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Old 06-13-2018, 11:26 AM
SouthpawJeff SouthpawJeff is offline
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Default Why no fret markers on classical guitar???

I recently started playing an older Garcia classical guitar and am curious as to the absence of any fret markers. Is this common on classical guitars? And if so why? Iíve seen photos of classicals with no markers on the face of the fretboard, but also have seen at least a couple that did have them but only on the edge. Mine has none, and to be honest itís been a bit difficult so far. I find Iím mostly ok up to about the 6th fret, but then I start to lose track. Is there any advantage to learning on a guitar without them? Iíve been thinking about whether I should just add one at the 7th to help me locate, but figure Iíd ask here and see what those more familiar with classical playing thought first?

Thanks,
Jeff
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Old 06-13-2018, 11:55 AM
urlkonig urlkonig is offline
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Same reason that there's no markers on a violin or viola or cello etc. Classical instrumentalists by their very nature read music, and do not "spot" themselves visually on their instruments.
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Old 06-13-2018, 01:17 PM
AndreF AndreF is offline
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Originally Posted by SouthpawJeff View Post
I recently started playing an older Garcia classical guitar and am curious as to the absence of any fret markers. Is this common on classical guitars? And if so why? Iíve seen photos of classicals with no markers on the face of the fretboard, but also have seen at least a couple that did have them but only on the edge. Mine has none, and to be honest itís been a bit difficult so far. I find Iím mostly ok up to about the 6th fret, but then I start to lose track. Is there any advantage to learning on a guitar without them? Iíve been thinking about whether I should just add one at the 7th to help me locate, but figure Iíd ask here and see what those more familiar with classical playing thought first?

Thanks,
Jeff
Itís just tradition. Nothing else related to playing.
If you prefer with, then go for it.
Personally I like them at all the usual spots, like 7, 9, 12, 15, 17, on top edge of the fretboard, leaving the face blank. That way you get the best of both worlds: A dotless face for more traditional looks, and a dotted fretboard top that makes it easier to navigate.
Guitar playing is hard enough without needlessly making things more difficult.
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Old 06-13-2018, 01:32 PM
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rick-slo rick-slo is offline
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Originally Posted by urlkonig View Post
Same reason that there's no markers on a violin or viola or cello etc. Classical instrumentalists by their very nature read music, and do not "spot" themselves visually on their instruments.
Lots of times classical guitarists do spot (look toward where their fingers will be going) themselves, e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQkzba7xRhs

Also video a good example of mentally preparing a little ahead of the notes you are currently playing in a piece - eyes move a measure or so ahead to where the fretting hand will be going.
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Last edited by rick-slo; 06-13-2018 at 01:41 PM.
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Old 06-13-2018, 04:55 PM
tbeltrans tbeltrans is offline
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The first guy to build a classical guitar, forgot to put them on. Everybody else copied him, and like most anything else, if you say or do it often enough, it becomes true. So, today, it is still true that we don't have dots on the classical guitar. I read that somewhere on the internet, so it MUST be true.

If I were to tell the real truth, I would have to admit that I have absolutely no clue as to why there are no fret dots on classical guitars.

Tony
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Old 06-13-2018, 05:01 PM
SouthpawJeff SouthpawJeff is offline
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Originally Posted by urlkonig View Post
Same reason that there's no markers on a violin or viola or cello etc. Classical instrumentalists by their very nature read music, and do not "spot" themselves visually on their instruments.
Hmmmm, while those are indeed stringed instruments, I donít see them as being all that similar to guitar. Not trying to be argumentative, I just feel theyíre very different animals in terms of playing, design, and construction.

And while Iím not a classical musician, I would imagine they have to practice as well no? Are there musicians who can sit down and play a complicated piece of music theyíve never played before at full speed and sound correct just by reading the music? Again not trying to be snarky, I honestly donít know. I just figured even accomplished musicians needed to practice? I know for myself, (not a musician, just a hack trying), I need to see where my hands are going while practicing until I play a piece enough for my hands to ďrememberĒ where they need to go🙂.

Thanks,
Jeff
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Old 06-13-2018, 05:13 PM
SouthpawJeff SouthpawJeff is offline
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Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
Lots of times classical guitarists do spot (look toward where their fingers will be going) themselves, e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQkzba7xRhs

Also video a good example of mentally preparing a little ahead of the notes you are currently playing in a piece - eyes move a measure or so ahead to where the fretting hand will be going.
I have noticed while watching the video of the piece Iím currently trying to learn, (Autumn Leaves arranged by Yenne Lee), that she does indeed look at her fretting hand. Also her guitar, (which is surely 100x better quality than mine), has fret markers on the edge. I donít know for fact whether she is classically trained, but I can say as fact Iíd be happy to play half as well as she does😯.

This piece requires a lot of unfamiliar chord shapes and tricky changes for me up and down the neck. And the jumps from 1st position up to say the 8th fret are tripping me up. And whatís worse is I havenít gotten to the hard parts yet😔. Iím still on the first 30 or so measures!

