The Acoustic Guitar Forum

The Acoustic Guitar Forum (
-   General Acoustic Guitar Discussion (
-   -   Why no fret markers on a classical (

Howard Emerson 03-22-2010 07:58 AM


Originally Posted by Frosty (Post 2168463)
There are no position markers on a violin either. ;)

Wrongo, Frosto:


Talk about a get rich quick scheme.........


ljguitar 03-22-2010 08:04 AM


Originally Posted by Huckleberry (Post 2168550)
...At best, I think you won't use them anyway ad they hinder the aesthetics of the guitar; at worst they'll get you set into a really bad posture, arching over the guitar all the time.

Hi Huck…
That is debatable…I think they can enhance the look when done tastefully…

These are actually a ''thru'' design which extend through the edge of the neck and become side markers as well as top markers. I proposed the idea and Michael Bashkin built this for me…I’m pleased with it and by it.

Furthermore, if a seated played sets the guitar out toward the knee and leans the top edge of the guitar back against the chest (opening up the back so it resonates), not only does it improve the sound, it improves the player's posture and it exposes the face of the neck without craning the neck to see it.

dberkowitz 03-22-2010 08:04 AM

I don't think they're on classicals because the instrument was traditionally played solo -- surface position markers are much more useful for other players than they are for the person playing the instrument themselves. Concert musicians as was previously remarked, look at their music and their conductor, not the instrument. Having grown up playing classical, the side position markers on any guitar I find to be more useful than surface markers because I'm looking for position on the fingerboard -- surface markers your own fingers block their view.

guto 03-22-2010 08:40 AM


Originally Posted by ljguitar (Post 2168572)
Hi ToddÖ
This is obviously something important to you...don't think the rest of the steel string guitar community will buy in.

As a teacher I couldn't disagree with some of what you said more. The fretboard is geometrically challenging - unlike a piano which has the same sized keys at the 88th key as the first.

The size of frets halves approximately each octave, and if you toss in a fanned fret arrangement, it changes the shape of the frets as well into irregular form in each direction relevant to the perpendicular fret wire (if there is one).

For players who are seated when they play and their posture places the guitar out near the knee and the body of the guitar leans back into their chest, the fretboard markers are as easily visible as the edge markers...without straining or stretching the neck.

On top of that, when a person learns by reading the hands of another player then the face markers are key to instantly knowing what the player is doing (where they have capoed, which fingers on a particular chord are on which frets etc). All of my students read hands, or they don't keep up.

The best players frequently look at the fact Iíve seen them glance or even stare when hitting the more challenging passages...

As was mentioned above, when playing guitars with different width necks, different fret configuations and/or different scale (short or long) it becomes complicated for a player who doesn't spend several hours a week with a particular instrument in his/her hands to develop the kind of skills you mention.

What Iíve observed when forcing people not to look (as a teacher) is it turns them into less adventurous players - who don't improvise for fear of missing it is a bit of a double edged sword.

I can play anything the 7-9th frets pretty comfortably without looking or with a quick glance, but above the 12-14th frets it becomes a particular challenge. When playing fretted harmonics - it would be improbable/impossible to develop the two-handed-no-eyes-on accuracy that takes without devoting days to it to find them.

The classical community doesn't support your theory either...they are constantly seen watching their fingers...not so with the classical piano community.

And when I think of retraining myself to learn all four of my main guitars to accommodate your suggested technique on a 12 fret-1 7/8'' fingerboard, a 14 fret-1 3/4'' no cutaway and a 14 fret-1 3/4'' cutaway model, plus my Strat (different fingerboard length & narrower fretboard yet)'s not high on my agenda of this-would-make-me-a-substantially-better-player list...

Just some random thoughts from a different side of the aisle...not intended to inflame, just to further the considerations and thought processes...

Hi Larry,

I think that if you look at this subject by the strictly classical player point of view, some of those points will be lost. Not that I think its rubish or anything, they surely will aplly in a lot of cases, but maybe not in a strictly classical player's case.

The classical position of playing will not allow for easy viewing of the fretboard's face. Side marks are more usefull in that case. When looking at the fretboard, you are most of the times trying to get your left hand position straight, not trying to guess wich fret you are at. With little practice you'll identify which fret is which in a glance. If I can do it, anuone can! :D
Also, copying your teachers fingers by looking at his guitar while he is playing is not an usuall practice either. I won't sau it never happens, but lots of teachers don't even have their guitars in hand while teaching.
Mine only picks his guitar about 1/4 of the classes.

I certanly don't think that marks are such an abomination, for some they are indeed usefull, but I guess one should take in consideration that a traditional classical guitar is intended for a classical player, they way the things are done in that style and all of the burdens that may come with it...:D

Just another point of view :up: .


Tuffythepug 03-22-2010 08:46 AM

My Larrivee LS-03MT Forum III guitar has no fret markers on the fretboard except for three micro-dots on the 12th fret. Since it is a 12-fret guitar they are obviously for decorative purposes only. I find that I don't miss them at all. After 20 years, if I don't know my way around the neck by now I never will.

I do think they are beneficial in the learning process though. It would be harder for a beginner to find the correct fret without the aid of markers. After you've learned, there really isn't any benefit except for those who are playing with you. I've never owned a classical and never even noticed that they don't have markers.

