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Fret/fingerboard radius vs String/saddle radius for 7-1/4" "Fender-like"?


Gold Supporting Member
Hi Everybody,
I just did my first attempt at a Level-crown-polish job on my Partscaster Tele.

The fingerboard radius is 7-1/4", and the frets are now somewhere between 7-1/4 and 9-1/2 after leveling.

A long time ago I read that one way to make a 7-1/4" Fender bend string well without fretting out, is to have the outside strings a bit higher than the center strings...a compromise between lower easier action on the center strings which you would bend away from the crown, and the higher action needed to clear the crown when bending on the outside strings.

Right now it looks like I have the saddle radius at something between 12" and 14".

I'm wondering what you Pros do?


Dana Olsen

Platinum Supporting Member
It's presumptuous of me to answer as a "Pro", but ...

IMO, the 'right way' to set up the action, after adjusting the relief, is to start by setting each individual string at around 4/64" measured at the 17th fret, with the high strings a fraction of a hair lower and the lowest E a tiny bit higher, and make micro adjustments from there as needed.

ALL guitars are slightly different, so adjustments have to be made on an individual basis, but you don't need to concern yourself about matching a perceived radius. Just measure the action at the 17th fret on each string, micro-adjust where necessary, and the compounding of the radius will take care of itself.

The 'flattening out' of the radius by lifting the action on the outside strings can be useful for some true 7 1/2" radius necks - that IS an old method of 'compromise' for setting up more rounded radius necks to have bends stay clean on the high E, but it shouldn't be necessary if the high frets have been leveled to be closer to 9.5".

I'd just adjust the action to around 4/64" at the 17th fret to start, and then micro-adjust each string to eliminate fretting out - then you're done.

Hope this helps, Dana O


Gold Supporting Member
It seems like I'm in that 4/64 "ballpark".

I'm just using the cardboard action gauge that comes with all of the Philadelphia Luthier Supply stuff.

I'm getting the real action gauge and a new set of feeler gauges with my next order


Silver Supporting Member
This is ultimately a performance and personal feel setup.
The saddle radius takes care of itself as the action is adjusted to relive fret out and buzzes, then tweaked into best feel for the player per Dana's post.
Saddle radius is, by definition of the conical path of the strings, going to be greater than nut radius.
It will always be that way on a radiused board that has the anchor points wider at one termination than the other i.e. it must be conical.
The board should conform to the strings, not the strings follow the board.
There is compromise.;)

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