#1
In looking at several Epiphone Les Pauls and Fender Strat's I have noticed that several of them have different neck radiuses, 12 inch, 14 inch, 9.5 and so on. I am going to be having to relearn how to play so I was wondering if any of those are easier to play than the others. Just visualizing it, it seems like a larger radius like 14 inch would result in a flatter fretboard and that might be easier to play. So what is the trade off when getting a neck with a larger or smaller radius? I have the feeling this is going to be another one of those things that make very little difference overall.
#2
the smaller the radius, the more round the fret board will feel. great for playing chordal stuff and more intricate voices of chords and doing things like pick/finger playing (or chicken pickin), especially high on the neck, but they can be very difficult to play more technically advanced things. The higher the number, the flatter the fretboard, making it much easier to play technical or fast things and allows for much smoother speed technique in general. Multiple string legato is also much easier. Sweeping is a breeze. Not many people will agree with me but i feel that from a lot of experience with both, lower radius boards tend to have more sweet spots and feel more organic than high radius boards of the same wood.

Out of the many things that affect a guitar's playability and shape a guitarist's style, fretboard radius is one of the single biggest factors. It completely and utterly changes the instrument's feel.
Quote by yellowfrizbee
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#3
Its all in the hands, go for what feels good in your hands. You will be surprised just how small a difference 3-5mm your hands can feel. Best to have a comfortable guitar that your hands are happy with. Unfortunately I do feel that the thicker neck does result in a better sound, but my small hands struggle with big necks.
#4
As stated above smaller radius makes chords easier but it also makes bending harder since the notes tend to fret out sooner then they would on a flatter board. Fret board radius and neck thickness/carve are in the drivers seat when it comes the feel and comfort of how a guitar plays.As with just about everything about guitars in general comes down to personal preference. What works for you might not for the next guy.
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#5
These days most fretboards are in the 10-14" range. PRS and some Fenders are at the bottom end, with 12" probably the standard and 14" (actually 350mm or 13.7") the standard for a lot of Asian guitars (including 35-year-old Japanese guitars).

My personal preference is flatter boards (13.7" - 20"), with 15" and 16" boards the most common and the 20" boards showing up on specific Carvins.

Gibson has nominally been 12" on most of its guitars, but actual measurements have shown quite a number of them to be closer to 10" radius. I haven't measured any of the newer, wider necks yet.

I've got a few compound radius necks; these vary from around 10" at the first fret to around 16" at the 24th, and get progressively flatter as you move up the neck. These purport to be the perfect compromise, with all the benefits of both radii, but they're not. What they are is essentially a bit more comfortable 12" radius analog. That's not a bad thing, but you're not getting the best of both worlds (as is sometimes advertised). You're getting neither, and you're getting mostly what's in the middle, which is 12-13" board. Nice on a new guitar, but it'll make your tech grit his teeth a bit when it's time to refret.
#6
How do you measure the radius? I am just curious as that sounds like it would be quite difficult. Well I am not a metal player, I do blues and classic rock, so it sounds like I'd probably do better with a smaller radius neck, which is what the guy at GC told me too. Most of the smaller radius necks seem to be on special order guitars (Vintage Copies) but that is okay. I saw a Fender 50's classic I liked a lot so I'll probably go with that.
#7
Quote by Sunfist
How do you measure the radius? I am just curious as that sounds like it would be quite difficult. Well I am not a metal player, I do blues and classic rock, so it sounds like I'd probably do better with a smaller radius neck, which is what the guy at GC told me too. Most of the smaller radius necks seem to be on special order guitars (Vintage Copies) but that is okay. I saw a Fender 50's classic I liked a lot so I'll probably go with that.


http://api.ning.com/files/7cfCN7sSz0ItKifpbcelmiNwCh8fp8kj6ZAz0TtEURWAyE7r*EDtJs8-xZohJAXvtNwdBcxuuPa9ijMdPNnmSfV*HUbOBxMB/fretboardradiusgauge.png

It's quite easy. Follow the instructions and measure the radius. The side that fits your fingerboard, is the neck radius of your guitar. Or you could buy radius gauges, but they are more expensive than that method.

Like these ones: http://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Tools_by_Job/Necks_and_Fingerboards/Understring_Radius_Gauges.html
Last edited by DanyFS at May 16, 2015,
#8
Personally i find compound radius fretboards to be the best of both worlds, but only when the radius flattens out after the 14th or 15th fret. Unfortunately for me lol a custom job like that aint the cheapest thing to order
Quote by yellowfrizbee
What does a girl have to do to get it in the butt thats all I ever wanted from you. Why, Ace? Why? I clean my asshole every night hoping and wishing and it never happens.
Bitches be Crazy.

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#9
Quote by Sunfist
How do you measure the radius? I am just curious as that sounds like it would be quite difficult. Well I am not a metal player, I do blues and classic rock, so it sounds like I'd probably do better with a smaller radius neck, which is what the guy at GC told me too. Most of the smaller radius necks seem to be on special order guitars (Vintage Copies) but that is okay. I saw a Fender 50's classic I liked a lot so I'll probably go with that.


I'd suggest that you NOT get anything smaller than 10" (take whatever guys at GC tell you with a small bag of salt). So look for 10", 12", 14", etc.

The 7.5" vintage copies just aren't going to be very useful to you for very long (and I'm taking into account what you're playing). There's a *reason* why they're not available except on special order.
#10
Quote by Acϵ♠
Personally i find compound radius fretboards to be the best of both worlds, but only when the radius flattens out after the 14th or 15th fret. Unfortunately for me lol a custom job like that aint the cheapest thing to order


There are a surprising number of production guitars that show up with a 10-16" now and then. You can find old (about 10 years) Carvins with them, too. Carvin has had 12" and 15" radii show up as standard (currently 14"?) and the Holdsworth models came with a 20". I was really surprised to find the Variax JTV-89 (and 89F) came with a 16" radius, but the 59 has a 12" (and I didn't pay attention to what the 69 had onboard).
#11
yeah every so often when im browsing guitars or something i'll see the compound radius feature pop up and im like, really? this guitar came with a compound?

i don't mind the 10-16s but they have this really funky spot that feels all wrong to me somewhere around the 10th-12th fret or so. I tend to do a ton of intricate chord stuff higher up on the neck. I would really like to order a custom 9.5-14 job with scalloped frets for my partscaster, with the radius flattening after 14th and the scalloping starting at 10th. You can imagine how much that would cost me, lol

interestingly, one of the best feeling guitars ive ever played was a Jaguar HH, which with the 24 inch scale combined with the 7.25" radius was just so fantastic for a lot of what i play. the only problem was that above the 12th fret things kinda got just ever-so-slightly too difficult to rip the way i like to.
Quote by yellowfrizbee
What does a girl have to do to get it in the butt thats all I ever wanted from you. Why, Ace? Why? I clean my asshole every night hoping and wishing and it never happens.
Bitches be Crazy.

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#13
Jim Soloway used to make a guitar with a 27" scale, 16" radius and a 1 13/16ths" nut width -- and the guitar maintained the extra 1/8" width all the way to a custom-made bridge. And that guitar would normally be tuned to standard. It was amazing how fast that guitar was once you adapted to it.
#14
There's a huge difference in feel and playability between different radii, where you will notice it most in, say a comparison 7.25'' and a 12'' radius. It's almost impossible to bend without fretting out if the action is low on the former - but it does make complex chording easier (especially barre chords).

Modern guitars have mostly ended up in the middle, and unless you're looking at vintage spec Fenders you don't need to worry too much.
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