that I don't see many Fender guitars that actually have a 9.5" radius. The Radius on many 9.5 spec-ed Fenders is actually between 9.5 and 7.25. I don't know the exact number because radius gauges come in a set and there aren't any standard radius gauges between 9.5 and 7.25. Not to mention that Fender could do a better job a seating their frets. I do see a lot of 9.5 fretboards, but the frets are not seated - in other words, the radius of the fret does not match the radius of the board, so you have a gap in the center.


    The guitar is a tempered instrument, i.e. it is not tuned or intonated perfectly. Google "equal temperament" and you'll learn more. A piano, an organ, a guitar, banjo... those are tempered instruments and they do not produce notes that are perfectly in tune. But a violin, fretless bass, viola, cello,... those are instruments that can play perfectly in tune. Your headstock tuner is also tempered, yes, the A is 440, but all the other notes are not what they should be. That's why you should not use that tuner to tune a violin, viola, cello, fretless bass...

    I don't see how a radiused board throws off the intonation. What will contribute to poorer intonation is a bad nut (with strings slots too high), worn frets (that no longer have point of contact in the center), high frets (if a player presses down hard, especially if using super light gauge strings), poor playing technique (if player basically bends strings when not intending to do so)... etc. You also have inharmonicity, which is a different animal, altogether, but what it all boils down to is that a guitar is not a perfectly tuned or intonated instrument. But let's not worry about that. Some degree of imperfection is actually desirable to make things feel better than those "perfect" things.

    On any guitar that's not a microtonal guitar, all chords are going to be out of tune. That's what our ears got used to listening.
     
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  11. Erwin

    Erwin Tele-Meister

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    Whether a certain ratius of neck is comfortabel is not only depending on that radius but also on the thickness of the strings and the action and setup of that guitar. With thicker strings action can be lower and that helps with at smaller radius. But in general I can agree with what Mats said here before me: (parafrasing) Everything you can play on a smal radius, you can play on a bigger radius better. the reverse is not always the case.
     
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  12. 2manyteles

    2manyteles TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    Hendrix played on a 7.25 radius neck. He seemed to do fine bending strings. Of course, he probably had them set up right. :rolleyes:
     
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  13. 2manyteles

    2manyteles TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    I work on guitars all day too. I have the exact opposite finding. Fender is quite consistent with their neck radius and have been for many many years.
     
  14. COOPSTER

    COOPSTER TDPRI Member

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    7.25 radius w/6105 fretwire.

    Easy chording, no fretting out.

    Too bad it's a config now only attainable through the custom shop, but if you want the best, you gotta pay for it.

    The Earth ain't flat, and neither should be your fretboard.

    COOP
     
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  15. Chuck berry

    Chuck berry TDPRI Member

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    Its really a personal choice. But if you don't do any bar notes or minor notes all along the fret board. However,if you do these things a radius neck is the way to go. Because as one mentionned your fingers are not flat. And its harder to push on the strings.
     
  16. beep.click

    beep.click Poster Extraordinaire

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    Comfort comes from an interaction of factors, I think. I find ebony fretboards more comfortable than anything else, all things being equal (you can experience this easily if you play a few Gretsches). My most most comfortable neck, though, is on a Fender, and it was engineered to morph from a C profile to a D shape as you go up the neck. So, a radius on the BACK of the neck.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2021
  17. saltyseadog

    saltyseadog Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    I have short stumpy sausage fingers and have played and own guitars with the various radii. I don't have any problems playing part chords single notes etc on any neck type but always found problems sounding all the strings with barre chords on the wider flatter necks especially on gut strung classical guitars. The first time I played a friends 50's reissue strat with the 7.25 radius neck I found the answer to my barre problem and not long after built my own partscaster with that radius. Fretting out above the 12th fret is not a problem for me as I play a lot of slide in standard and keep the set up on the high side.
     
  18. jdiego

    jdiego Tele-Meister

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    The only downside I have experienced with 7.25" is the need of higher action, but those guitars are not meant to be played like John Petrucci.

    Regarding to how comfort they are to be played, for me is more notorious everything about the neck but the radius. I mean the neck profile, the fretwork, the edges of the fingerboard...
     
  19. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    Hear here. I point out the best quote ever, from Seth Lover (legendary pickup maker and inventor) that said "sometimes when people were trying out guitars and pickups I heard something in there that would bother the hell out of me, while they heard something that annoyed them, and tried to explain and I couldn't hear... so, you hear something I don't, and I hear something you don't... what the hell should we do?"

