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Jul 1, 2022 - 1:41:29 PM
12 posts since 5/24/2014

Is it easier to play banjo with a radius fretboard? I would like to try one out for myself, but there aren't many banjos for sale where I live.

Jul 1, 2022 - 2:14:03 PM

lapsteel

Canada

804 posts since 8/13/2015

Do you play clawhammer or fingerpick or tenor plectrum or…?

Jul 1, 2022 - 5:00:54 PM
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112 posts since 8/31/2015

In my opinion, yes, radiused fretboards are easier to play. On top of that, jumbo frets make it even easier to play, but those options are definitely not traditional for banjos.

Jul 1, 2022 - 5:02:02 PM
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leehar

USA

119 posts since 2/18/2018

I played a Gold Tone OB150 with a radiused board. I liked it but I don’t think it really made any difference in my picking. I kinda feel like it’s a gimmick. A picker who isn’t making enough progress will easily be convinced that this is what he needs. Kinda like forty dollar thumb picks and 200 dollar capos. I suppose I’ll be attacked for that but that’s the way I see it.

Jul 1, 2022 - 9:07:02 PM

56 posts since 3/10/2009

Got to agree with you on that Leehar

Jul 1, 2022 - 9:47:02 PM

1309 posts since 8/7/2017

My luthier refretted my neck (had to remove the bolts.....er, that was my green neck not banjo neck....) I'll restart.

My main banjo needed refretting, worn out frets. Luthier offered to radius the neck at same time, and I agreed. It took me about a week or less to get used to the radius, and I've never looked back :-). I don't plan to radius the necks of my other 3 banjos, but I would not flatten the neck of the radiused banjo. I think it might make it slightly easier to play, but I could not tell you why. I've been playing 7 years, not an expert.

Hope this helps.

Jul 2, 2022 - 4:32:12 AM
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12094 posts since 6/30/2020

Originally posted by leehar

Quote:

"I played a Gold Tone OB150 with a radiused board. I liked it but I don’t think it really made any difference in my picking. I kinda feel like it’s a gimmick. A picker who isn’t making enough progress will easily be convinced that this is what he needs. Kinda like forty dollar thumb picks and 200 dollar capos. I suppose I’ll be attacked for that but that’s the way I see it".

 

leehar, 

I love my radiused fretboard, jumbo fret banjos! I play them with my $40 BlueChip thumb pick and my $35 Sammy Shelor stainless steel finger picks.
My banjo with flat fretboard gets very little play time to the point that I will probably sell it.

It’s important to note that radius fretboard banjos typically have wider string spacing at the nut which, for me at least, makes fretting easier and more comfortable. I am a solid intermediate player so I am not confusing radiused fret boards and good equipment with lack of playing progress. 
Human nature makes us inherently resistant to change. I have chosen to embrace constructive positive alternatives.

Edited by - Pick-A-Lick on 07/02/2022 04:47:17

Jul 2, 2022 - 4:45:56 AM
Players Union Member

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

27555 posts since 8/3/2003

I've played both radiused and regular and don't see much of a difference in the playability. Maybe it's just a personal preference thing??

Jul 2, 2022 - 1:18:54 PM

112 posts since 8/31/2015

quote:
Originally posted by leehar

I played a Gold Tone OB150 with a radiused board. I liked it but I don’t think it really made any difference in my picking. I kinda feel like it’s a gimmick. A picker who isn’t making enough progress will easily be convinced that this is what he needs. Kinda like forty dollar thumb picks and 200 dollar capos. I suppose I’ll be attacked for that but that’s the way I see it.


I'll trade you one controversial opinion for another. There's a fine line between honoring tradition and being stuck in the past. Many BHO members fall into the latter category, to the point of being luddites. I wonder how many pickers in the 1950's thought plastic heads were a gimmick?

Jul 2, 2022 - 2:08:26 PM

1916 posts since 1/28/2013

On an extra wide finger board you will be able to tell a difference as long as you have a significant curve. But on a standard 1-1/4 with just a slight radius you won't notice it. With a 1-3/16th nutwidth it's not worth the bother, there is not enough surface area to make a difference. Guys that do a lot of single string picking seem to benefit more.

