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Fret board radius

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by oleskool, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. oleskool


    Sep 27, 2011
    Detroit, Mi.
    So what do you like for the radius on a fret board? Why do you like it?
    Would the radius of a fret board make you say absolutely not to a bass? Why?
  2. tjh

    tjh Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2006
    ... preferred the 7.25" for years, but as my arthritis got worse in the fretting hand (broke that thumb twice playing baseball), I have found the 9.5" seems to work much better ...

    ... I just parted with a Classic Series 70's Jazz (7.25 radius) that was really a killer bass, but besides noodling in the studio, my hand just seemed to tighten too much to take it out on the 4 hour jobs ... I also changed the 7.25 neck on my 60's Jazz out for an identicial spec Reggie Hamilton neck, which uses a 9.5 board, and that has been much more comfortable for me ... everything else I have is 9.5", I dont care for anything flatter than that ...

    ..I passed on a very good buy on a non-export Aerodyne earlier this year, because it had a 7.25 neck, despite its very light weight ... which is probably just as big of a consideration in my purchases ...

    ... good question, one that you dont see pop up all that often ...
  3. Doug Parent

    Doug Parent Gold Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    San Diego, Ca.
    Dealer Nordstrand Pickups.
    I play 5 string basses so take that into consideration.

    smaller radius = more vintage. Makes my hand think I like it because, like me, it's old and therefore it's cool. :D

    Not so fast. Turns out, I don't like what happens when I want to slap on a 9.5" radius neck when the flat 10" feels so much more "even" and my technique is better on a flatter radius neck.

    Smaller radius neck, creates an illusion the neck is narrower, the reverse for a flatter neck. This is less important than ergonomics. Play what your hand and wrist like better.
  4. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    My 4 string Sadowsky nyc P/J has a 9" radius, with a Brazilian Rosewood fingerboard. It feels a lot like the old Fender necks, just not quite as curved through the frets, but close.
  5. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    In converting a couple of my basses to fretless I had to face this question. So I got out the whole collection and started playing. In the end I decided to go with 12" (note 5-6 stringers). The reason was my favorite basses (G&L) had it and it was not too extreme in either direction of too flat or too curved. Truthfully my Alembic which is about 9" felt better but I decided for a more universal curvature something flatter would be less extreme. And that's what I did and ordered all my fingerboards cut with 12" curvature.

    But as for letting curvature make me say no to a bass? Hardly. I own a wide variety of basses and play them all regardless of string spacing or curvature. I'm interested in what a given bass does musically for me, not in maximizing my comfort playing it.
  6. bootsox


    Apr 28, 2012
    Biloxi, MS
    I like a 9 inch radius, personally.
  7. oleskool


    Sep 27, 2011
    Detroit, Mi.
    Yea, great answers. I,m a mature dude myself. Played around with enough old fenders, when they were not vintage, to see fret boards are getting flatter. Saw a old fender in a pawn shop, they only bring it out if you ask do they have anything that is not out. It wasn't until I got home that I realized the radius was so much different than modern basses. I have small hands but that neck felt like talking to a old friend. Hopefully no one will ask about it before I hit the lottery.:bassist:
  8. freu


    Dec 7, 2010
    I like the 7.25" inch radius.
    But it is hard to control the string to string balance on a jazz bass and i can't set up a super low action like on a >9 " inch fretboard.
  9. I'm used to the common Fender 9.5" radius, but the most comfortable to me was the 15" radius of an SX Ursa1, and I also liked the flatter (no idea of the actual radius measurement)of a Gibson EB3L I had a few years ago. On guitar, I find the much flatter board of my Epi LP Jr. much more comfy than my MIM Strat. (9.5''?)
    I guess I just seem to do better with the flatter radii. It seems easier to play and more comfortable overall.
  10. My FBB five string has a 20" radius, practically flat. Bended notes never fret out. I've never had a bass with a radius so flat and it opened my eyes; the flatter the better.
  11. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    I prefer flatter (12" or 16" would be my preference), but I'll play anything.

    If I were getting a custom bass made for me, it would probably have a compound radius board going from 16"-20" but 12"-16" would work.
  12. THORRR

    THORRR Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2010
    Parker, Colorado
    This is an interesting thread.

    Fretboards have definitely gotten flatter over the years and I always thought I preferred the more rounded (smaller radius) boards, but I've played the flatter ones and like them equally as much.

    All my basses have different radii and it seems I am able to adapt to whatever neck is in my hand. Can't say that I have a real preference. I play only 4 string Jazzes and they all feel great.

    Since I don't do much string bending it doesn't seem to affect me one way or another. I'm interested to hear what other TBers like/dislike about flatter or rounder boards.

  13. Randyt

    Randyt RAAPT Custom Wood Productions

    Jul 21, 2010
    Barrie, Canada
    Outside of my stock fenders...all my customs are 17-22" radius..I play 6 string too!...i prefer the flatter radius..chording, soloing, ...just easier all round.???...just me?
  14. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Dunno what's wrong with me, but I like 7.25" best. My '87 Jazz Bass Special has it, and it has low, vintage frets which I also like better than the medium-jumbo ones you see so much nowadays. My '01 MIA Jazz Bass is 9.25" with medium-jumo, and it still plays great, and feels great, but if I had to have a preference it's 7.25" and low frets.
  15. MD


    Nov 7, 2000
    Marin Co. CA.
    How is the radius measured (not that it would change anything)?

  16. THORRR

    THORRR Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2010
    Parker, Colorado
    How is the radius measured? (not that it would change anything)

    An easy way to visualize it is this:

    Look at the end of your fingerboard sighting down the neck.

    See the curvature?

    Okay, imagine continuing that curvature all the way around into an imaginary circle.

    The Radius is the distance from the center of that circle to the edge.

    Example: a 7 1/2" Radius would be a 15" Circle

    a 12" Radius would produce a 24" Circle etc, etc.

    The larger the radius, the flatter-appearing the fingerboard is.

    An exaggerated example would be a 1" broom handle which would have a 1/2" radius.

    Hope this helps.

  17. Yeah, If I were to ever get a custom built bass, one of the criteria would be a fretboard with at least a 15-16 in. radius.
  18. MD


    Nov 7, 2000
    Marin Co. CA.
    It doesn't, but thanks for the effort. :)
  19. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    I prefer the 12" radius on my G&L basses, because it helps me play a little cleaner, and I think it facilitates lower action too. I'm perfectly happy with the 9.5" radius fretboards on my Fenders too, but I avoid the vintage 7.xx" radius boards.
  20. THORRR

    THORRR Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2010
    Parker, Colorado

    OOooooooooKaaaaaaayyyyyyy. . . . .
    I thought I couldn't be clearer.

    Let me try and do better for you . . .

    You know how a wooden barrel is made up of slats of wood all held together by metal straps?

    Well the fingerboard is like one of those slats.


    It follows the curve of the outside of the barrel.
    If the barrel is 24" across, then 1/2 that distance is the radius measurement. A 24" barrel = a 12" radius
    and that would be the designation given to that fingerboard with that amount of curve.