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Why only 22 frets???

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(@katmetal)
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Joined: 15 years ago
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Maybe it's just me, but I need a 24 fret guitar. Strats & LP pretty much come only in a 22 fret configuration. I know a lot of the pro players {Yngwie, EVH, Clapton) & a ton more play 22 fret guitars. I just seem to have a problem if I don't have 2 full octaves.

I want to purchase a Les Paul soon - well, probably a knock off, especially at the current prices.

Rondo has a Douglas for $119. Can't beat that price! I have a Douglas strat style guitar that is just awesome. Guitar Fetish has their line of Xaviere guitars, I really like the XV-700 for $219. Here again, 22 frets... :?

Guess it is just a hang up for me...

Thoughts - comments?


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(@noteboat)
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22 frets is almost 4 octaves Kat :)

It's a trade-off. The more frets you have, the more notes you can play... and the less room there is left between the end of the fretboard and the bridge - which is where your pickups have to go. Pickup placement cant' be arbitrary, because on a vibrating string there are some points that move a lot, and some that move very little (the ones that move very little are the "nodes" - the places you can get harmonics).

Since the pickups create a current induced by a vibrating string, it's not a matter of just moving them a bit - if you move a bit end up under a node, you don't get much signal. And as you get closer to the bridge you get different overtones... so the sound gets 'twangier'.

So 22 is the compromise that most manufacturers have chosen. And the fans of 24 fret (or even 27 fret) guitars tend to be those who either don't mind the twang, or play everything so distorted you're not so aware of it.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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(@chris-c)
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Maybe it's just me, but I need a 24 fret guitar.

What is it about the additional two frets that you think you need?

It looks like you get 12 extra notes, but as you have already got 10 of them elsewhere on the neck you really only gain two more high notes. I can't think offhand of any time that I've missed having those two more. If I ever did want the effect of going higher I'd probably just drop down a key and start lower. However, I believe that you can get pitch shifting pedals that can transpose the octave you're playing anyway - if you were really keen to get more range. Never tried one myself though, so I'm not sure what the limits of them are.

But musical reasons aren't always logical, so if you've got your heart set on having 24 frets then maybe you just have to have them...

Cheers,

Chris


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(@katmetal)
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Topic starter  

22 frets is almost 4 octaves KatWell, I suppose, but I am counting on just one individual string. 22 frets seem to limit a person when playing those high notes, but I guess that is just all in my head really. I mean, if Yngwie, EVH, Slash to name a few can make it work for them, who am I to argue?

What is it about the additional two frets that you think you need?Since a lot of rock/metal is played in E, I hate having to bend the heck out of the top string to get that high pitched E. I guess that is what I would miss the most with a 22 fret instrument.
And the fans of 24 fret (or even 27 fret) guitars tend to be those who either don't mind the twang, or play everything so distorted you're not so aware of it. You got me, I guess!


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(@rparker)
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I want to purchase a Les Paul soon - well, probably a knock off, especially at the current prices.

Rondo has a Douglas for $119. Can't beat that price! I have a Douglas strat style guitar that is just awesome. Guitar Fetish has their line of Xaviere guitars, I really like the XV-700 for $219. Here again, 22 frets...

They cranked up the prices big time last month, yet again, and now have a "Sale" on Epiphones.

I got to play one of last year's models. similar to the 500. Came right out of the box playable. Pickups sounded good too. A friend of mine got one on close-out. Heavy as can be. Really solid. Set neck, gold colored hardware, curved top, etc. Not too shabby.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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(@katmetal)
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Topic starter  

I got to play one of last year's models. similar to the 500. Came right out of the box playable. Pickups sounded good too. A friend of mine got one on close-out. Heavy as can be. Really solid. Set neck, gold colored hardware, curved top, etc. Not too shabby.Are you talking about the Epiphones? I do like them. I played one in a local shop & to me it sounded as good as a Les Paul. Very thick, rich tone.

I still wonder about the knock-offs I mentioned; Since I can't get to hear one local or play it, i don't know if I would be happy w/ it or not. Guess I can head over to Youtube & see if anyone on there is playing any.

EDIT - Found an Xaviere XV-700. I like the sound! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eODC_RPjiwI


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(@rparker)
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Are you talking about the Epiphones?
Ooops, I wasn't clear. Sorry.

No, it was a Xaviere. Not the thin-line like the one you're looking at, but the thicker model. Heavy as heck. Solid as a brick. It might have been called a 500 last year, but I can't remember. Hard to beat for $219 or whatever it was he paid. It was a closeout model from '08.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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(@vic-lewis-vl)
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Hmmm....my MIM Telecaster's only got 21 frets - but with light strings (Normally D'Addario's, but these Fender Bullets are wearing well...) I can bend the heck out of those top couple of strings.....

