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

Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by Ktone, Nov 9, 2021.

  1. Ktone

    Ktone Electromatic

    Oct 31, 2021
    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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  2. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    ....because that's what makes it perfect ;)
  3. Ricochet

    Ricochet Senior Gretsch-Talker

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    “There is no money above the 5th fret”-session great Tommy Tedesco.
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  4. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Admin Post
    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.
  5. Ktone

    Ktone Electromatic

    Oct 31, 2021
    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.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2021
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  6. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Admin Post
    It may be that the shape of the thumbnail markers just doesn’t look right once the fret spacing gets that tight.
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  7. mbkri

    mbkri Country Gent

    Sep 22, 2012
    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.
  8. Hammerhands

    Hammerhands Country Gent

    Aug 26, 2011
    I think it is people with good taste discouraging you from playing up there. It should be hard to play up there.
  9. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Admin Post
    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.
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  10. Desirsar

    Desirsar Gretschie

    Jun 9, 2021
    Lincoln, NE
    That made me peek at guitars I own and have on wishlists. Guitars seem to stop marking frets where the cutaway wouldn't let you access them. Basses seem to mark them all the way up.
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  11. wabash slim

    wabash slim I Bleed Orange

    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    You can't see the fret markers up there due to the dust.
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  12. Jeremiah_S

    Jeremiah_S Electromatic

    Oct 19, 2018
    New England
    I'm not sure on the fret markers stopping but shoot, that is beautiful
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  13. Jimmy Mongo

    Jimmy Mongo Electromatic

    Dec 24, 2019
    wait, there's more than seventeen frets? weird.
  14. Hickeroar

    Hickeroar Gretschie

    Oct 4, 2020
    Well, now I can't ever unsee that again. Never once noticed that before. :p
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  15. new6659

    new6659 Country Gent

    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:
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  16. audept

    audept Senior Gretsch-Talker

    Dec 1, 2010
    Sydney, Australia
    If I get up there I'm usually lost, so fret markers don't help me......
  17. new6659

    new6659 Country Gent

    Playing past the 17th is just for show-offs anyways;)
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  18. BatmansGretsch

    BatmansGretsch Gretschie

    Dec 3, 2019
    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.


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

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  19. juks

    juks Country Gent

    Nov 26, 2020
    Fremont, California
    Thanks, I can never unsee that again. :D

    I do have one Gretsch with an exception:

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  20. birddog

    birddog Electromatic

    Apr 12, 2016
    Well...I couldn't see past that beautiful top...you could have a marker on every fret and I would have missed it!
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