Jeff
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Old 06-13-2018, 07:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SouthpawJeff View Post
I have noticed while watching the video of the piece I’m currently trying to learn, (Autumn Leaves arranged by Yenne Lee), that she does indeed look at her fretting hand. Also her guitar, (which is surely 100x better quality than mine), has fret markers on the edge. I don’t know for fact whether she is classically trained, but I can say as fact I’d be happy to play half as well as she does��.

This piece requires a lot of unfamiliar chord shapes and tricky changes for me up and down the neck. And the jumps from 1st position up to say the 8th fret are tripping me up. And what’s worse is I haven’t gotten to the hard parts yet��. I’m still on the first 30 or so measures!

Jeff
Classical guitar was my thing for decades though nowadays just playing flattop guitars. I have one piece I arranged, "Freight Train", where
I go back and forth from the first couple of frets up to the fifteenth fret territory in about a sixth of a second time frame. It helps to look.
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Old 06-13-2018, 08:42 PM
dosland dosland is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SouthpawJeff View Post
Are there musicians who can sit down and play a complicated piece of music theyíve never played before at full speed and sound correct just by reading the music? Again not trying to be snarky, I honestly donít know. I just figured even accomplished musicians needed to practice?
A very long time ago we had to demonstrate our ability to pick up an unknown piece and play it - to a certain standard (nowhere near perfectly, in my case) - in order to be assessed for our progression reports. It's a bit different on a guitar from something like piano, given the range of choices to be made, especially in terms of left hand position, and in that sense maybe it makes sense to compare to other stringed instruments like the cello and violin, where similar decisions are required. The guitars we had available back in those days never had fret markers and I didn't ever think about why - it's just the way it was. There's also a certain class of instructor (or there was, anyway) that did not look kindly on the occasional peek at the left hand position. Is it wrong to check where your hand is? No. Do I occasionally feel a twinge of panic/shame when I do it? Yes. Yes I do.
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Old 06-13-2018, 08:51 PM
ceciltguitar ceciltguitar is offline
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Pure speculation here:

Maybe fret markers were first used on steel string guitars? And therefore became a "steel string guitar thing"? And never caught on with nylon string players and luthiers?
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Old 06-14-2018, 07:00 AM
Bikewer Bikewer is offline
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Stewmac sells side-dot material in white and black, and installation is dead simple....
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Old 06-14-2018, 07:30 AM
SouthpawJeff SouthpawJeff is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dosland View Post
A very long time ago we had to demonstrate our ability to pick up an unknown piece and play it - to a certain standard (nowhere near perfectly, in my case) - in order to be assessed for our progression reports. It's a bit different on a guitar from something like piano, given the range of choices to be made, especially in terms of left hand position, and in that sense maybe it makes sense to compare to other stringed instruments like the cello and violin, where similar decisions are required. The guitars we had available back in those days never had fret markers and I didn't ever think about why - it's just the way it was. There's also a certain class of instructor (or there was, anyway) that did not look kindly on the occasional peek at the left hand position. Is it wrong to check where your hand is? No. Do I occasionally feel a twinge of panic/shame when I do it? Yes. Yes I do.

Thanks for that insight into how you learned to play. I find it amazing that people can sight read for a guitar like that! I took piano for a short time, enough to just start learning to read music. But with piano each note has a singular fixed position. Thereís no decision on where to play it. With guitar there can be several choices for playing a note, and having to read the note and decide nearly instantly where to play it on the neck must take some serious skill! Iím highly impressed at anyone who has that ability!

I was paying more attention to how I play last night, and find that I donít look at the fretboard much if at all once Iíve started to know a piece, I really focus on the music, (tab in my case). Itís the initial practices where Iím ďhuntingĒ for the right chord fingerings and positions where not having the fret markers is most noticeable. Donít think Iíll bother with adding actual fret markers just yet, may just put a tiny piece of tape on the 7th for now and see how I do.

Jeff
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Old 06-14-2018, 04:03 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ceciltguitar View Post
Pure speculation here:

Maybe fret markers were first used on steel string guitars? And therefore became a "steel string guitar thing"? And never caught on with nylon string players and luthiers?
I believe that is correct.

The bottom line is that most classical guitarists don't want or need them. If you want them, there's nothing wrong with having them. I had one customer who wanted a single dot on the side of the fingerboard on a 10 string classical I made for him.

It isn't especially uncommon that beginners use small pieces of tape on the side of the fingerboard to assist them. After a short time, it's just second nature and your hand lands where it needs to nearly every time.


I had a classical guitar/theory teacher who used to sight-read Mozart orchestral scores, transposing individual parts and deciding on fingerings while doing so at the full speed for the piece. He didn't have - or need - position markers on his fingerboard. He was a rarity.
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Old 06-14-2018, 06:06 PM
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No classical guitar I have owed had fret markers. Fret markers or not most players will still look at the fretboard.

First off classical guitars are 12 fretters which helps locate where you are mid neck easier than 14 fretters. It's
pretty easy to locate the third fret and from there the fifth fret. Ditto twelfth, tenth and ninth. Seventh and eighth
perhaps a little more vague. Like most things the more you do it the easier it gets.
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Old 06-14-2018, 07:19 PM
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815C 815C is offline
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My current classical has no markers on the side. It took a bit of getting used to, but now I can "see" where the higher frets are without the aid of markers. It just took a bit of time playing the instrument.
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