How Many Frets Do Guitars Have? (Answered!)

Although there are some general guidelines for how many frets do guitars have, the actual numbers can vary. This is mostly determined by the design of the guitar and the music styles that are played on it.

The number of frets on a guitar that is usually considered is the number of frets on its neck. However, many guitars have usable frets on their bodies that add up to the frets on the neck.

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How Many Frets Do Guitars Have?

Many guitar designs date back many years and are still used in the production of guitars today. The number of frets on a fretboard can be determined by the design of the guitar by providing standards for various types of guitars. The number of frets on a fretboard can actually determine the type of guitar.

The number of frets on a guitar is also heavily influenced by music styles. Each style is distinguished by its approach to musical elements such as melody, harmony, rhythm, texture, and ornamentation.

The number of frets aids in the expression of these elements in a variety of musical styles. For example, styles known for their riffs are usually played on guitars with more frets.

There are many different types of guitar designs based on the player’s preferences. However, three of these designs serve as the foundation for the others.

There are three types of guitars: classical nylon-stringed guitars, acoustic steel-stringed guitars, and electric guitars.

The neck of a classical guitar with nylon strings typically has 12 frets. It is unusual to play on frets above fret 14 on classical guitars. Despite this, the bodies of these guitars have six or seven more frets. This means that the fretboard of a classical guitar has approximately 17 frets in total.

Acoustic and classical guitar fretboards are similar in terms of fret number. Acoustic guitars typically have 18-20 frets. From the nut to the beginning of the body, they usually have 12-14 frets.

There are usually 6-8 frets between the end of the neck and the soundhole of the guitar. Parlor acoustic guitars typically have fewer frets than larger, grand auditorium models.

Electric guitars frequently have a fretboard with 20-24 frets. The neck of an electric guitar has 14-17 frets. The remaining frets are located on the body of the guitar.

Some guitar manufacturers are well-known for producing guitars with more frets than other guitars of the same type. Ibanez, for example, has created a 30-fret electric guitar called the Ibanez RG550XH, and Washburn is also known for this practice, producing guitars with up to 36 frets.

Many guitars have their bodies indented right where the neck connects to the body. This is most commonly seen with electric guitars.

However, many acoustic guitars are made in this manner and are popular among guitar players. The indentation allows players to use the frets located on the body of the guitar without the body becoming an impediment.

What Are Guitar Frets?

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What Are Guitar Frets

The fret is the raised element on the neck of your guitar. It’s usually made of brass and a nickel alloy. These are made along the entire length of the guitar neck, next to the fretboard.

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It is used to change the length of the vibrating string in order to produce different sounds or a specific note.

Many people confuse fret with a small square box; however, fret is a metal strip. The fret refers to the area between these two metal strips.

To help you understand, consider the area between the nut at the bottom of the fretboard and the first metal strip; this area is known as the ‘first fret.’ Next, consider the area between the first metal strip and the second metal strip.

It is the method by which the frets are counted. Many guitarists are perplexed by this. We understand what frets are, but what do they do and how do they affect tone?

A common misconception is that one fret can raise the pitch of a note by a semi-tone or a half-step. To raise the pitch by one step, for example, place your finger on the second fret or the second metal strip on the guitar neck.

These metal strips divide the neck of a guitar into small segments. Each of these segments corresponds to a single semi-tone.

Even though these are just simple metal strips, they help a guitarist achieve a satisfactory level of intonation. Furthermore, playing chords becomes simple and convenient.

The only disadvantage of these frets is that they limit pitch to the temperament defined by the fret positions. Many guitarists use the bending technique to compensate for this ‘flaw.’ It occurs when the string is pulled to the side, increasing string tension as well as pitch.

How Many Frets On A Guitar? - Musicaroo
How Many Frets Do Guitars Have?

How Many Frets Do Guitars Have (Usually)?

When we talk about frets, we’re referring to the number of fret wires that run from the nut to the end of the fretboard.

The number of frets on a guitar varies depending on the type of guitar (electrics differ from acoustics) and, to a lesser extent, the model (for example, a Strat or a Les Paul).

Most modern guitars have between 19 and 24 frets as a rule of thumb. Acoustic guitars have a low fret count (usually around 20 frets) and electric guitars have a slightly higher fret count (around 22 to 24 frets).

There are some exceptions, such as some old skool acoustic guitars from the 1800s, which had only 14 frets! While some modern shredding guitars have as many as 39!

Number of Frets on Acoustic Guitars

The number of frets on an acoustic guitar is typically less than that of an electric guitar. The guitar neck meets the body at the 12th fret on standard classical and flamenco guitars, which have 19 frets (at the heel).

On classical guitars, the soundhole placement usually means that the fingerboard ends around fret 18 or 19.

Steel-stringed acoustic guitars typically have 18 to 20 frets, with 12 to 14 frets above the body (there will usually be 6 to 8 frets between where the neck meets the body and the soundhole).

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Guitars are frequently referred to as ’12 fret’ or ’14 fret.’ This refers to the number of frets between the nut and the body, and players frequently prefer one over the other.

