21 vs 22 Fret Guitar Necks: Does it Matter?

Fender and Squier Telecaster and Stratocaster guitars have either 21 or 22 frets.

Fender have used 21 fret necks all the way from the ’50s until the present day, but 22 fret necks were not used by the brand until 1985. In fact it was the Made in Japan Stratocaster that was the first Fender model to have 22 frets.

So what actually is the difference between 21 and 22 fret necks? What are the pros and cons? Does it really matter?

Electric guitars with 22 frets are better for lead playing/ soloing because they have an extra D-note on the high E string compared to guitars with 21 frets. However, in the case of Telecaster and Stratocaster guitars, there is no difference in tone between a 21 and 22 fret neck.


  • Does fret number impact tone?
  • Main Benefit of 22 Frets
  • Other Differences Between 21 and 22 Frets
  • Which Stratocasters have 21 and 22 frets?
  • Which Telecasters have 21 and 22 frets?
  • Are 21 and 22 fret necks interchangeable?

Does the Number of Frets Impact Tone?

On Fender guitars, the neck and bridge pickup are in the same position regardless of whether the guitar has a 21 fret or 22 fret neck. Hence, the number of frets does not affect the tone.

If you are comparing guitars where the pickup position changes based on the number of frets the neck has, then the tone of the guitar will change. This is typical when comparing 22 and 24 fret necks.

On a 22 fret guitar, the neck pickup and bridge pickup are further apart. This means the neck pickup will be closer towards the nut. This tends to make 22 fret guitars sound warmer and more bassy than 24 fret guitars.

Check out my article comparing 22 and 24 fret guitars for more information.

Main Benefit of 22 Frets

Having the extra fret on a 22 fret neck is useful if you play a lot of lead guitar.

Having an extra D-note on the 22nd fret of the high E string is very helpful when soloing and there are many players which will not use a 21-fret guitar for this reason. Having to bend the high E to get to the extra D-note is not always practical on a 21 fret guitar.

Take “Money” by Pink Floyd, or “Again” by Lenny Kravitz as examples. These songs are very hard to play unless you have at least 22 frets.

If you’re playing rhythm then the extra fret won’t really be of any use as you’ll mostly be using the lower end of the fretboard.

Other Differences Between 21 and 22 Fret Necks

  • On a Fender with a 22 fret neck, the pickguard is difficult to remove without taking the neck off the guitar whereas on the on a Fender with a 21 fret neck, the pickguard can be easily removed without taking the neck off making it easier to change the pickups.
  • On some 21 fret guitars you can get rear access to the truss rod.

Can You Replace a 22 Fret Neck with a 21 Fret Neck? (Or Vice-Versa)

Fender and Squier guitars have bolt-on necks so they are easy to replace, meaning that you can swap a 21 fret neck for a 22 fret neck, and vice-versa. The 22 fret neck will have some overhang but the scale length will not be altered so the intonation will not be affected.

Which Fender Guitars Have 21 and 22 Frets?

  • All Fender American Vintage II and Original electric guitars including the Stratocaster and Telecaster have 21 frets.
  • Fender Vintera guitars have 21 frets except for the Jaguar which has 22 frets.
  • All Fender Player, American Performer, Made in Japan Hybrid II, American Professional, American Ultra and Ultra Luxe electric guitars including the Stratocaster and Telecaster have 22 frets.
  • All Squier Telecaster and Stratocaster guitars have 21 frets except for the Contemporary versions which have 22 frets. The Squier Classic Vibe, Affinity, and Bullet Telecaster and Stratocaster guitars have 21 frets.

I’ve checked the specifications for every non-limited edition Fender and Squier Strat and Tele (including signature model) for the number of frets they have and listed them all in the tables below. The information below is correct as of the time of writing.

Fender Stratocaster

Fender StratocasterNumber of Frets
Fender Vintera Stratocaster21
Fender Vintera Modified Stratocaster21
Fender American Vintage II Stratocaster21
Fender American Original Stratocaster21
Fender JV Modified ‘50s Stratocaster21
Fender JV Modified ‘60s Stratocaster21
Fender Jimmie Vaughan Tex-Mex Stratocaster21
Fender Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster21
Fender Robert Cray Stratocaster21
Fender Albert Hammond Jr Stratocaster21
Fender Dave Murray Stratocaster21
Fender Buddy Guy Stratocaster21
Fender H.E.R Stratocaster21
Fender Ritchie Blackmore Stratocaster21
Fender EOB Sustainer Stratocaster21
Fender Kenny Wayne Shepherd Stratocaster21
Fender Eric Johnson Stratocaster21
Fender Stevie Ray Vaughan Stratocaster21
Fender Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster21
Fender Nile Rodgers Hitmaker Stratocaster21
Fender Player Stratocaster22
Fender Player Plus Stratocaster22
Fender American Performer Stratocaster22
Fender Made in Japan Hybrid II Stratocaster22
Fender American Professional II Stratocaster22
Fender American Ultra Stratocaster22
Fender American Ultra Luxe Stratocaster22
Fender Aerodyne Special Stratocaster22
Fender Tash Sultana Stratocaster22
Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster22
Fender Jim Root Stratocaster22
Fender Jeff Beck Stratocaster22
Fender Cory Wong Stratocaster22
Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster22
Fender Lincoln Brewster Stratocaster22

Fender Telecaster

Fender TelecasterNumber of Frets
Fender Vintera Telecaster21
Fender Vintera Modified Telecaster21
Fender American Vintage II Telecaster21
Fender American Original Telecaster21
Fender Chris Shiflett Telecaster Deluxe21
Fender JV Modified Telecaster21
Fender Chrissie Hynde Telecaster21
Fender Gold Foil Telecaster21
Fender J Mascis Telecaster21
Fender Brad Paisley Telecaster21
Fender Jason Isbell Custom Telecaster21
Fender Jimmy Page Telecaster21
Fender Joe Strummer Telecaster21
Fender Kingfish Telecaster Deluxe21
Fender James Burton Telecaster21
Fender Brent Mason Telecaster21
Fender Player Telecaster22
Fender Player Plus Telecaster22
Fender American Performer Telecaster22
Fender Made in Japan Hybrid II Telecaster22
Fender American Professional II Telecaster22
Fender American Ultra Telecaster22
Fender American Ultra Luxe Telecaster22
Fender Aerodyne Special Telecaster22
Fender Jim Root Telecaster22
Fender Richie Kotzen Telecaster22

Squier Stratocaster

Squier StratocasterNumber of Frets
Squier Mini Stratocaster20
Squier Bullet Stratocaster21
Squier Affinity Stratocaster21
Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster21
Squier Contemporary Stratocaster22

Squier Telecaster

Squier TelecasterNumber of Frets
Squier Bullet Telecaster21
Squier Affinity Telecaster21
Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster21
Squier Paranormal Offset Telecaster22
Squier Contemporary Telecaster22


Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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