What's the preferred fretboard radius?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Dave Higham, Mar 12, 2021.

  1. Tele Plucker

    Tele Plucker Tele-Meister

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    You say snark...you want snark? I’ll give you snark...buddy....LOL

    Anything above 7.25 on a Telecaster is like a child learning to ride a bicycle with training wheels.

    Get some cajones and grab that neck.
     
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  2. decibel

    decibel Tele-Meister

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    9.5 is nice and so is 12.
     
  3. trancedental

    trancedental Tele-Meister

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    I don't feel much of a difference between 7.5, 9.5, 10 or 12 myself. I have lecky geetars in all these fretboard radius sizes.

    I notice the fret size, width & height far more, I'm not too keen on the jumbo frets on my Epiphone Sheraton compared to my Gretsch Country Gentleman.
     
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  4. kilroy6262

    kilroy6262 TDPRI Member

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    Frankly, if you make me a surprise guitar, I'd tell you the correct radius is the one you used.
     
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  5. Frankentronics

    Frankentronics TDPRI Member

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    Based on my experience, doing setups on hundreds of customers' guitars, I'll say 12" is my go to radius, if I can't have a compound radius board. This is taking into account guitars that will eventually have fret wear and will need a setup before you have the time or budget to do a proper level and crown job.

    I do have to say that I've also set up many guitars with a 10" radius that I was happy how the setup came out. But the 12" still gives me a better range to work with, specially when there is eventually fret wear that makes high and low spots on some frets.

    When I do a setup I will adjust the truss rod and then first put the high E string to my target height, which is .060" unless the customer said they want super low action. Then I will bend the E string up and down the board and listen if there are any spots that choke the vibrations on bends. I will adjust higher if it is chocking anywhere. Of course I can spot level any high frets with the kisser (and recrown and polish) but sometimes the customers just want the cheapest setup option and don't want to pay extra for spot leveling.

    I find it that with 12" I have no issues during this initial bend test, unless there's so much fret wear that the guitar really needs a level and crown job.

    Now let me at least mention about the Fender 9.5" radius.

    I don't assume that the neck has a 9.5" radius and per specifications. I always measure. I put the radius gauge on the highest fret (which normally has no wear) and I use the thinnest feeler gauge to check if the radius gauge matches the fret. On Fender 9.5" necks, in at least 90% of cases, I can insert the feeler gauge between the fret and the radius gauge at both sides of the fret. But when I switch to the 7.25" radius gauge I can insert the feeler gauge in the center. However, the board is dead on 9.5" radius, but not the frets.

    Why is that? I have a theory.

    I also notices that in those 90% of guitars the frets are not seated all the way, in the center. In other words, there is a gap between the board and the fret, in the middle, where I can insert a thin feeler gauge.

    It is common industry practice to pre-radius frets slightly more than needed. Then, when you press them in with a 9.5" radius caul, the downward force will make that fret spread out and "flatten" against the board. It does not exactly flatten, it actually is squeezed to a 9.5" radius. However, if you pre-bend the frets too much and if you don't use enough of a downwards force, the fret might spring back to the previous radius.

    Since the Fender frets don't match either 9.5" nor 7.25" and since there are no radius gauges on the market that fall between those two standards, I actually don't know what is the exact radius of the Fender 9.5" necks that are out of speck.

    For those estimated 10% of necks that are on speck, I would assume they simply did not pre-bend those fret wires quite as much as they do on 90% of their necks.

    So, my point is, that even if I work on many so-called 9.5" necks I really don't have enough experience with true 9.5" necks to know if I like that radius. But I don't have many issues with the 10" radius, and since that true 9.5" is really not that far off 10", I think it's safe to assume that a true 9.5" radius would actually be much better than the off-speck Fender 9.5" neck.

    At this point in time, however, with all the latest and greatest technology available to all the guitar manufacturers, I think all neck now should have a compound radius. A factory should just do a compound radius, then PLEK the frets, then (for any guitar over $1,000) they should hand check for high spots (fix if needed), then do a manual polish and buff job. Perhaps a 9.5" to 14" compound radius would be a very versatile neck that sets up really well for all range of action.
     
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  6. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    9.5-10 is perfect for me. 12 ok, more NAH.
     
  7. Markest

    Markest TDPRI Member

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    9.5 is standard for 50’s Teles. I put a Warmoth 10-16 compound radius on a Tele body I built and love it. I’m currently building two necks with 9.5 and would like to try compounds when I become more proficient.
     
