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-   -   Why no fret markers on a classical (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=179994)

stevestarr 03-22-2010 03:21 AM

Why no fret markers on a classical
 
Hi
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
thanks
Steve

wthurman 03-22-2010 04:20 AM

One word: Tradition. Violins don't have them either, although you sometimes see tape on violins for young kids. Trombones don't have slide markers. I guess the idea is that if you are going to master your instrument, you should be able to go where you want on the neck without having to worry about the markers.

Just be happy the guitar has frets! ;)

Jeff M 03-22-2010 04:42 AM

Tradition...

guto 03-22-2010 05:08 AM

Yes, tradition.

And, as classical guitarrists often play while reading the score, they tend to learn to identify where they are in the fret by feeling. They can't look at the frets marks so often.

Todd Stock 03-22-2010 05:14 AM

I've added side markers on several classicals - usually just one dot at the 7th or dots at 5th and 7th.

Herb Hunter 03-22-2010 05:14 AM

It really doesn't take long to adapt to guitars without fret markers. This is easily demonstrated by playing in the dark.

Frosty 03-22-2010 05:16 AM

There are no position markers on a violin either. ;)

Todd Rose 03-22-2010 05:27 AM

I truly believe we would all be better musicians if we always played with our eyes closed, or in the dark. I think the visual part of our minds is a hindrance to the flow of musical thought. As a guitar teacher of many years, I've often thought that the first thing I should do with my students - especially the absolute beginners - is to blindfold them. I've never had the audacity to actually do that, unfortunately. If we learned to play entirely by ear and by feel - like Doc Watson, Stevie Wonder, etc etc - I think our playing would be significantly more musical and more creative.

I certainly experience music more deeply when I close my eyes. It's funny how when we go see a band, we tend to stand there staring at them as they play, even if they aren't the kind of performers who put on any sort of visual show. What are we looking at? The art, the beauty is in the sound.

On the first guitar I made (a steel string), I forgot to put in the side dots before I completed the neck. I could have gone back and put them in, but I decided not to, and I'm glad I made that decision. Playing that guitar (I still play it quite a bit - it's a sweet guitar) has definitely been a good thing for my guitar playing and musicianship.

I think that fret markers on the FACE of the fretboard are a monstrously bad idea - I mean, if you have to look at all, for crying out loud don't be bending forward and looking at the face of the FB - that's adding injury to insult, literally.

Try playing in the dark, with a blindfold, or eyes closed (no cheating!) every day for a month and see if it doesn't grow you as a musician and player by leaps and bounds.

gary0319 03-22-2010 05:42 AM

My Yamaha Flamenco CGX 171 SCF has side markers at 5 & 7, none on the fretboard itself.

Sombras 03-22-2010 06:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by wthurman (Post 2168441)
Just be happy the guitar has frets! ;)

That was funny! :up:

Huckleberry 03-22-2010 07:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Todd Rose (Post 2168469)
I think that fret markers on the FACE of the fretboard are a monstrously bad idea - I mean, if you have to look at all, for crying out loud don't be bending forward and looking at the face of the FB - that's adding injury to insult, literally.

I agree entirely.

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.

I do use the dots on the side to orientate myself sometimes. I think I unconsciously position myself from the body join down, rather than from the nut upwards, though. The biggest problem for me in going from steel strung to playing classical without any markers was remembering that the classical neck/body joint is at the 12th fret rather than the 14th - that kept throwing me out.

JohnZ 03-22-2010 07:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Todd Rose (Post 2168469)
I truly believe we would all be better musicians if we always played with our eyes closed, or in the dark. I think the visual part of our minds is a hindrance to the flow of musical thought. As a guitar teacher of many years, I've often thought that the first thing I should do with my students - especially the absolute beginners - is to blindfold them. I've never had the audacity to actually do that, unfortunately. If we learned to play entirely by ear and by feel - like Doc Watson, Stevie Wonder, etc etc - I think our playing would be significantly more musical and more creative.

I certainly experience music more deeply when I close my eyes. It's funny how when we go see a band, we tend to stand there staring at them as they play, even if they aren't the kind of performers who put on any sort of visual show. What are we looking at? The art, the beauty is in the sound.

On the first guitar I made (a steel string), I forgot to put in the side dots before I completed the neck. I could have gone back and put them in, but I decided not to, and I'm glad I made that decision. Playing that guitar (I still play it quite a bit - it's a sweet guitar) has definitely been a good thing for my guitar playing and musicianship.

I think that fret markers on the FACE of the fretboard are a monstrously bad idea - I mean, if you have to look at all, for crying out loud don't be bending forward and looking at the face of the FB - that's adding injury to insult, literally.

Try playing in the dark, with a blindfold, or eyes closes (no cheating!) every day for a month and see if it doesn't grow you as a musician and player by leaps and bounds.

A lot of students ask me why they are there and why they are placed where they are. I usually say they evolved as a reference.

If a guitarist played one guitar exclusivly then there's little need for position markers. On the other hand, if you're like me with multiple types of acoustic and electric guitars, dobros, banjos, mandolins, etc., then position markers can be handy because the necks and scales vary so much. It does seem like it's overdone though and small side dots at the 5th, 12th, and17th frets and nothing on the fretboard would be enough for transitioning from neck to neck.

OGAL 03-22-2010 07:41 AM

I've been learning how to read & I've noticed that if its a song I learned with notation when I look at my hands I kind of spaz out and mess up. Weird.

ljguitar 03-22-2010 07:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Todd Rose (Post 2168469)
...I think that fret markers on the FACE of the fretboard are a monstrously bad idea - I mean, if you have to look at all, for crying out loud don't be bending forward and looking at the face of the FB - that's adding injury to insult, literally.

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 fretboard...in 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 notes...so 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)...it'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...


Shadowraptor 03-22-2010 07:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Huckleberry (Post 2168550)
...they hinder the aesthetics of the guitar

Unless they are pearl or abalone (insert correct name of geometric figure here) a la Gibson :)


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