AP-005 – Why do guitars have dots?

Guitar Gear Questions are Answered

Question

I am a rank beginner to the guitar. I am trying to learn the function of the fretboard. The guitar I have borrowed is classical with 12 frets. How do I transfer what I see on YouTube videos about fretboards to this one. Is there a common reference point where I can align the online diagrams with this fretboard? The dots and number of frets are all different comparing the videos I have been watching.

~Libby

Answer

The common reference point is the nut regardless of where the dots are located.  If you can’t see the nut you have more work to do (unless you can match the note being played by ear).  Dots themselves are used solely as a visual aid to finding your place on the guitar.

Here are several facts on dots and how they work.

  • Some guitars have no dots or only on the side of the neck where only the guitarist can see them.
  • Most guitars have a double dot or some symbol at the 12th fret.
  • Most guitars have a dot on the 5th, 7th, and 9th frets.  Sometimes the 7th fret has a double dot.
  • Some guitars have a dot on the 3rd fret.
  • Most electric guitars have dots on the 15th, 17th, 19th, and 21st frets.  If they go to 24, there is usually a double dot there.
  • Some guitars have different symbols like trapezoids, birds, bones, crosses, etc.  However, they are at the frets specified above.
  • Some guitars have a dot on fret 1.

Photos of Guitars with Different Dot Symbols

Click on the photos for an enlarged view.

Fender Stratocaster
Fender stratocasters have the most common dot pattern.
Epiphone Les Paul
Many Gibson guitars, such as this Les Paul, use trapezoids instead of dots.
Ibanez JEM
This Steve Vai signature guitar, by Ibanez, uses a plant-like inlay instead of dots. Notice how some frets are more noticeable in the picture despite the complexity of the inlay.
classical-guitar
Classical guitars often lack dots.
Martin Acoustic Guitar
The dot pattern on my Martin DC-16RGTE omits the dot on the 3rd fret and doubles the dot on the 7th fret.
Martin guitar dots
Guitar fretboard dots are often on the side of the fretboard even if they aren’t on the front, such as on the 3rd fret on this Martin Guitar

Subscribe for Free Content, Tips, and More!

3 Reasons to Subscribe to the GLW Newsletter:

  1. Free Stuff! You'll get free content that is exclusive to my newsletter subscribers!
  2. Content tailored to you. Over time, I'll get to learn more about you and deliver content that motivates you to learn, play and be inspired!
  3. No spam. Just real content that's meant to make a difference in your playing

Enter your name and email, and you're on your way!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit
Hello again! You're already subscribed to the GLW newsletter. Thank you for being a part of the GLW community. If you have a question, just send an email using my contact page. I'd be happy to help!

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


chord exercises  bar chord guitar  how to write music on guitar  music notes practice  learn guitar beginner  modes meaning  smooth jazz chords guitar  how to understand guitar tabs  beginner guitar tutorial  blues chord chart  what is the strings on a guitar  e music note  so very hard to go chords  how to make a minor chord  what is the hole in an acoustic guitar called  fingerstyle acoustic guitar lessons  tips for guitar beginners  12 string guitar notes  how to play g7  what is flatpicking guitar  2 string guitar songs  glad all over chords  what is a harmonic interval  notes guitar neck  why learn to read music  parallel major of e minor  triad guitar chords  key of a guitar chords  best guitar lesson  understanding circle of fifths  scale chords guitar  tritone sub  e chords on guitar  songs that use pentatonic scale  slow blues guitar lesson  g diminished guitar chord  guitar fretboard theory  music key transposer  world guitar  what is a treble staff  treble clef staff with notes  definition of deminish  transpose chart guitar  guitar chords cm  how to make a song on guitar  we can t stop guitar chords  triplets guitar  hot stuff chords  song progression  guitar half step down tuning  read guitar chords  how to play remember when on guitar  sargam for guitar  chord grip  online beginner guitar lessons