What year did Fender start using other neck radii than 7.25"?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by El Tele Lobo, May 24, 2020.

  1. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Mods, wasn't sure if this belonged here or in Tele Technical, so feel free to move if I put it in the wrong forum.

    I've been curious about this of late. I assumed 9.5" radius came out in the late 60s for some reason, but I read on line that Fender only started using it on Strats in the 80s. Was this true for Teles too?

    Feel free to post about when they started using necks other than 7.25" or 9.5" also. Very interesting to me.

    Thanks guys. Hope you all and your families are safe and well and being provided for
     
  2. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's

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    Don't know about modern production. In the early 50s Esquire and Broadcaster days they had a mix of 7 1/4" and 9 1/2" until they settled on 7 1/4".
     
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  3. Matthias

    Matthias Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I think the first official radius variation (as in part of the spec) was the 12" of the Telecaster Deluxe at the end of '72. The rest was just tolerances in hand crafting *I think*
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2020
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  4. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    American Standards in the 80s.
     
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  5. medownsouth

    medownsouth Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    Its not a great radius if bending is a cornerstone of your playing; notes can choke out depending on how a 7.25 is setup.
     
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  6. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    form the get-go the necks were made by hand,, thus while the ensuing radii had a target of 7.25, some slipped by at 9.5 so both were available.. for those that aren't aware the difference in the two is only a few passes with a sanding block or any other method of shaping the radius available in the 50's.

    In this shot you can see the difference between the 7.25 gauge and the 9.5 radius fingerboard..



    notes can choke out on any radius, depending on how they're setup... 7.25 is NOT a temporal portal to choking notes at light speed...


    rk

    [​IMG]
     
  7. theprofessor

    theprofessor Poster Extraordinaire

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    As far as Strats go, I haven't played any old Strats that I recall (I always go for the Teles in the vintage stores), so all I know is from reading. For the Strat, at least, it sounds to me like there were all kinds of radii on the early ones. After reading Tom Wheeler's The Stratocaster Chronicles, I came away with the impression that there was everything from 7.25" to 12" radii. Looking back at the book just now, I can only find this from Dan Smith (as cited on p. 72 of the book): "From everything we've seen, the fretobard radius was 7-1/4" on the early Strats. I'm told they did that procedure on a swing-arm sanding machine, and based on how the machine was adjusted on any given day, you'd get a little bit different radius." [EDIT: That jibes with Mr. Kirn's post that I now see immediately above.] Now I want to go look at the specs on Tele necks from The Blackguard Book. I'm assuming one would find the same sort of phenomenon there.
     
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  8. John C

    John C Friend of Leo's

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    Discounting the variances as mentioned they settled on 7.25" pretty early on.

    • The Tele Deluxes got the 12" radius when they came out in 1972; and they ran through 1981.
    • The Elite and Standard series of 1983-84 were also 12" radius.
    • MIJ Contemporary models were also 12" radius if I'm remembering correctly
    • American Standards start the 9.5" radius; Strats were in production and slowly reaching stores by the end of 1986; the official introduction was at the January 1987 NAMM show and the other models started hitting stores throughout the year
    Eventually Fender would settle on 9.5" radius as the "standard" for modern instruments, and keep the 7.25" for vintage reissues. There were of course oddities along the way like the HM Strats with a 17" radius for example.
     
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  9. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    They deliberately changed in the '80s. There was variation before that, including several documented blackguards with around 9 1/2" radius. But for the most part, 7 1/4" was the "target" radius for about the first 35 years of Fender guitars.

    There is a notable difference in feel to me. I highly prefer the curvier boards. You feel the difference most at the edges. You can take a 9 1/2" board and make it feel almost like 7 1/4" by giving the frets a heavy end rounding, and a heavy rounding to the edges of the board.

    The curvier board also has the effect of making the string spacing seem wider than it is, which is a good thing on narrow Fender nuts IMO. 9 1/2" and 12" are not only harder at the edges with taller shoulders, but feel slightly more cramped to me in terms of string spacing.

    People complain about the curvier boards if they use low strings and utilize very wide bends. I use high strings, and one step bends at the most, so I appreciate the curvier board for feel, while finding no drawbacks with it. In fact, I wish I could try an even curvier board; I think I would like it a lot. Sometime like a 6" to 7 1/4" compound radius would be incredible, I think.

    I prefer 7 1/4", but I can deal with 9 1/2" as long as it still has the vintage style skinny frets, and plenty of rounding on the edges of the board. What I really don't like more than anything is big frets.
     
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  10. black_doug

    black_doug Friend of Leo's

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    I didn't know it at the time but that's when I bought my first Fender Strat.
     
  11. SPUDCASTER

    SPUDCASTER Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    1951

    My Nocaster Tadeo neck is no where near 7.25 and maybe not even 9.5.

    I don't have a radius gauge. So can't give you an accurate number. Sorry.

    It's been refreted once.
     
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