What is fretboard radius and is it important?

When you’re new to guitar, one of the specs on every guitar “the fretboard radius” will pop up.

Although you might think that the fretboard looks flat, it isn’t.
Across its width, it has a specific curve to it.
And different guitars have different curved fretboards; some have rounder and some have flatter fretboards.
The amount of curvedness is(curve) radius.

Mostly expressed in inches

The radius shape is expressed numerically in inches (sometimes in mm).
The most round shaped ones may have a 7.25” (inch) radius.
Fender used the 7.25″ radius on their guitars back in the 1950’s until 1980’s.
The 7.25“ radius is still used, but 2/3 of all Fenders have a flatter 9.5” fretboard radius.

Extremely flat radii.

Many modern guitars have an extremely flat radius from 12-inch up to 16-inch.

But what does this all mean? What is fretboard radius
You should see the bow or arc of the fret as part of a circle.

So, when you take a circle with a 7.25” radius and you take a segment of that line equal to the width of the fretboard, you will have a 7.25” fretboard radius.
As simple as that.

Is it important to know the curvedness?

Yes, because the radius of your fretboard impacts the playability of your guitar in general.
But also, important to know is that there is no right or wrong; you have to find out your personal preference for fretboard radius.

Many people find rounder fretboards easier for playing chords. Flatter curved fretboards will be easier for single-note playing and string bending.
The fretboard radius impacts feel and playability and should be seen as “subjective”.


With small radius fretboards you might want to set the strings to a slightly higher action in case of “fretting-out” when doing some string bending.
In general, you are able to set your strings to a lower action when your fretboard has a flatter surface (curve/radius).

“fretting-out” means that, when doing string bending, the string may touch the other frets along the fretboard, so the string isn’t able to vibrate freely any longer causing dead tone.

Brands and their radii:

Here you will find radii of brands that they are known for:

  • Guitar brand
  • Gibson
  • Ibanez
  • Jackson
  • Charvel
  • Fender
  • Fender
  • PRS
  • Production years
  • From the 1950’s
  • From the 1980’s
  • From the 1980’s
  • From the 1980’s
  • From the 1950’s
  • From the 1980’s
  • PRS
  • Radius (inch)
  • 12.00
  • 16.00
  • 16.00
  • 16.00
  • 7.25
  • 9.50
  • 9.50

So, there is a wide variety of fretboard radii to choose from.
And every guitar brand has several radii on different guitars as well, of course. Just try and find out.

But there’s more (compound radius):

Having said that smaller radii fretboards are easier to play chords on, and flatter fretboards tend to be better for single note playing, compound radius fretboards popped up somewhere in the 1980’s.

A compound radius fretboard provides a smaller (let’s say 7.25”) radius from the first fret to a flatter radius towards the body of the guitar. What is fretboard radius
And this conical shape might give you the best of both worlds as these fretboards offer you benefits of both large and small radii in a single neck.

You should look for the variety in compound radius necks available for example at Warmoth guitar parts, if you can’t find the guitar with perfect neck for your playing style.

Images come from Sweetwater.com USA.

What is fretboard radius and is it important?

Well, after reading this blog we hope that we helped you understand a little more about fretboard radius.

Manage your sound

There are many ways to improve your sound, like the type or brand of guitar and amp we use. Besides that, the pedals you’re using may have a lot of impact on your sound as well.
But also think about what guitar pick you are using. Different guitar picks deliver different sounds to your playing.
Thinner guitar picks create a thinner sound, where heavier guitar picks deliver a fuller sound with more mids- and bottom-end tone and less pick noise.

Guitar essentials:

In guitar essentials we write about interesting things every guitarist should know a bit of, especially when you’re new to (electric) guitar.
We definitely don’t dig deep into theories or technical aspects.
You will find many scientific documents about anything somewhere on the internet.