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I will NEVER invest in a 7.25 fretboard again

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Mr Peabody, Nov 23, 2017.

  1. Mr Peabody

    Mr Peabody Strat-Talker

    Oct 11, 2016
    The Deep South
    So I've owned this American vintage '57 reissue for about 25 years now (bought new), and in all honesty, I was a little disappointed with the outset. Aesthetically, it's beyond peer (Vintage White with a maple fingerboard/neck), but the degree of difficulty in playing barre chords & string-bending has proven to be more than 'challenging', to say the least.

    It was my first ever Strat after having owned a Kramer, an Ibanez and a Blade. All of these played beautifully... But I decided I wanted a Strat, and not just any old Stratocaster. So this Vintage reissue it was. After two or three years, I simply shelved the thing (shoved it back into its tweed case where it remained in hibernation for a few years).

    Feeling a little more forgiving, I revisited the old girl, deciding that nothing worthwhile comes easy, and like the doggedly persistent diehard that I am (there are more unrefined but nevertheless appropriate adjectives), I persevered until a perceptible shift in the balance of power began to materialize. I was finally the master of IT!

    Now, last year I invested in (let's just say bought) a NAMM Limited edition '64 Custom Shop in Sonic Blue, and with a Nine and a half inch radius fretboard... I just gotta' say, this thing plays like it was assembled in Heaven, or somewhere good; its tone is awesome, barring notes and executing wild string bends is an experience that's simply outta' this world... Well, at least by comparison with my other Strat...

    Now, I want my Vintage White '57 to allow me to do amazing things too... But it insists on behaving like the cantankerous old curmudgeon that it is; in fact, if anything, since bringing the Sonic Blue '64 into the house, its behaviour has deteriorated to the point where tweed case detention is looking to be the only option. I've reset the string height, I've adjusted the saddles, I've treated it to a set of Custom Shop 69 pickups, (I even polish & clean it), and yet it continues to underperform.

    I'm convinced that after going over and through the thing in a frenzied bid to 'bring out its best', the only variable left to consider is that F###### 7.25 fretboard. I'll never part with this instrument, ever, but ask me if I will ever adopt a guitar with one of these fretboards again.

    End of story

  2. usul1978

    usul1978 Guitar bricolo Strat-Talk Supporter

    Dec 9, 2015
    Refret, shave the radius, spend hundreds and bam !

  3. stratman323

    stratman323 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 21, 2010
    London, UK
    I wonder how people like Hendrix, Buddy Guy, Clapton, Otis Rush etc. coped before anyone had heard of 9.5" radius? They wrote the rule book on string bending. Strange that....

  4. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 21, 2010
    Sheffield, UK
    The difference between a 7¼" and a 9½" is pretty negligible. Bigger frets on the new guitar?

  5. Cerb

    Cerb Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 22, 2016
    I think bigger frets will have some part in it. My -77 strat was refretted with big frets and compared to the vintage sized ones on the same radius fret board I had on the MIJ one, there's a difference. Other than that I only notice subtle differences between radiuses and I have 7.25, 9.5, 12 and 17.
    Nate D, blj725, VB Strat and 3 others like this.

  6. SachaPlusDeluxe

    SachaPlusDeluxe Strat-Talker

    Mr. Peabody, I know what you mean re 7.25", I've only got one guitar out of 29 (Classic 50s) that has it and if I hadn't played it before I bought it I would never have looked twice at it! Any how that doesn't mean that I really like the radius, in all honesty it's a PITA. To get to a stage where bending notes is feasible over half a step with a clean buzz free sound you have to have the action, what I would regards as kinda high.

    There in lies the rub and the reason others above have said that some players have no issues with it. If you get on with an average action on your guitars then you'll never likely see any big issues with 7.25". BUT if you like it a little low then you're gonna have all kinds of problems ;) and before anyone starts saying its all my setup, I'm a tech and have setup hundreds of guitars so I know whereof I speak :)

    Some players will always prefer a flatter radius, period....

    Having said that, I would recommend taking the action up slightly on the AVRI and accept that it feels different due to the radius OR have the frets radiused down a bit with a level and polish (you won't be able to have it done much though as the frets are too small on AVRIs) or as suggested above have the frets removed and the fretboard radius changed and new frets installed, maybe go for the same ones as your custom shop which are "likely" but don't quote me, Dunlop 6105s.
    Brian H, vid1900, bloomz and 2 others like this.

