Why does fingerboard radius matter?

What is the radius of your guitar’s fingerboard?

If this question is giving you flashbacks to high school math class, don’t worry. We’ll walk you through it.

Most guitar and bass fingerboards are not completely flat – they have a slight convex curvature.

The back of the guitar neck is even more rounded usually, making for a comfortable grip.

As you probably remember from math class, the ‘radius’ is the distance from the center to the circumference (or edge) of a circle. To find the radius of a fingerboard, picture the fingerboard at the top of the circle and determine the arc from one edge to the other.

You can use a guitar under string radius gauge to determine the radius of your guitar’s fingerboard. If you don’t have one, you can simply use a piece of string.

To do this, find the fretboard’s centerpoint by measuring the distance between the nut and the 12th fret.

Then, place the string on the centerpoint, holding it down on the first and last fret. Measure the distance between the string and the 7th fret. This is the radius of the fretboard.

The smaller the measurement of the radius, the greater the curvature of the fingerboard.

The Why Behind Fretboard Designs

Fretboard radius is usually measured in inches, and the most common sizes on the market are 9.5”, 7.25” and 12”. Some go as high as 17” or 20”. The larger the radius the more “flat” the fretboard will feel. Smaller, more curved radius gives the guitar a comfortable grip and lets your finger curve naturally when playing bar chords. Vintage instruments such as vintage era Fender guitars use a radius as small as 7.5” which creates a classic comfort and feel that many players greatly appreciate today. Larger radius necks keep the feel of the neck more flat, which makes niceley for sweeping through arpeggios and scales across the strings. Many high performance, modern guitars use larger fretboard radius. However, the feel of the neck can be a little less comfortable for playing bar chords or having a relaxed grip on the neck.

Some guitars even use a compound-radius fretboard. This means that the fretboard radius will gradually change from a lower (more curved) to a higher (flatter) radius as you go from the nut to the heel of the neck.

There’s no hard-and-fast rules about which fingerboard radius is right for particular genres or playing style, however, the rounder fingerboards are usually well-suited for barre chords and flatter fingerboard radii gives a more even playing surface, ideal for string bending and sweeping.

The Bridge

You might not have realized it, but since the fretboard is curved, the strings don’t actually sit at the same height. Your strings are positioned at equal height above the fretboard, which means the string saddles need to match the curvature of your neck. The string saddles on many guitars have adjustable heights, which allow you to fix the action and ensure the strings match the curvature of the neck. If your guitar neck was perfectly flat (no radius), then the strings would sit at the same height, but there are no guitars with flat necks (that we know of!)

How to use the features in the Fret Zealot app

The Fret Zealot app has tons of tools to help you learn guitar – or sharpen your skills!

The Notes and Scales section contains every note and scale possible on a guitar! Pair your app with the Fret Zealot LED system to show you exactly where to put your fingers. You can display notes and scales vertically or horizontally on the screen.

In the Chords and Arpeggios section, you’ll find every chord variation and arpeggio – great for practicing your skills.

And in the song tabs feature, you’ll find tablature for thousands of songs. They play in real time on your phone and on the Fret Zealot LED strip. You can slow down a tab as much as you want to learn note-by-note!

You’ll find other useful tools like a tuner and metronome in the Fret Zealot app. Download today and start learning guitar on your terms!

Different types of electric guitar bodies

Electric guitars come in many different shapes and sizes. Like their acoustic counterparts, the size and shape of an electric guitar can impact their sound and playability.

Here are some of the most common varieties of electric guitar bodies:

Type of body:

Each type of guitar can have a variety of shapes and styles. Most guitars fall under either solid body, semi-hollow body, or hollow body.

Solid body: Solid body guitars have no internal chambers – sound is generated solely from the pickups. Solid body guitars are also made out of a solid piece of wood. As a result, they’re usually fairly heavy.

Solid body guitars were introduced in the 1950s. They offer more sustain than their hollow-body counterparts, and are less impacted by feedback.

Here are some of the best-known solid body guitars:

Stratocaster

Designed by Fender, the Stratocaster features a double-cutaway design with one side extended into a “horn”, which provides balance. The double cutaway allows the player better access to the guitar’s highest frets. Though this is the shape most people picture when they think “electric guitar”, it was a revolutionary design when it was first introduced in the mid-1950s.

