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Mar 25, 2020 - 12:54:41 PM

rwkuta

USA

1735 posts since 7/9/2005

Hello

Radiused Fingerboards?....Ive always been curious

Sell me on them

or tell me the drawbacks?

thanks

rwkuta

Mar 25, 2020 - 1:08:32 PM
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ChunoTheDog

Canada

157 posts since 8/9/2019

Only way to know how you like it is to go out and play a banjo with a radiused fingerboard.

Mar 25, 2020 - 1:09:24 PM
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3877 posts since 5/12/2010

I often build my banjos with a very slight radius of 20". My banjos are specifically designed for "Clawhammer" players. They have a wider fretboard which is about 1 3/8" at the nut, and most have the 20" radius.

The combination of a wider board and the radius facilitates string bending such as pull offs, and other left hand techniques. Mine usually also have the 5th tuner moved up to the 6th fret to facilitate 2-4 slides, and get the tuner out of the way to make fretting 5-7 easier.

I have built several banjos for people who also like me to use larger guitar fret wire with the above combination.

Some players like the radius a lot, some don't notice much difference.

I think it all depends on playing style. So far, nobody has complained about having a radius on one of my banjos, so I don't know of any drawbacks to using it.

I have seen comments from other builders about using a compound radius, I believe this is to keep the action the same the full length of the board. This does not seem to be an issue with the slight radius I use, but most clawhammer players I build for don't often play higher than the 9th fret anyway, so the simple 20" radius works fine for them. 


 

Edited by - OldPappy on 03/25/2020 13:13:59

Mar 25, 2020 - 1:14:04 PM
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DRH

USA

416 posts since 5/29/2018

Some folks say the radius makes it easier to play barre chords on a guitar. Some say the radius makes it harder to play barre chords. Most say it improves fingering. Yet all classical guitars have flat fretboards.

Seems to me that wouldn't even be an issue on a banjo.

Mar 25, 2020 - 1:17:57 PM
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3877 posts since 5/12/2010

Most electric guitars have a radius on the board. I think the difference is there is more string bending in rock and roll.

Mar 25, 2020 - 1:47:09 PM
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12826 posts since 10/30/2008

Martin and Gibson flat tops also have radiused fingerboards.

Pros?  I owned a recent RB 18 that I picked up at a bargain price.   I outfitted it with a radiuses bridge and radiused capo, and couldn't feel one iota of improvement.

Drawbacks:  see radiused bridge and capo.

Edited by - The Old Timer on 03/25/2020 13:48:32

Mar 25, 2020 - 3:44:15 PM

12900 posts since 6/29/2005

I'm not going to sell it—6 string guitars are one thing, 5 string banjos where you fret 4 lighter gauge strings are another.  It's not going to make you be a better player but will complicate your nut and bridge.  It makes a beautiful highlight on the fingerboard when you take a picture of the banjo

I'll be happy to make a banjo with one for you if you want one—single, double or triple radius—your choice, and a bridge and nut that goes with it, and you can see what you think.

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 03/25/2020 15:44:37

Mar 25, 2020 - 3:49:40 PM
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picker5

Canada

136 posts since 9/4/2011

I have 1 banjo with a radiused board, 3 without. The difference, imho is minimal. Perhaps ''kick offs" are a bit snapppier on the low end of the neck. At least, I seemed to notice an improvement in mine after I got the banjo, which being new to me at the time, I played almost exclusively for a few months. But now, I can switch back and forth, and not notice any real difference. So, is it the radius, or am I finally developing some technique??

Mar 25, 2020 - 6:51:28 PM
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90 posts since 8/20/2019

I have a Crafters of Tennessee with radiused fingerboard.

If you do a lot of single-stringing like with say, Don Reno or Alvin Breeden styles, or like to play jazz or classical numbers, where there is a lot of finger movement and stretching, it's great to have. I do all of the above on banjo, and there is a noticeable difference when I'm playing my CoT than with another banjo without a radiused board. I can do on either fingerboard, just the radiused seems to flow more easily. That's coming from a 5-string bluegrass picker type, I have no idea for clawhammer banjos.

Mar 26, 2020 - 1:13:04 PM

rwkuta

USA

1735 posts since 7/9/2005

quote:
Originally posted by picker5

I have 1 banjo with a radiused board, 3 without. The difference, imho is minimal. Perhaps ''kick offs" are a bit snapppier on the low end of the neck. At least, I seemed to notice an improvement in mine after I got the banjo, which being new to me at the time, I played almost exclusively for a few months. But now, I can switch back and forth, and not notice any real difference. So, is it the radius, or am I finally developing some technique??


Thanks for your input....that's exactly what I was wondering.  I think I will keep my original neck

Mar 27, 2020 - 5:49:27 AM
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2037 posts since 2/7/2008

I have one banjo with a radiused fretboard and one without. Coming from guitars with radiused fretboards, the banjo with the radiused fretboard feels a little more natural (to me).

Mar 28, 2020 - 2:23:58 AM

14981 posts since 2/7/2003

Sell you on them? Play virtually ANY electric or acoustic guitar NOT a nylon classical

Scott

Mar 28, 2020 - 2:56:24 PM
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10906 posts since 6/17/2003

I prefer radiused, but I think you'll just get used to whichever you go with.

Mar 28, 2020 - 4:03:56 PM

7622 posts since 1/7/2005

There are some professional banjo players who prefer radiused fretboards, but I would guess that the majority are quite happy with flat fretboards. While they may be helpful to those who play a lot of barred chords, ( for example, Bela Fleck who plays a lot of jazz banjo) I doubt if it is of any particular benefit to the average bluegrass or old timey banjo player.
DD

Mar 29, 2020 - 4:53:57 AM
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2633 posts since 12/4/2009

Hello,

I was sold by Bela Fleck’s comments on his instructional DVD. He said, “The radius allows him more room to dig out the notes. If you have thicker fingers, a radius fretboard gives more real estate to get there.

One drawback to overcome is mechanical. The round globe approach makes the 4th and 5th strings farther and lower to reach.

Compound radius can mean confusion and slick marketing. The area between the nut and the 5th fret is narrower than past. On my 2005 RB-12 (7, 12, and 18), the board is 6.0” between nut and the 5th. Beyond the 5th, fretboard is 7.25” radius.

Gibson superimposed a 12” radius on the entire fretboard and kept a straight nut. This made strings 3 and 2 close to the frets. Strings 4 and 1 were higher off the fretboard. This caused two problems. The first was damage to frets 1, 2, and 3. The second was uncomfortable 4th and 1st string play.

When I refretted my instrument, I replaced the nut and went to a 7.25” radius. Moving to a 7.25” radius bridge was not insurmountable. I adjusted fine to it. I do have more room to dig out the notes.

Edited by - Aradobanjo on 03/29/2020 04:54:24

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