View Full Version : radiused fret board

11-15-2011, 11:51 AM
Can anyone tell me if a radiused fretboard makes playing/chording significantly easier? Just curious.

11-15-2011, 12:28 PM
Here's some previous threads . . .

11-15-2011, 01:09 PM
Sorry for not searching first. It was an impulse question.

11-15-2011, 01:48 PM
No sweat . . .

Rick Turner
11-15-2011, 01:53 PM
Gary, it's a very personal thing. It may make barre chords easier, but make some other things slightly more difficult...finger picking stuff. Some mandolin players like radiused boards, many do not. Classical guitars...traditional ones...have flat and very wide fingerboards. Steel string guitars tend to have radiused 'boards. There's no right nor wrong.

11-15-2011, 02:35 PM
So maybe the answer is that everyone should have at least one of each. :-)

mm stan
11-15-2011, 03:34 PM
got one and it works for me...yes easier on barr chords and working the neck....

11-15-2011, 04:25 PM
Yes Yes Yes...Just play a Mya Moe. If you do not want one after playing it, something is wrong with you...and I am the king of the "screw the hype" set. That fretboard is AMAZING

11-15-2011, 04:42 PM
Gordon Mayer (Mya-Moe) thinks they're ergonomic because the natural resting position for fingers is slightly curved.

11-16-2011, 02:10 AM
Yes Yes Yes...Just play a Mya Moe. If you do not want one after playing it, something is wrong with you...and I am the king of the "screw the hype" set. That fretboard is AMAZING

I had a Mya Moe. Didn't like the radiused fretboard. Guess something is wrong with me. Makes sense that it should be easier to play but I find I much prefer a flat fretboard on a uke.

Rick Turner
11-16-2011, 04:38 AM
The idea that one style fits all is absurd; an arched fingerboard may be perfect for one player and totally wrong for another.

Tell a classical guitar player that everything they've learned is wrong...with their wide flat fingerboards...

This is a personal playing comfort issue, and it can have a lot to do with the particular playing and musical style of the musician, too.

11-16-2011, 05:11 AM
Can anyone tell me if a radiused fretboard makes playing/chording significantly easier? Just curious.

Significantly, no, for me it's a pretty subtle thing, especially on a soprano. But I've found that after playing with the radius fretboard, a flat fretboard seems a bit out of kilter, although it may just be that I've become accustomed to the radius. I do really like the feel of my mya-moe soprano, but it's probably more of a total package kind of thing.

mr moonlight
11-16-2011, 06:05 AM
It's really just what you're used to. I've been playing classical guitar for almost 20 years so a flat finger board just feels natural and more comfortable. It's all about personal preference. I don't dislike radius fretboards and I have a few guitars that have them, but if I were to choose one, it would be flat.

To each their own.

11-16-2011, 08:07 AM
I took a chance that the radius on Mya Moe fretboards would be easier on my surgically repaired thumb and I'm very happy with my decision. I have another Mya Moe on the way because of it. My thumb doesn't get tired as quickly, which I was hoping for.

11-16-2011, 09:21 PM
Long before I ever touched a classical guitar I found that acoustic steel string guitars were much easier to play if the fretboard was flatter. So I always look at the radius description first thing when I see an interesting guitar.

Maybe it's something to do with curved fingers, as was suggested earlier.. I guess I'm not as closely related to our earlier just-down-from-the-trees Australopithecus forefathers as some.. ;) Just kidding!


11-17-2011, 03:08 AM
I've played ukes with and without radiused fretboards, and I don't find the radiused ones play better than the non-radiused ones. I think the setup of the instrument is much more important factor in how it will play. In my experience, Compass Rose (it's a great instrument, Rick) and Koaloha have flat fretboards that play like "butter" (as Aaron from Hawaii Music Supply likes to say), which means those makers (like Mya Moe) spend a lot of attention getting the fretboard correct at the workshop. I've played Lanikai's and Kala's that ranged from painful to bearable to butter; one of the best was a Lanikai Monkey Pod at Elderly Instruments that seemed to rival the action (though not the sound) of any radiused Collings.

11-17-2011, 07:58 AM
As Rick pointed out early on, this is indeed a personal matter. Not only in regard to shape, but as to how important a factor it is. As there is no one-fits-all answer, a builder is alway left with an imperfect solution.

Nonetheless, we like our method, of course, or we wouldn't be doing it.
I'm not a big fan of radiused fretboards - of course that's personal again. Still, the natural shape of most people's fingers is not a "C", but something closer to a "J" (one that doesn't curve up very much). To me, the upper strings are actually a little more difficult to play on a standard radius.

Everyone assumes a classical fretboard is flat. So did I. As a matter of fact, early on in my association with my partner Omar, I thought that's what he was doing. His background, is high-end concert classical guitar, and our fretboards looked flat at first glance.

When I asked him one day about his flat fretboards, his reaction was shock. His reply was something along the lines of "Of course they're not flat!". I picked one up, and sure enough, there was the slightest curve.

I've continued to look at them from time to time as they come in. Since they're shaped by hand, the curve is not always exactly the same. I've also noticed that there is more of it on the bottom end, making it not quite a "J" shape, but almost. I'm not sure if he is doing this because he thinks a slight curve on the high side is good, or if he's considering the fact that a left-hander might get one of these, and he's making a slighter allowance for that possibility. We do, after all, have side position markers on both sides, precisely for that.

As you see, there is no perfect solution. But this is one of the joys of working with Omar - finding out about wonderful old hand techniques that are often little known today. I do think a very slight "J" is a good compromise, but I can imagine what it must have been like back when fellows like Omar made everyone's guitar, and you would visit and play for them. It would have been like a buying a tailored suit - maybe even hand measurements. In the end all aspects: sound, response and hand size - cut to fit.