Telecaster

Also designed by Fender, Telecaster was the world’s first commercially successful mass-produced electric guitar. Also known as “Tele”, it was originally called “Broadcaster”. The telecaster design features a flat asymmetric single-cutaway body.

Les Paul

Gibson Les Paul Tribute

The Les Paul was designed by Gibson in 1952. Les Paul guitars are generally made of mahogany with a maple top and feature a single cutaway.

Gibson SG

Gibson SG Standard Tribute

The SG Standard is Gibson’s best selling model of all time. It has a contoured design with a double cutaway to make the upper frets more accessible.

“Superstrat”

With deeper cutaways, longer fretboards, and overall pointier bodies, guitar variations known as “Superstrats” became popular with rock stars in the 1980s.

Semi-hollow body

Semi-hollow body guitars have chambers cut into the wood which makes them lighter and gives them a slightly warmer tone. Semi-hollow body guitars work well across many genres of music.

The best known of semi-hollow body guitars is:

Gibson ES-335

The Gibson ES-335 was the first semi-hollow guitar on the market. It features two bouts that are hollow and two violin-style f-holes cut over the hollow chambers. Its best-known user was the King of Blues, B.B. King.

Hollow body

“Guitar: Eastman Vintage Sunburst Hollow Body Electric” by jmf1007 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The original electric guitar, Rickenbacker’s Electro-A22, was a hollow body guitar. Hollow body guitars were favored by big band and jazz musicians in the 1930s – however, their hollow bodies created a lot of feedback when they were played at higher volumes.

Gibson ES-150

“File:11, ES 150 & Fender Amp.jpg” by Europe guitar collection is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The Gibson ES-150 was the world’s first commercially successful Spanish-style electric guitar. ES stands for “electric Spanish”.

What are the different types of guitar strings?

REVIEW: Yamaha BB234 bass guitar

We reviewed Yamaha’s BB234 bass guitar.

Check out the review here!

Check out the Yamaha BB234 in our store!

Here’s a transcript of the review:

Hey what’s up everyone, this is Shane from Fret Zealot and right now I’m rocking a Yamaha bas.  This is the Yamaha BB234.

The BB stands for “broad bass” and this is the 234, which is the classic rendition of the BB Yamaha bass. It’s stripped down and versatile is what I would say. It’s got two pickup selections to choose from – the J pickup on the bridge position and then the P pick up in the middle position, giving you a variety of really nice tonal options. Each pickup is individually controlled by a volume knob, so you can dial back the volume on both of these and run them at the same time, one or the other as well and then the tone knob back here, which when you when you roll that down it pulls back a little bit of the low frequencies and sort of just tightens up the sound of the bass a little bit. It gets a little a little cleaner sounding a little less extra bass I usually like to leave it wide open.

You definitely get the most brightness when you leave the tone knob up all the way. When you turn it down, it sort of it sounds like outside the club, like a little bit more softer sounding. I think it would be nice for a bit more of a mellow sound. Moving on to the to the features of the guitar itself, the pick guard on the body with the black gloss finish just looks classy and I find it very comfortable feeling as well. This cutaway body the cut on the back of the body which just rests up against you and very ergonomic. Again, the cutaway up here, as well easy fret access up to the 21st fret. There are 21 frets on this guitar but just gives you a nice comfortable scale length to work with. If this is your first bass, I think it’s a really good choice because it’s very very comfortable. And if it’s not your first bass,  you might be interested in the different pickup options that you’re going to get when you try the BB234.

The body wood material is alder, the neck maple, and then on the top of the neck the fretboard itself rosewood. It has a  matching black headstock painted black with the four Yamaha tuners, strap pegs, bolt-on neck construction, and a surface mount bridge back here. Other than that, you get a really nice variety of tones from these ceramic Yamaha pickups.  Again, with the P pickup you get a really sweet sort of heavier sound.  I think it sounds a little darker.

