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  1. #1

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    I don't have the proper tool to measure fretboard radius and I am getting quite different answers with regard to this: What is the fretboard radius of the 1930s Gibson L-5, L-7, etc. Did this differ by model? Did it change over time?

    I am just curious. I have heard everthing from 6" to 12".

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  3. #2

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    It changes over time. And there is probably intra-period variance.

    My 1928 L-5 has a very flat radius. Possibly more than 12".
    My 1934 L-7 (sold) had a rounder radius, probably around 12 exactly.
    My 1936 L-7 (sold) had an even rounder radius than both, almost felt like a 9.5" fender neck.

    Neck profiles also change over time.

    Mid 20's - large v neck
    Late 20's - Early 30's - medium D neck
    Mid 30's (pre-advanced) - large v neck
    Later 30's - medium D neck
    (I have little experience with 40's acoustic archtops from Gibson, but their 16" guitars from the 40s have very full C necks. Like a baseball bat cut down the middle.)

  4. #3

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    Gibson has used a 12" fretboard radius for years.
    Some old Gibsons apparently used a 10" fretboard radius.
    Some flattop acoustics used/use? a 16" fretboard radius.
    Last edited by Hammertone; 05-14-2021 at 03:30 PM.

  5. #4

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    Any Gibson guitars have like Fender neck, narrow nut and 9.5 radius?

  6. #5

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    "Neck profiles also change over time.

    Mid 20's - large v neck
    Late 20's - Early 30's - medium D neck
    Mid 30's (pre-advanced) - large v neck
    Later 30's - medium D neck
    (I have little experience with 40's acoustic archtops from Gibson, but their 16" guitars from the 40s have very full C necks. Like a baseball bat cut down the middle.)"



    sorta kinda. depends if your using the old Bellson or modern Spann [correct] serial number/dating info
    In my experience having handled a good number of L-5's for example, Loars are Louisville Sluggers, later dot necks [previously thought to be '27-'28 by Gibson executive/historian Julius Bellson but actually '29-'30 according to Joe Spann] modern C shape [da best]. then V neck w/block marker models early to mid 30s.
    later 40's and most 50s are a very full C until mid '59 ish.
    There's a number of changes from '60 on but I've covered those yrs to the best of my experience a zillion times here. a forum search will yield my usual yammering about specs/minutia

  7. #6

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    Most L5/L7 guitars that were sold once Gibson started listing radius are 12", iirc.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone
    Most L5/L7 guitars that were sold once Gibson started listing radius are 12", iirc.
    And yet, when a Fender has a 12" radius, Fender players lose their minds -- "how can anyone play that?!"

  9. #8

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    This is getting interesting. I have never played (for any length of time) a guitar with a radius of less than 12 inches. My main guitars for years were a 1952 Les Paul and a 1961 ES-345. both with a 12 " radius. I have a Rutters Tele and a Strat with an Eric Johnson neck, both of which have a 12" radius. I am very much used to the feel of that flatter board.

    The archtop I just bought earlier this year - a 1935 L-12 - is full of surprises, including what a guitar tech told me is a 6 " radius.

    Is it possible - heaven forbid - that a previous owner had it re-radiused?

  10. #9

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    They are listed mostly as 12 inch radius but measure twice and re-measure. Then to sure check again...........not always on the money but close.

  11. #10

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    I talked with my tech guy again and he is absolutely convinced that this guitar was made with a 6" radius. He sees no evidence of it being altered.

    As I said, I have no real experience but I am getting more used to the neck the more I play. But I would still like to know more, even if just to satisfy my historical interest.

    I would love to hear from anyone whose 1930s Gibson archtop has a 6" radius.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyLoveHandles
    And yet, when a Fender has a 12" radius, Fender players lose their minds -- "how can anyone play that?!"
    Because we dont like 12'' radius, we prefer 9.5 or 7.25. Fender necks for me are always better. Never played a Gibson I felt as comfortable.

  13. #12

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    The Gibson radius feels great on a Gibson and the Fender radius feels great on a Fender.

    I don't know why.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by doc w
    I talked with my tech guy again and he is absolutely convinced that this guitar was made with a 6" radius. He sees no evidence of it being altered.

    As I said, I have no real experience but I am getting more used to the neck the more I play. But I would still like to know more, even if just to satisfy my historical interest.

    I would love to hear from anyone whose 1930s Gibson archtop has a 6" radius.
    Did you happen to buy yours from rpguitar? Is the serial number 92760? He had one that was measured to be 5". Same period, 1st generation advanced.

    12" Neck Radius?

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by omphalopsychos
    Did you happen to buy yours from rpguitar? Is the serial number 92760? He had one that was measured to be 5". Same period, 1st generation advanced.

    12" Neck Radius?
    No, I don't know rpguitar. Is he a member here? The serial number is 92507 which would put it a little earlier (253 earlier) than the one you mention.

    I think that you have solved the mystery for me. If it was only one with the 6" radius, I would wonder just what went on. With two 6" radii in the same number range, I feel confident that the radius issue was in transition. There must be more.

    Thanks a lot for this info!

  16. #15

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    rpguitar is Roger. He's a long-time member, here. He's also one fine archtop guitar player.

  17. #16

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    Thanks, everyone. Another little bit of knowledge rises to the surface and I get to know some folks a little better.