As a guitar instructor, I have been inundated severally with questions and confusions on frets as this is often overlooked by instructors who take beginner’s classes on guitar. Most especially the question – How many frets does a guitar have?
In this article, you will understand what a guitar fret is, know how many frets are on a guitar, know the difference between 22 fret guitars and 24 fret guitars, and lastly, you will learn if it matters how many frets a guitar has.
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What are Guitar Frets?
Guitar frets are raised horizontal metal strips (more like a series of ridges), placed along the fingerboard, and most times; they extend along the full width of the neck. Each fret represents one semitone.
Technically speaking, the metal strip is the fret. However, the location (space in simple terms) on the fretboard below a fret can sometimes be referred to as being a fret.
Some guitars have all their frets on the neck. Many guitars, however, have usable frets on their bodies that add up to the frets on the neck.
Guitar frets are numbered from the headstock down towards the body starting with 1. Sometimes, the number 0 or letter O is used to denote an open string or played without fretting a note.
Speaking of numberings, let me give you a shortcode that would help you locate your frets easily.
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How to Locate your Frets Easily on the Guitar
When you look at your fretboard, you will notice that there are white circular dots (called fret markers) on some of the frets.
The first circular dot indicates the 3rd fret that is if you count from the first fret, the third fret has a circular dot. The next circular dot indicates the 5th fret, the 3rd dot – the 7th fret, and the 4th dot – the 9th fret. After the 4th circular dot, you will notice two dots on the same fret. These double circular dots indicates the 12th fret.
At a glance,
- First white dot – 3rd fret
- Second white dot – 5th fret
- Third white dot – 7th fret
- Fourth white dot – 9th fret
- Double dot – 12th fret
The next white dot after the 12th fret is the 3rd fret, that is, you repeat the counting/cycle.
This simple shortcode will help you locate your frets quickly and easily.
Having explained what a guitar fret is, let us delve into “how many frets are on a guitar”.
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How Many Frets Does an Electric Guitar Have?
Electric guitars have the most number of frets out of the classical, acoustic, and electric guitar trio.
An electric guitar has 22 or 24 frets with about 14-17 frets on an electric guitar’s neck. The rest of the frets are located on the guitar’s body.
With the 23rd and 24th fret on an electric guitar, you have better access for the hand to reach certain notes. This is because to play some songs, especially the metal genre, it will be better to have 24 frets so you can play more notes on the guitar without moving up and down a string.
How Many Frets Does an Acoustic Guitar Have?
Acoustic guitars are often made up of between 18-20 frets. There are 12-14 frets from the nut to the beginning of the body. The remaining 6-8 frets are between the end of the neck and the guitar’s soundhole.
One significant difference between a 12th fret guitar and a 14th fret guitar is that on a 12-fret guitar, the neck hits the body at the 12th fret while on a 14-fret guitar the neck hits the body at the 14th fret.
The larger auditorium acoustic guitar has more frets than the “parlor” acoustic guitar.
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How Many Frets Does a Classical Guitar Have?
The fret numbers of classical guitars are quite similar to that of the acoustic guitar.
Classical guitars have nylon strings instead of the common metal strings. Classic guitars have just 12 frets on the neck with six or seven more frets on their bodies. They are making a total of 16-19 frets on a classical guitar’s fretboard.
These are the average number of frets; these may, however, vary with the manufacturer.
22 Fret Guitars vs 24 Fret Guitars: What’s the difference?
You might think, “What difference do two extra frets make?”
Extra frets automatically mean longer scales. The scale length is the distance from the bridge of a guitar to its nut. The scale length determines how tight or lose the strings would be, which means that a 24 fret guitar will be tighter than a 22 fret guitar.
Scale length will also change the position of your pickups along your strings vibrating length. This is important because there is a harmonic at the 24th fret and if you have 22 frets, the harmonic sits over the pickups.
More frets mean you can play more notes without having to use the higher strings.
Also, the 22 frets guitar gives a warmer and thicker tone while the 24 frets give a brighter tone.
For sounds and playability, the 22 frets are preferred by many. However, if you need a flexible electric guitar that gives you enough room, then I would suggest that you go for the 24 frets guitar.
Does it Matter How Many Frets a Guitar Has?
The number of frets on a guitar affects the general sound output and feel.
More frets give more room for play and help you play more notes without going back to higher strings.
The number of frets also affects the scale length, which affects the scale length and the tone of the guitar.
I would suggest that you go for a guitar with the required number of frets for the kind of genre you intend to play.
In conclusion, there are so many things to consider while learning how to play the guitar. Understanding frets and how they work will make your play more comfortable and your learning time shorter.
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