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Old 03-06-2020, 10:54 PM
jklotz jklotz is offline
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Default Fretboard Radius

In the acoustic world, we talk a lot about tone woods, body size, bracing, nut width and string spacing. It seems odd to me nobody ever mentions fretboard radius. Many manufacturers/builders don't even mention this spec. I know Martin makes their's at 16". Collings does a 12-16" compound radius, Eastman is 12". Personally, I find a 12" radius to be much easier for bar chords, particularly when used for fingerstyle where every note has to be clear.

Why are most folks not more interested in this spec? In the electric world, a flatter radius works better for bending notes and a more curved is considered better for chording. But not much bending happens on an acoustic. Why is this not a point of contention with acoustic guitars?
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Old 03-06-2020, 11:55 PM
phavriluk phavriluk is offline
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Default A thought

I suspect this variable hasn't entered most folks' value system. Once the worriers start beating it to death, it'll get spread around.
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Old 03-07-2020, 12:19 AM
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brencat brencat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jklotz View Post
In the acoustic world, we talk a lot about tone woods, body size, bracing, nut width and string spacing. It seems odd to me nobody ever mentions fretboard radius. Many manufacturers/builders don't even mention this spec. I know Martin makes their's at 16". Collings does a 12-16" compound radius, Eastman is 12". Personally, I find a 12" radius to be much easier for bar chords, particularly when used for fingerstyle where every note has to be clear.

Why are most folks not more interested in this spec? In the electric world, a flatter radius works better for bending notes and a more curved is considered better for chording. But not much bending happens on an acoustic. Why is this not a point of contention with acoustic guitars?
I agree. Gibson's 12" radius is hands down the best. Collings and Bourgeois both use a compound radius of something like 14 - 22. Santa Cruz at 14" is also very nice. Froggy and Larrivee are the flat ones.
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Old 03-07-2020, 12:22 AM
maxtheaxe maxtheaxe is offline
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I notice that often there is a lot of missing info in guitar descriptions and specs, including radius. It's kinda like they think that we won't know what the heck they're talking about (and they might be right a significant fraction of the time, but whatever).

There are people who play the guitar and people who write copy and they aren't necessarily always the same people. You can always tell when they are, though.
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Old 03-07-2020, 12:42 AM
brandall10 brandall10 is offline
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On electrics my fav is Fender vintage radius @ 7.25. It just feels wonderful and I don't really get the issue with bending at all... the trick is to use a sharper wrist angle, which actually feels more natural to me.

For fingerpicking I do feel a flatter board has a bit of an advantage - the rounder the board, the less your fingertips are in an equal plane and more of an angle your fingers will be at the outer edges of whatever shape you're holding (well really, the top edge). Also for a given string spacing, it forces your fingers to stretch slightly more. It certainly does help for barring through.
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Old 03-07-2020, 01:31 AM
brianlcox brianlcox is offline
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I once sold a Larrivee because I just couldn't get along with the neck - I never knew why. Now I know it was the flat fingerboard that I wasn't getting along with . I was just learning Barre chords and really struggled with that guitar. I now own a Froggy Bottom guitar with the same flat fingerboard - I still don't really like the shape, but the tone of the guitar is enough to make me keep the guitar anyway. If I were to order a custom it would certainly be 14" or 16". I'd love to try a 12" - might be better, or might be too much of a good thing...

This spec is certaintly something I'm interested in when purchasing a guitar, but not a deal breaker, so I don't stress about it too much.
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Old 03-07-2020, 03:19 AM
Dbone Dbone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jklotz View Post
In the acoustic world, we talk a lot about tone woods, body size, bracing, nut width and string spacing. It seems odd to me nobody ever mentions fretboard radius. Many manufacturers/builders don't even mention this spec. I know Martin makes their's at 16". Collings does a 12-16" compound radius, Eastman is 12". Personally, I find a 12" radius to be much easier for bar chords, particularly when used for fingerstyle where every note has to be clear.

