Ever wonder how many frets are on a guitar? If you’re in the market for a new guitar, either electric or acoustic, this is an often overlooked aspect.
Many people don’t actually realized that different types of guitars have a different number of frets. This is important to consider when choosing a guitar because you’ll want to make sure that your guitar has a sufficient number of frets to play the types of music you want.
So how many frets are on a guitar?
In short, the number of frets on a guitar depends on the type of guitar. A classical guitar usually comes with 17 total frets. An acoustic guitar usually has between 18-20 frets. As for electric guitars, they usually come in either 21, 22, or 24 fret configurations
These are the average number of frets; these may vary with the manufacturer. Several guitar brands such as Ibanez and Washburn manufacture guitars with 30 and even 36 frets.
In this article, we’ll be discussing exactly how many frets are a on a guitar in detail. We’ll talk about the different types of guitars, how many frets each one has, the differences bewteen 22 and 24 fret guitars, and why the number of frets on a guitar actually matters.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
What Are Guitar Frets?
The raised element on the neck of your guitar is the fret. It is typically made of brass and nickel alloy. These are created on the entire length of the guitar neck, alongside the fretboard. It is used to alter the vibrating length of the string to produce different sounds or a specific note.
Many people mistake fret as being the small square box; however, fret is the metal strip. The part between these two metal strips is referred to as the fret.
To help you understand, let us consider the part between the nut on the fretboard’s bottom and the first metal strip; this part is what we call the ‘first fret.’ Now, the part between the first metal strip and the second metal strip, is what we refer to as the ‘second fret.’
It is how you number the frets. Many guitarists get really confused about it. We know what frets are, but what do the frets do, and how do they affect the tone?
A general understanding is that one fret can raise the pitch of the note by a semi-tine or a half-step. If you want to, for say, raise the pitch by one step, you will have to place your finger on the second fret or the second metal strip on the guitar neck.
These metal strips divide a guitar’s neck into small segments. Each of these segments represents one semi-tone.
Even though these are just simple metal strips, but they assist a guitarist in achieving a satisfying standard of intonation. Moreover, playing chords also becomes easy and convenient.
The only drawback of these frets is that they restrict pitches to the temperament defined by the fret positions. To cater to this ‘flaw,’ many guitarists choose the bending technique. It is when the string is pulled to the side, increasing the tension in string as well as the pitch.
How Many Frets Does an Electric Guitar Have?
Both tone and playability of an electric guitar depend majorly on the number of frets on the guitar. Frets do matter when evaluating a guitar for purchase or comparing two guitar models. Commonly, there are three types of electric guitars, based on the number of frets; those with 21 frets, followed by 22-, and 24-fret guitars.
There are some manufacturers that even create guitars that have 30 and sometimes 36 frets.
Electric Guitars That Have 22 Frets
22-fret guitars are the most form of electric guitars. For anyone who wants to experience the vintage and classic guitaring sounds, go for these guitars. In these versions, the A pentatonic is located just above the octave, making it very visible.
Moreover, a guitarist will know that the last fret will help them achieve the high E up to E. The tone produced by these guitars is mellow and warm. These guitars are most suitable for producing light jazz tones and classic Strat neck pickup tones.
Musicians such as Eddie Van Halen and Joe Satriani prefer using a 22-fret guitar for their performances.
Electric Guitars That Have 24 Frets
We know that 24-fret guitars are not suitable for producing tunes such as light jazz and classic Strat pickup tones. One of the most dominant reasons why people choose these guitars is that it gives them a larger space to move. But it is not the only benefit of 24-fret guitars.
The pickup placement is one of the most significant benefits of playing a 24-fret guitar. The two extra frets push the neck pickup close to the bridge. It makes the output tunes a bright, dark, and mellower touch.
The modern rock electric guitar players love this feature, and that is why they choose the 24-fret guitars. It lets a player go from calm fat bridge pickup tone to the neck position without making things too muddy.
It is a great choice in terms of EQ. John Petrucci also uses the 2-fret guitars to enhance his performance for the audience.
Electric Guitars That Have 21 Frets
The common guitar models offer 22 and 24 frets, 22 being the most common of the two. However. 21-fret guitars were common before the 1980s, the time before 24-fret guitars were introduced. The pickguard removal on these guitars is easier as compared to 22- and 24-fret guitars.
How Many Frets Does an Acoustic Guitar Have?
In comparison to electric guitars, acoustic guitars offer a lower number of frets. The most commonly manufactured acoustic guitar models come with a minimum of 18 frets and a maximum of 20 frets. In part between the nut and starting point of the body, there are usually 12 to 14 frets.
Between the soundhole of the guitar and the end of the neck, these guitars feature 6 to 8 frets. The parlor acoustic guitars come with frets lower than a large, grand auditorium guitar.
How Many Frets Does a Classical Guitar Have?
The classical guitars are much similar to acoustic guitars in terms of fret numbers.
The nylon-stringed classical guitars come with only 12 frets. The reason behind it is the fact that acoustic guitar players do not usually play on frets higher than 14; it is highly unusual.
However, manufacturers of classical guitars equip their models with six to seven extra frets. Therefore, a typical classical guitar comes with 17 frets.
22 Fret Guitars Vs. 24 Fret Guitars: What’s the Difference?
When choosing between a 22-fret guitar and a 24-fret guitar, there are two factors that are generally considered. These factors include ease of the fretboard and the output sound of the guitar.
The biggest consideration, in this case, is the shift of the neck’s position and that of the middle pickup. In a 24-fret guitar, these two points are more towards the bridge. It makes the sound brighter and helps in creating modern rock tunes.
For vintage and classic tone, choosing a 22-fret guitar is perfect as the bridge and neck pushup is further away. The closer these are, the darker and brighter the tone will be.
In the 24-fret guitar, the lower cutaway is moved back. It is done to help a guitarist easily use the two frets on the body, without it being an obstacle.
Does it Matter How Many Frets a Guitar Has?
The number of frets on the guitar is not usually taken into account when purchasing a guitar, especially the beginners. The professional guitars know exactly how significantly the number of frets on the guitar can impact their performance.
The number of frets determines the type of sound a guitarist will be able to produce using the guitar. Just like a 22-fret electric guitar is used to produce light jazz music and similar tones that have a light and mellow touch.
A 24-fret electric guitar is perfect for rock guitarists and those who want to make metal music. Just the addition of two frets changes the sound from light and mellow to dark and bright. It is how important the number of frets is when it comes to choosing a suitable guitar.
In addition, if you’re a lead guitar player, you’ll likely find yourself needing access to 24 frets to play certain solos.
While it might not be a huge concern for a beginner, those who know their craft and the genre they are working on, they have to consider the number of frets. Neglecting this element might push a guitarist to make the wrong choice and invest money in the wrong model.
When deciding how many frets you will need on your guitar, I would suggest thinking about the style of music you’re going to be playing. You can also look at the famous musicians who play the songs that you eventually want to play and see how many frets are on their guitar.
The fret-fact guide has covered everything that you need to know about what frets are and the number of frets on each type of guitar. Before you purchase an instrument for yourself, make sure you know exactly what you are putting your money on, and it can save you from investing your hard-earned money in the wrong guitar model.