#1
The fretboard radius is one of those specs that all guitar makers...specify. What is the significance of it? Any advantage to having a more curved or a flatter fretboard (let's set compound radiuses aside)? Do you have a fretboard radius preference?

One a related note, with online shopping more prevalent and the constant possibility of stores that let you try out a guitar before you buy disappearing altogether, I would find it more useful for brands to give us neck specifics, like neck thickness at various spots and a diagram of the neck profile. Not that they shouldn't give fretboard info, but the more neck info the better.
#2
the higher the number the flatter the board. rounder radius makes playing chords a little easier whereas the flatter radius is better for playing leads. many players used to complain when doing bends on old fenders (7.5" radius) becasue the strings would fret out and kill the notes. shred guys love the flatter boards as it makes it easier to set the action super low.

personally i've found that once you get past 12" radius it makes less of a difference unless you are going for that super low action (which i can't stand so don't). fender has moved up to 9.5" radius which helps when playing leads but does make setting the action super low still a bit of a challenge.
#3
To simplify it greatly, a flatter radius (higher number) is for lead and a more curved one is for rhythm. To elaborate somewhat, a more curved radius will make things like barre chords easier, because the board sticks out into your hand a bit, with the disadvantage that bent notes are liable to "fret out" - i.e. choke as they hit a higher fret. In practice I would argue the effect is minimal between say, Gibson (12") and modern Ibanez/ESP/etc. radii (generally up to 16" as far as I know), however Fender radii (which, today, are generally 9.5", but back in the day were often 7.25") are associated by some with the aforementioned bending issue.

Personally I prefer the modern Fender radius, since while I'd like to be a great lead player I have more fun on rhythm and I like to be able to barre more easily with heavier strings. Nonetheless I wouldn't let anything but a vintage Fender radius affect my purchasing decisions.

EDIT: Ninja'd but I hope still useful.
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#5
radius makes a pretty big difference, especially at the extremes.

i agree with "the more neck info the better", but radius is one I definitely want.
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#6
Quote by Dave_Mc
radius makes a pretty big difference, especially at the extremes.

i agree with "the more neck info the better", but radius is one I definitely want.


Absolutely. I once bought a Tokai strat, very nice, but I found that the traditional tight radius was no good for slide, so it got sold without ever being played. I'm more careful now.
#7
Quote by Tony Done
Some necks have a compound radius, so they are flatter at the high frets. This gets the best of both worlds, in theory. - Easy chords on the low frets, no fretting out on the high frets.


My compound radius guitars (mostly 10-16) are neither fish nor fowl. They're essentially a more-comfortable 12" radius guitar. I like 16" radius boards, but my greatest use for them is from about the 8th fret to the 24th fret, and on a compound radius fretboard, you're not really hitting 16" at all until the very end of the board. Same thing on the other end; if you found a 10" radius board comfortable for chording, you'd mostly use it within the first 10 frets. But the 10" radius applies only to the first fret (if that), and beyond that you're largely into what amounts to a 12" radius for most of your chording. In short, not the best of both worlds, but none of either.
#9
My personal preference is 9,5'' as found on 5 of my 6 Fenders (the American Deluxe has 9,5-14'' compound). Overall very comfortable to my hands and easy to bend on with reasonably low action.

Of my 15 electrics, I have something of everything but Fender 7,25'' vintage spec radius. On the vintage spec Fenders I've tried, I had more of a problem with the small fretwire than the radius - it does really make a difference when you hit the wood every time you fret a note. Tried a Blackmore Strat (scalloped neck) and it played quite well even with the vintage radius.
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