Fender 7.25 vs 9.5" radius. Whats the big deal?

Scuttlebutt

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670
I've thought about this a lot lately. There must be a reason Leo picked 7.25, despite most of the other guitars of the era have 12ish. Anyone know what went into that decision?
 

Fireball XL5

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2,847
With a low action and my playing style I can choke out bends on a 9.5" radius board, let alone a 7.25".
Same here. Biggest issue for me is the high E choking when I do aggressive SRV/Albert King style bends, and that's with what I'd consider medium/medium low action.

Low action as in anything less than 1/16" at the 12th fret???...forget it. I have to run significantly higher than that (higher than I personally like) to avoid choking.

I've had the frets/fingerboard "reworked" on every Strat with 9.5" radius I've owned/kept to get decent action and still be able to get those bends on the high E without it choking to some degree.
 

sunking101

Member
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1,197
Same here. Biggest issue for me is the high E choking when I do aggressive SRV/Albert King style bends, and that's with what I'd consider medium/medium low action.

Low action as in anything less than 1/16" at the 12th fret???...forget it. I have to run significantly higher than that (higher than I personally like) to avoid choking.

I've had the frets/fingerboard "reworked" on every Strat with 9.5" radius I've owned to get decent action and still be able to get those bends on the high E without it choking to some degree.
Yeah, any 9.5 incher has to have perfect and I mean perfect fretwork to run with my required action and heavy bending style. A 7.25" radius would mean too many compromises for me and with so many different options out there I just don't need to go down that route.
 

homerayvaughan

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2,633
I notice a big difference. 7.5" always frets out when bending. I find the 6105 frets make the Guitar sound "BIGGER"
While this is true in some cases, I have a 61 with stock radius that doesn't fret out at all. Even when the frets were worn, it didn't. Very rare in my experience.
 

Gig Young

The Diana Nyad of Guitar
Gold Supporting Member
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I also grew up on 7.25"
I also grew out of it as I got better, older.

7.25 V 9.25??

I bend a lot especially the high E string up to a full maj 3rd.
9.25" radius at a minimum
 

BillyO

Member
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175
I've thought about this a lot lately. There must be a reason Leo picked 7.25, despite most of the other guitars of the era have 12ish. Anyone know what went into that decision?
im also curious about this

I believe other stringed instruments have rounder fretboards (e.g., violins) so wonder if that might have influenced it
 

davess23

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6,377
I'm happy with my AV62RI and its 7.25 radius and vintage frets. Don't see what the problem is...bends work just fine if the guitar's set up right.My old CIJ Tele is the same.

I have other guitars with different neck widths and radii. I wouldn't want them all to play and feel the same.
 

Totally Bored

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8,849
Most of my guitars are 7.25 and they’re the most comfy to me. I have a couple 9.5 and like them as well.

it’s all in the setup. I also like my action a little high anyways. Let’s me dig in more. When you run your fingers across the board you’ll notice your fingers are not super low to the fret board. I don’t get the big deal of having my action super low. Kinda takes away from the tone and ringing clearly. YMMV
 

Whittlez

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2,817
I play PRS Starla's and HH Strats. The C shape, 9.5" radius, medium jumbo frets, feel similar to my Starla's. I just try to keep my guitars, close in feel.
i'm the exact opposite. i try to keep mine DIFFERENT in feel. I enjoy the variety. I love playing my 56 Junior which has a SUPER thick neck, ditto my Richie Kotzen tele. Otoh, I love playing my RG570 Ibanez which has a super thin neck.

I have guitars ranging from 7 1/4" to infinite radius (flat). I like Jumbo, medium jumbo, vintage, etc.

One common feature I seek is LOW action. I play .040" high E 12th fret.
 

Whittlez

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2,817
Most of my guitars are 7.25 and they’re the most comfy to me. I have a couple 9.5 and like them as well.

it’s all in the setup. I also like my action a little high anyways. Let’s me dig in more. When you run your fingers across the board you’ll notice your fingers are not super low to the fret board. I don’t get the big deal of having my action super low. Kinda takes away from the tone and ringing clearly. YMMV
I find comments like this are hard to judge because I don't know what you mean by a "little high"... are you talking .060 high e 12th fret? that to ME is way too high, but I know some people consider that relatively low.
 

