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I have been told that the old guitars have a certain radius that makes bending strings up high difficult... if the string action is low it will fret out...however i see that the '57, '62 and 70's strats all had a radius of 184mm/7.25...when did this change anyways?/...was it in the 80's when eddie van halen and others made mega string bending popular?... thanks for any info
 

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I have been told that the old guitars have a certain radius that makes bending strings up high difficult... if the string action is low it will fret out...however i see that the '57, '62 and 70's strats all had a radius of 184mm/7.25...when did this change anyways?/...was it in the 80's when eddie van halen and others made mega string bending popular?... thanks for any info
I think it may have been the 60's when 9.5 started to be popular. I could be wrong. I owned a couple custom shop Nocasters and a 2008 52 reissue that were 7.25 radius. I like my action low so yes I did struggle a bit with fret choke on bends. I then owned a Crook T style that had a compound neck 7.25 to 9.5. Finally I gave up on 7.25 all together. I like 50's style specs all except the 9.5 radius and vintage frets. Smaller vintage frets can also make bends tricky, though some don't have a problem with choking out or the smaller vintage frets.
The guitars I own now a Wildwood 52 thin skin tele, Wildwood 56 thin skin strat and a custom shop nocaster all have 9.5 radius and 6105 frets.
One other thing that can make vintage specs tricky is the rolled edged frets with an aggressive bevel that some people have issues with fret fall off on the high and\or low e. On my 52 and 56 thin skin every now and then I'll knock the high e off the fretboard as the fret real estate is low. One way I minimized this is I had my guitar tech replace the nut and cut the slots in a little narrower. I guess this is just how they made them back in the 50's so this is how they make the vintage reissues.
One thing of note is that some more educated than I in vintage guitars actually say that radius specs were all over the place in the early years. ranging from 7.25 to 9.5. Maybe because of the nature of hand made necks.
I've never owned an actual 50's fender. I've owned a few 60's and they were all 9.5 radius. And they were all tele's. A 62, a 67 and a 68
 

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I currently own an Esquire with a 50s spec neck. I don't have any issues with bending, which I do extensively. I don't keep my action crazy low though.

IIRC the earliest Esquires and Broadcasters were 9.5" radius before switching to the 7.25" in early 51 or so.
And thats the thing. You don't even need your action too high to avoid fretting out. Back years ago when I played with 7.25 radius I was obsessive about low action (still am actually). I'd have the tech flatten out the frets in the middle and that would help while maintaining a low action. For me it wasn't the 7.25 radius that was the big problem. I just didn't like the small vintage frets.
 

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I have been told that the old guitars have a certain radius that makes bending strings up high difficult... if the string action is low it will fret out...however i see that the '57, '62 and 70's strats all had a radius of 184mm/7.25...when did this change anyways?/...was it in the 80's when eddie van halen and others made mega string bending popular?... thanks for any info

The claim that they fret out is stupid. People managed to bend those strings long before experts on internet forums declared it couldn't be done.

I have a Partscaster Tele with a 7.25" radius and vintage frets and I was bending on it last night without any hint of a problem.
 

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The claim that they fret out is stupid. People managed to bend those strings long before experts on internet forums declared it couldn't be done.

I have a Partscaster Tele with a 7.25" radius and vintage frets and I was bending on it last night without any hint of a problem.
Nobody is saying it can't be done. But there is a limit how low you can have your action and be able to bend a whole tone up with out fretting out. Believe me I've been there.
Yes people managed it long before the Internet and people currently are managing quite fine. If you want your action a hair off the fretboard you're going to struggle.
 

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I used to think it was an issue, but my last couple Teles have had 7.25, and I honestly don't even notice it (my bending is mostly pedalsteel style stuff though).

The upside - I find the vintage radius lends itself well to the thumb-wrap style I use.
 

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I used to think it was an issue, but my last couple Teles have had 7.25, and I honestly don't even notice it (my bending is mostly pedalsteel style stuff though).

The upside - I find the vintage radius lends itself well to the thumb-wrap style I use.
The big problem I have with vintage frets as I have to get more of my finger pad involved, more effort and more force in the push up. I've actually separated some of my finger from the finger nail causing soreness and sensitivity. It may be just me and how I play. With taller frets I can get just a bit more under the string allowing for easier bends. Some people obviously are opposite and like the vintage frets. This is why options are available. Anyone who has no experience with vintage frets and 7.25 radius would do well to try before you buy and not order online.
I took a chance on an acoustic and ordered a Martin with a 1 3/4 nut and 2 1/4 string spacing at the bridge even though I hadn't really played a guitar with those specs for any longer than a few minute. I ended up not bonding with those specs and preferring 1 11/16 nut, 2 1/8 string spacing at the bridge. So I sold the guitar after owning it only for a few months. A bit of an expensive lesson.
 

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I have a '69 Strat reissue with the 7.25" radius. When I first picked it up, yes, in the higher registers past the 15th fret I was definitely fretting out on some songs which was a nuisance. I'm in the camp where I prefer a fairly low action for speedy legato runs. If you have a good luthier, or are handy with that sort of thing, as mentioned earlier, some varying height progressive fret work can do wonders to eliminate 'fret out'. After having my luthier set it up properly, it has the lowest action of all my guitars and does not fret out.
 

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I'm a fan of the vintage radius, my main start is a '62 Reissue and has the 7.25", it just works for me although I don't have super low action. Not to say I don't like other radii, my modern start is 9.5" and the Ibanez guitars are in the 16" range if I recall.
 
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