#1
Most (all?) string instruments have rounded necks. When it comes to an instrument operated with a bow, such as a cello or a violin that makes perfect sense. Without the rounding, it would be impossible to isolate a single string.

With a guitar I'm not all that convinced of the benefits though. I've summed up some pros and cons that I could think of. This is not a tutorial or anything, but just my opinions as an intermediate player. I've likely missed many important details and I'm more than willing to discuss anything about this. Important note is that I've never tried to play a guitar without a neck rounding.

Pros:
+ Possibly it could be easier to hit a few isolated strings at the same time.

Cons
- Different string heights could make some strings more protruding and that cause them to sound louder when hitting chords. That could create an unbalanced sound.

- The rounding get's in the way of bends on the highest strings. This creates a need of higher string actions here, than if the neck would have been flat.

-The rounding probably makes the guitar harder to manufacture. The whole geometry and mechanics around the string gets a bit more complex.

- Barre chords and such could probably become a bit harder as it should be harder to round the finger over the fretboard
#2
Is it to give the neck a little more resistance to the tension placed upon it by the strings, i.e. less resistance to bowing, warping, or twisting? -to be honest I have absolutely no idea...

Classical (nylong string) guitars, for the most part, don't have rounded fretboards.
Si
#4
20Tigers: Hmm, not impossible. But however, if flatnecked guitars can last too, it shouldn't matter.

Arron_Zacx: Interesting thread. It seems like guitars with flatter necks is something for me.
#5
Your first and last cons aren't exactly right. First, if the nut and bridge are set up correctly this isn't a problem at all.

Second, supposedly a tighter radius is more comfortable for playing chords and barre chords because it fits the curvature of your hand a little better. In my opinion it may be more comfortable for some people, but having a smaller radius means you have to raise your action if you don't want buzzy bends and action effects how the guitar feels a lot more then the radius. From what I understand radius's of around 16" and up don't really have the bending problem.

I don't really know if I'd like a completely flat fretboard. My 7 string Carvin has a pretty flat neck, but still a little bit of a radius (can't remember the number) and I love the way it plays. I'm not sure if I've ever played a guitar with no radius at all. I probably have and just didn't realize it.
Last edited by The4thHorsemen at Jul 12, 2014,
#6
You can get rounded electric necks and flat. You pretty much have the choice, and you can try a bunch of guitars to see which you prefer. A lot of players prefer more rounded necks (and a lot don't), so a lot of it is personal preference, really.

^ I played a vigier shawn lane... I'm not sure I liked it or not. I actually like almost-flat Ibanez-type neck radiuses, but I think totally flat was too much for even me. I like more curved necks, too, though, it just depends on what I'm going to use the guitar for.
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I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

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#7
Quote by SirSixString
- Barre chords and such could probably become a bit harder as it should be harder to round the finger over the fretboard

Absolutely disagree with this. Play an F minor on a Gibson and an old Strat and see what you think. The rounded fretboard, at least for me, means I don't have to apply as much pressure to get the middle strings sounding clear.

As a side note, I believe many banjos have flat fretboards.
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Last edited by K33nbl4d3 at Jul 12, 2014,
#8
I find flatter much easier to handle in every way. I'm not entirely sure why the whole radius thing started.
#9
Quote by K33nbl4d3
Absolutely disagree with this. Play an F minor on a Gibson and an old Strat and see what you think. The rounded fretboard, at least for me, means I don't have to apply as much pressure to get the middle strings sounding clear.


I know a lot of people say rounder fretboards are easier for chording, but I find a rounder fretboard harder to do barre chords on I think. It's possibly just because I started on flatter fretboards since a lot of guitar preference is based on what you're used to or started on.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

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Et tu, br00tz?
#10
Quote by Dave_Mc
I know a lot of people say rounder fretboards are easier for chording, but I find a rounder fretboard harder to do barre chords on I think. It's possibly just because I started on flatter fretboards since a lot of guitar preference is based on what you're used to or started on.

