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||Number of Frets|
|Fender Vintera Stratocaster||21|
|Fender Vintera Modified Stratocaster||21|
|Fender American Vintage II Stratocaster||21|
|Fender American Original Stratocaster||21|
|Fender JV Modified ‘50s Stratocaster||21|
|Fender JV Modified ‘60s Stratocaster||21|
|Fender Jimmie Vaughan Tex-Mex Stratocaster||21|
|Fender Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster||21|
|Fender Robert Cray Stratocaster||21|
|Fender Albert Hammond Jr Stratocaster||21|
|Fender Dave Murray Stratocaster||21|
|Fender Buddy Guy Stratocaster||21|
|Fender H.E.R Stratocaster||21|
|Fender Ritchie Blackmore Stratocaster||21|
|Fender EOB Sustainer Stratocaster||21|
|Fender Kenny Wayne Shepherd Stratocaster||21|
|Fender Eric Johnson Stratocaster||21|
|Fender Stevie Ray Vaughan Stratocaster||21|
|Fender Yngwie Malmsteen Stratocaster||21|
|Fender Nile Rodgers Hitmaker Stratocaster||21|
|Fender Player Stratocaster||22|
|Fender Player Plus Stratocaster||22|
|Fender American Performer Stratocaster||22|
|Fender Made in Japan Hybrid II Stratocaster||22|
|Fender American Professional II Stratocaster||22|
|Fender American Ultra Stratocaster||22|
|Fender American Ultra Luxe Stratocaster||22|
|Fender Aerodyne Special Stratocaster||22|
|Fender Tash Sultana Stratocaster||22|
|Fender Tom Morello Stratocaster||22|
|Fender Jim Root Stratocaster||22|
|Fender Jeff Beck Stratocaster||22|
|Fender Cory Wong Stratocaster||22|
|Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster||22|
|Fender Lincoln Brewster Stratocaster||22|
|Fender Telecaster||Number of Frets|
|Fender Vintera Telecaster||21|
|Fender Vintera Modified Telecaster||21|
|Fender American Vintage II Telecaster||21|
|Fender American Original Telecaster||21|
|Fender Chris Shiflett Telecaster Deluxe||21|
|Fender JV Modified Telecaster||21|
|Fender Chrissie Hynde Telecaster||21|
|Fender Gold Foil Telecaster||21|
|Fender J Mascis Telecaster||21|
|Fender Brad Paisley Telecaster||21|
|Fender Jason Isbell Custom Telecaster||21|
|Fender Jimmy Page Telecaster||21|
|Fender Joe Strummer Telecaster||21|
|Fender Kingfish Telecaster Deluxe||21|
|Fender James Burton Telecaster||21|
|Fender Brent Mason Telecaster||21|
|Fender Player Telecaster||22|
|Fender Player Plus Telecaster||22|
|Fender American Performer Telecaster||22|
|Fender Made in Japan Hybrid II Telecaster||22|
|Fender American Professional II Telecaster||22|
|Fender American Ultra Telecaster||22|
|Fender American Ultra Luxe Telecaster||22|
|Fender Aerodyne Special Telecaster||22|
|Fender Jim Root Telecaster||22|
|Fender Richie Kotzen Telecaster||22|
|Squier Stratocaster||Number of Frets|
|Squier Mini Stratocaster||20|
|Squier Bullet Stratocaster||21|
|Squier Affinity Stratocaster||21|
|Squier Classic Vibe Stratocaster||21|
|Squier Contemporary Stratocaster||22|
|Squier Telecaster||Number of Frets|
|Squier Bullet Telecaster||21|
|Squier Affinity Telecaster||21|
|Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster||21|
|Squier Paranormal Offset Telecaster||22|
|Squier Contemporary Telecaster||22|