1. The Rules have been updated regarding posting as a business on TGP. Thread with details here: Thread Here
    Dismiss Notice

Can someone explain radius to me?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Willie Johnson, Feb 15, 2009.

  1. Willie Johnson

    Willie Johnson Member

    Messages:
    506
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland
    I'm trying to figure out exactly what the different radius mearsurements mean. I grew up playing guitars in the sixties when (I think) necks in general were smaller (slimmer) and I have small hands. I play several Strats and some are more comfortable than others. My favorite is an old Strat Plus but I have no idea what the radius is, or, if radius is what dictates how wide the neck is.I'm thinking of buying a Tele and I would like something with a slimmer neck but I don't know how to speak the language.
     
  2. XSSIVE

    XSSIVE D'Avanzo Guitars Vendor

    Messages:
    1,473
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2006
    Location:
    NEW YORK
    from warmoth's site...

    Guitar Neck Fingerboard Radius


    [​IMG]
    The fingerboard, or playing surface of the guitar neck, is usually curved or radiused across its width. The purpose of this radius is to accommodate the natural ergonomic shape of your fingers when they are in playing position. Comfort is certainly a major factor in selecting a fingerboard radius but it is not the only factor. Musical Style... the fingerboard radius must also allow you to play the style of music you prefer.

    Compound Radius Fingerboard

    A Warmoth innovation
    [​IMG]

    This is a concept that we introduced nearly two decades ago to improve both comfort and playability. It has proven to be a very popular feature that we have incorporated into the majority of our necks. Everyone knows how comfortable vintage Fender necks are for rhythm work and chording, but without uncomfortably high action, string bending is not an option the strings "fret-out".
    To achieve low action and no buzz string bending, many necks resort to a 16" fingerboard radius. This certainly works, but the comfort factor is lost.
    What we developed was the theory and technology to make the fretboard conical. This retains a tighter radius in the area commonly used for rhythm and chording, while flattening the area used for bending and lead playing. We selected a 10" radius at the nut for both comfort and compatibility with the popular Floyd Rose locking nut. A 16" radius at the heel has proven to afford 2-1/2 step bends with action below a 16th of an inch!
    In usage, the changing radius is not really noticed. It is simply easier to play on and more comfortable. Compared to a conventional single radius neck, the compound radius is far more difficult and time consuming to produce. So, why do we do it? This is a design that will make a genuine difference in your playing. An improvement in your playing speed... Its fast! String bending has never been easier, and comfortable. And of course your playing will be better if your hand is more relaxed.

    [​IMG]

    One final note about the compound radius
    There is no practical difference in accomplishing a fret level, nut cut, set-up or any other adjustment to a compound radius neck. They are as easy to work with as any other neck.

    Custom Straight Radius
    Straight radius necks have been the industry standard since the inception of guitars and are still used by the majority of manufacturers; primarily because it is much easier to produce than the much more comfortable compound radius necks. For those of who prefer straight radius, we have a custom machine which is adjustable to any straight radius between 9" and 16", in half inch increments. We can offer this custom work on our Warmoth "Pro" and Vintage Modern construction necks, in either 25 1/2" or 24 3/4" scale lengths.
     
  3. dazco

    dazco Member

    Messages:
    11,002
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2003
    It's the measure of how curved the fingerboard is. Look at the board and you can see that from the low to high E sides of the board it is not flat. that curve is the radius, and the larger the number the less curvature. For example, the vintage fender radius is 7.25". Thats about as curved as it gets. The more contemporary fenders are 9.5". Gibsons are typically 12", and there are more contemporary shred type guitars that go up to 16" or more, which feel almost flat. the more curved they are the harder it is to get the action very low without fretting out when you bend, thos there are tricks to help with getting them low.

    EDIT: well, there were no answer when i posted, but looks like a better explanation than mine above !
     
  4. Tonys300ad

    Tonys300ad Member

    Messages:
    70
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    Location:
    Waste Haven, CT
    The best way I can help you see the diffarence in radiuses is to compare 2 dishes. Say a dinner plate is 12 inches in diameter (measure across the middle) and a soup bowl is 8.

    The dinner plate has a flatter radius compared to the bowl.

    Hope this helps
     
  5. Voodoo Blues

    Voodoo Blues Member

    Messages:
    1,474
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2008
    I was going to write out an explaination but do this instead...

    Go to http://www.warmoth.com/Pages/GuitarNecks.aspx

    On in index on the right check out the "Fretboard Radius" and "Back Contours" links, they give a pretty good explanation.

    The best thing for you to do is go to your local shop and ask the sales guy to show you guitars with different fretboard radii (sp?) and neck shapes so you can see the difference for yourself.
     
  6. bluesdoc

    bluesdoc Gold Supporting Member Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    13,116
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
  7. Polynitro

    Polynitro Member

    Messages:
    23,662
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2008
    sounds to me like you need to know what shape and thickness the back of the neck is and not the radius. A neck with the same exact width and radius will feel completey different if its U shaped or C shaped, generally U shaped feels the 'beefiest' and the V and C shaped the slimmest(its all about the shoulder or lack of)...If you ever played the Jeff Beck Strat (the original one from the late 80s, this had the fattest neck I ever played) it measured 1" from the first fret all the way down...Todays Nocasters have what most call 'baseball bat' necks and the US52RI Tele has a decent sized neck I think measures around .833" at first fret.

