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.


*


how to learn guitar notes for beginners  guitar chord shortcuts  what is the hole in a guitar called  reading sheet music symbols  guitar string tabs  what a difference a day makes chords  how to tell what key a song is written in  different guitar chords  best sounding guitar chords  going away to college chords  what does b mean in tab  harmonics on guitar  4 string bass guitar chords for beginners  chord guitar d#  how to create a chord progression  proper finger names  d 5 chord  bar cords  note names on treble clef  d# cord  you are good guitar tutorial  definition of pentatonic  key of g scale guitar  learn guitar arpeggios  guitar lead songs  the dominant in the scale of b major is  learn all guitar scales  how to play d in guitar  guitar string pattern  in a chord  let it be guitar solo lesson  circle of flats  1 4 5 chords  guitar notes and how to play them  g scale guitar chords  playing lead guitar  picture of guiter  guitar chord h  a blues pentatonic scale  how to play an c chord on guitar  mean guitar chords no capo  e dorian guitar scale  play greensleeves  best guitar for your money  guitar tuning lesson  slow guitar blues  am 7 chord  online guiter  guitar progressions pdf  how to play the notes on a guitar  learning sheet music for guitar  interval music theory  g major 7th chord  jimi hendrix scale  description of guitar parts  easy guitar music notes  guitar notes quiz  g major bar chord  chord progressions for guitar pdf  what musical notes mean  how to ring guitar  a minor chord progression guitar  c m chord progression  12 bar blues bass tab  guitar lessos  how to play c in guitar  beginning guitar theory  guitar starting lesson  12 note scale  e flat chord for guitar  natural harmonics on guitar  guitar string notes sounds  c minor 7 guitar chord  guitar nicknames  diminished 7  more than words plucking tutorial  how to guitar for beginners  resolving dominant 7th chords  lick tagalog  riffs and licks  grow old with you guitar cover  e flat dim 7  diminished guitar licks  how to play e major chord on guitar  1 guitar  how to play for no one on guitar  six string guitar lessons  octaves on guitar  picture of guitar neck  playing guitar by ear  how to read and write sheet music  guitar scales to practice  guitar main chords chart