What Is The Difference Between a 22 and a 24 Fret Guitar

Here is a really good question that we received:

I was looking in the guitar store the other day and I noticed that some electric guitars have 22 frets and some have 24. Why do they do this and what difference does it make?

Guitar FretsAnswer. The number of frets on an electric guitar makes a difference because of scale length. Scale length is the distance from the bridge of a guitar to its nut. If you have two guitars of different scale lengths (a Fender and a Gibson for example), put the same gauge strings on them and tune them to the same pitch you will notice that the Gibson’s strings are looser. The reason for this is that the Gibson’s Scale length is shorter than a Fender’s. Go to a guitar store and check this out for yourself if you want. The scale lengths are different and you will see that their respective scale length affects string tension.

If a guitar has an extra two frets then obviously it has a longer scale length. This means that if you have a 24 fret guitar your strings will be tighter relative to what it would have been if you had a 22 fret guitar.

Scale length will also change the position of your pickups along your strings vibrating length. This is important because there is a harmonic at the 24th fret and if you have 22 frets the harmonic sits over the pickups. Many people including myself feel that 22 fret guitars sound better. However it is also true that many players feel that 24 frets gives a player more flexibility.

Try both out for your self and see which one you prefer to play with. There is a tradeoff between the flexibility of having 24 frets and the tone and playability of 22.

All the best!

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  1. JRS

    How do you explain the Rickenbacker 650, 24 3/4 scale and 24 frets?

  2. graeme

    Thanks for the lesson. one of my all time fav guitarist’s is mark knopfler and i love the finger style he use’s this will help me to emmulate his playing

  3. Ron

    You are wrong in the assertion that 24 fret guitars automatically have a longer scale length than 22 fret guitars. The amount of frets simply determines the location of the neck pickup, and has no bearing on scale length. For instance the Gibson SG and Les Paul Double cut are both Gibsons standard 24.625″ scale length, and have been produced with both 22 and 24 frets at the same scale length. Also, PRS custom 22, and Custom 24 are both 25″ scale length. The only difference is the location of the neck pickup. And Fender Strats come either 21 fret, or 22 fret, at the same scale length of 25.5″. Check it out!

  4. Phil

    Daaa really? Yes , the more frets the higher the scale can go also? Is that correct?

  5. Michael Bigelow

    I’ve always wanted to know that.

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