However, not all steel-string acoustics are the same. Parlor guitars (small guitars) typically have fewer frets.

Why aren’t there more frets on acoustic guitars? Well, frets beyond 12 become extremely difficult to play, especially for chords. Yes, cutaways help, but you’re still obstructed by the guitar’s body.

Some examples:

  • Ortega 3/4 size (classical guitar)  – 18 frets
  • Washburn R314KK (vintage parlour guitar)  – 18 frets
  • Taylor Big Baby – 20 frets
  • Martin D-28 – 20 frets
  • Gibson Hummingbird – 20 frets
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How Many Frets Do Guitars Have? (Answered!) 6

Number of Frets on Electric Guitars

Modern electric guitars, including baritone guitars, have 21 to 24 frets (usually 22) and connect to the body around the 17th fret. Short scale guitars, such as the Les Paul, frequently have fewer frets as well.

Some examples:

  • Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster – 21 or 22 frets, depending on year and model
  • Fender Jaguar and Jazzmaster – 22 frets
  • Gibson Les Paul – 22 frets, joining the body at the 16th fret
  • Gibson SG – 22 frets, joining the body at the 19th fret
  • Epiphone ES 335 Limited Edition – 22 frets
  • PRS S2 Custom 24 – 24 frets
  • Superstrat – 27 frets (25 frets at the 6th string)
  • Ibanez RG550XH – 30 frets
  • Washburn EC36 – 36 frets
  • BassLab Jinmoid – 39 frets + 1 zero fret

Does The Number Of Frets On A Guitar Matter?

In short, yes it does! Here are the main reasons…

Reachable Notes

Consider your favorite guitar solo. It’s likely that some, if not all, of it was played high up the neck. It’s common in a lot of rock music to play high up the fretboard, around the 17th fret and beyond.

This is where you’ll find a lot of great guitar solos. However, playing acoustic guitars above the 14th fret is uncommon.

Neck Pickup Tone

When you add more frets, the position of the neck pickup shifts slightly closer to the bridge. As a result, the tonal quality of the neck pickup changes, giving it a brighter sound as it gets closer to the bridge (the nearer a pickup is to the bridge, the brighter it will sound because of the increased tension of the strings there).

A word of caution: many people confuse the number of frets with the length of the scale. This is incorrect. The length of the scale is measured from the nut to the bridge and does not include the number of frets.

So now you know that most guitars have between 19 and 24 frets as standard. Take out your guitars and count how many you have; you might be surprised at how many you have!

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The Rule of 18 - It's Something to Fret About - The Institute for Arts  Integration and STEAM
How Many Frets Do Guitars Have? (Answered!) 7

Does it Matter How Many Frets a Guitar Has?

The number of frets on a guitar is not usually considered when purchasing a guitar, particularly by beginners. Professional guitars understand how much the number of frets on a guitar can affect its performance.

The number of frets on a guitar determines the type of sound that can be produced by the instrument. A 22-fret electric guitar, for example, is used to produce light jazz music and similar tones with a light and mellow touch.

A 24-fret electric guitar is ideal for rock guitarists and those interested in making metal music. With the addition of two frets, the sound shifts from light and mellow to dark and bright. When it comes to selecting a suitable guitar, the number of frets is extremely important.

Furthermore, if you’re a lead guitarist, you’ll most likely need access to 24 frets to play certain solos.

While it may not be a major concern for a beginner, those who are knowledgeable about their craft and the genre they are working on must consider the number of frets. Neglecting this aspect may lead to a guitarist making the wrong decision and investing money in the wrong model.

When deciding how many frets you’ll need on your guitar, I recommend considering the type of music you’ll be playing. You can also look at famous musicians who play the songs you want to learn and see how many frets they have on their guitar.

If you want to play guitar like John Petrucci, for example, his Music Man guitars have 24 frets. Eric Johnson’s Fender Stratocasters have 21 frets if you want to play like him.

Conclusion

The fret-fact guide has covered everything you need to know about frets and how many frets are on each type of guitar. Before you buy an instrument for yourself, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting for your money. This can save you from wasting your money on the wrong guitar model.

FAQs About How Many Frets Do Guitars Have?

How many frets does a guitar normally have?

Most modern guitars have between 19 and 24 frets as a rule of thumb. Acoustic guitars have fewer frets (typically around 20) than electric guitars, which have slightly more (typically 22 to 24 frets).

How many frets are best for guitar?

The most common acoustic guitar models have a minimum of 18 frets and a maximum of 20 frets. There are usually 12 to 14 frets between the nut and the starting point of the body. These guitars have 6 to 8 frets between the soundhole and the end of the neck.

How many frets does a beginner guitar have?

The frets on an acoustic guitar are divided into two groups: 12 to 14 frets running from the nut to the beginning of the guitar’s body. 6 to 8 frets from the sound hole to the end of the guitar’s neck

Trina Oralde

I'm a tech writer and contributor who covers the latest in gadgets and technology. I keep my finger on the pulse of the tech world, so you don't have to. Stay up-to-date on the latest with me!

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