Does the Number of Frets Matter? 22 vs 24 Fret Guitars


If you’re new to guitars, then it can be a bit of a mystery why some models have 22 frets, whilst others have 24. Why is this the case, and more importantly, does it actually matter? 

I’ll be answering these questions in this article, plus I’ll be addressing some other fret-related questions you may have. So let’s get started!

The Quick Answer

The number of frets a guitar has affects the tone. 22 fret guitars sound warmer and thicker, because the neck pickup is placed closer to the nut of the guitar. They are generally easier to play because the neck is shorter so you don’t have to reach as much down the fretboard. 

24 fret guitars are good if you want to be able to play more notes, without moving down a string. Some songs, particularly in the metal genre, require 24 frets to play them properly. 

Pros of 22 Frets Pros of 24 Frets
Easier to reach lower frets Better upper fret access
Most electric guitars have 22 frets More notes can be played
Warmer and thicker tone Brighter tone

How Does Fret Number Affect Scale Length?

Fret number does not always affect scale length. For example, a PRS Custom 24 (24 frets) has the same scale length of 25″ as a PRS Custom 22 (22 frets). 

However, fret number does normally affect the pickup positioning and the neck length. 

Most 24 fret guitars have a longer neck length than 22 fret guitars, even if the overall scale length is different. 

Also, the pickup positioning is different. The neck pickup on a 22 fret guitar is underneath the second major harmonic. On a 24 fret guitar, the pickup sits closer to the bridge.

Do 22 and 24 Fret Guitars Sound Different?

Okay, so what does this all mean for the tone? Do 22 and 24 fret guitars actually sound different?

Yes, having 22 or 24 frets, changes the tone of the guitar. This is primarily due to the pickup placement. 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.

The neck length also comes into play here. The shorter neck length of a 22 fret guitar makes it sound warmer and thicker than a 24 fret guitar which sounds a bit more articulate. 

Advantages of 24 Frets

Most electric guitars have either 22 or 24 frets. Some have 21 frets, like the old Telecaster, but generally 22 is the standard number. 

So if most guitars have 22 frets, why do some models have 24? 

More frets means you can play more notes without having to use the higher strings. There are also some instances where you actually need the 23rd or 24th fret to play certain songs. For example Afterlife by Avenged Sevenfold, requires you to use the 23rd fret, and Master of Puppets by Metallica uses the 23rd and 24th fret of the E string. 

So is it a big issue if your guitar only has 22 fret? Generally, not really. Very few songs actually use the 23rd and 24th fret, and if you don’t play metal, you’ll probably never even get close to being past the 20th fret. 

And on most guitars, it’s very hard to even reach these frets, unless you have a dramatic double cutaway body shape, and a very flat neck heel. 

If you do have a 22 fret guitar, but want to play a song that requires you to have 23 or 24 frets, then you can simply bend the string to give you those higher notes. It’s of course not always suitable, if you’re shredding especially, but it can be used in some instances as an alternative. 

Advantages of 22 Frets

Generally, 22 fret guitars sound warmer and thicker when you use the neck pickup, compared to 24 fret guitars. This means that for certain styles of music, like jazz, blues and other styles that use cleaner tones, a 22 fret guitar may be more suitable. 

Some players also prefer the feel of a 22 fret guitar. Since they have a shorter neck, you don’t have to reach as far down the fret board to player lower notes, or standard open chords. 

Which Guitars Have 22 Frets?

Most electric guitar models have 22 frets. This is generally considered the standard number for an electric guitar. Here’s a list of models that have 22 frets.

  • Fender Stratocaster
  • Fender Telecaster
  • Gibson Les Paul
  • Gibson SG
  • Yamaha Pacifica

Which Guitars Have 24 Frets?

There are fewer models of guitar that have 24 frets, compared to 22. Here are some of the most popular.

  • PRS Custom 24
  • Ibanez RG Series
  • Schecter Omen 
  • ESP Ltd 
  • Jackson Dinky

More FAQs

Don’t worry if you still need some more answers about 22 and 24 fret guitars. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. 

can you put  24 fret neck on a 22 fret guitar?

Generally, you cannot place a 24 fret neck on a 22 fret guitar, or vice-versa. This is because you will either have overhang if you put a 24 fret neck on a 22 fret guitar, or you’ll have to move the neck pickup. 

how many frets does a 3/4 guitar have?

Most 3/4 electric guitars have fewer frets than standard sized electric guitars. 3/4 guitars normally have 20 frets, whereas standard guitars have 22-24 frets in most cases. 

do fender do a 24 fret guitar?

Fender have made 24 fret guitars. You can find 24 fret Fender Stratocasters however generally the vast majority of Strats have just 22 frets. 

do gibson do a 24 fret guitar?

Yes Gibson have been known to produce 24 fret guitars. These are generally custom shop orders. For example, the metal guitarists Buckethead has been seen playing a 24 fret Les Paul. 

 

So there you go! That’s the difference between 22 and 24 fret guitars! I hope you’ve found this article helpful, thanks for reading. Here are some other posts you might find useful:

Heather

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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