Wolf 03-22-2010 09:03 AM

Why do steel-string guitars have them? You can't see'em when you play.

I goes by the small dots on the side of the neck. Which i have on my cassical guitars also.

Glennwillow 03-22-2010 09:23 AM

Tradition is the basic answer, and whether fret markers matter to you or not tends to depend on what tradition each of us has come from.

I learned to play on a classical but I have been playing steel string acoustic for so long -- something like 46 years now -- that I would probably miss fret markers if I didn't have them. I certainly am not leaning over the guitar looking at the markers, but I tend to take Larry's approach and tilt the body of the guitar to get it off my chest so it rings better and to minimize the shoulder discomfort. With the guitar in the position, the fret markers on both the sides of the neck and on the fretboard itself are easily visible. Truthfully, I'm not really sure how much I use them...

These days I own a crossover classical, Taylor NS34CE, and it has no inlays on the fretboard and I don't believe it has side markers on it, so I get used to it when I play it.

I also agree that when you are learning from watching someone else play, that is, "reading hands," fret markers do help.

Regards, Glenn

Opa John 03-22-2010 10:50 AM


Originally Posted by stevestarr (Post 2168422)
I have been looking to buy a classical. Noticed that, none that I have seen have any fret markers, not even the little dots up on the top of the guitar to show where you are quickly.
Any idea what's the reasoning behind this? I need all the help I can get on the FB

Steve, I'm on YOUR side. I'm not gonna sit here and tell you it's tradition, slide trombones aren't marked, play with your eyes closed, or violins don't have fret markers. It's gonna be your guitar, paid for with your money, so if you want fret markings, you should have 'em.

You can do your own fret marking on the fret board binding with a small (3/32") drill bit and a small dab of wood filler in brown or white....whichever looks the best. Very carefully, drill a very shallow hole and fill it with the wood filler. Wipe off the excess before it dries and and you're done. I did the same thing to one of mine and nobody knows they're there except me. I marked the binding at the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 12th frets......just like all my other guitars.

Tradition?? Man, I've been known to grab mine and use a thumb pick to play some blues on it. Is that tradition? Make your own rules!

MikeD 03-22-2010 11:05 AM

They are a convenience on the side of the fingerboard, but not a necessity. I find that position markers on the face of the fingerboard are only useful when you are playing with others and need a quick reference to what they are playing or if they are trying to show you how to play something. Other than that, they are useless to me as well. One thing I did happen to stumble upon recently which taught me that position markers, and even frets, can be totally useless... a fretless bass. I borrowed a Breedlove acoustic fretless bass and took it home for a few days and I was astounded how easy my ears and fingers found the notes after only a few minutes of play time on the instrument. Although I play a little bass, I am by NO means a bass player and I was able to play this instrument as easily as my own Parker. I had always assumed the transition would be monumental, when in actuality it was trivial... much like every Classical I've played without side position markers. After you get used to the scale length, your fingers just do the walking and find the notes and chords like they normally do.

Todd Rose 03-22-2010 11:09 AM


Originally Posted by dberkowitz (Post 2168585)
surface position markers are much more useful for other players than they are for the person playing the instrument themselves.

Good point, David. Although a well-trained ear takes care of that, too, and that, I think, is the key.

Todd Rose 03-22-2010 11:15 AM

Larry, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. I'm afraid I have to get back to the shop, so I really don't have time to respond to them individually, so I'll just say I respectfully disagree with almost everything you said. :) Good to have various viewpoints, though, for sure!

Howard Klepper 03-22-2010 12:04 PM

To say "tradition" implies that it is without reason. But there is a reason, which is that classical musicians are expected to be able to read music and play at the same time.

Zigeuner 03-22-2010 12:28 PM

I like the side markers. They are sometimes helpful. That said, I have an S. Yairi Classical guitar that has no markers and I manage OK.

If the O.P. feels that he needs side markers, they are easily added. Stewart-McDonald has 6" long pieces of 1/16" plastic marker rod that can be used to add them. The material comes in white and black.

1cubilindo 03-22-2010 12:31 PM


Originally Posted by Todd Rose (Post 2168839)
Larry, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. I'm afraid I have to get back to the shop, so I really don't have time to respond to them individually, so I'll just say I respectfully disagree with almost everything you said. :) Good to have various viewpoints, though, for sure!

Funny but I agree with just about everything Larry posted. But I agree with you in that there are various viewpoints to most things.

WaddyT 03-22-2010 02:50 PM

Many classical teachers will not allow students to use guitars with markers. they feel it is a crutch that should be romoved in the early learning stages. Some classicals have dots at the 7th fret, in the edge of the board, and I put them on mine, because I like it, and you cannot see the fretboard if you are holding the guitar in a proper playing position. Classical players often look at their hands while they play, because it is more professional looking than glaring at an audience with a goofy face pasted on your mug. It also assures that you are making the best possible contact with the strings, which promotes the absolute best tone from the instrument.

Howard's point is good too, as classical players often play in ensemble or orchestral situations where they have to read music while they play, and are unable to watch their hands, except for short moments, and for big position switches.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:08 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, The Acoustic Guitar Forum

vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=