Re-radius a fingerboard?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Ethan Battistel, Sep 12, 2020.

  1. Ethan Battistel

    Ethan Battistel

    Mar 4, 2020
    Okay so I know most of you who have seen my older posts have noticed that I’m a bit obsessed with Queen and John Deacon. I currently have a Squier Affinity Precision Bass, but I’ll be getting a new MIM Player Precision Bass for Christmas. I’m going to mod the player Precision Bass to match John’s, with ‘65 replica pickups, Rotosound Jazz bass flats, a new red tortoiseshell pickguard and maybe a new vintage style bridge. The only thing I noticed, is that unless you somehow manage to buy a Fender Japanese Heritage series Precision Bass, Fender doesn’t offer a Rosewood/Pau Ferro/Indian Laurel board with a 7.25 inch radius, (I’m in Canada and it’s hard enough to get a regular American/Mexican fender or Squier so I can’t even imagine how hard it’d be to get a Japanese fender here). I’m trying to mod this bass out to be a very accurate replica of John’s bass because unless I go with a masterbuilt custom shop bass, I’ll never get the details right, (another problem with living in Canada: everything is 30% more expensive here than in the U.S.). I’ve heard of people flattening the radius of their fingerboards from say a 7.25 or 9.5 to a 16 for example, but never the other way around. If it’s possible to do this, I’d most likely use my Squier neck, since the Indian Laurel is much darker than Pau ferro, and that neck already has some dings in the finish so it’ll eventually need to be refinished. I hope some of you can give some advice because it’ll be much appreciated!
    MYLOWFREQ likes this.
  2. Rabidhamster


    Jan 15, 2014
    their straight vintage reissues are all 7.25in

    but unless you think it’s more comfortable over whatever your instrument will have it really doesn’t matter. You won’t even be bending strings so there won’t be strings choking out on the radius.
    Max Bogosity likes this.
  3. Ethan Battistel

    Ethan Battistel

    Mar 4, 2020
    Fender’s only instruments with 7.25 radiuses are their vintera and Japanese heritage series. Fender doesn’t make a vintera 60s p bass for some reason. When fender switched from the American vintage series to the American original series, they changed the fretboard radius to 9.5. Like I said, I’m trying to get this as accurate as possible as it’s sort of a tribute replica, so the closer the details the better.
  4. Abner


    Jan 2, 2011
    If my math is correct, given a 2.4" wide neck (resulting numbers will be smaller for a smaller width), the edge of the fingerboard will be 0.076" "lower" than the middle of the board with a 9.5" radius.

    With a 7.25" radius, that increases to 0.1" drop.

    So you are thinking of pulling the frets, sanding the board for a new radius, and then putting frets back in, for 0.024" difference at the edge of the fretboard at its widest point.

    Does it still seem like a good idea?
    Max Bogosity, FugaziBomb and MCF like this.
  5. Ethan Battistel

    Ethan Battistel

    Mar 4, 2020
    Well I’m not going to be doing this unless I really feel like it and have the proper tools to do it. Like I said, I’m trying to get this as close to original as possible, as it’s just one of my dream basses, and a masterbuilt custom shop bass would be very expensive here in Canada (probably from $8,000 to $11,000).
  6. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    Yes, you can sand a tighter radius into that fretboard, but it will require a full refret and new nut. If you're planning to do it yourself, start a thread in the luthier's corner and we'll help you through it. :thumbsup:
  7. Abner


    Jan 2, 2011
    I realize you want accuracy, but you have to ask yourself whether it is worth it for such a small change that you will not be able to see the difference, and you may very well not even be able to feel the difference. Pick your battles.

    But... do what you have to do. Good luck.
    Rabidhamster likes this.
  8. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Just buy one. The 70s precision has that radius, and plenty of other ones. Im very very sure you can find one with an Indian laurel or pau ferro board. Although, it'll probably be much easier (and look and feel much better at that. That wood is ugly.) to find one with rosewood.
  9. Ethan Battistel