  8. Unison Bend

    Unison Bend Tele-Meister

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    I just picked up a Reverend Pete Anderson T which is 10 to 14 compound. It plays with considerable less fight than my Hwy 1 telecaster with 9.5 radius.
     
  9. Flakey

    Flakey Friend of Leo's

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    Gibson uses 12" for the most part.
    I have a few Gretsches that are 14".
    Since I've started building my own archtops I like 16" on 1 3/4" nut necks.
     
  10. Mojotron

    Mojotron Poster Extraordinaire

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    12" radius is the best for how I do things, and super easy to keep things leveled and set up. The main advantage is that I can just take a long 12" block and level the frets quickly as well as setting things up quickly.
     
  11. GearGeek01

    GearGeek01 Tele-Meister

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    I like a 12" radius and if possible a nice chunky soft Vee neck profile.

    I have done several G&L Guitars special orders and I always ask for the 12-inch radius.

    I am really not a neck snob or cork sniffing gotta have this or that neck type guy. I am happy to have any guitar in my hands if it belongs to me. I do find a flatter (12") radius works well when playing slide.
     
  12. viking

    viking Friend of Leo's

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    9.5 or 12 please.

    I hate the 7.25 , and the " it just needs a decent setup " club can go ********

    If the other necks get decent setups , they will be able to have lower action than the 7.25

    I love Vintage style instruments , but the fretwire , and fretboard radius should never be copied, IMO

    The profile , I dont really care about , I can play them all
     
  13. howardlo

    howardlo Tele-Afflicted

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    9 1/2” for me.

    I would rather have 7 1/4” than bigger than 9 1/2”. And smaller frets.
     
  14. Sax-son

    Sax-son Tele-Afflicted

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    I have guitars with all of the different radius curves. However, if I had to pick one that I thought worked well overall, it would be the 10" combined with a .85 to .90 neck profile. We all have different sized hands and fingers so it's not a "one size fits all" solution. And yes, fret size has to enter into the equation.
     
  15. Whitebeard

    Whitebeard Tele-Meister

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    I like a 10 - 16 compound radius.
     
  16. Danb541

    Danb541 Friend of Leo's

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    I prefer 9.5. I recently bought a rosewood 7.25 with vintage frets to try on a build and I don't really care for it. It's not terrible but seems a little harder to play than 9.5 with medium jumbo frets.
     
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  17. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    I found the radius that works best for me sort of by accident :).

    My compound fret board radiusing jig works off of templates inserted at either end.

    I made up templates in all the common radiuses 7.25", 9.5", 10", 12", 14", . .

    But, since it cuts a compound radius, of course the actual radius at any point along the neck or fret board depends on where it lies along that compound path.

    So, with a 7.25" template at one end the actual radius at the nut is about 8", and with a 12" template at the other end (about where the bridge is positioned on a guitar) the actual radius at the 21st or 22nd fret is about 11.25"

    Now, I suppose I could go with about a 6.5" template which would give me a true 7.25" radius at the nut, - but I don't see any point in doing that because I fell in love with my wacky 8" to 11.25" compound radius used with a bridge that has a 12" radius.




    That's my choice - ~8" to ~11.25" compound radius with a 12" radius bridge :).

    Very easy and comfortable chording down in cowboy territory, and easy and comfortable bends any where and every where that don't choke out.

    The strings just follow a natural path and they are always about the same distance off the fret board.

    Found it by accident or Luck ;).


    edit: For fret wire, medium jumbo works for me.

    It's a nice size for bending.


    Asking what is the preferred radius is like asking what size pants fit you best - you are going to get all different kinds of answers ;).

    .
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2021
  18. brashboy

    brashboy Tele-Meister

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    No reason a Tele can't be 12" but 9.5 will feel right and "look" right.

    I doubt if I'd want 9.5 on, say, a LP or 335, but it DO feel right on a Tele.
     
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  19. CapnCrunch

    CapnCrunch Friend of Leo's

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    Every guitar I've built has a 12" radius. I find it the best compromise between comfort and playability.
     
  20. EnglishPete

    EnglishPete TDPRI Member

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    It is an interesting question... my first Telecaster had a 7-1/4 and I found it really incredibly hard work - so why exactly did Leo actually use about a seven originally?
     
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