The neck or fretboard radius is an important aspect of how a guitar plays and feels. The style of music you play will guide your choice of neck radius.
So what is the neck radius of a Fender Stratocaster? Most Fender Stratocasters have a 9.5″ (241mm) radius. Originally Strats had a 7.25″ radius but in the 1980’s Fender switched to 9.5″ and the majority of Stratocasters now have that radius.
But if you want the specific fretboard radius of the modern Stratocaster models then keep reading.
What is the Neck Radius of a Fender Stratocaster?
Stratocaster fingerboard radius has changed quite significantly over time. The original Stratocasters first introduced in the 1950’s had a 7.25″ neck radius.
This was in line with all Fender guitars at that point: Telecasters, Jazzmasters, Esquires etc. all had necks with the now vintage 7.25″ radius.
This type of fretboard radius made playing chords much easier. The smaller the radius the more curved the neck is which makes chords that bit simpler. Conversely a larger and flatter radius, something like 12″, is less well suited to chords but better for playing faster single notes and bends.
Over time though there was increasing demand for a radius that was more balanced. This lead to Fender adopting a 9.5″ radius in the 1980’s as the main radii for the majority of their guitars, including the Stratocaster.
The 7.25″ neck radius still exists but in selective models (a third of all their guitars, according to Fender, mainly vintage reissues. You can also find larger radius – 12″, for example, and compound-radius which is where the curve of the neck changes along the fretboard (more or less curved at one end compared to the other).
Fender Stratocaster Neck Radius by Model
The table below shows the different models of each Stratocaster and the neck radius of them.
|American Original Series||9.5″|
|American Professional II Series||9.5″|
|American Ultra Series||10-14″ Compound|
|Player Plus Series||12″|
|Squier Bullet Series||9.5″|
|Squier Affinity Series||9.5″|
|Squier Classic Vibe (50’s, 60’s and 70’s) Series||9.5″|
The Fender Player Stratocaster neck radius is 9.5″.
American Original Series
The Fender American Original Stratocaster neck radius is 9.5″.
The Fender Vintera Stratocaster neck radius is 9.5″.
American Professional II Series
The Fender American Professional II Stratocaster neck radius is 9.5″.
American Ultra Series
The Fender American Ultra Series Stratocaster neck radius is 10-14″ Compound.
Player Plus Series
The Fender Player Plus Stratocaster neck radius is 12″.
The Fender Performer Stratocaster neck radius is 9.5″.
Squier Bullet Series
The Squier Bullet Stratocaster neck radius is 9.5″.
Squier Affinity Series
The Squier Affinity Stratocaster neck radius is 9.5″.
Squier Classic Vibe Series
The Squier Classic Vibe 50’s, 60’s and 70’s Stratocaster neck radius is 9.5″.
Fender Stratocaster Fretboard Radius vs Gibson Les Paul Radius
Modern Gibson Les Paul’s have a 10-16″ compound radius whereas vintage Les Paul’s have a 12″ radius. This is in comparison to modern Strats 9.5″ and vintages 7.5″.
When Did Fender Start Using 9.5″ Radius
Fender started using a 9.5″ radius in American Standard Stratocasters 1987. Production of these Strats began in 1986 and at the tail end of that year they were making their way into stores. But it was 1987 when they were officially introduced by Fender.
Do Fender Strats have a Compound Radius?
Some Strat models do. The American Deluxe (now discontinued), the American Elite and the American Ultra all have compound radius.
What is Compound Radius?
A compound radius neck has a different radius at the nut and a larger radius at the heel end of the neck. The idea of a compounding radius is that you have the best of both worlds: making bends and single note playing for solos at the heel side of the neck and playing chords at the nut end both easier.
It’s meant to take the good parts of the smaller, 7.25″ neck radius – simpler playing rhythm and chords – and the good parts of the larger, 12″ radius – easier bends and soloing. If you play a mi of styles and need both aspects then a compound radius may be the perfect choice.
So now you know that a Fender Stratocaster neck radius is mainly 9.5″ in modern models and 7.5″ in vintage Strats. There are some exceptions like Player Plus and Ultra series that have 12″ and 10-14″ compound radius but the majority of todays Fender Stratocasters will have a 9.5″ radius.