Fretboard radius questions.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Flux Jetson, May 27, 2012.

  1. I've played a couple types. The Fenders seem to have that baseball bat feel .. 9.5" I think it is.

    My early Cort A4 (early style w/2 pc bridge+tailstop and no EQ on-off toggle switch) has a pretty flat one, 15.75" or 16" or so.

    I've come to love that silly Cort over the last ten+ years but I'm kinda curious as to what each radius is actually designed for? My previous Carvins all had pretty flat boards. Opposing that idea, I see Warmoth pretty much offers only 10" boards. Now that I think of it, it seems like every neck-thru I've owned was pretty flat, and every bolt-on has been the rounder 10" range. Wait, don't remember what my Rick 4003 was like though. Meh .. whatever.

    Other than the obvious answer of "it's just personal preference man!" is there some sortof specific reason for one fretboard radius over the other?

    If it matters, I pick and finger, but do not slap. I'm left but play right. Done 4, 5, and 6 strings .. long scale/short scale ... I'm right back to 4 strings/34" scale these days.

  2. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    Thing is : The flatter the radius is, the easier it can be for a bass player to press down the strings with his fretting hand. And we may not forget the action of the strings someone prefers ;)
  3. sharpbass


    Oct 4, 2011
    I've played, and own, everything between 9.5" and maybe 14-15" and I don't have a real preference. I've heard people say that flatter is easier to play and that flatter radius fingerboards can hold a lower action, but I have had Fenders with super low action. I think that it may be easier to set up string height on a flatter board, but once set up, I'd say it all comes down to what feel you like. I do know that if the board has more radius arch, like the Fender 9.5, if you bend the string much it can get choked out easier because of the change in fret height as the string is bent up toward the top of the arch. That is usually more of an issue with electric guitars tho.
  4. Yea, I have to agree that playing stuff like perfect 5ths seems easier with rounder boards, and I know flatter boards on guitars prevent "bending out" the note when bending, but I usually don't bend notes on the bass.

    Thanks ... I just didn't know if there was a specfic design target with either radius.
  5. zortation


    Dec 26, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    It really is personal preference.
  6. funkyjudge

    funkyjudge Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2010
    Langhorne, PA, USA
    It is not really just the fretboard radius that gives vintage Fender basses, and many others, a "baseball bat feel", although a 7.25" or 7.5" fretboard radius can certainly add to this effect! I find an in-between radius of 9.5" or so feels "just right" to me on most 4-string basses; however, on a wide-neck extendended-range bass, I find that something a little flatter in the fretboard radius (say 13" or 14") is more comfortable for me -- being too round at the wider widths of 1.875" or more just doesn't feel right and makes both playing and bridge saddle adjustments for string action and intonation purposes too complicated for me!
  7. Randyt

    Randyt RAAPT Custom Wood Productions

    Jul 21, 2010
    Barrie, Canada
    I believe it is a personal preference, I ve had all my basses made with a 17-22" radius...i have played many basses and this radius seems to fit me best..there is no right or wrong...
  8. Warmoth offers a nice compromise for their guitar necks (I've built eight so far). It's a compound radius. 10" at the nut, 16" at fret 22. Sortof ~cone~ shaped. The conical board excels for chording near the nut, and shredding near the bridge. As has been noted the flatter board reduces fretting-out on deep string bends.

    I've had a 10" board on a few Warmoth guitars, and the compound board. My current guitar uses the compound board, and I've come to quite like it.

    That said, it seems like some bass makers would offer a choice. They'd broaden their potential customer base by a good deal .. going by the replies here.
  9. funkyjudge

    funkyjudge Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2010
    Langhorne, PA, USA
    Most of them, like Mike Lull, Valenti, Sadowsky, etc (and even Fender) offer "vintage" fretboard radii, along with tiny mandolin-like fretwire on vintage-style instruments and bigger frets plus larger radii on their "modern" model basses!
  10. Oh .. ok. I did not know that. Thank you!
  11. funkyjudge

    funkyjudge Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2010
    Langhorne, PA, USA
    No problem at all ... and you're welcome!
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