If you are wondering what is a fret on guitar, then you are in the right place. Generally, guitar frets are metal strips and typically make up a large portion of the guitar’s neck. The separate the guitar into half steps, or semitones, musical measurements for pitch. In this article, we will discuss the guitar fret in detail.
What is a Guitar Fret?
A guitar fret is a metal strip embedded in the guitar’s fingerboard. The frets determine the correct pitch note when a guitarist presses the strings against them.
They way to get the best clear note is by pressing the string just above the fret. You don’t need to grip hard, just enough to produce sound. Relax your hand when you play notes on the guitar.
By segmenting the fingerboard into sections with the help of the frets, guitarists are easily able to play notes without being sharp or flat.
Each box or section provides plenty of room for players to fret notes and chords properly. This also increases the accuracy and enables guitar players to produce proper sounds.
Each guitar, be it an electric guitar or an acoustic guitar, comes with a scale length that enables a certain amount of frets on the neck.
Some instruments like the Oud have a fretless fingerboard, this gives the instrument the slide effect that is characteristic of Middle Eastern music.
What Are Semitones?
Semitones are also referred to as half steps. Each fret is on half of a note on the guitar. For example, the Low E strings notes are E, the first fret is F, then F#, G, G# etc. By moving up consecutive frets, you move up one semitone. The guitar is unique because it’s neck is also designed vertically. The guitar string is tuned in 4ths, so if you knew that a forth away from G is C, then you would know that the note directly below G is C. Knowing how the guitar works is an essential step to playing it well.
How to use the Frets?
If you are new to playing guitars, it will be a while before you learn how to play frets. The key is to practice as much as possible. If you are pressing on top of the frets, the sound will lack sustain and be unclear.
When you press the frets too far away, you will need more effort to keep it fretted without the buzzing or vibration sounds.
However, you need to know which fret to press to use them properly. You need to find the sweet spot, and with a bit of practice, you will be able to recognize this spot by feel and sound.
Ensure You have the Right Hand Posture
When fretting, you must have the correct hand posture. If you find yourself fretting with the pads, you may need to adjust your hand’s resting place.
It is essential for guitarists, in the beginning, to refrain from developing bad habits, and incorrect hand posture is one of these habits.
Your right hand should be comfortable, not arched and you should not have any wrist pain. Proper right hand posture is so important especially if you want to sound good, play longer hours, and not damage your wrist. It is easier to build a good habit then to start a bad one, so make sure you have proper right hand posture from the get go!
Play with your Fingertips
It is essential to press the frets down with the fingertips when using guitar frets. If you are fretting with your finger pad, it can interfere when playing the strings.
Sometimes you will need to use all your fingers or the pad for things such as Barre chords. But you must use your fingertips if you are not playing the Barre chords, and this will enable you to get a proper note pitch and clear sound.
Keeping your left had fingernails neat and trimmed is very important to get a good sound out of your guitar, and to have the most comfortable experience.
If you have red marks on your hands or develop deep callouses on your fingertips could mean that you need to play with a lighter touch.
What is Fret Buzz?
On guitars with steel strings, frets experience a lot of wear and tear and eventually break down. When you notice the frets breaking down, they will start to make a buzzing sound, known as ‘fret Buzz.’
This buzzing sound plagues many guitars due to poor setup or manufacturing. While there are many reasons why frets can start making a buzzing sound, in most cases, simple adjustments can make them disappear.
You can make minor adjustments, such as raising a string’s action that can fix buzz-related problems.
Bussing could also mean that you are gripping too hard or not hard enough. Press on the fret lightly, then slowly add weight onto the fret until you hear the perfect sound. Many people assume that we need to strain our hands to play notes clearly, when the opposite is true.
String buzzing might also mean that you are accidentally hitting a string that doesn’t belong in the chord. You can practice string muting if that is the case. Often times we can accidentally strike the low E string and it creates an unwanted fret buzz sound, especially on acoustic guitars.