But then again, I play mostly rhythm guitar, and I play a lot in A or D....

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


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(@anonymous)
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the node thing can't be right. that would only apply to open strings, and open strings are a lot rarer on an electric than on an acoustic. i generally avoid them if i'm picking with any intensity, since they tend to ring out too much and get sloppy and muddy, and that's pretty much the status quo. besides, you could easily fit at least one more fret in before the pickup on a strat. i think it's just tradition.


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(@greybeard)
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If you're really desperate, you could try to find a Sky guitar. It was designed by Uli Jon Roth (erstwhile guitarist for the Scorpions) and came with either 36 or 42 frets.

In order to be able to fret notes that high, the frets above 24 were spaced at whole tone distance rather than semi tone. He also had a pickup put under the fretboard to give him a second pickup.

http://www.edenwaith.com/uliroth/music/skyguitar.html

You can find some videos on youtube, if you want to see it in action.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
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(@chris-c)
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Interesting Sky guitar. :)

Presumably, if your interest was soling in the high regions, then you could also add a seventh string - or maybe even drop the low E off, and move the rest across. I expect you'd hit some technical limitations but what would they be? 5 string banjos have a short extra string part the way down on one side. so maybe you could add a few more notes like that? Why not?


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(@greybeard)
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Uli Jon Roth had Sky guitars with both 6 & 7 strings (he added a low B).

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
Greybeard's Pages
My Articles & Reviews on GN


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(@chris-c)
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Thanks. :)

I wonder how high you could go - practically?

Pianos go up to a C8 - which, taking into account that guitars are playing an octave lower than it looks like from the written music, seems to be a couple of octaves higher than the guitar (if I'm counting right, which isn't a sure thing....). They sound pretty darned tightly strung when you get right up there, but part of the way might be achievable on a guitar style instrument?

Cheers,

Chris


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(@noteboat)
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Yes, the nodal points change when notes are fretted, or bent, or any other change in string length occurs, like a trem arm movement (except with a Bigsby, because they change the tension without changing the length). But just because they aren't constant with all pitches doesn't mean they're irrelevant. A large majority of guitar players play open chords at least some of the time... so a large majority of guitars take that into account in placing the pickups.

Since node position will vary with the length between any fret and the saddle, you can't make a guitar with an "ideal" pickup placement. But that doesn't mean you can't make a guitar with bad placement, at least to the average ear. Putting one under the 19th fret would sound a bit dead, comparatively speaking.

So the compromise most manufacturers take is to mount the bridge pickup right under where the 24th fret would go - when playing an open string, that gives you a nice solid mix of overtones (it's halfway between the node and antinode of the fundamental, so it gets a good piece of it, it's an antinode of the first overtone, so it gets all of that, making the tone "richer" in the typical neck pup, and it's a node of the third overtone, minimizing some of the highs). By maximizing the lower overtones, and minimizing some of the higher ones, you get the classic "rich" or "round" sound of a 21 fret neck pup.

Some folks argue that a 24 fret neck is "better" for pickup placement, because it senses "more" harmonics. For open strings, that's true - it does get more, in absolute number, from an open string. But it also gets less energy from the fundamental - it has to be closer to the node than the antinode. So the entire mix is different, and when you get right down to it, it's the mix of overtone presence and relative strength that creates the "tone" of an instrument.

That brings up one more reason why 21/22 fret guitars are more common: tradition. Move the pup, you change the tone. If most of what you listen to is recorded using 21/22 fret guitars, 24 won't sound as good, and vice versa. Because most rock/pop music is shaped by what came before, 22 still sounds better to most ears.

And that's not something you can get to the bottom of with technical arguments. Some folks (like Ed Roman) insist that more overtones are always better, even though they ignore the fact that the mix changes with placement. If they truly thought having all the overtones led to nirvana, they'd be building their guitars with optical pickups, which sense ALL the overtones on ALL the notes.

But they don't. Because the results wouldn't sound like what we expect guitars to sound like.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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 Ande
(@ande)
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My main guitar has 24 frets, and as far as I can play the top two are 99.99% decorative. Rarely get used.

I hadn't thought about how that affects pickup placement, though. Looking at it now, I can see what you all mean. They are a little more crammed in there than on my other guitars. The neck pickup is literally almost touching the edge of the fretboard, and the others are pretty close together.

I'd have thought this would reduce the tonal differences between pickups, but it doesn't seem to.

The only strange tone thing I notice about this guitar is that when distorted, which is often, it's got the easiest pinch harmonics of any guitar I've ever played.

It's not at all twangy, but that may have more to do with the woods, or the pickups, or something. Clean, it has a fairly dark rich sound at the neck, quite a lot of bite coming off the bridge. (CAn't play the bridge clean on my amp, actually. It always distorts a little.)

Best,
Ande


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