Turn that knob all the way down and then we’ll turn up the J pickup. It definitely gives me a bit more treble. It kind of sounds both of them sound like like a nice woody, sort of clean bass sound, which I really like.  All passive hardware, there’s no battery compartment to run these pickups, so it’s not very temperamental.  It’ll give you an easy playing time, very comfortable and and fun to play with.

Bass is not really my main instrument so I was picking out some of the options at our shop on frontzealot.com for what I wanted to pick out and review first. This one sort of jumped out at me as approachable, but also kind of versatile, and a fun way for me to sort of learn the ins and outs of bass.  Getting to play with both the J pickup back here and the P pickup, learning about the differences. It’s got a nice pick guard too. I know that I would probably as a guitar player, use a pick to play bass. I  think the combination with the p pickup, the pickguard works really great for rock. If you want to dial it back and play some more mellower tones, you have all the options of doing that.  This bass will really do a good job from anything – hard rock, classic rock, all the way down to jazz and blues.  I believe I can tell from playing the time that I spent with this bass that is very versatile.  I’m definitely a fan of the BB234. It comes in a couple different color options.  We have black and red at fretzealot.com and when you buy an instrument at fretzealot.com, it comes pre-installed with the LED system, so you can get access to our learning tools which show you how to play and light up the way to learning.  You can learn how to play any song you want on bass.

REVIEW: Dean MDX and Dean Thoroughbred X

Eight iconic movie soundtrack songs

For some movies, the soundtrack is more iconic than the film itself! Here are some songs that are permanently associated with their feature film.

“Moon River” – Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1961

Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer composed this song for Audrey Hepburn to sing in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. A Paramount producer suggested cutting the song – and Hepburn famously said they could cut it “over my dead body”. The song cleaned up during awards season, winning a 1961 Academy Award for Best Original song and the 1962 GRAMMY award for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

“Mrs Robinson” – The Graduate, 1967

Simon & Garfunkel wrote “Mrs. Robinson” specifically for The Graduate. It became the first rock song to win “Record of the Year” at the 1969 GRAMMYs.

“Live and Let Die” – Live and Let Die, 1973

The film producers of this 1973 James Bond flick tapped Paul McCartney to write the movie’s theme song. McCartney worked with his wife, Linda, and former Beatles producer George Martin on the song, recording it with his band Wings. It has been famously covered by Guns ‘n Roses.

“Stayin’ Alive” –
Saturday Night Fever, 1977

The Bee Gees were asked to record some songs for the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack before the film had a name, or even a script. The band penned the track over a couple of days at a French recording studio. Though the song is a disco bop, the lyrics are pretty dark and deal with the subject of surviving on the streets of New York.

“Don’t You (Forget About Me) –
The Breakfast Club, 1985

“Don’t You (Forget About Me)” was a huge hit for The Breakfast Club’s soundtrack and for the band that recorded it, Scotland’s Simple Minds. Simple Minds didn’t write the track however – it was written by Breakfast Club producer Keith Forsey and guitarist Steve Schiff. The band originally turned the song down – along with Billy Idol, Corey Hart, and The Fixx. The band recorded it following persuasion by the label and Chrissy Hynde, who was married to the band’s lead singer at the time.

“La Bamba” –
La Bamba, 1987

Most bands put their own spin on cover songs. However, for this 1987 biography of Chicano rock and roll star Ritchie Valens (who was tragically killed at only 17 in the plane crash that also killed Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper) Los Lobos kept their version faithful to Valens’ 1958 version. Valens had adapted a Mexican folk song from the state of Veracruz in his version of “La Bamba”.

“My Heart Will Go On” – Titanic, 1997

Composer James Horner came up with the melody of “My Heart Will Go On” for the film’s score, and had the idea of developing it into a song. Director James Cameron initially resisted the idea of having a pop song in the film’s soundtrack, but changed his mind after hearing the song’s demo. It was recorded by Canadian singer Celine Dion and became her signature song – it’s the second best-selling physical single by a woman of all time.

“Star is Born” star Lady Gaga wrote the film’s signature song along with Andrew Wyatt, Anthony Rossomando and Mark Ronson. The track is one of the world’s best-selling singles of all time, and it won numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

What do you think is the most iconic soundtrack song of all time? Let us know in the comments!