Vintage Radius vs Modern Radius

Jazztone

Member
Messages
448
I am curious what to expect going from 9-10" radius to a vintage radius- 7.25 on a Telecaster.

How is play-ability effected?
 

macrossgeorge

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
915
Playing chords might be more comfortable, especially bar chords. I prefer the 7.25 vintage radius in general as I have sensitive hands from tendonitis. It is just overall more comfortable to me. My main is a 9.5 radius and it is fine but when I play a 7.25 I smile.
 

Lt Dak

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,110
I am curious what to expect going from 9-10" radius to a vintage radius- 7.25 on a Telecaster.

How is play-ability effected?
Depends on a bunch of factors, I. E. String gauge, playing style, neck size, and setup.

I spend a fair amount of time on electrics with radii from 9.5 to 16, but I get around fine on my Tele that has vintage frets and 7.25 radius. Probably not as quick, and the action is slightly higher than I like to avoid fretting out, but it's not that massive a difference. The frets are my biggest dislike, not the radius.

That said, after the honeymoon the Tele largely lives in its case.
 

crazymauler

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
329
All my other guitars have 9.5" and 10–16" radii. My first experience with a 7.25" was this recent Warmoth build below (hope the pic shows up!). I wanted to take a chance and try a more vintage spec guitar, and I was nervous after reading so many negative comments about it, but it's unbelievably comfortable and definitely my favorite neck I've ever played. My other flatter necks still feel fine, but now 7.25" feels like home. I already ordered another one for another Warmoth build I'm doing.
I've found that 7.25" is super comfortable, and I can do bends with no problems at all, with the slight exception of maybe doing a minor 3rd bend on the 20th fret, which can sometimes mildly fret out, but I never do that anyway. I play 10's with probably a medium action.
I would encourage anyone to try it: go play one in a store if you can, or just purchase one and see how it feels. I'm glad I did and feel silly for staying away from that radius for so long.

IMG_3514_small.jpg
 

dewey decibel

Member
Messages
10,591
Conventional wisdom is it's better for barre chords while a flatter radius is better for single note lines (that's the idea behind compound radius; rounder towards the nut where you usually play chords and flatter towards the bridge where you usually play leads). And this makes some sense, but some of us (myself for instance) base our single note lines out of chord shapes and actually prefer the rounder radius for this.

And then there's bending. If you think about it, yes it's going to be more difficult to bend on a rounder radius as you have to push the string not just to the side but around the curve, where if there is no radius you just need to push it side to side. But we're talking about a really small difference here. If your guitar isn't setup well (level frets, slight relief) and you want super low action and bend 1 1/2 steps you'll probably have some issues choking out. But IME after a good setup there's minimal difference between 7.25" and 10".
 

Jabby92

Member
Messages
3,740
I've never really even thought much of the radius. I started on a 12" moved onto 20" but also have Fenders that are 7.25". They all have pros/cons, but none of them are dealbreakers for me. For me I find more of a playability impact with the fret size and the nut width/string spacing than the radius. The main advantage I find with radius is how low you can get the action.. my 20" is very low yet buzz free as long as you don't mash the string down.. but even the 7.25" has a nice low action (low enough) that is easy to play on as well.
 

jackson

Member
Messages
3,367
You won't be able to get the action as low, if you need it really low and you want to bend strings. Otherwise, it's just a little different, and depends on you to decide if you like it or not.
 

Brooks

Member
Messages
5,284
I find more of a playability impact with the fret size and the nut width/string spacing than the radius. .. my 20" is very low yet buzz free as long as you don't mash the string down..
Agree. I don't like playing narrow nut/small frets; my Kiesel HH2 has stainless steel jumbo frets and a 20" radius and is the best playing guitar I've ever owned or played. My Warmoth partscaster has the same but is 16", I've sold the rest of my gigging guitars.
 
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s2y

Member
Messages
19,276
Steel string and nylon acoustic players seem to be capable of barre chords with a flatter radius.

This forum can be a trip. I once said that I can’t bend 2.5 steps on my arch top strung with 13 gauge strings. A poster seriously asked if I were a woman based on my inability to bend heavy strings that hard.

One thing missing from the radius debate is often string gauge and action. Heavy strings don’t need to move as far when bending. Light strings are more likely to choke out on a lower radius.
 

Blue Lizard

Member
Messages
771
After learning about the “preferred” radii of fretboards for rockier guitar playing, I would have never gotten my very first guitar - a 7.25” MIJ Strat.

Since then I’ve added guitars with fretboards that include 9.5”, 10”, 12” and 16”. It’s a combination of the radius, neck profile and fret size (plus string type) that goes towards the final measure of comfort & playability.

I do love a chunky neck with jumbo frets and a 12” radius, but my first Strat (7.5”, chunky-ish neck and small frets) is still my no.1 living room guitar for daily play in front of the telly - really nice for cowboy chords!

Always found reference to vintage vs modern radius quite amusing when the very oldest guitars probably had a near infinite radius (my old beater classical played like it had an inverted/negative radius!).
 

babadethkat

Member
Messages
196
Going between 7.25 and 12" regularly it takes seconds to adjust and its over played. Same with fat 50's necks to Ibanez necks. Don't be put off a well set up 7.25 they can be lovely. My favourite radius.
 

poppunk

Member
Messages
836
I'm not shredder but I get why they play flatter radius guitars. I sometimes play 1/8th notes at 220+ BPM with a bunch of string skipping and it's easier for my picking hand to track a flatter radius. I don't like the 16"/20" type but life is a lot easier for that on a 12" than even on 9.5".
 

LagunaMan

Member
Messages
582
I have guitars from 9.5" to 16" radius and I stayed away from 7.25" radius because what I read about notes fretting out on bends. Thanks to this thread, I have to give the 7.25" radius a chance because I do like comfortable guitars. I can always reradius it to 9.5" if I constantly fret out. I do like medium string action because I can grab the string better during bends.
 

Mpcoluv

Member
Messages
3,431
there are many very fine guitarists playing 7.25, disproving the upcoming comments suggesting "problems" with it...

r
it’s a preference one way or another. At the end of the day the radius is not Keeping you from greatness. Having said that I will pick my radius preference every time if it is an option.
 

BigDoug1053

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,380
I have always struggled to get the action set low on Fenders - so I prefer flatter fretboards. Fenders always feel like I am "fighting" the guitar - which some guys seem to like - but I like it easy for my damaged wrists and old fingers. I need at least 12" radius to feel comnfortable playing. I don't need 16" radii - but they have the best action of my guitars.
 

RayBarbeeMusic

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,911
Try it before you buy it.

The limiting factor with a rounder radius is, even with perfect fretwork, your action height is limited in how low you can go due to bends choking. That's a matter of geometry, not opinion.

Whether you like it otherwise is a matter of taste. Personally, it cramps my hand quickly, but some folks love it.
 




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