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Compound Radius

A compound radius neck has a smaller (rounder) radius at the nut, and a larger (flatter) radius at the neck and body joint. As the neck gets wider, the fretboard gets flatter, which is said to be an aid when soloing, especially when bending strings. The compound radius accomplishes this with a continuously flattening shape beginning with, for example, a 7.5-inch “vintage Fender” radius at the string nut and flattening to a 12-inch “Gibson” radius at the highest fret. A luthier named Denny Rauen began “multi-radiasing” fingerboards as early as 1978. Other luthiers and manufacturers followed suite. Today, most compound radias fingerboards use continuously varying fretboard radias drawn from a conical shape, retaining a tighter radius in the lower fingerboard area commonly used for rhythm and chording, while flattening the upper fretboard area often used for string bending and lead playing.

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