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Thread: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

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    Default What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    I realize the 12 fret dots are for an octave and the rest are for quick recognition, but I'd rather just understand the dots for all they're worth. You have any thoughts or definitions that might make me understand better?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    Other than the 12th fret dots,forget them. They're like fretboard milestones & are simply an indicator of 'where you are'. They can be useful,but if you know the 'intervals' at each fret position ie. E / F/ F# / G etc,you can dispense with them for the most part. Personally, my favourite markers are totally 'not there',
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    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    12th fret = 1/2 length harmonic. (at fret above the marker)
    5th fret = 1/3 length harmonic
    3rd fret = 1/4 length harmonic.

    Other than those they can be very useful when jumping about for position shifts.
    I often use the 10th fret one as a guide for landing (though the shifts I chose tend to land me either side of it).
    Then again I still need breathing apparatus if I'm up in 6th position so I'm sure many good players don't need safety nets.
    Eoin



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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    If your fretboard was a map they'd be the street signs so you'd know where you were. I don't need the dots on the fretboard, I can't see them when I'm playing but the corresponding side dots on the neck, those I need. Don't read more into them than you need to.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    The only time I use dots is to count the number of frets on a fingerboard. The pair at the 12th fret, 3 up to 15. Never use the side dots in my playing.

    The Wayne Benson Gibson model does away with any on-the-fret dots (there may be side dots). I always liked that look. I think his siganture is on fret 12 or maybe 15.

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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    Then there is the mystery of why guitars have dots on the 9th fret and mandolins on the 10th. I know lots of people think they have the definitive answer to that, but previous threads indicate the "definitive answers" don't all agree.

    I only use side dots for playing, but there is a real purpose for the fretboard dots if you are giving lessons or taking them. It is somewhat easier for an instructor/student pairing to see what each other are doing if they both have dots. I'm not saying it's necessary, just helpful. I think with online lessons, it's even more helpful due to camera resolution.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    I am totally addicted to the dots. Especially up the neck and especially especially when I am reading music up the neck.

    The fourth and the fifth are intervals very important to western music, and so the dots on the fifth and seventh fret. The tenth and 12 fret are my fourth and fifth intervals when starting on the fifth fret (i.e. playing in third position). The tenth fret dot on the next string is my octave in third position.

    When I play closed form moveable patterns I don't always pay close attention to what key I am in. I use my relative position to the dots as a guide. So if I am a fret below the dot at the fifth, then my octave (for example) is a fret below my dot at the tenth fret a string up.

    The dots are my way points. Whether they are on the side of the neck or on the fret board itself I don't care. I prefer both actually, but a mandolin with no fret markers at all is very disorienting for me to play.


    That said, I have no real comments on what you should do. As you can see different people approach the landscape differently. What works for me may not be best for you.

    I find the dots gigantically helpful, and I would hope folks would at least consider if using them may provide advantage.
    Indulge responsibly!

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    A ninth fret dot instead of a tenth fret dot, on a mandolin or something tuned in fifths, drives me nuts. Some say its just what one gets used to, but I say that the tenth fret dot provides so many useful symmetries relevant to being tuned in fifths I cannot believe its placement is arbitrary.
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    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    Yup, there are all kinds of patterns and ways to use the markers. Whether they were put there intentionally for this purpose or not, they are still very useful. You can find many different ways to reference them for chord shapes, scales, or other movable patterns. If you never get out of first position, they may not mean much, but I couldn't live without them when playing above the 7th fret, especially when doing a lot of shifting and moving around. Without my hand in a fixed position as an 'anchor' for reference (like it would be when fixed in first position), I can't tell which fret I'm on just by feel. I have to use the markers as references.

    I'm sure if I played for a couple of years blindfolded to eliminate the visual reference as a crutch, I could get past it, but I don't feel the need to do that. I really do respect violin players and other musicians who play fretless instruments with no markers whatsoever. How they can jump way up the neck and hit exactly the right pitch is simply amazing.

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    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    I cannot believe its placement is arbitrary.
    Of course it's not arbitrary. It's to discourage the heathens (guitar players and banjo players) from soiling holy ground.
    belbein

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by belbein View Post
    Of course it's not arbitrary. It's to discourage the heathens (guitar players and banjo players) from soiling holy ground.
    Indulge responsibly!

