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Stupid Neck Radius question


Graham56

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Emmm..... what actually is it? Is it the radius of curvature of the back of the neck, or the fretboard? And at what point of the neck is it measured?

 

I'm about to restring my newly-acquired (old) P-bass for the first time, and will be looking at the setup too. This page ( http://www.mrgearhead.net/faq/basssetup.html ) gives me sample measurements to use, but the ones to choose are all dependent on the neck radius.

 

But nowhere do they explain how to measure that...

 

Cheers

 

Graham

www.talkingstrawberries.com - for rocking' blues, raw and fresh!
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It's the radius of the curvature of the fingerboard.

Imagine a large circle, with a radius of 21" or so. The fingerboard curvature is a section of the edge of the circle.

 

I can tell you that, but I don't know how to measure it.

Some basses (some that are hand-made) have a compound radius, in other words the radius is different at one of the neck than the other.

 

However, the point of your question was about set up. I have been setting up basses for many years and never once have I measured anything. If it feels right, it is right.

 

Everyone always wants their bass action to be "as low as possible without buzzing". This is dependent on the bass, the strings and your playing style. Measurements are not going to help you here. They are given to get you into the ballpark. (oops, you're British, should I say to get you on the cricket pitch? :confused: )

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There are gauges out there that measure neck radius, but like JeremyC said, they're not necessary. You can e-mail a Fender tech-rep and find out what the radius is, too. I agree with JeremyC, though. If it feels and sounds right to you, then go with it.

 

As long as your neck relief is right, and you don't go tightening on the truss rod too much, there is little chance you'll damage anything. Feel free to experiment.

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And while we're on this, I have the string heights about the same (which means the middle ones are up due to the curvature of the board). But it's really more of a compound radius. I gradually get them closer to the board on the higher strings. I don't measure it, but that's how it goes. I need more "vibrating room" under the B string, and I need the G string a bit closer.

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Graham, If you have time you can go to bookstore and check Dan Erlewine's book about setup.

I have two of them and I feel really grateful to have both books.

The first one is Guitar Player Repair Guide, and the second is How to Make Your Guitar Play Great.

In How to, Dan also include the templates of neck radius, so you can just use them if you want to check.

 

Fender neck radius is not compound, but just barrel, about 9 inch, the vintage one has 7 1/2 inch. Warwick has almost flat neck, about 20 inch. Lakland has compound radius, about 12 inch and larger.

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Originally posted by jeremyc:

Everyone always wants their bass action to be "as low as possible without buzzing". This is dependent on the bass, the strings and your playing style.

Just to add a wee bit to an already great recommendation from Jeremy: The amount of fret buzz that is 'acceptable' will vary from player to player. I personally like a little bit of extra 'growl' from fret buzz on my fretted basses. It adds character to my tone that I really enjoy. Some people may want more or less fret buzz; it's very much a personal preference. Ideally, you should play with your setup until you find that 'just right' string height for the sound that you are going for.
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Another important aspect of setting up a bass is the amount of bow in the neck.

 

Since the strings quickly change from going back-and-forth (after being plucked) to a circular motion, the neck needs to have some bow in it (and hopefully at the right place) so you can avoid unwanted fret buzz (up in the 8th through top frets) but still have your string height low enough to be playable.

 

In my experience there's nothing like doing it until you find a combination that optimizes both.

 

Then don't forget to adjust your intonation with your bridge...

 

BTW some of the old Fenders had a 10" radius and it WAS a very good question. :)

"We are the Federales... You know, the Mounted Police..."

---"If you're the police, where are your badges?"

"Bodges?..."

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Thanks guys. I haven't done this before and I'm relatively new to the instrument, hence my enthusiasm for numbers rather than relying on my inexperienced judgement.

 

But I'll take your comments on board and pay more attention to the feel of it.

 

The neck curvature seems pretty well set at the moment, but as I'm changing to strings with slightly higher tension it might need adjusting. And I assume I'll need to adjust the intonation for the new strings.

 

I also want to clean the fingerboard as there's about 20 years of gunk built up around the frets.

 

It'll be a voyage of discovery...

 

Cheers

 

Graham

 

And Jeremy, "ballpark" is fine! :)

 

I'm Scottish rather than English, and it's a matter of national pride that we Scots have no interest in, or knowledge of, that god awful boring "game" known as cricket. :bor:

 

Uh-oh. I hope I haven't started another "I hate/I love" OT thread here...

www.talkingstrawberries.com - for rocking' blues, raw and fresh!
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The only part of this I find tricky is the truss rod adjustment, because it takes time to settle in. The "bow" that Stoneknife accurately described is called "relief" if you read any setup materials (try www.garywillis.com/pages/bass/bassmanual/setupmanual.html).

 

All the other adjustments should be done somewhat slowly and carefully. It takes time because you have a few things to play with, and adjusting the intonation can do subtle things to the string height (or "action"). I've had to go back and readjust the height as I'm setting the intonation, but a touch of patience will bring you to the exact setup you love.

 

Very good question.

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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