It’s so brutal when you wake up one day to find out you have been living a LIE!!!
I was ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE that all Gibson fretboards had a 12” radius. But apparently, that is NOT the case!
Here’s the story:
I was on Internets looking to buy some radiused (is that a word?) sanding blocks from Stew Mac for leveling frets. They come in various radii to accomodate any fretboard you may run into. They’re not cheap - about 15 clams (in $USD) each, so I didn’t want to order ALL of them right off the bat just in case they didn’t work out for some reason.
So I said to myself, “self” (I said), “your 1968 SG Special is your only guitar at the moment which shows any fret wear…it would be best to start by ordering the 12” radius block. I mean ALL Gibsons have 12” radius fretboards, RIGHT?”
Thank gawd I don’t trust my own memory. I decided to double check using my “fretboard radius determining tool” (I just made that name up, but you can see several of them in photo #2!) These little guys come in different radii, and you slip them under the strings against the fretboard. If you see a gap between the gauge and the ‘board, then you ain’t got the right radius!
Knowing, as I did, that Gibsons ALL HAVE 12” FRETBOARDS, I went straight to my trusty 12” gauge…fully expecting it to “rubber-stamp” my 12” Gibson radius assumption.
It worked quickly all right. But rather than confirming my understanding, it showed me the fretboard on this 1968 Gibson DOES NOT have a 12” radius! See photo #4…see the gap? That means this ‘board ain’t got no 12” radius!
So I started working my way through the other gauges. Photo #6 shows the 9.5” gauge. See? No gap! Perfect fit. This fretboard has a 9.5” inch radius. Thankfully I did this before I placed my order and got a block with the incorrect curvature, thus bringing about the apocalypse.
But wait…where the heck did I get the idea that Gibson ‘boards are all 12”? Maybe 12” is a more modern thing and the older models have “rounder” radii? I know that’s the case with Fender…from the beginning (~1950) right up into the 70s (and maybe later but I’m not sure), Fenders had a 7.25” radius. These days (non-reissue) Fenders all have 9.5” boards. I learned this about Fender MANY years ago…if it is the same case with Gibson (i.e. in the old days they were 9.5” but have changed to 12” more recently). I wonder what rock I have been living under to not know this already!