The Number of Guitar Frets?
How many frets are on a guitar will depend on the type of guitar, and to a lesser degree, on the guitar’s model. Each guitar has a different number of frets; the classical guitar can have up to nineteen.
Typically, the guitar’s neck will meet the body at the twelfth fret. Guitarists, who like playing the upper frets beyond the twelfth fret on a classical guitar, need to adjust their hand position.
Acoustic guitars with steel strings tend to have more variation regarding the number of frets. Most steel-stringed instruments come with twenty frets.
That said, it is common to see guitar models with more than twenty frets. Some acoustic guitars come with a cutaway feature to allow easier access to the upper frets.
This feature is an indention in the instrument’s body. Usually, electric guitars have the most variation when it comes to the number of frets. Typically, these guitars come with 21 or up to 24 frets, like on Fender Guitars.
Frets On Electric Guitars
Apart from the number of frets there are, there really is not much a difference between the frets of an electric guitar compared to other types. An electric guitar typically has 22 frets. The cutout makes it much easier to reach and play higher notes above the 12th fret. for soloing. From the nut to the bridge, the frets get progressively shorter.
The electric guitar neck is thinner in width than one on a acoustic of classical, making it easier to grip and play chords.
The Number of Frets on An Electric Guitar
Most electric guitars have 22 frets, but some have 24. The Gibson Les Paul and the Fender Stratocaster are examples of guitars with 24 frets.
Electrics guitars extended range makes them great for soloing and riffing above the twelfth fret. However, you don’t need more frets on your guitar to be considered a great player. Just ask classical guitarists who only have 12 frets on their guitars!
The Frets On Acoustic Guitars
Depending on if your acoustic guitar has a cutout or not determines how many frets it will have. Without a cutout it will have 12 frets, but with a cutout you can reach 18 – 20. There are some shorter length guitars that will cut out the high frets to save room, so it varies from guitar to guitar.
Does the Size of the Frets matter?
The size of the guitar frets determine the tone and timber of the note played. This is why an E on the thickest string will sound different than playing E on the thinnest string. While the most common frets are T frets, not all of them are created equal. The size is something all guitarists should consider, but it is essential for those individuals who repair guitars.
The crown of a guitar varies in height and width, affecting how a typical guitar plays or feels. Crowns that are tall make the guitar fretboard feel like it has been scalloped.
You should not have problems getting your fingers under the guitar strings for controlled vibration and easier bend.
However, the drawback of a scalloped fretboard is that sliding down or up the neck will feel like your speed bumps on the finger. If you press too hard when fretting, the notes will feel sharper.
This is why wide and tall crowns are better than thin and tall ones.
A broad crown has a gradual curve so that the frets will have a soft feel, and your fingers will have no problem moving along the board. Most shredders and rock players prefer tall and wide frets.
What Material is used for Frets?
Now that you know what fret on the guitar is, let’s discuss the standard materials for Frets. While brass is a common material, most frets are made of German silver, also called nickel silver.
While the proportion of fret wire varies, most of them comprise of 80 % copper to make them sufficiently soft and pliable. The fret wire also consists of 18 % nickel, which gives them extra durability.
There are also stainless steel fret wires, but the drawback of this material is that it is extremely hard and requires a lot of energy. Also, you will need to maintain the stainless steel frets; otherwise, they will break down. Since these frets need maintenance, they are more expensive than other frets.
Related: Guitar Tuning In Hz
In this article, we discussed what is a fret on guitar. Frets separate a guitars neck into semitones, the smallest interval or pitch in western music.
We also went over different components of the guitar’s fretboard and covered how to use the fret effectively. The amount of frets your guitar has varies on the type and model. Electric guitars often have 22 or more frets, and acoustics often have around 14. The size and quantity of the frets are mathematically designed to always have the right pitch. The frets are foundational to how we play the guitar.