Why are most folks not more interested in this spec? In the electric world, a flatter radius works better for bending notes and a more curved is considered better for chording. But not much bending happens on an acoustic. Why is this not a point of contention with acoustic guitars?
Great post. You’re likely posting what has gone through the minds of a few guitarists. I remember thinking/wondering the same thing at one point, especially given how much of an impact it theoretically could have on playability for someone. As you say, it is a weird not talked about issue for sure.
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Old 03-07-2020, 04:20 AM
NotALuth NotALuth is offline
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Yes, for some of us fretboard radius can be just as important as neck profiles and nut width.

You’ll find a useful fretboard radius guide by make here:
https://www.thaliacapos.com/pages/fr...tar-make-model

Hope that helps,
Clive.
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Old 03-07-2020, 05:54 AM
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I find that neck geometry is another one of those specs that’s a personal preference for some people, if people even realize this is a spec. My guitar instructor is a professional guitarist who has been playing 50 years and has advanced degrees in music. When I asked him what he thought about fretboard radius he didn’t know what I was talking about. I think this is pretty common. Next time you’re in a guitar shop, ask the person next to you trying out a guitar what they think of the radius on the guitar they are auditioning.

The guitars I currently own & play have a range of fretboard radius from 14” to 20” and I like them all. If pushed, I would rank the Collings as most comfortable. The Collings has a Compound Radius 14"- 26". But I suspect my neck and playing preferences are based on a combination of many things.
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Old 03-07-2020, 06:07 AM
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I played a bunch of good guitars when I was at the
vintage shop where I found my 57 Country Western.
There's a Santa Cruz there with a fretboard radius
that seems totally flat... I didn't measure it, but when
I picked it up to try it out, I put it right back down.

My only guitar for the last 18 years or so is a
luthier made guitar from Utah... I've kind of gone
crazy the last few months and now I have a
53 cf-100 and a 57 Country Western. Right away
I started wondering how to characterize the ways their
necks are different in some kind of objective way. I got this
cheap little tool (less than $10) that lets you
measure neck radius...



-Mike
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Old 03-07-2020, 06:13 AM
edman edman is offline
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Fretboard radius is far less important to me than neck shape / neck profile. I barely notice a difference between 7.25”, 9.5” 12” or compound 12”-16”as long as the neck feels comfortable and the action is set properly.
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Old 03-07-2020, 07:01 AM
jklotz jklotz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NotALuth View Post
Yes, for some of us fretboard radius can be just as important as neck profiles and nut width.

You’ll find a useful fretboard radius guide by make here:
https://www.thaliacapos.com/pages/fr...tar-make-model

Hope that helps,
Clive.
This is very helpful. Thanks for posting.
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Old 03-07-2020, 07:16 AM
marc515 marc515 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jklotz View Post
In the acoustic world, we talk a lot about tone woods, body size, bracing, nut width and string spacing. It seems odd to me nobody ever mentions fretboard radius. Many manufacturers/builders don't even mention this spec. I know Martin makes their's at 16". Collings does a 12-16" compound radius, Eastman is 12". Personally, I find a 12" radius to be much easier for bar chords, particularly when used for fingerstyle where every note has to be clear.

Why are most folks not more interested in this spec? In the electric world, a flatter radius works better for bending notes and a more curved is considered better for chording. But not much bending happens on an acoustic. Why is this not a point of contention with acoustic guitars?
The Fingerboard Radius for Collings Acoustics is 14" - 26" compound; I do not know the radius for their electric's.

I would love to have a 12" or less radius on an acoustic.
m
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Old 03-07-2020, 07:55 AM
Goodallboy Goodallboy is offline
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Ok, 12" vs 14", which is better?

Might as well kick this off properly.
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Old 03-07-2020, 08:05 AM
paulzoom paulzoom is offline
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In about three hours I'm about to try out and hopefully purchase a Froggy Bottom. My only hesitation if the 20" radius. I'll report back later this afternoon and let you know if that turns out to be a deal breaker. Keeping my fingers crossed that it's not an issue.
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