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Old 07-19-2017, 07:45 AM   #1
Cobra
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Default Fretboard Radius

Excuse me if this has been beat to death in some threads. I did a search and could not find a specific thread on the subject.

Years ago my BLI had a Fender Stratocaster with a very pronounced arch on the fretboard. The first time I picked that guitar up it was love at first strum. It was very easy to play for me and it would love me to find another one just like it. I'm sure it had a Maple neck but I don't remember what the fretboard was made of. The bad part is he doesn't even play the guitar. A dude owed him some money and he took it on pawn so to speak. The guy never paid him the money and he traded it for a desk top computer that was very good for its time.
Anyway I'm looking to buy my first Stratocaster. The electric guitar I have now is ok but I just can't get that Strat out on my mind lately.
What Radius degree should I be looking for? I plan on hitting the local Guitar Center when I get home.
I know it's not a lot to go on but any suggestions, advice or anything on this subject would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 07-19-2017, 09:04 AM   #2
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I don't think there is much variety in fretboard radius among modern Strats. I could be wrong however.
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Old 07-19-2017, 01:05 PM   #3
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Fender produces a handful of radius types - 7.25, 9.5, 12, and sometimes compound.

Generally speaking, the vintage style guitars will have 7.25, guitars for the masses will have 9.5, and the modern high-end versions will have 12 or compound. Generally speaking, so look at specs before you buy.

It's hard to say what you played. If you're used to something like a Les Paul or shredder guitar, it's reasonable to say that 9.5 seemed curved to you. 7.25 would take that further.

If you're going all-in with 7.25, look for something like the Road Worn 50's or another vintage themed guitar. If it's 9.5, you'll have no problem finding one. MIM Standard and American Professional are both options.
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Old 07-19-2017, 02:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawk View Post
Generally speaking, the vintage style guitars will have 7.25, guitars for the masses will have 9.5, and the modern high-end versions will have 12 or compound. Generally speaking, so look at specs before you buy.
Hawk nailed it with this post, Cobra. As far as playability is concerned, (assuming the neck is in good "health" as far as being straight, having a good fret prep, etc) its generally accepted that the higher the radius number, the easier it is to bend strings cleanly without fret-out or buzzing, at the expense of chord playing comfort. Personally, I dont find it any more difficult to play chords on a flatter radius, but I have baseball catchers mitts for hands, so that is probably why I feel that way about it.

It would be a good idea to head to a guitar store and play a few guitars, knowing their fretboard specs before going. That way, you'll know why a certain radius feels the way it does.
I find absolute vintage necks a bitch to play, due to the small frets and tight fretboard radius. I really like a Jackson style neck, due to it having huge frets, and a flatter radius (which is sometimes a compound radius). My neck of choice is a big fat baseball bat of a neck with a flatter radius (12" or more) or a compound radius, and the biggest frets I can get (Dunlop 6100's or Dunlop 6000's).

Just in case you didnt know, a "compound radius" is simply a neck radius that gradually gets flatter between the first fret and the last fret, meaning, at the 1st fret, it might have a 9" radius, and at the last fret, it might have a 16" radius. What that does is incrementally makes each fret slightly flatter than the one before it, essentially "getting the next fret out of the way" when bending strings. It sounds gimmicky, but its most definitely not... it works very well. An added benefit is that a neck with a compound radius can usually be set up with very low action, if thats something a player likes.
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Old 07-19-2017, 09:54 PM   #5
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You're going to have to make a really important decision if you are going to choose a particular radius. The lower the number, the more curved the neck is. The more curved the neck is, the more comfortable the neck is. Here's the bad news...... The more curved the radius is, the more the guitar will fret out when you bend notes. That's why a lot of people who bend notes like to play a LP. The LP has a pretty flat fretboard. If you can find a Strat with a compound radius, you'll have thee best of both worlds. Warmoth makes compound radius necks that are something like 10 at the nut and 16 at the last fret. I wish you luck.
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