Fret Calculator

A guitar fret calculator is a tool that helps determine the precise spacing and placement of frets on the fingerboard of a guitar.

It is an essential resource for luthiers (guitar makers) and those involved in guitar setup and maintenance. The accurate positioning of frets is crucial for achieving proper intonation and playability across the entire fretboard.

Fret Calculator

Calculate the distance from the nut to each fret based on the scale length.

Here’s an example of using the guitar fret calculation formula to determine the spacing of frets on a guitar with a 25.5-inch scale length:

Let’s calculate the distance of the 12th fret from the nut.

Using the formula:

Fret distance = scale length * (1 - (2^(-n/12)))


  • Scale length = 25.5 inches
  • n = 12 (for the 12th fret)

Plugging in the values:

Fret distance = 25.5 * (1 - (2^(-12/12)))
             = 25.5 * (1 - 0.5)
             = 25.5 * 0.5
             = 12.75 inches

The distance from the nut to the 12th fret on a guitar with a 25.5-inch scale length should be approximately 12.75 inches.

Let’s calculate the distance of the 5th fret as another example:

Fret distance = 25.5 * (1 - (2^(-5/12)))
             = 25.5 * (1 - 0.7598)
             = 25.5 * 0.2402
             = 6.12 inches

The distance from the nut to the 5th fret on the same guitar should be approximately 6.12 inches.

Guitar Fret Calculation Formula

The mathematical formula used by stewmac guitar fret calculators is based on the principle of equally-tempered scale division. The formula is as follows:

Fret distance = scale length * (1 - (2^(-n/12)))

In this formula:

  • Fret distance is the distance from the nut (the zero fret) to the desired fret position.
  • Scale length is the vibrating length of the strings, typically measured from the nut to the bridge saddles.
  • n is the fret number, where the nut is considered the zero fret.

This formula ensures that the frets are positioned in a way that produces the correct pitch intervals when the strings are pressed against them.

What is Guitar Fret?

A guitar fret is a thin strip of metal (usually nickel or stainless steel) that is embedded into the fingerboard of a guitar at specific intervals.

When a string is pressed against a fret, it shortens the vibrating length of the string, changing the pitch produced.

Frets are essential for playing different notes and chords on a guitar.

Guitar Scale Length Chart

Different guitar models have varying scale lengths, which is the distance between the nut and the bridge saddles.

Here’s a chart showing common scale lengths for various guitar types:

Guitar TypeScale Length (inches)
Electric Guitar24.75″ – 25.5″
Acoustic Guitar24.9″ – 25.6″
Classical Guitar25.6″ – 26.0″
Bass Guitar30.0″ – 34.0″
Baritone Guitar27.0″ – 30.0″

The scale length significantly impacts the overall tone and playability of a guitar. Luthiers and guitar technicians rely on accurate scale length measurements and fret calculations to ensure optimal fret placement and intonation.

Utilizing a guitar fret calculator and understanding the underlying principles, guitar makers and enthusiasts can achieve precise fret positioning, resulting in superior intonation, playability, and overall instrument quality.

What is the 3 fret rule on guitar?

The 3 fret rule is a guideline used in guitar playing and music theory.

It states that when playing a major scale on the guitar, the root note of that scale can be found at the same fret position on two adjacent strings, with a gap of three frets between them.

This rule helps guitarists quickly identify the key they are playing in and find the root note across different strings.

What is the ideal fret distance?

The ideal fret distance is the spacing between frets that ensures accurate intonation (correct pitches) across the entire fretboard.

While there is no single universal ideal distance, the fret spacing is calculated based on the guitar’s scale length and the equal-tempered scale division formula.

The ideal distances vary slightly for different scale lengths but are carefully calculated to minimize intonation issues.

How do you measure a guitar fret?

To measure a guitar fret, you need a precision ruler or a caliper.

The process involves measuring the distance from the nut (the zero fret) to the desired fret position along the fingerboard.

It’s important to measure accurately, as even slight deviations can affect the intonation.

Luthiers and guitar technicians often use specialized fret calculators or templates to ensure precise fret placement.

What fret size is easiest to play?

The fret size that is generally considered the easiest to play on a guitar is the medium jumbo fret wire.

This size, typically around 0.090″ to 0.106″ wide and 0.036″ to 0.048″ tall, provides a good balance between comfort and playability.

Smaller frets can be difficult for beginners or those with larger fingers, while larger frets may cause discomfort or inhibit smooth hand movements along the neck.

How do you memorize fret numbers?

Memorizing fret numbers on a guitar can be challenging, especially for beginners. Here are some effective strategies:

  1. Visual association: Associate the fret numbers with familiar patterns or shapes on the fingerboard.
  2. Mnemonics: Create mnemonics or phrases that associate fret numbers with words or concepts.
  3. Practice exercises: Engage in exercises that involve playing specific fret numbers repeatedly.
  4. Fretboard diagrams: Study fretboard diagrams that clearly display fret numbers.
  5. Repetition: Consistent practice and repetition over time will help ingrain the fret numbers in your muscle memory.

Combining these strategies and practicing regularly can help you effectively memorize fret numbers on the guitar.

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