There’s nothing quite like playing an acoustic guitar; with its unique sound and various applications, it is truly an experience. But there are so many different kinds of acoustic guitars out there, all with a different sound. This is partially due to the number of frets on the fretboard, so how many frets are there on a full-size acoustic? Let’s find out!
There are generally 20 frets on a full-size acoustic guitar, which slowly decrease in size starting from the headstock to the body of the guitar. In reality, there are about 15 playable frets (depending on the size of your hands), as the last 6 frets are situated on the guitar’s body and are harder to reach.
In this article, we will discuss the different types of acoustic guitars (according to their size), what the frets on a guitar are there for, and how many frets there are on a full-size acoustic guitar. Let’s get started!
What is Considered a Full-Size Guitar?
There are many different types of acoustic guitars of varying sizes. In order to understand what constitutes a ‘full-size’ guitar, you need to have a basic understanding of the other guitar sizes that are out there. We will briefly discuss each of the guitar sizes now.
Mini guitars are either half or ¾ the size of a standard guitar and were specifically designed to be used by children who are starting to learn to play the guitar. Some people also use them as travel guitars since they have more of a standard guitar shape.
Travel guitars are the smallest and cheapest acoustic guitar variation available on the market. They are slightly smaller than mini guitars and designed for traveling performers who need something lightweight and small to carry around.
Classical guitars (also known as Spanish guitars) are nylon-string acoustic guitars mostly used for classical and Spanish music styles. They are sized between a mini and concert guitar.
Concert guitars are part of the six-string acoustic guitar family that uses steel strings. They are somewhat larger than classical guitars and are mostly used as part of a band concert performance.
Grand Concert Guitar
Grand concert guitars are also part of the acoustic concert guitar family, but these are louder than regular concert guitars because they are also larger. This size guitar is most often used by those who play fingerstyle because of the fact that you don’t need to pick very hard to get a loud sound from this guitar.
Auditorium/Grand Performance Guitar
Auditorium guitars have a similarly shaped body to the grand concert guitars; however, they are slightly larger and have a thinner body.
Grand Auditorium Guitar
Grand auditorium guitars are similar in size to dreadnought style guitars (sometimes slightly larger); however, they are not the same shape. These guitars have narrower waists than dreadnoughts, but they can still produce a lovely and loud sound. These are excellent all-round guitars for various playing styles, including strumming, flat-picking, and fingerstyle.
Dreadnought guitars (also called full-size guitars) are the most common size of guitar on the market for adults, as it is the most comfortable for most to play on (in terms of neck width). They are great for people who play strumming or flat-picking styles, not necessarily for those who play fingerstyle. This is also not the best for people of smaller stature or who have smaller hands, as it may not be so easy for them to play.
This is by far the largest size guitar readily available on the market (as the name might suggest). They are quite a bit larger than both dreadnought and grand auditorium guitars, with some even having a bout width of 17 inches (~ 43 cm). They are also quite a bit pricier than other guitars due to their size, but they have a loud and powerful sound, perfect for players with strong strumming playing styles.
What do Frets Do?
A fret is a raised section on the neck of a guitar that extends across the full width of the neck. Nowadays, they are strips of metal that are set into the fretboard that is placed on the guitar’s neck.
Frets divide the guitar’s neck into sections that represent one musical semitone in the standard western system. In this system, one octave is divided into twelve sections, and the guitars are fretted accordingly. Thus, the guitarist’s neck will have between one and two octaves that can be played by the guitarist.
Frets indicate to the player where they should place their fingers on the fretboard to play a particular musical note accurately. This is because by pressing a guitar string against a fret, players are decreasing its vibrating length, and in turn, changing the sound it produces.
How Many Frets are there on a Full-Size Acoustic Guitar?
Now that we’ve discussed the different sizes of acoustic guitars and explained what purpose frets play on a guitar, we will discuss how many frets there are on a full-sized (a.k.a. dreadnought) acoustic guitar.
Although there are so many different sizes of acoustic guitars, they all have a similar number of frets on their fretboard. The number of frets on various acoustic guitars ranges from 19-24 frets, depending on the guitar’s size; smaller guitars having 19 frets, and the largest of guitars having 24 frets.
A full-size guitar generally has 20 frets on its fretboard. The space between frets starts out quite large near the headstock of the guitar but becomes less the closer one moves to the guitar’s body. Part of the fretboard is laid over the top of the body of the guitar, meaning that the last 6 (i.e., the 15th to 20th) frets are on the body of the guitar.
The 15th fret is situated right where the neck and body meet, meaning that you still can play a chord on it, but after that, it might get quite tricky to press down on the strings. So if you were to classify the number of frets on a guitar by the number of frets you can actually play on, a full-size acoustic guitar would have 15 frets.
However, the number of frets a dreadnought guitar has is not a fixed number. It is entirely up to the manufacturer to choose how many frets they want to put on each of their guitars, and thus you may find some acoustic guitars that are classified as “full-size” guitars that have either less or more than 20 frets on their fretboards. This doesn’t happen very often, though, so you will find that most standard dreadnought guitars have 20 frets.
The space between individual fret wires is also not a set thing and will vary from guitar to guitar. These differences will affect the way a note sounds when it is played, as the position of your finger moves along with the position of the fret wire. So it is best to try out a few different guitars from various manufacturers to find the one whose sound you like best.
Nowadays, there are so many different types and sizes of acoustic guitars on the market, sometimes it can get confusing when deciding which one to choose. Remember that the guitar’s size will influence the number of frets on the neck, and in turn, affect the way the guitar sounds. Full-sized guitars are the most commonly used type of guitar for adults and usually have 20 frets on their fretboards, giving them a nicely balanced sound.