Totally Bored

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I find comments like this are hard to judge because I don't know what you mean by a "little high"... are you talking .060 high e 12th fret? that to ME is way too high, but I know some people consider that relatively low.
Lol ... I’ve been playing so long I don’t even measure the height of the strings anymore so I can’t tell you the measurements.

I set the neck with a small amount of relief and then the strings to low and then I raise them until they don’t fret out. It usually ends out a little bit higher than recommended. I’m just not into super low action.
 

Whittlez

Member
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2,817
Lol ... I’ve been playing so long I don’t even measure the height of the strings anymore so I can’t tell you the measurements.

I set the neck with a small amount of relief and then the strings to low and then I raise them until they don’t fret out. It usually ends out a little bit higher than recommended. I’m just not into super low action.
that's groovy but it just says little because different people have different ideas about what is "low" "super low" "high" etc. action. God knows I've experienced this first hand. Only YOU know what you consider "super low".

I've also noticed that the exact same action e.g. .050" at high E on one guitar can FEEL somewhat different than .050" on a different guitar. Otoh, .050" is .050" inches. It is what it is .

So much of what we discuss on guitar is somewhat subjective and/or hard to quantify ... "glassy", "chewy", "ice picky" etc.

Action is not. It can be measured and it's an objective thing.

That's all I'm saying.
 

crazyboutguitars

Supporting Member
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442
I grew up on the 7.25"

There's really no problem for me with any radius (I have 7.25, 9.5, 12, 10-14 and 16") - the only downside to the flatter radius is its a little harder to bar chords.

Good fretwork with the 7.25" is fine, but the action needs to be a hair higher. The one in my rotation is sitting at .070" (if that high) at the 21st fret so its still pretty low. 9.5" seems to be one of the happy mediums.
I prefer the 9.5” radius, but I had a well loved Tele with a 7.25” radius and bends would fret out on anything above half step bends. I think when they were first introduced in the 50s bends weren’t as common, or at least as radical, as they became in the 60s, therefore that radius is no longer as relevant, though I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a Tele with a 7.25” if it sounded good. I like a 12” + better for slide work, but as LReese stated, 9.5” is a happy medium, at least for me.
 

crazyboutguitars

Supporting Member
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442
Geese, I just wonder what any of you would have done in the 50s or 60s when 7.25 was the only radius Fender offered on a Tele.

this is such a non issue.

View attachment 262763
I tell you what I’d do: I’d buy it and be dang happy. But, today we have lots of choices and options that meet our individual needs. As I said in a previous post, I had a well loved Tele with a 7.25” radius. I’d buy it back in a heartbeat if I could because it was a fine one with a light ash body and great tone, but a 9.5” - 12” radius is just plain better for radical bends. That’s not even subjective. The curvature of a 7.25” fret board simply won’t handle that kind of bending. I’ll bet Clint Eastwood doesn’t even own a Tele, and he is still THE MAN! (But if he did get one it would have a 9.5” radius)
 
Messages
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If you draw the 7.25 & draw a 9.5 over it you will se the difference is VERY SUBTLE- VERY LITTLE DIFFERENCE. The fret size makes a big deal difference but 2.25 difference to most people cannot be noticed,
 

DRS

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11,346
I've thought about this a lot lately. There must be a reason Leo picked 7.25, despite most of the other guitars of the era have 12ish. Anyone know what went into that decision?
I believe Leo was always looking to innovate. A 7.25" radius with the standard strings of the day (12s or 13s with a wound G) would be very easy for chords - easier than a Gibson. Leo's world did not have a lot of people bending strings. That's why he put a wang bar on the guitar.
I have a compound radius custom Strat with MJ stainless frets and yes, it plays like butter. But I also have a JH Monterey with vintage frets and the 7.25 radius. Is was a bit of a bear in he upper frets with fretting out. I had to have the action quite high. Then I it took it to a local pro and had the frets leveled and a good set-up. Now it plays fine. Not as good as my other but I can make music.
I think the fret size may make more of a difference than the radius.
 
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Tiger Ted

Supporting Member
Messages
341
I've no trouble bending notes anywhere on the neck on a 7.25" radius neck with vintage frets set to Fender factory spec for relief and action. I switch between my Nocaster and 335 without blinking an eye. I used to have a guitar I built with a 16" radius and could switch from that to the Nocaster without a problem. Adopting different technique to different guitars yields great benefits.
 




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