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Why don't classical guitars have a radiused fretboard?

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Number6
(@number6)
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Something I've been wondering for a while. Why is it that classical guitars don't have radiused fretboards? Is there a disadvantage to them? Also, do typical steel string acoustic guitars have radiused fretboards? Mine doesn't, but it's an old (70s), cheap Korean model from a garage sale, so...

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Chris C
(@chris-c)
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Interesting question.

I guess it's a mixture of historical design, and traditional methods of playing versus modern styles.

I did find an article here that throws some light on it:

Fretboards

Others may have more detailed info.

Cheers,

Chris


   
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Ricochet
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My understanding is that radiused fretboards were introduced circa 1930 for steel string guitars. Flatpickers wanted the strings close together for picking speed, but that made fretting difficult. Arching the strings and fretboard restored the ability to separately fret strings without interference.

Being primarily a fingerpicker and slide player, I like a wide fretboard with a long radius. Flat would be fine with me.

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purple
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I could be totally wrong but isn't a flat fretboard faster for your fretting hand at least? Which would be important especially in Flamenco.

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dazed_and_confused
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I could be totally wrong but isn't a flat fretboard faster for your fretting hand at least? Which would be important especially in Flamenco.

Makes sense, but isn't a faster fretboard always good no matter what the style?

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DemoEtc
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Cool article ChrisC.

The guy in the article says the old Fenders had a 9" radius fretboard. I always thought the older Fenders had a 7.5" radius, which would have more of a curve.

Anyhow, I've also heard something similar about ease of playing chords as opposted to bending notes. That also makes sense when you think of flatpicking; it would seem that picking 'uphill' and then 'downhill' (an exaggeration) would be more cumbersome than picking across strings that were all along the same plane.

Of course most times you don't do a lot of string bending on a classical guitar. ;)

I think for fingerpicking styles it might come in handy to have all the strings level rather than in a curved array, but then there's a lot of fingerstylists who play steel string acoustics with a radiused fretboard.

The wider string spacing on classicals is also great for letting notes ring without accidentally muting them with adjacent fingers.

I dunno, really; for certain things it feels more comfortable on a classical's flat freboard and wider string spacing, with the same being true for radiused steel string boards.

By the way, at one point, Carvin had a classical guitar with a radiused fretboard. That would come in handy if you wanted all your guitars to have a similar feel, but...it wouldn't really be traditional maybe.

Good subject.


   
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purple
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I could be totally wrong but isn't a flat fretboard faster for your fretting hand at least? Which would be important especially in Flamenco.

Makes sense, but isn't a faster fretboard always good no matter what the style?
Then what Ricochet comes in: closer strings for easier plectrum picking. A classical strings are far apart and are easier for fingerpicking. So the radiused fretboard is perhaps a compromise.

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sito71
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vintage Fenders have 7.25" radius' (very curved boards)..modern Fenders have 9.5" radius' and some models even have 12" rads...and very recently Wildwood guitars are selling thinskins with 10" boards.


   
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