Fair enough, I find that the curve really helps avoid having notes muted by the fleshy bit of the side of my finger. Still, the problem only applies to six-string barres, and then only significantly when I'm low on the neck, so everything above about G, all the five- and four-string barres and the cowboy chords I don't notice any real difference. Which is to say, I don't actually know why radii are a feature of guitar fretboards.

That said, I'm not hugely convinced of the listen cons either, except maybe the bends.
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Last edited by K33nbl4d3 at Jul 12, 2014,
#11
I find the curved radius makes barres harder because, er, my index finger doesn't have a massive curve in it. But it's possible my technique is dodgy.

The whole radius thing does definitely affect how the thing feels to play. Maybe making black and white statements regarding exactly what the pros and cons are should take a back seat to saying, "Just try both and see which you prefer", I dunno. Certainly for bigger bends the smaller radius can fret out, as you said. And the fretboard seems to feel wider with a flatter radius, too, which also (IMO) lends itself more to that shreddier lead-type playing (though guitars with wider nuts tend to have flatter radiuses, so ).
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
Last edited by Dave_Mc at Jul 12, 2014,
#13
Quote by Dave_Mc
I find the curved radius makes barres harder because, er, my index finger doesn't have a massive curve in it. But it's possible my technique is dodgy.

Probably my technique, in all honesty

Quote by Dave_Mc
The whole radius thing does definitely affect how the thing feels to play. Maybe making black and white statements regarding exactly what the pros and cons are should take a back seat to saying, "Just try both and see which you prefer", I dunno. Certainly for bigger bends the smaller radius can fret out, as you said. And the fretboard seems to feel wider with a flatter radius, too, which also (IMO) lends itself more to that shreddier lead-type playing (though guitars with wider nuts tend to have flatter radiuses, so ).

As usual, you speak truth. Different people are going to like and dislike different things about it. I don't honestly know that there's a reason anyone would fervently prefer a very curved board, but I'm curious about what it is if there are any.
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#14
Quote by K33nbl4d3
(a) Probably my technique, in all honesty


(b) As usual, you speak truth. Different people are going to like and dislike different things about it. I don't honestly know that there's a reason anyone would fervently prefer a very curved board, but I'm curious about what it is if there are any.


(a) actually having read back your original post, what you said about barring being easier on the middle strings actually makes sense. Just the way I do it, my weakness is at the higher treble strings I think

(b) Thanks (but I'm wrong a fair bit, too )

It might make the strings feel slightly closer together. normally that vintage fender radius is combined with a narrower nut (1 5/8") so in combination that lets you fret two strings with the one finger without barring (eric johnson does that a fair bit, I think) which is a fair bit harder to do on a guitar with a bigger radius and wider string spacing.

It also might make chording (non-barring... what I said above was related to barre chords only, I should clarify) easier, too, as it fits your fingers better (maybe).

But yeah a lot of it is preference as well- I don't really agree when some people say it's *all* preference. Some stuff, if you ask me anyway, does suit certain types of playing etc. better (most metallers don't use jazzboxes into fender twins and most jazz players don't use dean razorbacks into 6505s for a reason), but personal preference can often trump that, as well. Which explains why you sometimes see people using "weird" gear.

For me personally I can play on most things, but if I know I'm going to be playing 80s hair metal type stuff, I'm picking up an Ibanez, Charvel or similar, but if I'm playing bluesier stuff I'd be picking up a strat.

Quote by crazysam23_Atax
My answer would be, "Why not a rounded neck?".


LOL

"Why not a flatter neck?"
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
Last edited by Dave_Mc at Jul 13, 2014,
#15
Quote by The4thHorsemen
. I'm not sure if I've ever played a guitar with no radius at all. I probably have and just didn't realize it.

Funny thing, I used to practice on some on two cheap (<100 $ ) acoustic guitars that was laying around. I picked up one of them yesterday and realised that the neck was almost completely flat. When I checked up on the other guitar, I saw the same thing there. I never realised it though, I think the high string action and rather dense strings overshadowed all the difference the radius (or absense of it) gave.