Why do the fret markers stop at the 17th fret?

Ktone

Electromatic
Oct 31, 2021
69
SE PA USA
Why do the fret markers stop at the 17th fret on most semi-hollow and hollow body Gretsch fretboards that have thumbnail or block inlays? But on fretboards with dot inlays, there are markers at frets 19 and 21. I'm just getting into Gretsch so forgive my ignorance. This is about the only thing on my 6609 that I would really want to change. I honestly didn't notice it when buying (online via Sweetwater) but in person, it was more obvious. To me it looks incomplete without the high fret markers, like someone forgot to add them to those last couple of frets that usually have them (on most any other guitar). And why not even side markers at least? Maybe this is some Gretsch tradition (this is my first Gretsch) but I have to say I'm not a big fan of it.

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Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
25,256
Tucson
That’s the Gretsch secret, but if you have to ask, you’ll never know. :)

Just kidding. I’ve been playing Gretsch for a long time and I’m sure that I noticed, somewhere along the line, but never gave it a second thought, until now. Pretty much everything you see on Gretsch designs from the late fifties onward has a degree of consistency, which I surmise credits back to Jimmie Webster, who gave us many of the Gretsch visual design features.
 

Ktone

Electromatic
Oct 31, 2021
69
SE PA USA
That’s the Gretsch secret, but if you have to ask, you’ll never know. :)

Just kidding. I’ve been playing Gretsch for a long time and I’m sure that I noticed, somewhere along the line, but never gave it a second thought, until now. Pretty much everything you see on Gretsch designs from the late fifties onward has a degree of consistency, which I surmise credits back to Jimmie Webster, who gave us many of the Gretsch visual design features.
Thanks for that background but I would love to know why the necks with dot inlays mostly seem to have markers up to the 21st fret. What could possibly be the logic that those necks need complete markers but the thumbnail and block necks do not? If there is any fret marker that's unnecessary, it would be the one at the first fret, IMO.
 
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Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
25,256
Tucson
Because all the wood above the 12th fret is just there to stop the neck falling off. I went above the 17th fret once but it was scary up there and i couldnt wait to get home.
I love it!

There’s not too many occasions when I have to go above the 17th fret, that’s for certain. I can see going way up there for a dramatic conclusion to an impressive arpeggio, but it’s not a neighborhood I visit all that often. Giving it some thought, I rarely get above the 15th fret.
 

new6659

Country Gent
Dec 10, 2018
3,199
Southwestern Ontario
Here's my theory - the inlay recesses are drilled into the board after the fret slots have been cut. The distance from the edge of the inlay recess to the slots on each side of it becomes too short past the 17th fret to drill cleanly without the danger of having chipping and tear out of the wood between the inlay recess and the adjacent slots. This is especially true with an ebony fingerboard.

You can ask me how I know:cool::eek:
 

BatmansGretsch

Gretschie
Dec 3, 2019
205
Earth
Unfortunately, anything above the 17th fret on my Gretsch basically turns it into a Dreadnaught without a cutaway.

The only way I learned to get some control over the box was to lean forward more and bend my head down. You can get a little more reach that way. Thumb placement has to be low on the neck.

I learned that watching a woman play the sitar. They have to do this all the time because the neck is just so big.

Even with a cutaway on a Gretsch, it doesn't get much better.

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and some non-cutaways are even better than the cutaways! The Electromatics.

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