The Acoustic Guitar Forum

Go Back   The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > General Acoustic Guitar Discussion

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 07-03-2009, 09:15 AM
Monsoon1 Monsoon1 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: N.E. Ohio
Posts: 1,757
Default What radius is better for fingerpicking?

I'm getting a new fretboard made, and it just occurs to me that all three of my guitars have a neck radius of 10" or 12".
And that's what i've been playing for quite a few years.

If I go to a wider radius like 16", will it seem harder to pluck the strings with my finger tips?


Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 07-03-2009, 09:21 AM
RRuskin RRuskin is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Seattle WA
Posts: 2,100
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Monsoon1 View Post
I'm getting a new fretboard made, and it just occurs to me that all three of my guitars have a neck radius of 10" or 12".
And that's what i've been playing for quite a few years.

If I go to a wider radius like 16", will it seem harder to pluck the strings with my finger tips?


There is no "best," only what the individual player prefers.
__________________
Rick Ruskin
Lion Dog Music - Seattle WA
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 07-03-2009, 09:24 AM
Monsoon1 Monsoon1 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: N.E. Ohio
Posts: 1,757
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by RRuskin View Post
There is no "best," only what the individual player prefers.
Ok, how about easiest?

What i'm trying to figure out here, is whether it will feel like there's less space in which to "catch" the edge of the string.

Since the strings will be laying flatter, i'm wondering if that becomes an obstacle or not.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 07-03-2009, 09:30 AM
Brackett Instruments Brackett Instruments is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Grover NC
Posts: 5,156
Default

It all depends on how you grab the neck, and the feel you're looking for. To me, a compound radius makes sense. As the strings go from the nut to the saddle the spacing widens. (like a cone) If a single radius is used the action from the center strings to the outside strings will change slightly as the spacing gets wider. A compound radius allow lower, more consistant action, although the difference it subtle. My "standard" radius is 12" and the nut and 16" at the 20th fret but I'll do whatever radius, compound or single a customer wants.
Small things like fingerboard radius don't make a big difference but it's best to play a bunch of different guitars you know the radius of and decide what feels best for you.
__________________
woody b politically incorrect since 1964
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 07-03-2009, 09:37 AM
jmiked jmiked is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 248
Default

For me, the fretboard radius is pretty much a non-issue, unless it's flat. The string spacing has far more effect on fingerpicking ease.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 07-03-2009, 09:50 AM
Monsoon1 Monsoon1 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: N.E. Ohio
Posts: 1,757
Default

Thanks for the replies, everyone.

Woody, it makes sense to try different radius setups.
And I just happen to have a set of radius gauges, and oh yeah. Two Guitar Centers within a half hour drive of me.
Looks like I know what i'm doing this afternoon.


Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 07-03-2009, 09:54 AM
Brackett Instruments Brackett Instruments is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Grover NC
Posts: 5,156
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Monsoon1 View Post
Thanks for the replies, everyone.

Woody, it makes sense to try different radius setups.
And I just happen to have a set of radius gauges, and oh yeah. Two Guitar Centers within a half hour drive of me.
Looks like I know what i'm doing this afternoon.


Nothing beats a good excuse to go out and play some guitars
__________________
woody b politically incorrect since 1964
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 07-03-2009, 10:13 AM
Larry Pattis's Avatar
Larry Pattis Larry Pattis is offline
Humanist
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Oregon
Posts: 11,806
Default

The standard cylindrical radius on Martin guitars is 16", Taylor is 15".

Larrivée uses a compound (conical) radius of 16"-21" or 17"-21" depending on the model.

Standard classical guitars are flat, but I have seen so-called "cross-over" nylon string instruments with non-flat radii. I couldn't quote the numbers for you on this.

As the esteemed Mr. Ruskin has said, there is no "best", nor is there an "easiest" radius (whatever that means)...it's simply based on what you prefer...and of course, what you prefer can only be based on what you've experienced first-hand (no pun).

Most stores (owners and employees) will have no idea what the radius numbers are for any guitar hanging on the wall...and having a radius gauge may be of little help, since most guitars have strings attached!

__________________
Larry Pattis on Spotify and Pandora
LarryPattis.com
American Guitar Masters
100 Greatest Acoustic Guitarists

Steel-string guitars by Tom Rein and Simon Fay
Classical guitars by Anders Sterner
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 07-03-2009, 10:24 AM
Brent Hutto Brent Hutto is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 4,860
Default

When you find one with the right radius (along with the right strings spacing and neck profile and action and the right shape of edge on the fretboard) you'll know it because your fingers will just fly along and everything will be easier an faster than on any other guitar.

Buy that one. Then go home and measure the radius and you'll know.
__________________
Here today and gone tomorrow
Life's too short to borrow sorrow
Life's too short for me to worry
Over you
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 07-03-2009, 02:45 PM
Monsoon1 Monsoon1 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: N.E. Ohio
Posts: 1,757
Default

Larry, my trip to Guitar Center would have made more sense if I had read your post first.

