Other Guitars

neck radius questions

1

I don't know much... neck is flatter higher the number is?

Are there standard numbers in all this? I heard traditional Fender is the most rounded @ 7-something, and the most flat fingerboard (on shredders) are 15-ish.

Is that the range? Could you even feel a difference between a 10 and 12 range of radius?

2

That's right-- the bigger the radius, the "flatter" the fingerboard is. 9.5" is my favourite. It just feels comfortable, but some of Fender guitars are 7.25". My SSLVO is a 9.5", but most Gretsches seem to be 12" or 14".

You can definitely feel the difference, at least I can going from a 9.5" guitar to a 7.25".

3

The radius measurement used for fretboards represents a part of a circle in that diameter, in that (for instance) a 12" radius fretboard represents a portion of a 12" circle. So, the larger the number, the flatter the radius.

I think whether or not one can tell the difference when moving between guitars with different fretboard radii depends on the individual.

My first two guitars were 7.25" radius Fenders, and I have always been able to tell when there is a difference, even between guitars of relatively close radii like a 10" and a 12", if not always exactly what the difference was. I have come to believe that the tighter radius (and the individually adjustable string height) made a difference in the way I react to fretboard radius (and string action).

My wife's first guitar was a nylon-stringed classical guitar with a 20" radius fretboard, (which I find virtually unplayable), and she could really not care less about fretboard radius. If I were to put a set of strings on a 2X4, she would be able play it, as long as I got the scale length right, and she could go from that to a 7.25" radius Fender with no problems.

4

Classical guitar fretboards are traditionally dead flat. I guess that might be considered an "infinite radius".

How do you measure an infinite radius, you might ask? A straight edge will work in a pinch...

5

When I went from playing my SC & Gibson Gent with their 14/15" radius neck - which is considered quite flat for non-classical guitars - to a 12" I don't notice an appreciable difference but going down to the 9.5" I am aware of it. Not unplayable my any means but just not as convenient. Fingerstyle players, by and large, prefer a flatter fingerboard over the slightly more sharply curved shape a 9.5" board gives. For me, I believe a 7.5 would be quite noticeable if not uncomfortable.

To see the subtle differences between the common radii, take a compass and scribe and arc with a 7. 5 radius. Moving the center point say 1/4" lower for each are, to get some separation, scribe others at 9.5, 12 & 14". While the differences sound as if they'd make a huge difference, on paper al least, they don't appear as wide a variance; though going from 7.5 to 14 will be show a noticeable amount.

Just as the neck profile is extremely individualistic, the radius is just another part of the 'formula' for what each person prefers, the other ingredients being the neck's width, thickness along the neck, fret profile & height, string size & style and action height.


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