    A good option if you prefer vintage radius (7.25") and U shaped is CIJ which are slimmer than the US Tele.
     
  8. ScottB

    ScottB Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    5,378
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delaware
    Call me anal-retentive, but that top picture is just not correct.

    The arrows in the Warmoth diagram indicate an arc, not a radius. The measurements of radius are based on exactly that, the radius of the circle that would contain the arc of the fingerboard surface, or in mathematical terms the "radius of curvature". The measurement that physically describes the fingerboard radius is the length of a line from the center of that theoretical circle to the face of the fingerboard, as below:

    [​IMG]

    So the larger the radius, the bigger the circle, and the flatter the fingerboard.
     
  9. Willie Johnson

    Willie Johnson Member

    Messages:
    506
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland
    Thank you all for educating me, I think I finally understand radius. And, I think I now understand that radius has little to do with how comfortably the neck fits your hand. The Strat Plus I mentioned I believe has a radius of 9.25. I typically have a low action and I am able to bend the strings on that guitar without fretting out or other problems, so that is probably right for me. I can see where neck shape and thickness would have more bearing on whether or not a neck is comfortable in your hand. I cannot tell by looking at the neck of the Strat Plus what shape it might be (it's 1991) but it is more comfortable to me than my American Standard Deluxe (not that the Deluxe is uncomfortable.) The most comfortable neck I have is on a 1966 Epiphone Cotez acoustic (almost the same as the Texan.) That neck is very slim (1 1/2" at the nut) but measures 3/4" thick at the 5th fret, whereas the Strats seem to be closer to 1/2" thick at the 5th. The neck on the Cortez looks very curved (C?) I wish I could find a Fender neck that was close to that one, although I realize that's probably not going to happen. Typically when I buy a guitar, I go play it and if it's comfortable and I like it, I buy it. I just wanted to be more informed on what I probably should be looking at (radius, width and thickness) before I go.
     
  10. Polynitro

    Polynitro Member

    Messages:
    23,662
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2008
    take a piece of solder and form it around your favorite neck then trace it out on paper and you'll see the shape...I found my us 52Tele was in-between a U and C though its supposed to be U.
     
  11. bluesdoc

    bluesdoc Gold Supporting Member Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    13,116
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    1/2" thick? That can't be right. .800 is pretty thin. .500??? Never heard of that.

    jon
     
  12. Willie Johnson

    Willie Johnson Member

    Messages:
    506
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland
    Sorry, shouldn't measure without my glasses on! Looks more like 7/8".
     
  13. bluesdoc

    bluesdoc Gold Supporting Member Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    13,116
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    There you go! :) Devil's definitely in the details in this realm.

    If you ever want to consider doing a parts-caster build, I might have the perfect neck for you. When I got it from Warmoth a few years ago, it WAS what I wanted. But I'm really needing larger necks now because of some finger issues so this maple, standard C, Warmoth compound radius, nicely grained, 6105 ss fret, Sperzel tuner neck might go on the block. Lemme know if you're interested.

    jon
     
  14. Willie Johnson

    Willie Johnson Member

    Messages:
    506
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland
    Bluesdoc,
    That's funny....I need a smaller neck due to finger issues.... undiagnosed Lyme disease has practically ruined my hands, one good side effect is I've become a much better slide player! I'll certainly keep it mind and let you know if I end up doing that.

    Thanks,

    Willlie
     
  15. Brett Faust

    Brett Faust Member

    Messages:
    833
    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Location:
    USA
    Hi Willie , It might interest you to know that the Bonnie Raitt signature Strat has a narrow width nut.
    That model might be exactly what you are looking for. Check one out if you can find one.
     
  16. bluesdoc

    bluesdoc Gold Supporting Member Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    13,116
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    Hey Willie, I've been in mortal battle with Lyme since 2006, undiagnosed since probably '91. It has stolen my life.....

    jon
     
  17. GuitslingerTim

    GuitslingerTim Member

    Messages:
    2,178
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    You're anal-retentive.:D
     
  18. Willie Johnson

    Willie Johnson Member

    Messages:
    506
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland
    Bluesdoc,

    This has stolen my life as well. After many years of seeing the "so called" experts in the field (rheumatologists from Johns Hopkins) and getting no help I have very recently (september 2008) found someone who has really helped me with this problem and as you no doubt know, help is hard to find (none of the docs seem to know what they're doing when it comes to Lyme.) I could hardly play at all for about five years but I've been able to play more in the past few months than I did in the previous five years put together and I'm continuing to get better. She says she can probably completely cure me of the problem and the treatment is all natural supplements (no nasty drugs.) I know this is not something that others want to hear about but if you PM me I can fill you in a little.

    Willie
     
  19. Willie Johnson

    Willie Johnson Member

    Messages:
    506
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland

    Brett,
    Thanks. I seem to remember when they first came out they had the new (then) Texas Special pickups in them? I'll see if I can track one down.
     
  20. whitenoise

    whitenoise Member

    Messages:
    311
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2006
    Location:
    Southern California

    Never seen that diagram before, thanks for posting it.

    This one is cool too, im thinking about printing it out and cutting the concaved pentagon out and checking all my guitars....
     

Share This Page