I got there, and climbed through dozens of acoustic and electric guitars with my tape measure, and my radius gauges.

And practically every acoustic is a 12" radius at the soundhole end of the neck, which is the only area I can check reliably with the gauges. A couple of them were 14", but not as wide as most people would guess.

A couple of electrics were 16" radius.

Anyway, I finally glance over at a classical guitar, and I see that the fretboard is ruler flat.

It was like a Homer Simpson moment.

If a flat board is ok for fingerpicking on a guitar that is pretty much made for fingerpicking, well then it's obviously ok isn't it...

DOH!

But the good thing is that I wound up getting a Planet Waves finger exerciser that i've been forgetting to get like, forever.

No such thing as a wasted trip to a guitar shop, people.


Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 07-03-2009, 02:50 PM
Monsoon1 Monsoon1 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: N.E. Ohio
Posts: 1,757
Default

Oh, and it's actually quite easy to use the gauges with the strings attached.

All you have to do is lay the gauge across the strings, and site down the neck like you're looking down the barrel of an opened shotgun.

You have to hold the gauge a few inches closer to your line of sight to get everything to match up.
But once you do, it's very easy to see if you have a match.

It took me a few minutes of messing around until I got that, but It's remarkably easy that way.

And I brought 8 different profiles with me, so it was easy to see what was what.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 07-03-2009, 03:12 PM
rlouie rlouie is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 13,254
Default

don't overthink it monsoon.......just play as many different neck sizes as you can and you'll eventually find one that you like.........
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 07-03-2009, 03:13 PM
Jeff M Jeff M is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Not where I thought I was going, but probably where I need to be.
Posts: 18,603
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by rlouie View Post
don't overthink it monsoon.......just play as many different neck sizes as you can and you'll eventually find one that you like.........
Yep.
I've never paid attention to what radius the fretboards on my guitars are.
If they are comfortable...they are comfortable. If not, not.
There are too many other factors involved.
Neck profile, nut width, string spacing, scale length. Radius is last on the list....and there is no way of knowing which you will think is "best" because of all the other variables involved.
You may like this radius with that neck profile/string spacing, maybe a different one with a different set.

If some sales person is BS'ing you about such and such radius is "better" for fingerstyle or this builder builds an easier playing guitar because of the radius they use.....don't take anything else they say seriously. They have no idea what they are talking about.

(FWIW, I can't recall picking up an acoustic guitar and thinking "Ooohhh...this radius is uncomfortable"..or, "Gee, this is a GREAT radius".
Acoustic guitar builders tend to stay away from extremes.)
__________________

"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best."
Henry Van Dyke


"It is in the world of slow time that truth and art are found as one"
Norman Maclean,

Last edited by Jeff M; 07-03-2009 at 03:20 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 07-03-2009, 03:14 PM
Larry Pattis's Avatar
Larry Pattis Larry Pattis is offline
Humanist
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Oregon
Posts: 11,806
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Monsoon1 View Post

And practically every acoustic is a 12" radius at the soundhole end of the neck, which is the only area I can check reliably with the gauges. A couple of them were 14", but not as wide as most people would guess.

I hope your gauge checked the Martins at 16" and the Taylors at 15"....?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Monsoon1 View Post
Oh, and it's actually quite easy to use the gauges with the strings attached.

All you have to do is lay the gauge across the strings, and site down the neck like you're looking down the barrel of an opened shotgun.

You have to hold the gauge a few inches closer to your line of sight to get everything to match up.
But once you do, it's very easy to see if you have a match.

It took me a few minutes of messing around until I got that, but It's remarkably easy that way.

And I brought 8 different profiles with me, so it was easy to see what was what.


You measure the radius of the fingerboard with the apparatus laying on top of the strings?

I'll admit to not knowing what you're talking about, and also suspecting that your measurments may be off...
__________________
Larry Pattis on Spotify and Pandora
LarryPattis.com
American Guitar Masters
100 Greatest Acoustic Guitarists

Steel-string guitars by Tom Rein and Simon Fay
Classical guitars by Anders Sterner
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 07-03-2009, 03:27 PM
Brent Hutto Brent Hutto is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 4,860
Default

I think the difference between a 12" radius and a 15" radius on a less-than-2" fretboard is surprisingly subtle. I suspect your eyes may have fooled you a bit by having the radius gauges slightly away from the fretboard because of the strings.

Flat looks far more different from 16" than 16" looks from 12" for instance.
__________________
Here today and gone tomorrow
Life's too short to borrow sorrow
Life's too short for me to worry
Over you
Reply With Quote
Reply

  The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > General Acoustic Guitar Discussion

Thread Tools



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:51 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, The Acoustic Guitar Forum
vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=