That's a difficult question to answer without having more info, but it depends on the amount you have to invest, how much risk you are willing to take on, and whether you are using the bonds for immediate income or to reduce the volatility of your overall portfolio. You need a minimum of $250,000 to do your own ladder, and that assumes you are willing to only use 10 bonds. The risk? If just one defaults, that's a 10% hit. With a ladder, you control the maturities. With a fund, you lose that control. With a fund, you get (and have to pay for) professional management. A fund may be able to negotiate lower purchase prices of bonds based on its buying volume. A fund must keep a certain amount of cash on hand for potential redemptions, which drags down the overall return of the fund. So, lots of variables.