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Jul 3, 2022 - 4:10:14 AM

Bill H

USA

1936 posts since 11/7/2010

I will say that it took some time to transition to a radiused fretboard and wider neck and the Crowe spacing for both right and left hand. I had been playing a Martin Vega with a fairly narrow neck, and I found my fingers were not finding the strings at first, and the Crowe spacing really threw my right hand off. Better? I think you get used to what you practice. I do find the larger frets are a bit quicker and easier on the fingers, so overall, after a year, I am pleased with my radiused banjos.

Jul 3, 2022 - 4:46:36 AM
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leehar

USA

119 posts since 2/18/2018

Boy, I should know better than to speak my mind on this forum! Because I wasn’t impressed with radiused fingerboards and Blue Chip picks I’m resisting change and I’m a Luddite! Wow! Way to make an infrequent poster feel welcome guys.

Jul 3, 2022 - 6:57:02 AM
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112 posts since 8/31/2015

quote:
Originally posted by leehar

Boy, I should know better than to speak my mind on this forum! Because I wasn’t impressed with radiused fingerboards and Blue Chip picks I’m resisting change and I’m a Luddite! Wow! Way to make an infrequent poster feel welcome guys.


Leehar, I want to apologize for the strong words and for making you feel unwelcome. It was not very civil of me. The banjo is an instrument of both past and present and it takes all kinds of pickers to make this world go round. Frankly, I found the attitude that 'people who want to get the most out of their instruments/gear are really just beginners looking for a way to improve' to be quite insulting and I fired off a response before I could cool down. I should have just taken a deep breath and walked away from the computer (maybe play my banjo). There's already too much negativity in this forum (and the world) and I shouldn't be adding more to it. I'll do my best to stay positive in the future and keep the BHO a welcoming place for banjo lovers of all types. 

P.S. I use a $2 thumbpick and a $15 capo, but love my radiused fingerboard and massive frets :)

TD

Jul 4, 2022 - 7:02:17 AM
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1916 posts since 1/28/2013

Players will never stop finding ways to modify their banjo, and playing style.

Jul 4, 2022 - 7:18:11 AM

kd8tzc

USA

392 posts since 4/11/2022

I've never tried a radiused fret on a banjo... I do have one on my mandolin.

I'm surprised though that some of you say the wider fret board is easier to play. In what ways? I would think it would be harder to wrap your hands around the neck and make chords, but then again, sometimes my left hand fingers rub up against a string and deaden the sound, so is it easier that you avoid that?

Jul 4, 2022 - 7:21:47 AM

21 posts since 4/28/2007

Robin Smith made me a radius fingerboard for my prewar Mastertone banjo. I have had four surgeries on my hands and hoped this neck would be more comfortable and allow me to play longer. The new neck addressed both issues. I also have an arch top prewar with an flat board, and used it for my own comparison test. My thinking was if a radius neck is common most electric guitars, it might work as well on a banjo. The degree of the radius can also make a difference in how it feels in your hands.l

Jul 4, 2022 - 8:29:09 AM

12094 posts since 6/30/2020

quote:
Originally posted by kd8tzc

I've never tried a radiused fret on a banjo... I do have one on my mandolin.

I'm surprised though that some of you say the wider fret board is easier to play. In what ways? I would think it would be harder to wrap your hands around the neck and make chords, but then again, sometimes my left hand fingers rub up against a string and deaden the sound, so is it easier that you avoid that?


Tom Nechville demonstrates a few reasons why radiused fretboards are desirable. 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KLlv5t-tRQ

Edited by - Pick-A-Lick on 07/04/2022 08:30:01

Jul 5, 2022 - 2:05:29 AM

stanger

USA

7392 posts since 9/29/2004

I thought at first the radiused board on the first banjo I own that came with one didn't make that much of a difference.
But as time went on, I realized the comfort factor of the radius was much more than I had anticipated. The radius matches the natural curve of my left hand's fingers, and also matches the arc my right hand fingertips make when I'm playing. (this is true with 3-finger and clawhammer)

Everything is closer to how may hands and arms naturally move. It's much easier to get dynamics in volume and tone.

My first banjo with a radiused board proved to be so comfortable that I ordered an open-backed version of the same model, and I love how easy it is to go from one to the other. They feel identical to each other.
regards,
stanger

Jul 5, 2022 - 4:49:16 AM

41 posts since 5/21/2017

Not sure how much of a Hot take this will be, but I find some licks are easier on a radiused fretboard, and some licks are easier on a flat fretboard (my staghorn). I do, however, find my radiused neck more comfortable to play on generally -- but there are more factors than just the radius that contribute to that.

So for me "easier" is a wash.

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