  7. nederemer

    nederemer Strat-O-Master

    Oct 25, 2017
    Somerset, Kentucky, USA.
    I know how you feel. I played a 12 radius for the last 13 years. Just recently purchased a 9.5 on my American standard and it has been an adjustment to say the least. Bending is definitely not as easy because the string heights are kind of in an arc. Also it doesn't help that it has pretty small frets. Kind of wish I would have held out for an elite and got the tall narrow frets and compound neck but I feel like playing on the 9.5 will make me an even better player on the 12.
    Vinny, bloomz, shupe13 and 3 others like this.

  8. Thin69

    Thin69 Strat-Talker

    Nov 16, 2009
    Galveston, TX
    I think there is something else going on. To me the difference between a 7.25 and 9.5 radius neck is marginal. Why not sell it if your not happy with it or consider letting a pro set it up for you.

    Good Luck

  9. Dr Improbable

    Dr Improbable Strat-O-Master

    Aug 14, 2013
    I'd be willing to guess the vintage size frets have more to do with it than anything. Still, if it ain't working for you, why keep it? Might as well sell it to someone who will get more use out of it.

  10. Highway Star

    Highway Star Former Member

    Apr 22, 2016
    Who knows?
    Just raise the action of the strings and keep on rockin :thumb:
    dbolt, muf magician, Yaralag and 2 others like this.

  11. Yves

    Yves Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 2, 2016
    Why keep that old 57 ri in its boxe? That thing should be played!
    Should sell it to someone who will really!
    Yaralag, s5tuart, Mr Peabody and 2 others like this.

  12. gilmourstrat

    gilmourstrat Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 16, 2012
    More than the 7.25'' I agree with others that point out vintage frets. My Road Worn 50's haves 7.25'' but taller frets and bending is super-easy - easier by a hair than my AM Standard with 9.5''.

    It seems to me that probably you never bonded with that guitar: could be frets, setup, whatever. In this scenario I would sell it and buy another to better suit my playing.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2017
    Uncle Mui, Nate D, 2-Finger and 4 others like this.

  13. stratman323

    stratman323 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 21, 2010
    London, UK
    Oh dear, this old myth again...

    Frets on an AVRI are not "too small", they are exactly the right size! That's how they are supposed to be, that's how people who like AVRIs like them.

    People who don't like 7.25" radius should simply buy one of the many guitars that have flatter boards. Moaning about something like this on an internet forum is really very silly & a waste of everyone's time. If people didn't like guitars with 7.25" radius Fender wouldn't make them because they wouldn't sell. But they do.

    If you don't, that's cool. Buy something else - easy!
    Poor Noodle, riles1, Fuzzpop and 12 others like this.

  14. dogletnoir

    dogletnoir Most Honored Senior Member

    Nov 1, 2013
    northeastern us
    It's a Stratocaster, so you could just pull the neck (set it aside in case you ever decide
    to sell the guitar) and replace it with something more suitable to your playing style.

    My suggestions, based on personal experience:
    Classic Player (not Classic Series, or Player) maple 'board neck (9.5" radius)
    Classic Player rosewood 'board neck (12" radius)
    Robert Cray Strat rosewood 'board neck (9.5" radius on the MIM, 12" radius but vintage
    frets on the rare Custom Shop version)
    John Mayer Strat rosewood 'board neck (9.5" radius)
    Eric Johnson Strat maple 'board neck (12" radius)

    An added bonus for you in all of these is that they feature bigger fret wire
    (well, all of them except the Custom Shop version of the Cray neck).
    You will also have an easy way to revert back to stock spec whenever you want,
    since the original neck will remain unmodified.

    (edited to correct spec for CS Cray neck)
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2017
    vid1900, Yaralag, Mr Peabody and 2 others like this.

  15. usul1978

    usul1978 Guitar bricolo Strat-Talk Supporter

    Dec 9, 2015
    I think the Robert Cray CS has vintage frets.
    Yaralag and dogletnoir like this.

  16. Mr Peabody

    Mr Peabody Strat-Talker

    Oct 11, 2016
    The Deep South
    Yeah... But the very names mentioned do fall under the collective rubric of genius...
    Nate D and Yaralag like this.

  17. Mr Peabody

    Mr Peabody Strat-Talker

    Oct 11, 2016
    The Deep South
    I've considered that, but close examination leads me to suggest that they're essentially the same. I agree in that any difference in radii should remain negligible, but...
    Yaralag likes this.

  18. Yves

    Yves Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 2, 2016
    Alternatively, if it's got to be boxed at least put it on display on the wall like that.
    2-Finger, vid1900, brians and 3 others like this.

  19. usul1978

    usul1978 Guitar bricolo Strat-Talk Supporter

    Dec 9, 2015
    Gilmour has a 7 1/4 radius too, but he is bearly average. :D

  20. Yves

    Yves Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 2, 2016
    I absolutely love 7.25 radius with vintage frets. Those vintage specs are simply just a lot Sexier! Coz I Sez So