Another interesting customer question concerning a stainless steel refret and changing the radius of a Fender neck.
This customer said she did not like the 7.5 radius on her Fender Vintage neck and wanted to know what I would charge to refret with Stainless Steel and change the radius to 9.5″. I told her that in changing the radius it was probable that the face dots would be sanded through and they would have to be replaced or they would look terrible. In addition the nut slot would need to be lowered and since it is a Maple fret board it would have to be completely refinished. And if it is a 22 fret neck the overhang will be too thin. So I told her that after all that work she would be better off buying a new neck.
Let’s take a look at the problem with the face dots. I created a small CAD drawing of two radius’s and exported as a jpeg you can see it below. One is a 7.5″ and the other 9.5″ radius. There is a face dot right in the middle. It is .035 thick which is about right after the 7.5″ neck was radiused. Dots start out at .050 when they are placed into a neck and then somewhere up to .032 is sanded off of them. Being conservative with the sanding example here I chose to have sanded .015 off of this dot in the drawing.
As you can see if the neck is radiused down to 9.5″ then there is only .013 left of the dot. Because .022 of the dot is going to be sanded off. That is the thickness of a business card. If the dot is shell you will see right through it because shell that thin becomes transparent. The discerning viewer will note that life is not perfect and some of the dots will most likely be completely sanded off the fretboard and will have to be replaced. There is glue under that dot so in reality the dot is thinner than the .013. It’s really more like .005 thick which is nothing!
So it is a bad idea to re-radius a neck. If you tried to go to a 12″ radius from a 7.5″ it would take so much wood off the fretboard it may ruin it altogether. People do everything and I’m sure people have done this but most likely it will create a piece of firewood.
You can put big frets on a fretboard and flatten them out for an effective radius change but that is another story for later. Just get another neck.
If you have question or comments about this send me an email.