Frets and Fingerboard

Joe likes to bend the strings 1/2 way across the neck, and he likes the feel of a 9" radius fingerboard.

Those of you who have tried low action and big bends on a stock strat style guitar know the problem.

The smaller the radius of the fingerboard (more curvature) the higher your strings have to be to have clean bends.

One way to accomplish this is: we start off with a 9" radius at the nut and work up to about a 10" radius at the 22nd fret. The fingerboard is planed as level as possible with a small amount of tension on the truss rod. At this point I won't go too far into the technique, but feel free to ask if you have any specific questions.

There are 3 fret sizes we have been using the #141 (.095x.045) and #3391 (.092x.048) available through Stewart MacDonald Guitar Shop Supply (800-848-2273) are very similar and used on almost all of Joe's guitars. On the vintage style guitars that originally had small frets we use the Dunlop 6230.

Once the frets are on the neck and the ends are trimmed up we level the frets and take it one step further. We plane a bit more of a compound radius into the frets, gradually flattening the radius from the center of the neck up to the 22nd fret.

We do it this way for a few reasons. Joe likes smaller frets and there is a different feel to the neck when you flatten the radius of the frets as opposed to the wood or the fingerboard. We have tried a bunch of different configurations and keep going back to this one. After the frets are rounded and polished we move on to setting up the guitar.

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