    The entire staff
    funny....

  18. #12

    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    I don't know any of the names of the notes on the fretboard. Sad but true. Last night I decided to take a look and maybe start to learn the notes. I pulled out the Fretboard Toolbox for Mandolin. It says the easiest way to learn where the the C,D,E,G and A notes are first (because every other note is one step away from them, or something).

    Anyway when I looked to find the C,D,E,G and A notes I realized that on the A string, C, D, E, G and A fall on the 3, 5, 7, 10 and 12 frets, which just so happen to have Dots.

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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    You could always get a copy of the Roy Clark "Big Note" Songbook and adapt the stickers for mandolin!

    Click image for larger version. 

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    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin View Post
    I really do respect violin players and other musicians who play fretless instruments with no markers whatsoever. How they can jump way up the neck and hit exactly the right pitch is simply amazing.
    When you think about it, though, if violins had markers, how could we even see them when we're in playing position? They'd be as useless as... insert your favorite metaphor (or is it simile?) here. So there's no other option - we have to use muscle memory alone to "jump way up the neck and hit exactly the right pitch".

    On fretted instruments, I find the side octave marker the only one to be useful. Since I shift around frequently between instruments that have different scales, that one helps me get oriented to the instrument I'm on at the moment. The others I find distracting.

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    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    12th fret = 1/2 length harmonic. (at fret above the marker)
    5th fret = 1/3 length harmonic
    3rd fret = 1/4 length harmonic.
    7th fret = 1/3 length harmonic
    5th fret = 1/4 length harmonic

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    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocrucian View Post
    7th fret = 1/3 length harmonic
    5th fret = 1/4 length harmonic
    Oops.... thanks for pointing it out.
    especially embarassing as I'd only posted the correct one about a week ago and have been using it for a piece today.

    My only excuse is I tend to think of the third fret one as redundant.


    While on harmonics does anyone consistently manage to get a useful harmonic out of any others?
    Is it worth trying or do you have to be rediculously good to manage it?
    Eoin



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    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    Traditional Classical guitars almost never have markers on the fretboard and very rarely have edge markers. The 12th fret is always located where the neck meets the body. That's the only reference point and the rest is just muscle memory and knowing where the notes lie on the fretboard. I used to paint a small dot on the edge of the fretboard at the 5th fret on my guitars just as a quick reference landmark (which I probably used a lot subconsciously).

    Maczart
    Last edited by Maczart; Mar-04-2014 at 4:13pm.

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  27. #18

    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    Lol divided room, I appreciate all the input. Good stuff to think about

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    Yes of course its a divided room. But you know, doing it one way doesn't prevent you from doing it the other way. Certainly worth trying both ways and see what works. Or adopt both. I know with some playing I pay much more attention to the dots than with other, where I ignore them. So ... its all good.
    Indulge responsibly!

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    Registered User AaronVW's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    What dots?
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Taylor Swift lover/fan Cue Zephyr's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beanzy View Post
    3rd fret = 1/4 length harmonic.
    That's not entirely true. I mean yes, it is around the 3rd fret, but it's actually slightly above that 3rd fret.

    I have to practice hitting that one to get it. The shorter that division gets, the harder those harmonics are to hit.

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    Registered User GreenMTBoy's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    I have a Gypsy Jazz guitar and it has a dot on the 10 th fret and have always liked it as my reference for the D note , makes more sense to me then having it on the 9th D flat

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  33. #23
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    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cue Zephyr View Post
    That's not entirely true. I mean yes, it is around the 3rd fret, but it's actually slightly above that 3rd fret.

    I have to practice hitting that one to get it. The shorter that division gets, the harder those harmonics are to hit.

    That's the 1/6 length harmonic, two octaves plus a fifth. Read Niles' post again.
    The 1/5 is close to the fourth fret.

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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by AaronVW View Post
    What dots?
    Click image for larger version. 

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    That's great! That mandolin must date back to ancient Rome!

  35. #25
    Registered User James Rankine's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do the dots on the fret board mean?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Another what dots pic. Come to think of it what is an oval hole?

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