How many Frets do I need?

How many Frets do I need?

The following question has come up a number of times, and was recently asked after the post on Choose the Guitar Neck Scale Length That Fits. “Which guitar is better to buy: a 22 fret or a 24 fret? Does it really make a difference?”

What I believe is a more important question or one which must be asked in conjunction with the 22 versus 24 fret question is, what is the scale length of the instrument, 24.75 inches or 25.5 inches?

Both guidelines including the number of frets and neck scale length have a slim effect on playability in most cases. The most evident structural problem is how the number of frets and scale length affect pickup placement, this is very essential to the tone. Examine a Gibson Custom Limited Edition Les Paul Custom Electric Guitar versus a PRS Custom 24. Both instruments have the exact same scale length, but the Gibson has 22 frets and the PRS has 24. Since the neck pickup is mounted right at the end of the fingerboard, meaning that the location of the neck pickup’s pole-pieces will be in a different position in relation to the vibrating string’s length: On the Gibson they happen to be directly under the anti-node. Believe me, this has a tremendous effect on the tone of the guitar. On the 24 fret PRS, the pole-pieces do not line up with the string’s anti-node, because that’s where the 24th fret has to go. Therefore it is virtually out of the question for a 24 fret PRS to get a similar tone as a Les Paul neck pickup.

It is taken for granted to say that the part of the vibrating string exposed to the pickup’s pole-pieces determines timbre. No properly built 24 fret guitars can have the neck pickup’s pole-pieces under the string’s anti-node so they will necessarily sound different.

Most of the argument posed by Guitar Players Center is relative to the player. Much of what you enjoy can be attributed to what you are used to playing. For some folks the 2 extra frets are useless. The one thing not mentioned yet is that 24 frets give you two full octaves. Since frets one through twelve are one octave, frets thirteen through twenty four produce a full octave more, which is handy in order to produce certain vibes. Not essential though.

Think about it and Enjoy. Remember, play the guitar you may be interested in before you buy it.

11 Responses to What Is Better, a 22 Fret or 24 Fret Guitar?

  1. Danny, great question.
    One thing, if I may correct you, is the PRS has a 25″ scale length, not 24 3/4″. This pushes the neck pup of the PRS a little farther out from that “sweet spot”, or anti node. The neck pup of a CU24 PRS is somewhat brighter than a Les Paul, for the reasons you mentioned.
    I’ve gotten used to the 24 fretters, in fact there are a few songs I can only play on the CU24 due to my left index finger situation. I love my 24 fret guitars, and use the second octave to my advantage, sometimes even bending the high “e” at the 24th all the way up to “g”.
    Your mileage may vary….
    Allan.

  2. my guitar is red, and it is sweet. :D

  3. Well, I always learn something new–didn’t know I had a choice in frets. Love the picture of the pencil neck, by the way….

  4. Wow, really I didn’t know that thing with where the pickup is located. I really haven’t thought about it, I didn’t think it would make a difference!Great post!

  5. Very informed post. As you say, the most important thang is where that neck pickup falls.

    I personally get by just fine with 21 frets.

    I like Adina’s answer :D

  6. Interesting post! – a question though, doesn’t the position of the anti-nodes depend on the frequency of the note you’re playing? i.e it’s/they’re(?) going to be at different positions along the string for every fret position? (or am i missing something – wouldn’t be the first time…)

    cheers.

  7. Sherman Horsley

    Depends on the person playing them.

  8. The antinode argument for the difference isn’t entirely true. Assuming you aren’t fretting the strings, the antinode would be directly above the twelfth fret, and the twenty-fourth fret would be exactly halfway between the antinode and one of the nodes (the bridge). This in itself doesn’t really matter, but also, as you change the length of string that is vibrating by fretting the strings, you will change what part of the wave the pickup is receiving.

  9. a valuable post! – i think this question is not bother for it, doesn’t the position of the anti-nodes depend on the frequency of the note you’re playing?as i have read in my online schools ( guitar education) i.e it’s/they’re(?) going to be at different positions along the string for every fret position? (or am i missing something – wouldn’t be the first time…m i right or wrong??

  10. I got a question…Can you imitate the sound of a 24-fret guitar on a 22-fret guitar?E-mail me at Treys_95@yahoo.com with your answers.Thx in advance.

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