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Old 12-08-2010, 08:07 PM
Benybrady Benybrady is offline
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Default 12 fret vs 14 fret

What is the difference between a 12 fret to the body vs a 14 fret to the body guitar?
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Old 12-08-2010, 08:14 PM
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AZLiberty AZLiberty is offline
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It depends on the builder.

Some builders (e.g. Larrivee) relocate the bridge downward to accommodate the shorter neck on a 12 fret. Since the bridge is in a different location the guitar is necessarily "voiced" differently.

Other builders (e.g. Martin) use a different body shape which is longer for their 12-fret instruments. Thus the guitar sounds different because the body is shaped differently.
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Old 12-08-2010, 08:31 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benybrady View Post
What is the difference between a 12 fret to the body vs a 14 fret to the body guitar?
To add to what AZliberty has already posted, 12 fret guitar designs are often more "vintage-looking" in appearance and style, with slotted pegheads and a more old-fashioned sort of body shape. There are serious fans of these guitars that strongly believe (and have evidence to support their beliefs) that 12 fret guitar designs tend to have richer tone than comparable 14 fret designs.

I happen to love the Martin 12 fret 00 design, but am less enthused about the 12 fret 000 design. I've owned a couple of each, and the 12 fret 000 isn't as suited to my style of playing as the 14 fret 000/OM body, which I regard as a more versatile design.

What you lose with the 12 fret designs is the easier access to the upper frets that 14 fret designs and (especially!) cutaway model guitars offer. But many players who love 12 fret designs don't play that high up, anyway.

Anyway, a lot of it comes down to individual taste and playing style. My "pick and choose" approach - where I like 12 fret 00 guitars better than 14 fret 00's, but prefer 14 fret 000 models - is not uncommon among players who've had years of experience playing these various instruments. And my preferences are just that - other players will have their own preferences based on other criteria. Because it all comes down to how you play and which of these designs work best for that.

So have fun playing zillions of these guitars until you get a sense of your own personal preferences!


Wade Hampton Miller
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Old 12-08-2010, 09:27 PM
00016SRGT 00016SRGT is offline
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For what its worth, 12-fret guitars usually have wider neck profiles at the nut (1-3/4" to 1-7/8") and correspondingly wider string spacings at the bridge, irrespective of body size. Most 14-fretters have 1-11/16" to 1-3/4" nut widths.
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Old 12-08-2010, 09:44 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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As Wade points out, so much of what works for a particular player is their playing style and preferences. I own a Martin 000-28VS, which is a 12-fret 000 design with a standard scale (rather than the short scale of more modern 000 Martin guitars). Here is a link: http://www.martinguitar.com/guitars/...p=m&m=000-28VS

You can see by the picture that the body is elongated as AZ Liberty mentioned. This guitar has a fair amount of bass and is very warm sounding for my fingerstyle playing, but Wade has rightly described this guitar as sounding "tubby" when played aggressively with a flat pick up the neck.

Actually, I'm with Wade in that the more I play OM style guitars with 14-fret necks, the less I play my 12-fret Martin. Nothing wrong with it -- it sounds great, but I have come to prefer the balance of the 14-fret OM design a little more. Also, the 12-fret neck is limiting for a lot of instrumental fingerstyle songs where a person just runs out of room. One of our AGF members had a Martin 000-28VS with a cutaway in our Classified Section a while ago.

Regards, Glenn
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Old 12-09-2010, 04:36 AM
MartinOM28V MartinOM28V is offline
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Another angle is that 12-fret guitars are much older designs from the transitional period between catgut and steel strings. When catgut ruled the guitar world, 12 fret guitars were the norm. Martin's 0 size, now considered a tiny thing, was the largest size offered for many years.

In the early 20th century players needed their guitars to be louder and not be drowned out by banjos, orchestras and other instruments. Soon steel strings, bigger body sizes, longer 25.4" scales, slimmer necks and 14-fret necks became the norm. But to get that 14-fret neck to fit, Martin had to change the body shape a bit. This without question re-voiced the guitar. In the case of Martins it worked wonderfully, with the new body shape of the OM 14-fretters imparting what many players consider a perfectly balanced tone.

Meanwhile the more old-fashioned 12-fret guitars sound great in their own right due to that longer body and bridge position being located where the soundboard is widest (it's generally closer to the sound hole on a 14-fret guitar). They are less versatile for many players but the rich, buttery, echo chamber of tone they produce is highly soothing and also the physical attributes are just gorgeous.

I love them both. The 14-fret OM-28V is my go-to guitar but I also love to break out my Recording King ROS-626 which i think of as the poor mans 000-18VS.
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:39 AM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MartinOM28V View Post
... Meanwhile the more old-fashioned 12-fret guitars sound great in their own right due to that longer body and bridge position being located where the soundboard is widest (it's generally closer to the sound hole on a 14-fret guitar). They are less versatile for many players but the rich, buttery, echo chamber of tone they produce is highly soothing and also the physical attributes are just gorgeous. .....
Very nice description of the sound I get from my 000-28VS.

- Glenn
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