    Ethan Battistel

    Mar 4, 2020
    see the problem is that only certain places in Canada are authorized fender dealers, so I have to order through them (fender won’t sell directly to consumers in Canada). I have a fender dealer in my city, but they don’t have much in stock; thr only fender basses they have in stock are the Steve Harris p bass ans a Squier classic vibe jazz bass (they can order more, but I’ll never know what it’s like to play an instrument before I buy it). The nearest larger dealer is 8 hours away here in Canada, and 6 hours away in the us, but obviously that wouldn’t matter anyways due to the border being closed. I obviously could buy from an aftermarket seller, but again, being in Canada, things cost a lore more plus it costs almost $75 on average to ship anything here. I know there’s almost no difference between a 7.25 and 9.5, especially on a bass, but I’d prefer to get the details accurate. I’m only trying to get this perfect because as I said, this is a tribute replica, and I would go for a custom shop bass, but it’s just way too expensive here.
  10. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Between 7.25 and 9.5 is a huge difference. The 7.25 will feel rounder and more natural, and the 9.5 will feel wider and kind of "sharper" because of the flatness. On paper, its not much. But in your hand, it is. Of course, every hand is different. Different strokes for different folks. But in my hands, old school feels right.
    amper likes this.
  11. Chrisk-K


    Jan 20, 2010
    Scottsdale, AZ
    It makes no sense to re-radius the fingerboard of a new bass.
    Bassdirty, amper and Rabidhamster like this.
  12. littlebun


    Nov 16, 2004
    Ethan, there may not be enough material on your fretboard edges to pull this off. You will need to ask a luthier for a re-fret and a radius change. The tech will determine if it's possible when you take it in. It will probably cost 350 to 500 US---a guess. Small frets were on the '65 basses, as medium jumbo frets started on the later '66 basses.
    scuzzy and Guild B301 like this.
  13. Leonid Nidis

    Leonid Nidis

    Jan 1, 2018
    I got to say this is insane even for talkbass :) you can barely tell looking closely the difference between 7.25 and 9.5.
    Now the feel,if I didnt know there are different radious fretboards I would think they are all the same.
    Anyway im sure its going to be expansive and maybe will not work well.get another neck.
  14. pravus


    Feb 5, 2013
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Based on other information presented here it sounds like this is possible. My only suggestion is to ignore the trolls that don't understand your passion for this instrument and build the bass of your dreams. Godspeed.
    Hachimitsu and Beej like this.
  15. MultiScaleMale

    MultiScaleMale Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Add up the cost of the tools needed to do a defret, radius sanding, refret and replace the nut. It will be cheaper to seek out a replacement neck. There is also the possibility of screwing up the sanding making tour neck useless. You don’t want to buy something from Fender because you can’t try it before you buy it. That’s fine, but how can you try your bass before your “repairs”? If that makes me a troll, then I’m a troll.
  16. MultiScaleMale

    MultiScaleMale Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    salcott, Max Bogosity and FugaziBomb like this.
  17. Tim Skaggs

    Tim Skaggs

    Sep 28, 2002
    I think obtaining a neck that already has a 7.25” radius is probably going to be cheaper and easier. If you go that route and the new neck meets expectations, you can sell your MIM neck to recover cost, or keep it to return your bass to original sometime in the future.
    amper, scuzzy and Max Bogosity like this.
  18. Root 5

    Root 5

    Nov 25, 2001
    So you want to make a 7.25” into 16” radius? First look to see how much fingerboard you have - you could sand right through it going from 7 to 16. It would be impossible on an early 60s style rosewood ‘veneer’ fingerboard. You need a slab style.

    Going the other way you have to be careful too ( will lose fingerboard at the edges. Depends what radius starting with and thickness of fingerboard.)
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2020
  19. Root 5

    Root 5

    Nov 25, 2001
    If you mean pau ferro, it’s stunningly beautiful. Often just needs some lemon oil to make it pop.
    amper likes this.
  20. JW56789

    JW56789 Guest

    Feb 18, 2017
    Get someone exceptionally qualified to pull the frets and nut and re-sand to the new radius, re-fret an re-nut, done. Not cheap, and utterly dependent on having the right guy do it. You're not going to find many of those right guys . . . . . but you may catch a break here: Our friend @Turnaround, Richard Bales, is a FIRST-class bass and guitar tech in Toronto. I'd surely run it past him.


    By far, I'd much rather wait it out and buy a 'donor' bass with the right neck, and swap to yours. This would give you the bonus of the donor bass with the 'wrong' neck is now a complete axe again and you can sell it to offset the spend. Do it right, you might break even. THIS would be my choice.

    Or an aftermarket neck that's right. I know the exchange rates, manufacturer's sales policies, etc., may have put your behind and 8-ball in a way, but you're finding like most of us have, that when you really pursue small details, things just get expensive. And judging from what you've written, you'll never be satisfied until you complete this, so you may as well 'bite the bullet' and get it done: You won't be satisfied until you do.
    Max Bogosity, Andre678 and Guild B301 like this.