The number of frets on an acoustic guitar can vary based on the manufacturer, body shape, and more. This can influence how easy or difficult it is to play different notes and how your pickup sound will be affected.
The higher you go on an acoustic guitar’s neck, the harder it will be to press down. That’s why guitar producers typically reduce the number of upper frets on acoustic guitars.
Fret material plays a huge role in how a guitar sounds. It transmits vibrational energy that causes the strings to vibrate and change their pitch. In acoustic guitars, the frets are usually made of nickel-silver or stainless steel.
These metal strips are hammered into slots on the fingerboard (also called the fretboard) that are designed to fit the width of the neck. The frets consist of a rounded “crown” that runs the length of the slot and a thinner “tang” with barbs on either side. The crown and tang are cut into the fingerboard before the fret is hammered in place, although some luthiers use glue to hold them in position.
The majority of acoustic guitars have 20 frets, but some models have up to 24. A guitar that has a higher number of frets will typically have heavier strings and a more full tone.
There are many different types of fret material, but the most common is nickel-silver. This is a very popular choice because it is well-fitting to the fingerboard and does not emit any skin oils. However, it is not as hard wearing as stainless steel and will need a re-fret if the frets begin to wear down.
Stainless steel is an alternative to nickel-silver, but it is harder to work with and will require special installation tools. This can make the job a little more difficult and expensive, but it’s worth the extra expense if you want crisp-sounding, long-lasting frets.
EVO gold is another option that has become popular among some guitarists. This is a copper alloy that meets the ‘nickel free’ requirement and is very hard-wearing, but not as hard as stainless steel.
The fretboard of an acoustic guitar is the most important part of the instrument. It determines comfort, playing style, and tone. The guitar’s top is usually Sitka spruce, mahogany, rosewood, or maple. The body of the acoustic guitar is also made of wood, which affects tone as well.
Often, guitars have dots or custom marks inlaid into the fretboard to indicate which frets are where on the neck. These are commonly placed on the third, fifth, seventh, ninth, and twelfth frets. They are especially helpful if you have difficulty noticing the differences in the frets on the neck.
The fret height is the height of the top of a fret above the fingerboard. This is important because it affects intonation, string tension and bending. Generally, shorter frets require more pressure to finger a note than taller ones do. However, this isn’t always the case.
Some players prefer shorter frets because they don’t require as much pressure to get a clear note out, and this can be helpful for players who play heavy handed and who have difficulty controlling how much pressure they apply consistently. On the other hand, taller frets may be more suitable for players who need to bend notes sharply and who want to have a little bit more room between their fingers and the strings as they play.
You can measure the action height of a guitar by placing a ruler against a fret and measuring how far from the bottom of that ruler the string sits above it. This is an easy way to check if the strings are too high or too low, but you should use a ruler that ends at zero (preferably a wide one).
Another way to measure the action height of a guitar is by using an action gauge. This is like a small ruler that is designed specifically to measure guitar action. There are even some that can also measure the height of a nut.
Getting the action height of your guitar right is essential for good tone and avoiding buzzing. It’s best to measure your action from a reference point on the neck and then adjust it as necessary.
The action height of an acoustic guitar depends on many factors, including the type of strings you’re playing with and how often you use a capo. It can also change if you change the humidity or temperature in your home.
A higher action height will give an acoustic guitar more room to vibrate the strings, so it’ll have a clearer tone. This can be especially useful if you’re playing open chords and want to keep the notes clean.
As mentioned above, action height is a personal preference and it’s important to experiment to find out which fret size works best for you. It’s also worth comparing different guitars when testing out a fret size. This will help you decide which ones are best for you, and will make sure that you’re not buying a guitar with a spec that doesn’t suit your playing style or preferences.
The fret crown is the top of the fret that is in contact with the strings when you play. It must be rounded so that the strings vibrate at the correct contact point, and it must also be flatter than the tops of the frets to avoid buzzing.
When an acoustic guitar gets old, the frets often get worn down. This can cause problems with intonation and the instrument can feel rough or mushy. Usually, a leveling and crowning process is needed to give the frets a new look and feel.
There are several types of fret crowning files that can be used to give your frets a new shape. These files vary a lot in terms of their design, but all are specialized tools for shaping the fret crown.
One of the most popular crowning files around is the medium 3-corner file. This is a file that has a wide toothless edge on the corner of each side, which makes it easy to control the file when you’re working with the crown of the fret. This file is also great for crowning because it keeps the corners of the fret flat, which means you don’t have to worry about the corners marring your fingerboard.
Another good option for crowning is the diamond fret crown file, which uses industrial diamonds to remove metal and create a smooth surface. The diamond particles quickly remove material, making this an excellent choice for hard-to-remove materials like stainless steel and bell bronze.
You can also choose a file that has a Z-cut surface to keep the file’s shape when you are preserving the top of the fret. These files are a little more expensive than regular crowning files, but they do a much better job of cutting through the metal and leaving a good surface.
Fret crowning is a delicate job. It’s important that you work with a high quality file. This will help ensure the crown is shaped properly and you’ll be able to do your best work with the crowns. It’s also important to work with the appropriate grit size and file shape to ensure you don’t damage the fret crown.
A fret wire is a thin strip of metal that divides the fingerboard into different pitches. It’s a vital part of acoustic guitar, as it helps to maintain the tone of the instrument and prevent the loss of intonation when the marker strings move.
Fret wires are made of a blend of metal alloys. The most common alloy is called ‘German silver’, a mix of about 80% nickel and 18% copper. However, some people are allergic to this metal and so stainless steel fret wires have also been introduced.
Stainless steel wire is very durable and crisp-sounding, but it can be expensive to refret. It’s harder to work with than standard ‘nickel-silver’ wire, so expect to pay more for your next re-fret.
There are a range of different fret wire sizes available, which is one of the reasons why it’s so important to choose carefully when purchasing new guitar hardware. Whether you’re just starting out or have already progressed in your playing, the fret size you choose will influence everything from how fast you can play to the amount of pressure you need to apply to your fingers.
In my opinion, shorter frets are better for players who want to feel the board under their fingers as they play. They’re less likely to wear out and will also require less pressure than taller frets.
The other factor to consider when choosing the right fret wire is the material it’s made from. Traditionally, fret wires were made from soft metals like brass for ease of use, but this has recently been replaced by more durable, higher quality materials.
The most commonly used material for acoustic guitar fret wire is ‘Nickel Silver’ or ‘German Silver’, which is a mix of 80% nickel and 18% copper with the last 2% being small amounts of other metals like zinc and cadmium. It’s a popular choice for acoustic guitars, and is widely available in a range of different sizes.