Have you ever heard of fret? Do you know how many frets on a guitar?
The guitar is an instrument with a long and storied history that has evolved leaps and bounds since its humble beginnings as a Spanish instrument in the late 15th century. The evolution of the guitar has been completely intertwined with the evolution of music. For this reason, knowing each part of the guitar is necessary for a proper understanding of the instrument.
What are Frets?
The frets on a guitar are typically metal rings that sit evenly along the fingerboard, the piece of wood that runs along the length of the neck. The purpose of a fretted instrument is to provide a pathway for the string to vibrate, which makes it easier for the musician to play chords, melodies, and scales. Frets also help provide stability for the instrument and keep the strings quiet.
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Every guitar neck has a specific geometry that determines how the strings vibrate and how the notes will be played. The number of frets attached to the guitar neck determines how many frets the player has to press on the guitar string to play a specific note. The fret is the notched metal bar where one of the strings is placed. The fretboard is the piece of wood that the strings are attached to.
The fretboard is where you’ll find the notes of your music. While each string can be played with one finger, most of us use our fretting fingers to play melodies. Whether you strum, pick, or pluck the strings, only the fingers that can fret the strings can make music. On a standard acoustic guitar, the frets are located on the neck, but electric guitars have a plastic fretboard placed on the body of the instrument. So, how many frets are on a guitar?
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Counting the Guitars Frets
Adding a fret to a guitar body allows the player to play higher-pitched strings without having to use a capo. So, how many frets does a guitar have? This is a difficult question to answer since the number of frets on a guitar has varied depending on the musician’s preferred style and the instrument’s intended purpose.
Well, there is a simple answer to the question; the answer is, “One more than you think.” In this case, you would probably be correct if you guessed that it is between 20 and 24 frets, but the truth is actually a bit more complex.
There are three main types of guitar. First, there’s the acoustic guitar which is played by plucking the strings. The next is the electric guitar, which is played by pressing the strings and moving the fabric on the bridge to make it vibrate the strings. Lastly, there’s the bass guitar, played by plucking the strings, with some instruments also featuring a microphone to amplify the sound. And all of these have different types of frets, which define the number of frets on the instrument.
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Different Types of Guitars: How many frets do they have?
A fretted instrument consists of a fret board and a set of frets that represent the musical notes. For instance, the guitar you are likely reading this on has 20 frets arranged in a 5-string system that the notes are C, C#, D, D#, and E. This system is known as the “standard guitar tuning.” But why do some guitars have longer or shorter frets than others?
With each passing year, the number of frets on a guitar increases. Why? Is it because someone decided to make a guitar with more frets to make it easier to play? No. It’s because our fingers need more leverage to press down the strings on a guitar. As the width of the neck increases, the distance between the nut (the nut is what you see when you open the guitar) and the first fret becomes shorter.
Let’s check on the following types of guitars on how many frets on a guitar they have:
- Acoustic guitar
Acoustic guitars have a very distinct set, or number, of frets and fretboard markers known as their fretboard. As the name suggests, the frets are made of metal, and they are used to help map the notes on the strings, which don’t necessarily follow the same rules as conventional strings. For example, a steel-stringed acoustic guitar has 18 to 20 frets.
This type of guitar has a significantly smaller number of frets than electric guitars, so there’s much less space for a player to fret notes. Each fret is the same width, although the spacing decreases as you move up the neck.
- Electric guitar
Electric guitars have more frets than acoustic guitars. The reason for this is that electric guitars and bass guitars need to be able to be tuned to a specific pitch, whereas acoustic guitars don’t need to be tuned at all. The most common electric guitar tuning is E (standard tuning), where all of the strings are the same, and they all go the same frets.
Current models of electric guitars include a neck with between 22 and 24 frets, and the frets are located on the lower portion of the neck. The stop tailpiece enables the electric guitar to play in a variety of tunings, and frets are placed at intervals of an equal-tempered quarter-tone.
- Bass guitar
Bass players tend to be pickier about their guitar than guitarists. If you’re a bass player, you probably spend more time trying to find the right pickup for your bass than you do playing the guitar. It’s no surprise that the instruments are of different sizes. Fender’s Jazz Bass is 79-inches long and has 21 frets, while a Jazzmaster is 81-inches long and has 24 frets.
Basses are held in the lap (and sometimes under the leg) of the right hand, and fretting is done by pressing down alternate strings to make a note sound. The strings are usually tuned to “E” or “A” – which are the same note but in different octaves. So, how many frets are on a guitar called a bass guitar? Since there are only 4 strings, each string is the same length, and with 21, 22, or 24 frets, there are, in total, 3 octaves. For example, if you have 24 frets, you can play all 6 notes of the piano range.
Why does different type of guitars have a different number of frets? Well, the main feature distinguishing guitars is the number of frets they have. A guitar with 22 frets has 22 spaces on the fingerboard where you can play notes. The range of notes that can be played on the neck of a guitar is the same as one octave. Also, the fret’s size also varies for different types of guitars, depending on the range of the keys.
Number of Frets: Does It Matter?
The number of frets on a guitar is a subject that has divided the guitar community for years. Some believe that the more frets on the neck, the better the guitar sounds, while others say it is more important to keep the guitar in tune, so fewer frets is better. But which is true? Does how many frets on a guitar matter?
Does the number of frets really matter? The short answer is because of the tone and sustains that the guitar can create. Fret spacing and size can make a huge difference in terms of creating a clean and bright tone or a more ragged and muddier one. Here are the other two main reasons why the number of frets does matter:
- Neck Pickup Tone – Neck pickup tone is one of the reasons why the number of frets on a guitar matter. If you are an acoustic guitarist, you will appreciate that the more frets you have on the neck, the more tone you get from your instrument. However, if you are a metal guitarist, you will realize that more frets on the neck mean that you have more notes to play, so your musical output will not be affected by the neck pickup tone.
- Reachable Notes – There are many reasons why you should care about the number of frets on a guitar, but the most important one is that your guitar will play better. As you might have noticed, the pitch of the note you play on a guitar depends on how hard you fret the string. There is a direct correlation between the height of the fret and the pitch you hear. And if the notes are too high or too low, this can be annoying when you play.
When it comes to guitars, the number of frets on the neck is one of the most important things to consider. These frets determine how much string tension the guitar is capable of holding, which in turn affects how well a guitar sounds. Guitarists love their frets. These tiny metal bars come in all shapes, sizes, and materials.
Do you want to know How Many Guitar Chords Are There?
No matter what type you prefer on how many frets on a guitar, the number of frets on a guitar (called the “fretboard”) is a hotly debated topic among players. Some argue for the maximum number of frets that is practical. Others believe that as long as there are enough frets to make chords, the fewer frets are better. Whichever side you are on, as long as you were able to play a great melody with your own guitar, that’s what matters most.