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Post subject: Fretboard radius vs bridge radius
Posted: Mon Sep 06, 2010 2:08 am
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This may be a stupid question, but does anyone set their bridge radius differently to the neck radius? Robert Cray has his 9.25 necks set with a 15" radius.


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Posted: Mon Sep 06, 2010 2:26 am
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It's far more important to set the saddle radius to a point of comfort than itis to be confined to matching a fretboard radius.

After all you need bass strings higher than treble to get good clearance. Like me most don't like their treble strings ridiculously low. Setting from both those sides to fretboard radius results in overly high D&G strings.

Far better off to just put em where you want em.

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Posted: Mon Sep 06, 2010 7:30 am
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Yes, I know what you mean. I used to have the high e @ 2mm and the low e @ 2.4mm- when i blended it with a 9.5 radius of the neck, I would get a high A,D & G strings.


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Posted: Mon Sep 06, 2010 9:04 am
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Setting it to the neck radius is a good starting point, if it doesn't feel comfortable, then you have the option of tweaking it to your liking. Myself, find it comfortable.

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Posted: Mon Sep 06, 2010 12:19 pm
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There's all kinds of theory about how bridge radii can relate to fingerboard radii. Can get very complicated with compound radius 'boards, for example.

Taylor have a very interesting approach to doing the bridge saddle on their acoustic guitars. Their fingerboards have a 15 inch radius, but they do the saddle with a 12" radius. Not only that, but they sort of tilt that curve down a touch on the treble side, so that the top e is nearer the frets than the bottom E. What that leaves you with is a geometry where there is a little more air beneath the middle strings which many people like the feel of. The end result looks something like this:

Image

You never hear anyone complain about the setup of a Taylor acoustic!

However. As Nick implies, you can put theory aside in favor of practice. Like this:

Measure you action (distance between the top of the fret and the underside of the strings) at the 17th fret. Preferably using automotive feeler gauges, or failing that a ruler calibrated in 64ths of an inch. By adjusting the height at the saddles set all the strings to Fender spec (for a 9.5" radius 'board): 4/64" / 1.6mm. If you do that with all the strings then automatically they must be following the radius of the 'board without you needing to worry about the radius at the bridge.

Then. On the bottom E string lower the saddle a touch, and play it at every fret listening out for buzz. No buzz? Take that saddle a quarter screw turn lower. Check all the frets again. Carry on until you hear some buzz and then reverse that last screw adjustment. You now have that string set as low as it will go without buzz.

Repeat that for all the strings. At the end you will have the action of all six strings set as low as it will go without buzz for your playing. You will now have the radius at the bridge custom set for your absolutely personal preference - and it just doesn't matter what that radius happens in reality to be. It is empirically right, not theoretically.

And then you need to re-set the intonation, because saddle height adjustment throws intonation off.

There ya go: Ceri's guide to radius and action. Any help? :)

Cheers - C


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Posted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 7:57 pm
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I tried it with 2mm at both e strings. 1.6 is just too low. I matched it with a 9" radius, and its exactly what Fender states- set all the strings at 17 frets to match the fretboatd radius. I'm thinking of having it set at a 7.25 radius so the 3rd and 4th strings are higher. I hate whne I play and A 2nd fret and c and D chords on the 5th and 7th respectvely and the chords buzz on those strings.
Thanks for the posts everyone- and I must get a Taylor someday. The Lowdens are also nice.


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Posted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 7:00 am
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I setup mine in similar fashion to the Ceri's pic above (Taylor setup).

The approach I take is to start with the matched neck radius in my case they are all 9.5 and then flatten the radius of a bridge a bit by feel usually raise a bit low e and a and lower a bit b and high e, meaning when in playing position strum and pick notes until it is comfortable and not buzzing. In the end I get similar contour to the Taylor setup pic, however with the bridge bit flatter than neck.

I get the radius measurement plastic gizmo (StuMac) from Dan Elerwine's book on guitar setup.

It is a good idea to try different approaches to see what works for you and your particular guitar.


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