Changing neck radius

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by jgraham, Dec 19, 2005.


  1. jgraham

    jgraham Member

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    I'm interested in changing the radius on an all maple neck from the stock 9.5in to a compound 10-14in. Obviously I'm planning a refret/refin as well, and I have some 6105ss stock on hand.

    Has anyone done this? Any tips? Has anyone used Stew-Macs radius blocks? Is it as easy as it would seem?

    Thanks for any info!
     
  2. tonezoneonline

    tonezoneonline Member

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    A coumpound radius of 10-16 from what you have would be very difficult for a experienced luthier.I would not attempt it simply from an economic standpoint
    if someone brought it into my shop.I sure would not attempt it if I was a novice.
    Why not sell your neck and have one made ?The used neck market is pretty good these days and there are plenty of places that make quality new necks to your specs.
     
  3. jgraham

    jgraham Member

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    Economic standpoint? Not sure what you mean. Why would you not attempt it? Too much time? I have the material, I have the time, I'm not planning to pay someone to do it. I realize that selling the neck and having one made is an option, but I'd like to keep this one.

    I should have mentioned, I'm not dead set on the compound radius. I'd be ok with just flattening the current one out to 12 or something flatter than stock Fender.

    I was hoping to get some tips or things to consider for the actual process, although not a step by step. Being an authorized Fender shop, maybe you can shed some light there? Thanks!
     
  4. CharlieNC

    CharlieNC Member

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    i think what he's trying to say is that it will be more trouble than it is worth. maybe you can do it, but if you screw it up you will never be able to play that neck again. you're talking about removing wood from the playing surface and one shave too far and the whole thing is botched.

    i'm just saying, that a warmoth neck with a compound radius will be easier, better playing, and better looking... without a doubt.

    keep the neck you like.
     
  5. oxtone

    oxtone Member

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    Years ago I had a Pro Luthier do a compound radius on my 1981 Walnut "The STRAT". It was fretting out on the high E. So, he changed it to a radius that goes from about 7, to 10, 12, and then 14. It's worked perfectly for years now. No fretting out...

    The guy who did it is Ron Tracy, from Hoffman Guitars in Minneapolis, MN. He's got many, many years of experience, and did a wonderful job on it, as well as the re-fret. I think it cost me around $225.00 for the whole job. It was a good investment for my "bread and butter".
     
  6. tonezoneonline

    tonezoneonline Member

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    Maybe you could tell us what your woodworking and refretting experience is.
    I see lots of guys get in over their heads with this type project and I don't want to misjudge you.A compound radius is not an easy project.
    I would first make a 14" radius template and lay it out on the butt of your neck.This will give you an idea of how much material you will be removing.
    A compound radius needs to be layed out at several places along the neck for a different radius.I lay them out ,cut them in and then connect them.
    You will then have to layout and recut your fret slots.What tools do you have for this?You will have to bend the frets to fit the different radi.What kind of fret bender do you use?
    You'll have to put in new markers.How much depth are you going to have left between your fingerboard and truss rod after you remove all the material?
    Stew Mac blocks are fine for a single radius but they won't work for compound.Dont' forget about the other tools you'll need.
    I wish you luck with your project.
     
  7. Clorenzo

    Clorenzo Member

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    Now that's a different matter. I did that on my Squier Strat (went from 9-1/2" to 12") using one of Stewmac's radiused blocks and adhesive sandpaper and it was a piece of cake. I'd never done anything like it before (it was also my first refret) and the result was almost perfect. Just one minor point: It can be difficult to keep the block parallel to the neck while you're sanding, but there's a neat trick to make it easier: clamp the block upside down on your workbench and move the neck across it. That's also how I dress frets and it works great.
     
  8. KLB

    KLB Member

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    The PLEK fret milling system can put a flatter/compound radius on the fretwork. As the radius gets flatter, the frets are slightly taller at the edges of the fingerboard than the center.

    This approach has been used by highly experienced luthiers to preserve the historical value of vintage guitars. Now, with PLEK, it can be done consistently.

    At any rate, PLEK fretwork is as good as it gets.

    Good luck with your project.

    By the way, unless you REALLY love that neck, why not just get a replacement with the radius you want and SS frets? The cost is lower.
     

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