    You hit the nail on the head with poor playing technique within the player, and I have absolutely no qualms about that I am not wrong on this one. I've even seen and heard numerous professional world renowned players who does BEND notes inadvertently inside chords, making them sounding sour, especially where there's stretch involved, and especially major thirds that they happens to bend too sharp always, and this I've seen with my pupils and in music store as well, that they undeliberately SLIPS with their fingers inside a chord due to that there is a curve, radius on the fretboard. If you fret some string in the middle, like the slack g-string (plain), they inadvertently slides down the hill that the radiused fret makes. They are more prone to this on radiused necks (fretboards) than on completely flat ones. That's for sure, and it has occured on like 80-90 percent of the players I've seen. Jazz, blues, rock, folk, especially country, pop, you name it. But again, this is not on the ordinary caged cowboy chords. So to speak.

    - - - - - - - -

    Now, again, you don't see how radiused board throws off intonation?
    Ok, here comes a long winded one, because it can't be explained in any other way, and it's luthiers side, and it may go over most peoples heads.

    1. The RULE OF 18, is a calculating thing, in which you calculate which space each fret should have between each other in order to be able to play in equal temperament. However, this is calculate just, and only, if the string always along the neck has a 90 degree (perfect) angle down towards the top of the fret.

    2. Now here comes the catch. It just does so on a completely flat fretboard, and the frets are flat with absolulety no radius at all. I e like on classical guitars. Now, classical guitars has their own problems with nylon strings and a one straight bridge/saddle, but we keep theory now.

    3. The only instance where this RULE OF 18 should apply correctly, and immaculately all along the neck, if it had any radius, is if the strings spacing between each other should be exactly the same (from e-string to low e-string) all the way from the bridge to the nut. I have YET to see any guitar that has this. Then, and only then, should the perfect pitch and intonation of the rule of 18 apply.

    4. Think of it thoroughly. You have a set radius like 7.5" or something. This radius is the same at the 22th fret as it is on first fret. Now, here comes the strings above it. They are more spread out at the 22th fret than on the first fret, and thus has longer and more "skewed" travel down to the frets at the top than the bottom of the neck (i e at the nut, and 22th fret respectively).


    Here's the strings travel along a flat fretboard neck:

    [​IMG]
    Always 90 degree angle downwards, no matter the string spacing. Exaggeregated for hammering it down on you.

    Here's what happens when strings turns narrower towards the nut, on top of a radiused 7.5 fretboard or any cylindrical thing:

    [​IMG]
    Mind you, the ruler isn't lifted at all UP from the cylinder, it is just turned out to the left of the cylinder. The cylinder depicts a fretboard with a radius, whatever it might be. Of course, this is more so with the outermost strings.Those two in the middle, D and G strings are not that much affected by this.

    5. No different RULE OF 18 is made for 7.5, 9,5, 12" radius or anything like that. Which must be done in that case. Not that I know of though.

    6. No individual adjustment saddles at the bridge for each individual string, nor Earvana Nut, BFTS system, TrueTemperament will ever remedy this.

    7. What actually will do mitigate this problem (mind you, mitigate, not cure completely and never will), is something like conical and/or compound radius like this:

    [​IMG]


    Straight lines (strings) following a cone's surface will not be parallel. They'll be tapered (converging to the point of the cone), the way we want our guitar strings to be. If they follow any other line, they'll create playing, intonation problems and string buzz too. We refer to these conical fretboards as "compound radius" fretboards.

    Now, another solution to this, instead of dabbling with compound radius, are made by FGN guitars, who has radius but changes the frets to circular frets instead like this:

    [​IMG]

    8. And of course, Circular Frets System can't be used on any flat fretboard (no radius). Each fret wire follows the radius of the neck. I've tried these and while the intonation was considerably better, tuning and intonating regularly, it still had the drawbacks of when bending strings they'd choke. And the "more easier to slid" thing...but what I want to get across with these kind of frets, is that the RULE OF 18 works perfectly and exactly on these ones. Now of course, the "bent" frets for a 7.5" radiused neck doesn't fly that well on a 12" radiused neck...you must "bend" them to each of the radii of the necks.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2021
  20. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    Aren't they? How should a beginner be able to tell?
     
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