Fretboard Calculator

When building a guitar or bass and cutting your own fretboard slots (versus buying a pre-slotted fretboard,) it's very important that the fret slots be cut accurately. I designed this page to calculate where each fret slot should be cut, measured both from the nut to fret, and from the fret to bridge. The results are given in both english and metric values.

To use the calculator, simply enter the desired scale length of the instrument and designate whether this value is in inches or millimeters. Then select how many frets the instrument will have. From there, click on the "calculate" button and the fret slot measurements will be displayed.

Note that due to rounding errors, the calculation may be off by several thousandths of an inch. For example, on a 24" scale, in a perfect world the 12th fret should be exactly 12" from the nut. However, the calculator will report the disance as 11.991". This is inconsequential, as nobody (that I know of, anyway) can saw a fret slot that accurately by hand.

Scale Length:

Inches

Millimeters

Number Of Frets:


What Difference Does Scale Length Make?

The scale length of a guitar has a large impact on the sound and feel of the guitar. There is no "perfect" scale length; manufacturers select an instrument's scale to achieve particular qualities for the guitar they are designing. Guitar scale lengths are usually between 24" and 26". Bass scale lengths generally stay between 30" to 36". Of course, this is not a rule set in stone; there are always exceptions.

Shorter scale lengths (less than 25" in guitars and 32" in basses) usually give a warmer tone and provide for easier playing, especially when string bending. Longer scale lengths (greater than 25" in guitars and 34" basses) usually give more note definition and increased sustain.

These are generalities, and the scale length is just one factor in the sound and playability of a musical instrument. It is not possible to say that a guitar with a shorter scale will not have good sustain, or that one with a longer scale can't have a warm tone. Given two instruments completely identical except for the scale length, the above described differences in sound and playing characteristics will usually be noticed.

So, whether you're designing your own instrument, or deliberating the purchase of one, it's helpful to know how the scale length factors within the overall equation. Here's a list of some of the more popular scale lengths used by different manufacturers:

Instrument

Scale

Fender Jaguar

24"

Gibson Les Paul

24.75"

Paul Reed Smith

25"

Fender Stratocaster/Telecaster

25.5"

Hofner "Beatle Bass"

30"

Fender Jazz Bass

34"

This page last updated on 02/11/2011