Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Radiused Fretboard vs. Flat Fret board

I have a Goldtone BG250 F banjo. And I’m wondering if there is any way that I could get a radiused fretboard that would fit it. Is it possible?? Or am I just wasting my time?

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I may be way off here, but I think the best way to do that would be to buy a whole new neck. Not a cheap answer, but anything else would require a lot of work… most likely removing the current fretboard and putting a new one on. If you’re not doing the work yourself, the new neck option might be cheaper.

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As Mark says one option is to replace the neck – you would always have the old one to go back to. On the other hand radiusing the fretboard you have is not much trouble. The frets would be removed, the FB then radiused, new fret slots cut and new frets laid in and dressed, etc… If you have enough wood in your fingerboard to work with, this is just a complete fret job with the FB re-contouring. I don’t know if your banjo is rare or expensive, but extensive work can affect value in some cases, something to consider, too.

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That’s definitely the key, right there. I don’t know that my GoldStar has enough fretboard meat to radius. Also keep in mind that if there’s binding along the fretboard, you’ll need to be really careful with it. It’ll sand, but it’ll also come unglued if you handle it too rough. Not a big deal. Just something extra to consider.

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With something like a Gold Tone (factory made instrument,) it might be a good idea to just get a second instrument with a radiused fingerboard than to try to modify yours.

Once you go to a radiused fingerboard, it’s impossible to go back. :grinning:

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Randall Wyatt with Wyatt Custom Banjos is a luthier in Arkansas that could answer your question for sure.

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Thanks for all the replys,That helped a lot.

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Thanks Luke . that last comment raised my enthusiasm level.

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Allow me to muddy the waters for you.

" Most mandolins and most 5-string banjos have flat fingerboards, but the necks are so narrow, you don’t even notice."
and
“Since most 5-string players only fret the first four strings most of the time, the neck is narrower, and the strings tend to be lighter, there isn’t nearly as much call for radius-necked 5-strings. However, Deering has gotten enough requests that they have made a radiused neck standard on its Maple Blossom line. On a 1 5/8” fingerboard, most people wouldn’t even notice. But it’s there, in case you wondered. I wouldn’t lose sleep over it one way or the other."

https://creekdontrise.com/acoustic/six_string_banjo/radiused_fingerboard/radiused_fingerboard.htm

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To muddy the waters even further–I have a Gretsch Banjo that was my starter banjo a couple years ago. It’s got a standard flat fretboard. A little over a year ago, I had the good fortune to get permission from the boss to purchase a Nechville banjo. As many of you know, Tom Nechville makes his banjos standard with a compound radiused neck. So all of that is to say that I’m still a relative beginner, but have experience with both neck profiles. So take this for what it’s worth.

Honestly, I don’t feel significant difference between the two. Tom Nechville says that one of the main reasons he likes a radius in his necks is to provide added strength–which allows him to make a thinner neck. I love the feel of my Nechville, so the radius was important to allow the neck profile that felt right to me, not so much for the fretboard shape. The main difference when I’m playing is that I feel like I’m reaching into a valley when playing the middle strings on the Gretsch. The Nechville strings feel more readily available–and that is more due to the radiused bridge. So there you go.

I’'d also like to note that Nechville makes a “flux capacitor” that allows any standard banjo pot to be merged with his necks. So if you really love your current banjo and are driven to get a radiused neck, call the Nechville folks and ask about that. But it may be cheaper to have two banjos–your current banjo and another that is radiused.

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Well, Earl played a flat fingerboard, so… :wink:

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Finally, the voice of reason! :wink:

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I think this conversation is over. :laughing:

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Thanks you guys. I guess ,if it was good enough for Earl, it SHOULD be good enough for me.:crazy_face:

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When in doubt, just copy what Earl played. :smile:

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Easier said than done…:upside_down_face:

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I just received a Nechville Classic with radiused board this week, recorded my banjo lesson on it this week. I have banjos that may sound better but none that play/feel better.

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Yes, @BanjoBen, I just saw the video and thought, “hey, that’s my banjo—sort of.” Nice to hear the potential built into the Nechville Classic. Someday I hope to get similar sounds out of mine. Looking forward to meeting you and your family next week!

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