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JacquetEsm Luthier47 mavedon imc2111 jpipper17

Vintage correct fingerboard radius

I'm sure the info is here somewhere, but just to be sure: what is the correct fingerboard radius for a real Selmer? Gitanes, Ciganos and other various brands seem to have an array of variations to acomodate the modern player. I'm curious about the original ones and those used by the real good contemporary luthiers (Barrault, Dupont, Holo, etc).


  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,252

    It's tough to say what was original, because those 70 and 80 year old guitars have been re-fretted and repaired so many times and the original records are largely anecdotal. If there is a credible original design-spec document from Selmer, I've never seen it But, the original Macs that I've studied that hadn't been significantly altered had flat fingerboard radiuses. The Selmers that I've studied that hadn't been significantly altered had fingerboard radiuses that ranged between 20" to 25" radius. I suspect some of that is due to inaccuracy of jigs made by hand and used for decades. I use a 16" radius on my models, flattening a bit over the upper frets to reduce buzz on bent notes and for traditional models, I use 20". I've played a lot of Duponts and Baraults and they feel like they're in that neighborhood. I played one 1st year of production VRB that was essentially flat, but it might have been a custom job or re-fret or who knows. Anything in the 16" to 20" range will satisfy a good player because it's enough radius to be comfortable but not so much that it causes fretting-out when bending notes.

    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • criminelcriminel buenos aires✭✭✭
    Posts: 72

    Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer!

  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,194

    My Gallatos which are supposed to be a replica of an original selmer are both pretty flat but I'll have to change strings sometime to check it and get back to you.

  • bluemovesbluemoves New
    Posts: 49

    @Bob Holo - to what extent is the fret finishing an exact match to the board radius? Do people sometimes have, let's say, a flatter board but a fairly radiused fret job? - or would that be looking for trouble?

    My dad (a violin maker with no experience in guitar world) is graciously attempting to knock up a petite bouche for me.. (670 scale / 21 frets) but neither of us has any idea about fingerboard/fret curvature so I'm here doing my research (by God it's hard to find a number anyone agrees on!! - I just want a f***in' number :D :D)

    I think I like the idea of your 16"...? Can you explain the "flattening a bit over the upper frets to reduce buzz on bent notes" - not sure I understand how that works? (my brain tells me there'd be MORE chance of a bent string choking on a higher fret if each successive higher fret was flatter than the one before it..? - I know I must be wrong!)

    (also, do you mean you flatten out the board a bit or the frets?)

    Is there any benefit (on these guitars / this style of music) to thinking about compound radius?

    Many thanks for any light you can throw on this for me.

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