If you’re a musician, you’ve probably asked yourself this question; how many frets on a guitar are there? But what are frets? And why is it essential in the first place?
That’s simply because it’ll help you figure out precisely what type of guitar you want. You’ll know exactly what kind of guitar will cover the range of chords you want to play. In this article, we’ll go over one of the lesser-explored topics in the music industry.
Here’s all you need to know about guitar frets.
What Are Guitar Frets?
If you look at a guitar, you’ll be able to see the body and neck of the guitar. The neck extends away from the body to the headstock. What you see on the front side of this neck is the fingerboard or the fretboard.
You’ll be able to observe singular metal frets running perpendicularly to the neck after equal intervals. These frets help the guitarist create different chord and pitch combinations.
How Many String Does A Fretboard Have?
There can be anywhere between 6-8 strings on an average guitar. But generally speaking, most guitars have six strings. When played in different combinations of chords, guitarists can make magic happen. Here’s what each of these strings is called (lowest to highest):
- 6th: Low-E String (thicket string).
- 5th: A String.
- 4th: D String.
- 3rd: G String.
- 2nd: B String.
- 1st: High E-String (thinnest string).
How Many Frets On A Guitar Are There?
The number of frets on a guitar is different for each type of guitar. For example, classical, acoustic, and electric guitar all have a different number of strings. When picking out the best guitar for yourself, you should pay attention to the number of frets. Choose a higher number of frets if you’re going for a broader range of chords.
An average guitar can have anywhere between 17-24 frets. But there can be exceptions. For example, some older guitars have just about 14 strings. On the other hand shredding, guitars can have up to 39 strings. So there is no one-size-fits-all.
Here’s how many frets on a guitar there are depending on the three major guitar types.
Acoustic guitars don’t have as many frets as electric guitars. Typically acoustic guitars have around 18-20 frets. The guitar neck meets the body of the guitar, typically at the 12th fret.
You’ve probably come across terms such as ‘12 fret’ guitar or a ‘14 fret’ guitar. This number points to the total frets between the body and the nut. Guitarists usually prefer one over the other.
Some acoustic guitars can have an even fewer number of strings. Small parlor guitars are one such example.
Why Do Acoustic Guitars Have Fewer Frets?
Acoustic guitars are larger as compared to their electrical counterparts. They owe their classic sound to their large hollow body. This feature is very different from any electric guitar you’ll see out there.
So considering the size of the guitar, you won’t be able to play anything over 12 frets comfortably. So anything more than that is pretty much unnecessary. Of course, you can use cutaway to avoid this problem, but there’s not much need to put in that much effort.
Electric guitars have the highest number of frets out of all three major guitar types. You can classify electric guitars into three categories depending on the number of frets. There is ‘21 fret’, ‘22 fret’, and ‘24 fret’ guitars accordingly.
21 Fret Electric Guitars
These electric guitars lost their popularity back in the 1980s. After this, the 22 fret and 24 fret guitars were all the rage.
The best part about these guitars is that you can easily remove the pickguards on these guitars.
22 Fret Electric guitars
If you ask, what’s the most common electric guitar type? It’s most definitely the 22 fret guitars. These have been the go-to choices for Joe Satriani and Eddie Van Halen.
You can play your favorite vintage classics on a 22 fret electric guitar. Play warm jazz tones and pickup tones to perfection with these bad boys. The last fret will give you the high E up to E so you can jam on to a wide range of chords.
24 Fret Electric Guitars
Unlike the warm and mellow tone of the 22 fret guitar, the 24 fret guitar won’t help you play jazz tones or classic Strat pickup tones. However, it is a favorite of the modern rock guitar players.
The best thing you get with a 24 fret guitar is the ample space you get to move your fingers around a play versatile tunes. Apart from this, the pickup placement is also one of the fantastic perks 24 fret guitars are known for. You get a wide range of bright and dark output tones unique to the 24 fret guitar.
Classical guitars are a lot like acoustic guitars. Most nylon-string classical guitars you’ll find feature only 12 frets.
Manufacturers do sometimes add extra frets for those who enjoy experimenting. So you might end up with a 16 fret or 17 fret classical guitar after all. However, it is pretty much unlikely.
Why Do Frets Matter?
Frets will affect two important things in your overall guitar experience.
Depending on the kind of music, you can play different notes on different types of guitars. For example, for acoustic guitars, most notes are played around the 14th fret. However, for rock music, notes are commonly played around the 17th fret.
Neck Pickup Tone
The more frets you add, the neck pickup position gets closer to the bridge. As a result, the tonal quality of your guitar changes, and you can achieve brighter tones.
Depending on the tone you’re aiming for will significantly affect the number of frets you prefer on your guitar.
Now we’ve established that the average guitar has about 17-24 frets. These frets affect the tone of the guitar, so you should be mindful of each. You don’t want to have the wrong guitar for the job.
So now you can go guitar shopping confidently and find precisely what you need. Good luck!