Next Level Necks: Inside Fender's Channel-Bound Innovation
Taking a look at how Fender's channel-bound necks elevated the neck binding game.
By Mike Duffy
For those that don’t like to feel the ends of the frets when moving up and down the guitar neck, a bound neck is an option that can offer a smoother trip up and down the fingerboard (a.k.a. fretboard).
Binding is the practice of taking a strip of material—typically vinyl—to line the outside of the fretboard. That material decoratively covers the end of the frets that press into the wood (otherwise known as the “tangs”) at the edges of the fingerboard.
A few years ago, Fender took that idea a step further with their unique channel-bound necks.
Originally introduced with the Fender Select Series in 2013, the channel-bound necks have a compound-radius fingerboard inlaid directly into the neck, eliminating the side seam between the neck and fingerboard.
To achieve this seamless effect, the sides of the neck channel are actually angled inward in a revolutionary process to encase the fretboard and offer enhanced resonance between the neck and fingerboard.
“We were thinking about a way to inlay the fretboard like you inlay blocks,” said Fender Senior Vice President of Products Justin Norvell. “It was just an idea, but it turned out that it gave you the cool look of binding with wood instead of vinyl.
“A lot of times with binding, there’s a hard edge to it, a hard corner that is not as comfortable. With channel bound, it’s sanded over and more rounded, giving you a great feel.”
Fender offers a few bound-necked guitars, such as the Troy Van Leeuwen Jazzmaster and the Eric Johnson Stratocaster. But interested players can also outfit their own guitar with available Stratocaster and Telecaster channel-bound necks from the parts store.
These channel-bound necks boast a fretboard with a 9.5”-to-14” compound-radius (9.5” to 14”) fingerboard that is rounder at the nut—perfect for chording—and flatter at the heel—great for soloing, while the neck itself is a versatile “Modern C”-shaped profile.