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Thread: Where should the fret dots be?

  1. #1
    Harley Marty
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Mullingar Co Westmeath Ireland

    Default Where should the fret dots be?

    What is the proper or official places to have the fret dots on fifth tuned Tenor Guitars? I never look at them but seeing as I'm ordering a custom built it's good to cross the the T's & dot the frets

  2. #2
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Northop, North Wales

    Default Re: Where should the fret dots be?

    Not sure there is an "official" way. It depends on whether you consider it part of the mandolin/banjo family (hence 10th fret dots) or part of the guitar family (hence 9th fret dots).

    For what it's worth, my Vintage Viaten tenor guitar has dots on 5, 7 and 10 (but not 12), whereas my Ozark tenor guitar has 3, 5, 9, 12 (double) and 15.

    Historically, I would suspect 10th fret markers are more authentic. The tenor guitar was developed in the 1920s to allow unemployed tenor banjo players to play guitar when that instrument started to be more in demand than the banjo. So, I would expect them to prefer dot markers as on the tenor banjo.


  3. #3
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Saint Augustine Beach FL

    Default Re: Where should the fret dots be?

    For tuning in fifths, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th and 15th.

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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  5. #4
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Mar 2017
    Bozeman, MT

    Default Re: Where should the fret dots be?

    The dots on the side are vital, but the fretboard can be naked.
    2007 Weber Custom Elite "old wood"
    2017 Ratliff R5 Custom #1148
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  7. #5
    Registered User spufman's Avatar
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    May 2010
    Central CT

    Default Re: Where should the fret dots be?

    I much prefer a mark at the 10th versus the 9th when tuned in fifths.
    Blow on, man.

  8. #6
    Confused... or?
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Over the Hudson & thru the woods from NYC

    Default Re: Where should the fret dots be?

    Just to complete the thought(s), note that not all markers are compulsory. Some (mostly nylon-strung guitars, but others as well) have markers at only 5 and 7. Others (again mostly guitars) go for "symmetry" maybe, and add markers at 1. Some electric guitars re-produce the whole octave of markers on up to 24. Surprising to me, the 28-fret original L Loar F5s have markers only up to 15, but the cutaway fretboard does serve to indicate 20 thru 23. Here are some examples:
    - Ed

    "What our group lacks in musicianship is offset by our willingness to humiliate ourselves." - David Hochman

  9. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Pacific NW, slightly outside BC

    Default Re: Where should the fret dots be?

    Like the other user said, I like side of neck markers better, I use these glow in the dark ones and cut em into little quarter moons. So they're tactile but they fall off after a few weeks/months
    The Keepers: Kentucky km900, JBovier A5
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  10. #8
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    40.191N -74.2W

    Default Re: Where should the fret dots be?

    Some interesting history of those fret markers can be found in this article.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  12. #9
    Lord of All Badgers Lord of the Badgers's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    South West UK

    Default Re: Where should the fret dots be?

    Had my mcilroy tenor's dot moved from nine to ten.
    Dee is a renowned guitar luthier so I guess it was natural for him to put it on 9th.
    That said he set it up for CGDA...
    Only has dots on the side and yes you can see it but I'm happier!
    My name is Rob, and I am Lord of All Badgers

    Paul Shippey custom "Tone" Octave Mandolin, Paul Shippey "Axe" Bouzouki,
    Phil Davidson A5 "Badgerlin" mandolin, Phil Davidson F5 mandolin,
    Mcilroy Tenor Guitar, Phil Davidson Tenor Mandola
    My band's website

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